On my recent trip to Berlin for DMY I had the chance to visit the Bauhaus Archiv, a small but well-curated museum that houses a permanent exhibition that takes you on a winding, chronological path through the history of Bauhaus as well as a space off to the side reserved for rotating exhibitions. The Archiv has an impressive line up these exhibitions, which change frequently and encompass all aspects of Bauhaus' wide-reaching applications, including architecture, yes, but also photography, furniture and, currently, textiles.
Female Bauhaus: Benita Koch-Otte is a profile of one the school's foremost textile artisans. Like the other female students at the Bauhaus, Koch-Otte was trained in the weaving workshop. She made a name for herself with designs for the interior of Haus am Horn, a house built for the 1923 Weimar Bauhaus presentation. The exhibition presents a comprehensive survey of her work, featuring drawings, weaving samples and of course, completed textiles, including many unique and lesser known examples. You can see the influence of instructors Paul Klee and Kandinsky in many of her patterns and color palettes, like this one, below.
When you talk about Bauhaus, people inevitably have their favorites. Some think of Lazlo Moholy-Nagy's photographs. Others love the ceramics or metal-based housewares. Many lust over Walter Gropius' tubular steel chairs and many more are only familiar with the architecture, which came late to the school's discipline but was popularized by Gropius. All of the school's many incarnations, which most often correspond to the changes in leadership and location, are examined here, but women's influence in the Bauhaus and their beautiful, painterly textile work is oddly glossed over.
There is only one large weaving, framed hanging against the wall in the permanent exhibiton, accompanied by a few photographs of female greats like Gunta Stolzl and Anni Albers. But this section of the exhibition is dwarfed by Gropius' "Bar und Cafe," a large, looping, tubular steel stunner that occupies much the room. Not that I don't love Gropius' vision of an ideal domestic life where every home's culinary centerpiece is a bar, around which all meals are eaten and all group gatherings take place. I'm just saying let's also give Stolzl and Albers their due. At least Koch-Otte will be taking center stage for a while. See her work in Female Bauhaus: Benita Koch-Otte, which runs through August 27, 2012.
Textile by Anni Albers
Textile by Gunta Stolzl