Walter Gropius (circa 1919). Photo by Louis Held
|Born||Walter Adolph Georg Gropius
(1883-05-18)18 May 1883
Berlin, German Empire
|Died||5 July 1969(1969-07-05) (aged 86)
Boston, Massachusetts, United States
|Spouse(s)||Alma Mahler, Ise Gropius|
|Children||Manon Gropius, Beate (“Ati”) Gropius|
AIA Gold Medal (1959)
Peter Behrens (1908â€“10)
The general public, formerly profoundly indifferent to everything to do with building, has been shaken out of its torpor; personal interest in architecture as something that concerns every one of us in our daily lives has been very widely aroused; and the broad line of its future development are already clearly discernible.
Our fresh technical resources have furthered the disintegration of solid masses of masonry into slender piers, with consequent far-reaching economies in bulk, space, weight, and haulage.
The mere drawing and painting world of the pattern designer and the applied artist must become a world that builds again.
Architects, sculptors painters, we all must return to the crafts! For art is not a ‘profession.’ There is no essential difference between the artist and the craftsman. The artist is an exalted craftsman.
The problem of the minimum dwelling is that of establishing the elementary minimum of space, air, light, and heat required by man in order that he be able to fully develop his life functions without experiencing limitations due to his dwelling, i.e. a minimum modus vivendi in place of a modus non moriendi.
The development of the New Architecture encountered serious obstacles at a very early stage of its development. Conflicting theories and the dogmas enunciated in architects’ personal manifestos all helped to confuse the main issue.
Man has evolved a mutual relationship with nature on earth, but his power to change its surface has grown so tremendously that this may become a curse instead of a blessing.
The Bauhaus strives to bring together all creative effort into one whole, to reunify all the disciplines of practical art – sculpture, painting, handicrafts, and crafts – as inseparable components of a new architecture.
If your contribution has been vital there will always be somebody to pick up where you left off, and that will be your claim to immortality.
Theo van Doesburg wanted to teach in the Bauhaus in 1922. I refused, however, to appoint him since I considered him to be too aggressive and too rigidly theoretical: he would have wrought havoc in the Bauhaus through his fanatic attitude, which ran counter to my own broader approach.
Our guiding principle was that design is neither an intellectual nor a material affair, but simply an integral part of the stuff of life, necessary for everyone in a civilized society.
Today the arts exist in isolation, from which they can be rescued only through the conscious, cooperative effort of all craftsmen. Architects, painters, and sculptors must recognize anew and learn to grasp the composite character of a building both as an entity and in its separate parts.
Capitalism and power politics have made our generation creatively sluggish, and our vital art is mired in a broad bourgeois philistinism.
As there is in Germany – as well as in Russia and Italy – no art which is not approved of by the government, any criticizing remark about the present policy made by me would easily be taken as a hostile act. I cannot have my name put up against an official report from Germany without risking very unpleasant consequences.
I am livid with rage, sitting here in chains through this mad war which kills any meaning of life… My nerves are shattered and my mind darkened.
Overwhelmed by the miraculous potentialities of the machine, our human greed has interfered with the biological cycle of human companionship which keeps the life of a community healthy.
The intellectual bourgeois of the old Empire – tepid and unimaginative, mentally slow, arrogant, and incorrectly trained – has proven his incapacity to be the bearer of German culture. His benumbed world is now toppled, its spirit is overthrown, and is in the midst of being recast into a new mold.
In all great epochs of history, the existence of standards – that is, the conscious adoption of type-forms – has been the criterion of a polite, well-ordered society; for it is a commonplace that repetition of the same things for the same purpose exercises a settling and civilizing influence on men’s minds.
Each person feels that he is an ‘expert’ in one or two fields and just the ‘public’ in all the others. But you know, probably, from experience that no one is really able to appreciate any display of ability in any field if he himself has not, to a certain degree, taken part in its problems and difficulties at some time.
The ultimate, if distant, aim of the Bauhaus is the unified work of art – the great structure – in which there is no distinction between monumental and decorative art.
Let us together create the new building of the future, which will be everything in one form: architecture and sculpture and painting.
The greatest responsibility of the planner and architect, I believe, is the protection and development of our habitat.
We are in the midst of a momentous catastrophe of world history, of a transformation of all aspects of life and of the entire inner human being This is perhaps fortunate for the artistic person, if he is strong enough to bear the consequences, because what we need is the courage to have inner experience.
The school is the servant of the workshop and will one day be absorbed in it. Therefore there will be no teachers or pupils in the Bauhaus but masters, journeymen, and apprentices.
The days of the painter at the Bauhaus appear to be truly over. They are estranged from the actual core of present activities, and their influence is more restricting than inspiring.
Proficiency in a craft is essential to every artist. Therein lies the prime source of creative imagination. Let us then create a new guild of craftsmen without the class distinctions that raise an arrogant barrier between craftsman and artist!
I cannot imagine myself fitting into the existing curriculum. I am too self-willed for that and have had my own very definite ideas for a long time, very different from the existing ways, as to how architecture is to be taught.
New synthetic substances – steel, concrete, glass – are actively superseding the traditional raw materials of construction.
Under trees, the urban dweller might restore his troubled soul and find the blessing of a creative pause.
With but a few exceptions, we don’t have this personal study under masters any more. Craftsmanship has sunk very low. We no longer have any universally creative persons who are able to guide young learners not only in technical matters but also, at the same time, in a formal way.
My sole aim is to leave everything in suspension, in flux, in order to avoid our community solidifying into a conventional academy. Our initial resources may be few, but our spirits are high, receptive, and excited, and that seems to me to be the most important thing right now.
One of the outstanding achievements of the new constructional technique has been the abolition of the separating function of the wall.
I feel very German – and who can make himself a judge over what is German and what is not – in my ideas and the ideas of my spiritual brothers of German origin.
Wherever I go I make others feel good, and by doing this, I create life. I am a sting, and a dangerous instrument!
If we investigate the vague feelings of the average man towards the arts, we find that he is timid and that he has developed a humble belief that art is something which has been invented centuries ago in countries like Greece or Italy and that all we can do about it is study it carefully and apply it.
Together let us desire, conceive, and create the new structure of the future, which will embrace architecture and sculpture and painting in one unity and which will one day rise toward Heaven from the hands of a million workers like the crystal symbol of a new faith.
Good architecture should be a projection of life itself, and that implies an intimate knowledge of biological, social, technical, and artistic problems.
The fear that individuality will be crushed out by the growing ‘tyranny’ of standardization is the sort of myth which cannot withstand the briefest examination.
The utilization of flat roofs as ‘grounds’ offers us a means of re-acclimatizing nature amidst the stony deserts of our great towns; for the plots from which she has been evicted to make room for buildings can be given back to her up aloft.
The strong desire to include every vital component of life instead of excluding part of them for the sake of too narrow and dogmatic an approach has characterized my whole life.
Only work which is the product of inner compulsion can have spiritual meaning.
We must forget the prewar time, which was totally different. The sooner we adjust ourselves to the new, changed world, to its new, albeit harsh, beauties, the sooner will each individual be able to find his own personal happiness. The distress of Germany will spiritualize and deepen us.