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Review: Bauhaus Beginnings- Getty Research Institute- a peek inside the artist’s studio

B4Bauhaus Beginnings

Getty Research Institute

June 11-October 13, 2019

by Leticia Marie Sanchez

Imagine being able to see firsthand what it was like to be a student of Paul Klee or Vassily Kandinsky! What is engaging about Bauhaus Beginnings at the Getty Research Institute is that the concept of the Bauhaus is brought down from its esoteric pedestal; viewers are able to warm themselves conceptually to the show because the philosophy is laid bare through vivid visuals illustrating the teaching tools, creative output, and life as a student of this seminal art movement, which is now celebrating its 100th anniversary.


Even before stepping foot inside the exhibition, we experience a pop of color on the exterior of the Getty Research Institute, the unmistakable hue of Meier white currently decked out in the vibrant colors of the Bauhaus, an influential school of art and design that was established in 1919 and closed by the Nazi regime in 1933. Despite its relatively short existence, the Bauhaus school has had an immense impact on crafts, fine arts, and architecture precisely because it sought to erode differences between these three mediums. Moreover, the Bauhaus tenets of spirituality and expressionism provided an appealing counterpoint to the horrors and mechanization of World War I.

Above: Exterior of Getty Research Institute


The opportunity to see notebooks from the courses of Vassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee is impactful. The exhibition illustrates concepts including color system, woodcuts, and the abstraction of the human body. What is compelling about this particular exhibition is that it does not feel overly didactic in nature; yet, as viewers we are learning about color, form, abstraction, and a crucial movement in art history.



Above  Léna Bergner (German, 1906–1981); Durchdringung (Penetration) for Paul Klee’s Course, ca. 1925–1932. Watercolor and graphite on paper Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (850514) 

For instance, I was intrigued by a Bauhaus notebook (below) that deconstructed Master Francke’s 1424 painting, Abduction of The Magi, reducing the three-dimensional painting to its most fundamental forms and lines.

study bauhaus

Analysis of Master Francke’s Adoration of the Magi

ca. 1424 Johannes Itten (Swiss, 1888–1967) and Friedl Dicker (Austrian, 1898–1944)

Lithograph and letterpress with glued tissue overlay

From Bruno Maria Adler, ed., Utopia: Dokumente der Wirklichkeit,

We are constantly reminded that we have stepped into a studio-like space by innovative installation flourishes including a blown-up image of artists’ hands on one wall, and on another, vibrant dancers in red embodying the zeitgeist of the day.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Getty Research Institute presents an online exhibition, Bauhaus: Building the New Artist, which can be explored by readers around the world. This interactive online exhibition allows users the spirit of play. Online users can design their own 3-D interactive dance performance, selecting costumes, choreography and color, based on a performance of Oscar Schlemmer’s The Triadic Ballet.

Bauhaus Beginnings is curated by Maristella Casciato, with assistance from Gary Fox, Katherine Rochester, Alexandra Sommer, and Johnny Tran. The exhibition installation is designed in consultation with architect Tim Durfee

Posted by on June 12th, 2019

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