The Hungarian composer Béla Bartók was (reportedly) the opinion that, “in art there are only fast or slow developments. Essentially it is a matter of evolution, not revolution.”
A position one, arguably, could apply to all expressions of contemporary culture and society.
And a position the exhibition SPACES. Interior design evolution at the ADAM Brussels Design Museum explores in context of domestic interiors.
According to our old friend Roget possible synonyms for “August” include great, noble, impressive or worshipful.
We can’t promise the following quintet of exhibitions will exactly meet such qualities; however, they promise to be anything but frivolous, undignified or flighty explorations of their subject, and therefore certainly should be tending to the August in August 2019…….
In these dispatches we once doubted the prevalence of designer furniture in comics, noting and acknowledging the regular appearance of popular furniture designs in other visual media, we, off-handedly, opined, “… Designer furniture in a comic?”
Elegantly proving us very, very wrong the Vitra Design Museum’s exhibition Living in a Box. Design and Comics not only explores the use and depiction of designer furniture and lighting in comics, but also considers how comics have contributed to and influenced furniture and lighting design.
July was once known as Quintilis, and was the fifth month of the Roman calender. The fifth of ten. “Winter” being but an ill-defined cold and dark period between December and March.
And sensible as such as an arrangement sounds, and much as we could live with such an arrangement today, with the rise of the Roman Republic the wise decision was made to divide winter into January and February.
Wise not least because it means our contemporary year has 12 months: and thus two extra months in which to enjoy even more architecture and design exhibitions, and thereby to allow us all to even better understand the world which surrounds us.
Our quintet for Quintilis 2019 can be found in Stuttgart, San Francisco, Weil am Rhein, Melbourne and Dresden……
To paraphrase the title of the recent exhibition at the Deutsche Architekturmuseum, with the Neues Frankfurt project the team of architects and urban planners around Ernst May and Ludwig Landmann sought to develop new housing for new humans.
With the exhibition Wie wohnen die Leute? the Historisches Museum Frankfurt explore the contemporary reality of the Neues Frankfurt estates and thereby the new housing of then in context of the new humans of today.
According to the old saying “Human spirit and the June wind often change swiftly”, and while we can undertake only little to influence the wind, a visit to an architecture or design exhibition should help strengthen, enhance, embolden and thus stabilise the human spirit. In June, or at any time of the year.
Our five recommendations for new exhibitions opening in June 2019 can be found in Ulm, Hornu, Munich, Gothenburg and Boston……
While the shortlist of exhibitions for this column is regularly long, that for May 2019 was particularly so.
And particularly tricky. Perusing it we saw no realistic chance of getting it down to five, all made good claims for inclusion, none deserved to be ignored……
Then we noticed that, with a little bit tweaking, we could get two lists: one featuring those exhibitions directly connected with Bauhaus/Inter-War architecture and design, and one featuring those less directly connected.
The Bauhaus/Inter-War architecture and design list will follow, but for all keen to explore architecture and design in a wider context, five new exhibitions opening in May 2019 in Munich, New York, Berlin, Basel & Villingen-Schwenningen, you may like to consider visiting……..
Sitting, quietly, unobtrusively, in the north-western corner of Germany, Oldenburg is, in many regards, a near textbook example of a provincial town. Which we don’t mean as an insult. Doesn’t mean it’s irrelevant. In any sense less worthy than elsewhere. Much more Oldenburg is the sort of self-contained community that exists not so much independent of the rest of the world, but without the rest of the world noticing. Or Oldenburg caring if they notice. Oldenburg has its (hi)stories, its intrigues, its characters, its dramas, its ways, its understandings, the sheer number of cafes in the pedestrianised town centre confirming that it does, and that is all important for Oldenburg. But Oldenburg is inconspicuous. Oldenburg isn’t the sort of place that is ever going to feature on the news, is never casually referenced in TV programmes, magazine articles or radio discussions, if they have a football team, then not one who play in a league you’ve ever heard of. Oldenburg is the sort of place one is from, but one would never move to. Respectable, decorous, correct, happy, unassuming. Provincial.
And thus surely not the sort of place to be troubled by something as radical, avant-garde and reformist as Bauhaus.
And, as the exhibition Between Utopia and Adaptation. The Bauhaus in Oldenburg in the Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte discusses, was not only troubled by, but actively contributed to.
“We feel ourselves beholden to the traditions of Bauhaus”1 opined Rolf Kuhn, Director of the Dessau based Zentrum für Gestaltung, in the catalogue for the institute’s 1988 exhibition Experiment Bauhaus.
And while that may have been the case in the late 1980s, it certainly wasn’t always so in East Germany.
With the exhibition Shaping everyday life! Bauhaus modernism in the GDR the Dokumentationszentrum Alltagskultur der DDR in Eisenhüttenstadt allow for not only an exploration of the relationship(s) between the Bauhaus legacy and the East German state, but also for comparisons between inter-War and post-War design in eastern Germany.
“Form should not be finite but should be amorphous, so that the experience within is loose, meandering and multiple” – Balkrishna Doshi1
With the exhibition Architecture for the People the Vitra Design Museum explore Indian architect Balkrishna Doshi’s understanding of, belief in and approach to realising the amorphous, the social, the humane, in architecture.
From you have I been absent in the spring,
When proud-pied April, dressed in all his trim,
Enticed us into the following architecture and design exhibitions…….
William Shakespeare, Sonnet 98, From you have I been absent in the spring (extended, with apologies)
Whereas at Bauhaus Weimar and Dessau architecture was essentially a subject of theory and experimentation, elsewhere in inter-War Europe architecture was theory and practice, and that, occasionally, on a large scale. Such as the Neues Frankfurt project.
Instigated in 1925 by Frankfurt’s then Mayor Ludwig Landmann and employing a team of some 148 architects, urban planners, garden designers, journalists et al, under the leadership of Ernst May and Martin Elsaesser, Neues Frankfurt realised between 1925 and 1933 some 12,000 new homes in Frankfurt; but for all indicated possible new forms of building, new forms of living, new forms of financing housing and new forms of urban planning. New forms that were not only responsive to the new political, social and economic realities of the 1920s, but utilised to that end advances in both process/materials technologies and also scientific understandings.
With the exhibition New Human, New Housing: Architecture of the New Frankfurt 1925–1933 the Deutsches Architekturmuseum Frankfurt reflect on the project, and into the future of urban planning and the provision of of housing in the city.
Were it possible that there could be such a thing as a “lost” Bauhaus building, something wholly unimaginable this of all years, then the best candidate would, arguably, have to be the ADGB Bundesschule in Bernau bei Berlin. Yes, it is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and so is not really lost; however as an object it only rarely features, and when then invariably passingly, in the popular Bauhaus discourse …. and that despite being built by a serving Bauhaus Director.
With the exhibition Volksbedarf statt Luxusbedarf – Bernau and its Bauhaus the Galerie Bernau aim to not only help increase the works visibility but also allow for a better understanding of its character.
The 1920s was in many regards a decade that promised so much, achieved so much, but which was then overtaken by political and economic events before it could cement that which it promised and achieved, and which therefore remains hanging, almost stranded, in history. Somehow unfulfilled. And which with its popular image as as roaring, golden, age also appears a little too joyous, a little too optimistic, sandwiched as it is between the horrors and loss of two wars.
But then in the course of the Années folles, who could have foreseen that the real folie stood before us.
With their exhibition Small Apartment, Department Store, Power Station – New Building and New Living in 1920’s Halle the Stadtmuseum Halle explore and explain the decade in the context of daily life in the city.
Although Bauhaus did undeniably exist, sometimes we could all be forgiven for believing we had collectively imagined it. Not only on account of its ephemerality as an institution, but also because it existed in a period of history that is, generally, a little abstract, intangible, indecipherable for a majority of us. While today the popular image of Bauhaus is so ideal, represents such a utopia and eutopia, it has that tangible feeling of intangibility, of unreality, of something imaginary.
With the exhibition Bauhaus Imaginista the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin aim to allow for a more substantive understanding of Bauhaus.
The Burg Galerie im Volkspark Halle is open every day, is täglich geöffnet; and with their new exhibition, opens the every day: presenting artistic and design reflections on daily routine(s), the Alltag, and in doing so allows for new perspectives on the what, wherewith and wherefore of our (perceived) daily realities…..
Since 1823 the good folks of Cologne have taken to the streets on the Monday before Ash Wednesday to mark the approach of Lent with one last day, (and night) of earthly, secular, celebration before resigning body and soul to the sanctity of abstention; the highlight being the Rosenmontag procession which weaves its way through the Altstadt Veedel on the city’s left bank.
From modest beginnings the Zoch has grown to become not only the largest Rosenmontag procession in Germany, but longer than the route: the first participants arriving at the end before the last ones have left the start. We’d call that a planning issue. For Cologne it is, and as so often in the city, a solecism carried as a badge of honour.
The 2019 Rosenmontag procession is being staged under the motto Uns Sproch es Heimat, Our Language is Home, a motto chosen on the one hand to encourage all native Kölsch speakers to take a little more pride in their tongue/home and on the other to encourage non-speakers to learn, to discover a new Kölsch home.
Better understanding Cologne doesn’t however necessarily require fighting with Ripuarian dialects, or indeed donning fancy dress and developing an involuntary laugh; can also be achieved by ignoring the floats and dance troops of the Rosenmontag procession and engaging instead with the architecture along the route.
How do we ensure there is sufficient, affordable, healthy, practical, accommodation for our contemporary population and their needs?
Not just a question for today’s society but arguably one that has been posed, considered and approached by architects and urban planners since the late 19th century.
If, admittedly, without anyone ever solving the conundrum. Or at least not unequivocally. Or sustainably.
With the exhibition Die Neue Heimat (1950–1982). A Social Democratic Utopia and Its Buildings, the Architekturmuseum der TU München review the (hi)story of the Neue Heimat housing corporation and its efforts to ensure sufficient, affordable, healthy, practical, accommodation for West Germany, and in doing so add to the contemporary discourse.
“Beware the Ides of March” Julius Caesar was, allegedly, advised by the soothsayer Spurinna. And he probably wished he had. March 15th seeing his death at the hands of some 60 Senators, a death which led to civil war as opposing forces sought to control Rome’s destiny.
“Beware the 5th of the Calends of April” a modern day Spurinna would no doubt warn the good folks of the United Kingdom. March 29th looking as it is like being an equally fateful day.
But while Caesar could have taken steps to prevent his demise, the fate of the good folks of the United Kingdom is out of their hands, they must wait and see what an ideologically driven group of some 60 Conservative
Senators MPs have in store…….
And while we all wait, what could be more enriching than that which helps set the temporality of politicians’ decisions against the irrepressible force of social and cultural evolution; a force parliamentarian laws can delay but never stop, and a truth one finds elegantly mirrored in architecture and design.
Our five recommendations for new exhibitions opening in March 2019 can be found in Frankfurt, Brussels, Chemnitz, London and Magdeburg.
“On, on, on, cried the leaders at the back….”
According to US gonzo journalist, Hunter S Thompson, “the human animal needs a Good Reason to get out of bed on a wretched morning in February.” 1
May we humbly suggest…….
Despite what some may have us believe, Bauhaus didn’t appear one morning from the slowly clearing mists of the Ilm valley; rather, and for all its lasting allure, Bauhaus ’twas but a moment on a longer, wider, international helix. One which began its twisting long before Walter Gropius and his merry band arrived in Weimar, and which continues, winding its way ever onwards, to this day.
With the exhibition From Arts and Crafts to the Bauhaus. Art and Design – A New Unity! the Bröhan Museum Berlin explore the helix as it approached and then, briefly, informed Bauhaus.
“The role of the architect is one of organisation. The house is the considered organisation of our ways of life”1, opined the Austrian architect Margarete Lihotzky in 1921.
And in the course of a long, varied career, she repeatedly demonstrated what she understood by such; including most famously, if somewhat narrowly, in a kitchen design………….
“…a new generation, a new age, must develop forms and tenors for their interior and exterior worlds which correspond to its desire for well-being and its ideals” wrote Frankfurt city mayor Ludwig Landmann in 1926.1
With the exhibition Moderne am Main 1919-1933 the Museum Angewandte Kunst Frankfurt explore how such developments were approached and realised in Frankfurt and environs, and by extrapolation explore the contribution made by the region to the evolution of inter-War understandings of architecture and design, and the legacy that remains.
The reason most of us fail to keep most of our New Year resolutions is, mostly, because we either resolve to give up things we enjoy or to do things we don’t.
Which is foolhardy in the extreme.
If you wanted to do more sport, you would.
If you wanted to eat less crisps, you would.
But don’t. And don’t. So don’t.
The wiser choice is to resolve to do more of that which you enjoy, and thereby not only setting yourself an achievable goal but one which through the genuine fulfilment it brings benefits you spiritually, intellectually, emotionally and physically; therefore, let us all, collectively, promise to visit more architecture and design exhibitions in 2019 than we did in 2018.
Our five starters for January 2019 can be found in Frankfurt, Malmö, New York, Berlin and Stuttgart……………..
If you are planning visiting an architecture or design museum, anywhere in the world, in 2019, it will be staging a Bauhaus themed special exhibition. Guaranteed. There are literally millions of them lined up. If not billions.
Which is no complaint. Or at least not unless they are exhibitions based on formulaic, lazy clichés. Then it is very much a complaint. But if they are exhibitions which take open, honest and unblinkered views on either the institution as a whole or a specific, ideally, under researched, aspect of the institution, and of course remember that it is 100 years Bauhaus Weimar, and not 100 years Bauhaus Dessau, then it is no complaint.
Consequently, December 2018 could be your last chance to experience anything else for a goodly while.
Our Bauhaus free recommendations or December 2018 can be found in Vienna, Dortmund, New York, London & San Francisco……..