The concept of Bauhaus design conjures up a number of images. But just how does this approach fit into the history of modernist design in Europe? A new exhibition at the Vienna Furniture Museum offers answers.
- Traces the interaction of art, design and manufacture from the 1850s to the Bauhaus
- Features works by the likes of Hoffmann, Morris, Breuer and Mackintosh
- Runs Oct 21, 2020 – Jun 6, 2021
- See also: Furniture museum visitor & ticket tips
From Arts & Crafts to the Bauhaus
(Table from the imperial-royal state printers, Josef Hoffmann © BMobV, Photo by Edgar Knaack)
A few German words have made their way assiduously into the English language: Bauhaus is one of them, representing a particular design style from the same-named art school of the 1920s and early 1930s.
Ignorant fools like me would struggle to define that style. Which is where the new exhibition at the Vienna Furniture Museum comes in handy.
Bauhaus represented a multidisciplinary approach that sought to combine aesthetics with utility…bring art to industry and industry to art, for example. All of which sounds similar to such movements as Viennese Modernism. Was Bauhaus the pinnacle of a more modernist approach to design or its catalyst? Or neither? Where does it fit in the timeline of modern European design?
The new exhibition seeks to clarify many such questions by presenting Bauhaus in the correct historical context.
From Arts and Crafts to the Bauhaus traces the evolution of the coming together of art, design and production, so we can discover the influences behind the Bauhaus approach and how it set itself apart (or not) from the variety of modernist developments that preceded and complemented it.
The issues addressed in the Bauhaus school concerning, for example, the relative importance of form versus function or the role of design in industrial production had already caused brows to furrow much earlier among, for example, the mid-19th century English arts and crafts movement.
Ten themed sections take us through time and across Europe up until the Bauhaus era.
So we learn about, for example, the Glasgow School of Art (founded in 1845 to advance good design in manufacturing industry and still churning out Turner Prize winners as we speak). And we see the work of William Morris: iconic activist, writer, textile designer and manufacturer.
We spend the turn of the century in Vienna with Josef Hoffmann and the artisan workshops of the Wiener Werkstätte. And we enjoy the abstract simplicity of the De Stijl movement from the Netherlands or the designs that emerged from the collaboration of manufacturers and design professionals in the Deutsche Werkbund.
The exhibition was conceived by Berlin’s Bröhan Museum and hosted there in early 2019 (the centenary year of the establishment of the Bauhaus school). Additional works from the Furniture Museum and also Vienna’s MAK museum complement the displays, which include furniture, ceramics, paintings, graphic designs, and more from several decades of European design history.
Dates and tickets
Enjoy the timeline leading to Bauhaus from October 21st, 2020 to June 6th, 2021.
A normal entrance ticket or appropriate sightseeing pass to the Furniture Museum gets you into the exhibition, too. While there, don’t forget to see the museum proper, which combines both furniture design with exhibits of impressive historical importance.
How to get to the Bauhaus exhibition
See the main Furniture Museum article for travel suggestions. The museum sits just off Vienna’s main shopping street for locals and not far from the MuseumsQuartier (home to three museums of modern and contemporary art).
If the exhibition matches your interests, then you’ll surely also want to visit the MAK museum, which includes, for example, a permanent exhibition on arts, crafts and design from 1890-1938.
Address: Andreasgasse 7, 1070 Vienna