The Bauhaus was a highly influential German art school operational from 1919 to 1933.
It had a major impact on graphic design.
Here is a deeper look at the history and principles behind Bauhaus graphic design:
Origins and History of the Bauhaus
The Bauhaus was founded in 1919 by architect Walter Gropius in Weimar, Germany.
It was formed by combining two older German art schools - the Weimar Academy of Art and the School of Arts and Crafts.
The core philosophy and approach of the Bauhaus was to combine fine arts and crafts together.
This integrated arts experience became the main curriculum of the school.
Students learned an array of creative disciplines from visual arts to theater, weaving, ceramics, and more.
In 1925, the Bauhaus moved to Dessau under continued leadership by Gropius.
It was during this period in Dessau that the school flourished and had its most influential period.
Attracting famous artists like Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky, the school developed the distinctive Bauhaus style.
In 1933, the Bauhaus was closed under pressure from the Nazi regime, who saw it as a center of communist intellectualism.
Despite its brief lifespan, it had an enduring impact, as its faculty and students spread their teachings across the globe.
Core Design Philosophy and Approach
The Bauhaus promoted an innovative approach to design that focused on functional, simplified forms rather than ornamentation.
A key belief was that “form follows function.”
This meant that design should be dictated first and foremost by utility and purpose rather than just aesthetics.
There was a emphasis on abstraction and experimentation.
Students explored bold geometrical shapes and primary colors.
They also incorporated modern industrial materials like steel, cement, and glass into their designs.
The school did away with traditional distinctions between “fine” and “applied” arts.
Many students explored new mediums like photography and typography.
This interdisciplinary ethos led to groundbreaking visual experiments.
Notable Bauhaus Artists and Designers
Several important artists helped shape the Bauhaus approach to design.
Johannes Itten was one of the first teachers and pioneered the famous preliminary course that immersed students in color theory, textures, and form.
Herbert Bayer revolutionized typography and graphic design by utilizing clean, universal sans-serif fonts and asymmetric layouts.
Other graphic design innovators included Laszlo Moholy-Nagy who worked in photomontage and visual advertising.
Josef Albers explored bold graphic prints and glass art.
Many of the school’s biggest names like Kandinsky, Klee, and Gropius himself were fine artists who spread Bauhaus ideas through their artwork and murals for public spaces.
Their art embodied the Bauhaus aesthetic with its geometric shapes and bright colors.
The Bauhaus had an enormous influence on the development of modern graphic design in the 20th century and introduced a distinct minimalist aesthetic.
It paved the way for the widespread use of sans-serif typography.
The school also made abstract, asymmetrical layouts and designs popular and respectable.
It completely changed how graphic design could look - clean, bold, and stripped down compared to the more ornate, cluttered Victorian styles.
This modernist aesthetic became widely adopted in advertising, branding, and printing.
The Bauhaus ethos of simplified geometric forms and primary colors can be seen in countless logos and designs.
It remains an important inspiration and one of the most iconic schools of modern graphic design.