Bauhaus Manifesto by Walter Gropius in 1919

The ultimate aim of all creative activity is a building!

The decoration of buildings was once the noblest function of fine arts, and fine arts were indispensable to great architecture. Today they exist in complacent isolation, and can only be rescued by the conscious co-operation and collaboration of all craftsmen.

Architects, painters, and sculptors must once again come to know and comprehend the composite character of a building, both as an entity and in terms of its various parts. Then their work will be filled with that true architectonic spirit which, as "salon art", it has lost. The old art schools were unable to produce this unity; and how, indeed, should they have done so, since art cannot be taught? Schools must return to the workshop. The world of the pattern-designer and applied artist, consisting only of drawing and painting must become once again a world in which things are built.

If the young person who rejoices in creative activity now begins his career as in the older days by learning a craft, then the unproductive "artist" will no longer be condemned to inadequate artistry, for his skills will be preserved for the crafts in which he can achieve great things.

Bauhaus Manifesto by Walter Gropius, 1919
with Lyonel Feininger zinc etching "Cathedral" - BHA

Related Pages

Bauhaus Dessau Campus Building
Founder Walter Gropius  
"Degenerate Art" Exhibition

Subpage Info or Listing

In spite of its name, and the fact that its founder was an architect, the Bauhaus did not have an architecture department during the first years of its existence. Nonetheless it was founded with the...
On the Manifesto cover is Lyonel Feininger's famous "Cathedral" zinc etching - not a static or repressive gothic cathedral but a tremendously energetic, jazzed up image full of a dissidence and vision for the future.

Architects, painters, sculptors, we must all return to crafts! For there is no such thing as "professional art". There is no essential difference between the artist and the craftsman. The artist is an exalted craftsman. By the grace of Heaven and in rare moments of inspiration which transcend the will, art may unconsciously blossom from the labour of his hand, but a base in handicrafts is essential to every artist. It is there that the original source of creativity lies.

Let us therefore create a new guild of craftsmen without the class-distinctions that raise an arrogant barrier between craftsmen and artists! Let us desire, conceive, and create the new building of the future together. It will combine architecture, sculpture, and painting in a single form, and will one day rise towards the heavens from the hands of a million workers as the crystalline symbol of a new and coming faith.

Walter Gropius, 1919

Walter Gropius
The Bauhaus principles are best summarized by Alfred Barr, the Director of the Museum of Modern Art 1938, in his preface to the book Bauhaus (edited by Gropius and Bayer):

* most student should face the fact that their future should be involved primarily with industry and mass production rather than with individual craftsmanship

* teachers in schools of design should be men who are in advance of their profession rather than safely and academically in the rearguard

* the schools of design should, as the Bauhaus did, bring together the various arts of painting, architechture, theatre, photography, weaving, typography, etc., into a modern synthesis which disregards conventional distinctions between the "fine" and "applied" arts

* it is harder to design a first rate chair than to paint a second rate painting-and much more useful

Gropius himself said,

"The Bauhaus does not pretend to be a crafts school; contact with industry is consciously sought...the old craft workshops will develop into industrial laboratories: from their experimentation will evolve standards for industrial production...

The teaching of a craft is meant to prepare for designing for mass production. Starting with the simplest tools and least complicated jobs, he gradually acquires ability to master more intricate problem and to work with machinery, while at the same time he keeps in touch with the entire process of production from start to finish."


* a school of design should have on its faculty the purely creative and disinterested artist such as the easel painter as a spiritual counterpoint to the practical technician in order that they may work and teach side by side for the benefit of the student

* manual experience of materials is essential to the student of design- esperience at first confined to free experiment and then extended to the practical workshop

* the study of rational design in terms of techniques and materials should be only the first step in the development of a new and modern sense of beauty

* because we live in the 20th century, the student architect or designer should be offered no refuge in the past but should be equipped for the modern world in its various aspects, artistic, technical, social, economic, spiritual, so that he may function in society not as a decorator but as a vital participant.


  Sources and related Links
  dmoma.org - The Bauhaus Manifesto
chrissnider.com - Manifesto, legacy, influence
www.webseite.com - Informationen
www.webseite.com - Informationen
  Image Rights  •  Contact  •  Credits  •  News