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Reaction, Rebellion,

and New Vision


From Morris to Loos to Gropius
Mechanized war
30 million casualties
10 million dead
The ultimate aim of all creative activity is a build-
ing! 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 res-
cued by the conscious co-operation and collabora-
tion of all craftsmen. Architects, painters, and
sculptors must once again come to know and com-
prehend 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 archi-
tectonic 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 con-
demned to inadequate artistry, for his skills will
be preserved for the crafts in which he can achieve
great things.
Architects, painters, sculptors, we must all return
to crafts! For there is no such thing as “profes-
sional 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 origi-
nal source of creativity lies.
Let us therefore create a new guild of craftsmen
without the class-distinctions that raise an arro-
gant 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
Bauhaus Manifesto
1919
The reality of our century is technology: the inven-
tion, construction and maintenance of machines. To
be a user of machines is to be of the spirit of this
century. Machines have replaced the transcendental
spiritualism of past eras.

Laszlo Moholy-Nagy
Moholy-Nagy Photogram
Kandinsky
Klee
Laszlo Moholy-Nagy
Moholy-Nagy am 7
Moholy-Nagy La Sarraz
Moholy-Nagy Photo collage and photogram
Moholy-Nagy Bauhaus Dessau
Photo and prospectus cover
Moholy-Nagy View of Radio Tower
Moholy-Nagy Bauhaus 14 Books, etc.
Moholy-Nagy Typo-photo
El Lissitzky
In contrast to the old monumental art, [the
book] itself goes to the people, and does not
stand like a cathedral in one place waiting for
someone to approach.

The book is a unity of acoustics and optics that


requires the viewer’s active involvement, and,
more than any other medium, in the book is a
monument of the future.

El Lissitzky
El Lissitzky Exhibition catalog/poster
El Lissitzky Pelikan ad
El Lissitzky
Pelikan Ink ad
El Lissitzky Russian state publicity
Joost Schmidt Universal type studies
Joost Schmidt Universal type construction
Bayer Universal type studies
Bayer Bauhaus cover
Schlemmer
Schlemmer
Schlemmer Bauhaus symbol and program
The avant-garde poets of the 1910s became the
graphic designers, teachers, and systematic theo-
rists of the 1920s and 1930s while another genera-
tion emerged to follow their directives in the codi-
fication of design. There is perhaps no more per-
verse (and successful) transformation of the for-
mal radicality of early modernism into the seam-
less instrument of corporate capitalist enterprise
than this progression from radical graphic aesthet-
ics into Swiss-style modem design.
The process by which the very elements which
marked the radicality of the early work and its
utopian agenda of intervention through the means
of mass production print media become ordered
and codified into a system which enunciated an
insidiously complicit and instrumentally enabling
corporate style is duplicated by no other aspect of
the early avant-garde. Nowhere else in the history
of modernism, except, perhaps, in the applied arts
of architecture and industrial design, does this
peculiar transformation occur.
What had begun, in the 1910s, as a vivid and exuber-
ant exploration of the materiality of signification,
became, by the end of the 1920s, in the hands of
Herbert Bayer and Jan Tschichold, an ordering of
visual graphics which caused that very materiality to
efface itself, to disappear, under the style of a
graphics whose very adjectival character—elegant,
clean, streamlined, balanced, correct—betray its
repressive force.

Johanna Drucker
Avant-Garde to Corporate Style: The rise of the “design profession”
The Visible Word, p. 239
(Bauhaus, Swiss style, International style)