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Bauhaus at The Barbican

25th July 2012

Just a quick, hastily-written post urging any UK designers to brave the Olympichaos and catch Bauhaus: Art as Life at The Barbican in London before it ends in mid-August. I’m somewhat obsessed, so I popped along yesterday, and was not disappointed.

I’ve written about Bauhaus-related stuff here before, and I’ve always made efforts to find time away from work commitments to get out and find inspiration first-hand from exhibitions and anything else that might get the brain juices flowing. For me, this is an incredibly important part of a designer’s role, yet we often make excuses and miss out on such direct learning and intimate experiences.

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For those of you who might not be aware, the Bauhaus is arguably the most important creative school in history, and despite it’s short lifespan (thanks, Nazis) its influence spread far and wide. The facilities were unrivalled, and the roster of lecturers was unparalleled. The school helped shape contemporary understanding of craft and multidisciplinary arts, architecture, industrial design, utilitarianism, mass production, all scaffolded by bold methods for learning.

I’ve been obsessed with the Bauhaus since I found an old book about it as a young teen, and for me it was a real thrill to get up close with some of the landmark pieces from the archive and worldwide collections. This is the largest Bauhaus exhibition we’ve had in the UK for over forty years, and across eight “chapters” the Barbican team do an excellent job of telling the story and putting significant artefacts into context.

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There are works from Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Josef Albers, and all the major forces. For me, it’s the typographic sketches from Herbert Bayer that really stand out, alongside fantastic original copies of Bauhaus publications. From a typographic viewpoint, this exhibition is a must.

Bauhaus: Art as Life is at The Barbican Centre, London until 12th August 2012. I bought a ticket up front and it might be worth doing that yourself, but I don’t think it’s essential. Also, take a spare £32 for the exhibition book: you’ll want it.

Related post: Bauhaus Ideology and the Future of Web Design, by yours truly, September 2009.

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