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But even in light of different needs and resources, a nearly infinite number of outcomes are possible when you start with such a richly varied history. Indeed were it not for the Bauhaus name, there would be nothing to hold these strains of modernism together. Gropius may have agreed: He ensured that the Bauhaus trademark would survive the Weimar Republic by brokering a New Bauhaus in Chicago, run by one of his ex-Bauhaus colleagues, and by promoting the defunct original while head of the Harvard architecture department.

He proved a brilliant propagandist. Somewhat disingenuously given his early socialist sympathies Gropius successfully pitched the Bauhaus as an emblem of modern American liberalism.

Modell Bauhaus: A Conceptual Model. 1919-2009

MoMa played no small part in the transmission of this image. Johnson accomplished this through one of his first shows, Modern Architecture: International Exhibition , curated with Henry Russell Hitchcock. This became known as the International Style exhibition and set the stage for the landmark Bauhaus , curated by John McAndrew with Alfred Barr six years later. Personified by elegant Gropius and touted by hyperconnected Johnson, the Bauhaus became a ready standard-bearer for International Style architecture.

Whether built with delicate sensitivity to materials or dull adherence to principles, the glass box became an icon of Cold War capitalism, a symbol of modernist cosmopolitanism befitting a global superpower in the making. More important in terms of actual building, the glass boxes were economical compared to Beaux Arts marble, a crucial consideration in the period of postwar inflation. That means the architecture followed from engineering considerations such as the tensile strength of steel rather than, as in the case of Beaux Arts, originating from a sculptural ideal.

And, as a bonus, the unadorned structure of these buildings also served as their decor.

Points of View: Herbert Bayer’s Exhibition Catalogue for the Section Allemande

Buffeted by the building boom, the increasingly generic glass boxes— the sort that dominate certain sweeps of Park Avenue in midtown Manhattan—came to seem ubiquitous, even inescapable, guaranteeing their place in history and serial rejection by factions all the way from the Supreme Soviet to the postmodernists.

Compare this to the superficial, ill-proportioned W. Why the fall from grace? Bunshaft was no slouch.


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The color palette used in the exhibition comes from those that Gropius used in houses he designed for himself and the Bauhaus masters in Dessau in Along with the standard Bauhaus colors of white, black, and gray, unexpected colors such as gold, pink, and tangerine are used. Made of painted wood with a colorful woven textile, this chair embodies the spirit of the early Bauhaus in its romantic experimentalism. The New York and Berlin exhibitions share a core group of loans, but have distinct curatorial perspectives.

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The European avant-gardes and Italian fascism. The Kandinsky-Marinetti correspondence in July 1932

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