The Bauhaus and Harvard

, Special Exhibitions Gallery, Harvard Art Museums
A stylized plan for a brightly colored booth in the shape of a cube.

Herbert Bayer, Design for a Multimedia Trade Fair Booth, 1924. Opaque watercolor, charcoal and touches of graphite with collage of cut printed and colored papers on off-white wove paper. Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Gift of the artist, BR48.101. © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn.

Special Exhibitions Gallery, Harvard Art Museums

The Bauhaus and Harvard — mounted in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany — presents nearly 200 works by 74 artists, drawn almost entirely from the Busch-Reisinger Museum’s extensive Bauhaus collection. Founded in 1919 and closed just 14 years later, the Bauhaus was the 20th century’s most influential school of art, architecture, and design. Harvard University played host to the first Bauhaus exhibition in the United States in 1930, and went on to become an unofficial center for the Bauhaus in America when founding director Walter Gropius joined Harvard’s department of architecture in 1937. Today the Busch-Reisinger Museum houses the largest Bauhaus collection outside Germany, initiated and assembled through the efforts of Gropius and many former teachers and students who emigrated from Nazi Germany, including Anni and Josef Albers, Herbert Bayer, Lyonel Feininger, and László Moholy-Nagy.

The exhibition features rarely seen student exercises, iconic design objects, photography, textiles, typography, paintings, and archival materials. It explores the school’s pioneering approach to art education, the ways its workshops sought to revolutionize the experience of everyday life, the widespread influence of Bauhaus instruction in America, and Harvard’s own Graduate Center (1950), the first modernist building complex on campus, designed by Gropius’s firm The Architects Collaborative. A complementary exhibition installed in an adjacent gallery — Hans Arp’s Constellations II — features one of the site-specific works commissioned for the Graduate Center. A publication inspired by The Bauhaus and Harvard and its related programming is due out in March 2021.

Organized by the Harvard Art Museums. Curated by Laura Muir, Research Curator in the Division of Academic and Public Programs, Harvard Art Museums.

Support for this project is provided by endowed funds, including the Daimler Curatorship of the Busch-Reisinger Museum Fund, the Charles L. Kuhn Endowment Fund, and the Care of the Busch-Reisinger Museum Collection Fund. The publication is supported by the Harvard Art Museums Mellon Publication Funds, including the Carola B. Terwilliger Fund. In addition, exhibition related programming is made possible by the M. Victor Leventritt Fund, which was established through the generosity of the wife, children, and friends of the late M. Victor Leventritt, Harvard Class of 1935. Modern and contemporary art programs at the Harvard Art Museums are made possible in part by generous support from the Emily Rauh Pulitzer and Joseph Pulitzer, Jr., Fund for Modern and Contemporary Art.

Share your experience: #Bauhaus100 #HarvardArtMuseums

Online Resources

A comprehensive digital resource launched in 2016 provides access to the museums’ more than 32,000 Bauhaus-related objects and shares scholarship on the school’s extensive ties to Harvard and the Greater Boston area.

Learn more about the exhibition in our series of videos on Vimeo, including an introduction by Laura Muir, a recording of artist Judith Raum’s lecture-performance evoking the figure of Bauhaus weaver Otti Berger during the exhibition’s opening celebration, presentations from the symposium “Bauhaus 100: Object Lessons from a Historic Collection,” and more.

Related Exhibitions at Harvard and Beyond

Hans Arp’s Constellations II
February 8, 2019–July 28, 2019
University Research Gallery, Harvard Art Museums

Judith Raum: Raveled Fabrics
February 7, 2019–March 17, 2019
Lightbox Gallery, Harvard Art Museums

The Bauhaus at Home and Abroad: Selections from the Papers of Walter Gropius, Lyonel Feininger, and Andor Weininger
January 15–May 31, 2019
Amy Lowell Room, Houghton Library, Harvard University

Creating Community: Harvard Law School and the Bauhaus
February 4–August 16, 2019
Caspersen Room, Langdell Hall, Harvard Law School

The Bauhaus Studio: Primary Materials and Secondary Sources
April 6–May 5, 2019
Harvard Ed Portal

The Goethe-Institut Boston is promoting Bauhaus centennial events at a range of New England institutions, including Radical Geometries: Bauhaus Prints, 1919–33 on view February 9 to June 23, 2019, at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and Arresting Fragments: Object Photography at the Bauhaus on display March 28 to September 1, 2019, at the MIT Museum.