After studying draughtsmanship at a large machine factory in Elbing, East Prussia, Alfred Arndt was conscripted in WW I and worked as a foreman in Gdansk in 1916. From 1915 to 1918 Arndt joined the Wandervogel, a German nature-oriented youth movement. From 1919 to 1920, he attended the trade school in Elbing and studied at the art academy in Königsberg (today’s Kaliningrad; life drawing class) until 1921. At the same time, he had lessons with the Königsberg painter Robert Budzinski.
He studied at the Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar and at the Bauhaus Dessau from 1921 to 1926. In 1921 in Weimar, he enrolled in the preliminary course taught by Johannes Itten and took classes by Paul Klee, Dora Wibiral and Dorothea Seeligmüller. From 1922 to 1924–1925, he studied in the wall painting department under Wassily Kandinsky. On 17th April 1924, he passed the journeyman’s examination at the Chamber of Crafts in Weimar. From 1925 to 1926 at the Bauhaus Dessau, he studied in the wall painting department under Hinnerk Scheper. In 1927, Arndt married the Bauhaus student Gertrud Hantschk. As early as 1926 he worked as a freelance architect in Probstzella, Thuringia, where he took over the construction of the Haus des Volkes (house of the people) from the architect Klapproth commissioned by Franz Itting. In 1926/27 he modified it in the spirit of the Neues Bauen and completed it including interior fittings and furnishings.
1929 Hannes Meyer brought him back to the Bauhaus Dessau appointed him as the director of the interior design department, which integrated the carpentry, metal and wall painting workshops. From 1930 to 1931, he was the director of the integrated building and interior design departments. From 1931 to 1932, he taught interior design, illustrative geometry and perspective. In 1931, his daughter Alexandra was born.
Arndt left the Bauhaus in 1933 and returned to Probstzella with his family. He worked here as an advertising graphic designer and architect. In 1937, his son Hugo was born. Out of solidarity with Franz Itting jr, son of Franz Itting, the builder of the Haus des Volkes, Arndt joined the NSDAP in 1937, a prerequisite for Franz Itting’s return from the concentration camp Bad Salza. Against his will, he was then appointed head of propaganda for Probstzella, a position which was soon taken away from him due to a lack of commitment. Until 1945 Arndt worked for private builders, commercial and industrial enterprises in South Thuringia and Upper Franconia. From 1936 to 1940, the former Bauhaus member Konrad Püschel was his colleague.
After 1945, Arndt was employed in Jena as a government building and planning officer for three years. During this period, he worked with Wassili Luckhardt, Georg Neidenberger and Joost Schmidt to re-establish the Bauhaus in Weimar. In 1948, Arndt and his family moved to the western occupation zone in Coburg and then to Darmstadt where he participated in the development of the Bauhaus Archive and continued his activities as an industrial architect until his death in 1976.
∙ Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin (1999): In der Vollendung liegt die Schönheit. Der Bauhaus-Meister Alfred Arndt, Berlin.
∙ Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin (2003): Bauhaus-Möbel. Eine Legende wird besichtigt, Berlin.
∙ Alexej Kolyschkow (2004): Alfred Arndt, ein Farbgestalter des Bauhauses, und seine Leistungen im „Haus des Volkes” Probstzella, in: Thesis, H. 2.
∙ and an email exchange with Hugo Arndt, November 2020.
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