Women at the Bauhaus
The Bauhaus, which opened in Weimar in 1919, gave numerous women the opportunity to learn professions that were previously closed to them. Among them were artists, who embodied a new, self-confident type of woman and who claimed their right to artistic self-realization.
Anni Albers originally wanted to be a painter, but it was at the loom where she found artistic freedom at the Bauhaus. In her work she primarily explored abstraction.
It was only when Gertrud Arndt got to the Bauhaus that she found there was no course in architecture. So she became a weaver. But her secret passion was photography.
Bayer was the right hand of her husband, graphic designer Herbert Bayer. Her own photographs record everyday life at the Bauhaus and the good cheer that prevailed there.
Beese was the first woman to study in the building department of the Dessau Bauhaus. After graduating she was a sought-after architect.
Berger was acting head of Weaving after Gunta Stölzl left. She later opened her own Textile Studio but being Jewish she was soon banned from practising her trade. Otti Berger died in Auschwitz in 1944.
Beyer designed one of the rare garments created at the Bauhaus: a dress tailored geometrically in various shades of blue and ending just above the knee – scandalous for 1928.
Blühová was one of the few students at the Bauhaus to engage with social photography. Before joining the course, Slovakian-born Blühová was already observing the lives of people around her with a critical eye.
László Moholy-Nagy quickly recognised her unique talent. With his encouragement, Brandt studied in the male domain of the metal workshop – proving more successful than many of her classmates.
She had devoted her life to art and art education – even in the concentration camp at Theresienstadt, she used this to offer children a little bit of normality. Friedl Dicker died in Auschwitz in 1944.
Gropius affectionately called his wife “Mrs Bauhaus”. Ise Gropius was an editor, a secretary and an equal partner for the Bauhaus founder.
After training with the dancer Gret Palucca, Grosch was hired by the Bauhaus to teach gymnastics. Her performances for theatre class productions are legendary.
The musician had formulated her own approach to teaching music, seeking to address all the senses in a harmony of equals. Her classes were attended by masters as well as students.
Heymann-Loebenstein was considered talented but unsuited to the pottery workshop. She later made a success of her own ceramic business, the Haël Workshops.
Kallin was one of the few women alongside Marianne Brandt in the Bauhaus metal workshop, but it was above all in photography that she displayed great talent.
Judit Kárász was one of the few students to explore social photography. With her camera she ventured a glimpse behind the scenes of bourgeois life and documented poverty and social exclusion.
Kerkovius had already trained in painting when she arrived at the Bauhaus in Weimar. In Adolf Hölzel’s master class she also studied with Itten, who had once been her student in Stuttgart.
Benita Koch-Otte was one of the most talented students in the Bauhaus weaving workshop and one of Germany’s leading modernist weavers. From 1925 she headed the weaving studio at the School of Arts and Crafts at Burg Giebichenstein in Halle.
Corona Krause had just turned 18 when she came to the Bauhaus in Weimar. Here she studied in the weaving workshop, later becoming a textile and fashion designer.
She had already exhibited alongside Kurt Schwitters at the gallery Sturm in 1919. Langenstrass-Uhlig produced a broad expressionist œuvre, some of it inspired by the Bauhaus, but not many people know her today.
Together with Hans Fischli, Leiteritz won the competition for Bauhaus wallpaper. The designs were used by the Gebrüder Rasch factory in Bramsche for a Bauhaus collection still in production today.
She designed almost all the interior fittings of the ADGB-Bundessschule in Bernau (ADGB Trade Union School in Bernau) for the Bauhaus. However, she first made a name for herself as an architect and interior designer in the 1950s.
Moholy’s photos of the Bauhaus building, the Masters’ Houses and Bauhaus products enduringly shaped the image of the art school.
After training there, she put the Bauhaus in touch with her family’s company, Gebrüder Rasch in Bramsche, who still market the Bauhaus wallpaper designs.
She was the woman at Mies’s side. In 1932 Lilly Reich took over the fitting out workshop and officially became the second female Bauhaus master.
Reichardt made a particularly resilient and durable polished thread called ‘iron yarn’ that was used to span Marcel Breuer’s tubular steel furniture.
Lou Scheper formulated a very individual artistic idiom and her work was extremely multifaceted. She took the view that not all design has to be functional.
Equipped with skills from the Bauhaus advertising workshop, Ricarda and Heinz Schwerin, both active communists, founded their advertising agency Hammer and Brush in Prague.
Alma Buscher designed toys that allowed children to imitate but also to unfold their own creativity. Her ‘Little Ship-Building Game’ is still produced today.
As a trained painter and print-maker, she came to the Bauhaus in Weimar in search of kindred spirits. Her student output, commercial graphics and uncommissioned paintings all bore the marks of an abstract style.
‘I wanted to be part of it.’ Ré Soupault soon realised the Bauhaus was for her. Her life was intertwined with major contemporary figures of the modernist avant-garde.
When Walter Peterhans was appointed to the Bauhaus, his students Grete Stern and Ellen Auerbach bought all his equipment. As ringl+pit they took the Berlin advertising world by storm.
Gunta Stölzl’s affinity for weaving and textiles stood her in such good stead that she was placed in charge of the weaving workshop at the Bauhaus in Dessau, first as a master of works and ultimately as its head.
Some Bauhaus students achieved world fame, but many remained largely unknown. One such was the photographer Elsa Thiemann, who designed some quite untypical wallpaper at the Bauhaus.
“Good luck, Bauhaus and Berlin comrades, see you after the revolution”: Tomljenović processed her expulsion from the Bauhaus in a photocollage.