Hannes Meyer’s “bauhaus and society” (1929)

Translated from the German by D.Q.  Stephenson.  From Hannes Meyer,

Buildings, Projects, and Writings,  (Teufen AR/Schweiz.  Arthur Niggli Ltd.: 1965).

• • •

in every creative design appropriate to living

we recognize

an organized form of existence.

given proper embodiment

every creative design appropriate to living is

a reflection of contemporary society.  —

building and design are for us one and the same, and they are a social process.

as a ‘university of design’

the dessau bauhaus is not an artistic,

but a social phenomenon.

• • •

as creative designers

our activities are determined by society, and the scope of our tasks is set by society.

does not our present society in Germany call for thousand’s of people’s schools, people’s parks, people’s houses?

hundred of thousands of people’s flats??

millions of pieces of people’s furniture???

(what are the connoisseurs’ gibberings worth when set against these)

(after the cubistic cubes of bauhaus objectivity?)

thus we take the structure and the vital needs

of our community as given.

we seek to achieve

the widest possible survey of the people’s life,

the deepest possible insight into the people’s soul,

the broadest possible knowledge of this community.

as creative designers

we are servants of this community.

our work is a service to the people.

• • •

all life is an urge towards harmony.

growing means

striving after the harmonious enjoyment of

oxygen + carbon + sugar + starch + protein.

work means

our search for the harmonious form of existence.

we are not seeking

a bauhaus style or a bauhaus fashion.

no modishly-flat plane-surface ornamentation divided horizontally and vertically and all done up in neoplastic style.

we are not seeking geometric or stereometric constructions,

alien to life and inimical to function.

we are not in Timbuctoo:

ritual and hierarchy

are not dictators of our creative designing.

we despise every form

which is prostituted into a formula.

thus the aim of all bauhaus work is

to bring together all vitally creative forces

so as to give harmonious shape to our

society.

• • •

as members of the bauhaus we are seekers:

we seek the harmonious work,

the outcome of the conscious organization

of intellectual and spiritual forces.

every human work is directed to an object

and the world of its creator is apparent in it.

this is his life-line.

thus our work

collective in aim and embracing the broad masses in its scope

becomes a manifestation of the philosophy of life.

• • •

art?!

all art is organization.

the organization of the dialogue between this world and the other,

the organization of sense impressions of the human eye,

and accordingly subjective, bound to the person,

and accordingly objective, determined by society.

art is not a beauty aid, art is not a discharge of affect,

art is only organization.

classical:

in the module of the logical geometry of Euclid,

gothic:

in the acute angle as the pattern of passion,

renaissance:

in the golden section as the rule of balance.

art has always been nothing but organization.

we of today long to obtain through art solely

the knowledge of a new objective organization,

meant for all,

manifesto and mediator of a collective society.

thus a theory of art

becomes a system of organizing principles

and indispensible to every creative designer.

thus being an artist is no longer a profession

but the vocation to become a creator of order.

thus bauhaus art

is also a means of experimenting in objective order.

• • •

the new bauhaus school

as a center of education in shaping life

makes no selection of the gifted.

it despises

the imitative intellectual mobility of talent,

it is alive to the danger of intellectual schism:

inbreeding, egocentrism, unworldliness, aloofness.

the new building school

[100-101]

is a place for testing aptitude.

everyone has an aptitude for something.

life refuses no one.

a capacity for symbiosis

is inherent in every individual.

hence education for creative design engages

the whole man.

removes inhibitions, anxiety, repression.

eliminates pretense, bias, prejudice.

it unites the liberation of the designer

with the capacity

for becoming identified with society.

• • •

the new theory of building

is an epistemology of existence.

as a theory of design

it is the song of songs of harmony.

as a theory of society

it is a strategy for balancing

co-operative forces and individual forces

within the community of a people.

this theory of building is not a theory of style.

it is not a constructivist system,

it is not a doctrine of technical miracles.

it is a system for organizing life,

and it likewise clarifies

physical, psychical, material, and economic concerns.

it explores, delimits, and orders the fields of force

of the individual, the family, and

society.

its basis is the recognition of the living space

and the knowledge of the periodicity of the process

of living.

spiritual distance is as important to it

as the distance measured in meters.

its creative media are — deliberately employed —

the results of biological research.

because this doctrine of building is close to life’s

realities its theses are constantly changing:

because it finds concrete existence in life,

its forms are as rich in content as life itself.

‘richness is all.’

• • •

finally all creative action is determined by the fate

of the landscape

which for the man with roots there is peculiar and

unique, his work is personal and localized.

if a floating population lacks these roots

its work easily becomes stereotyped and

standardized.

a conscious experience of the landscape

is building as determined by fate.

as creators we fulfill the fate of

the landscape.

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~ by Ross Wolfe on October 20, 2010.

4 Responses to “Hannes Meyer’s “bauhaus and society” (1929)”

  1. […] Meyer, Hannes.  “bauhaus and society.” Translated by D.Q.  Stephenson.  Buildings, Projects, and Writings.  (Teufen AR/Schweiz.  […]

  2. […] Meyer, Hannes.  “bauhaus and society.” Translated by D.Q.  Stephenson.  Buildings, Projects, and Writings.  (Teufen AR/Schweiz.  […]

  3. […] Meyer, Hannes.  “bauhaus and society.”  Translated by D.Q. Stephenson.  Buildings, Projects, and Writings. (Arthur Niggli Ltd.  New […]

  4. […] Meyer, Hannes.  “bauhaus and society.” Translated by D.Q.  Stephenson.  Buildings, Projects, and Writings.  (Teufen AR/Schweiz.  […]

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