Itten, Breuer, Albers and Arndt, directors of the Bauhaus carpentry workshop

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Johannes Itten

Johannes Itten (Switzerland, 1888 - Switzerland, 1967). He was a painter, designer, teacher and writer. Between 1904 and 1906, Johannes Itten was trained as a primary teacher at the Teacher Training Institute in Bern. He worked as a primary school teacher from 1908 to 1909. That same year, he enrolled at the École des Beaux-Arts in Geneva and studied there until 1910. Until 1912, Itten completed another degree in natural sciences and mathematics at the University of Bern and He received his diploma as a high school teacher. In the following two years, he studied at the Stuttgart Academy and became a member of the main student study of Adolf Hölzel. In 1916, Herwarth Walden organized a first individual exhibition dedicated to the work of Itten in his gallery Der Sturm in Berlin. That same year, Itten moved to Vienna and opened a private art school there.

Between 1919 and 1923 he was named one of the first masters of the Bauhaus in Weimar by Walter Gropius. In addition until 1923 he was also director of the preliminary course that he had developed independently for the introductory semester and teacher of the form of all the workshops, except the workshops of ceramics, binding and printing. He left the Bauhaus in March 1923 after disagreements with Walter Gropius and three years later founded the Itten School in Berlin.

In 1932, he was elected to direct Höhere Fachschule für Textile Flächenkunst (Advanced School of Textile Art) in Krefeld. In 1934, the Itten school in Berlin was closed by the NSDAP. In 1937, Itten's work was exhibited at the exhibition Entartete Kunst (degenerate art) in Munich. In the following year, he was dismissed from his position at the academy in Krefeld. Itten then moved to the Netherlands. In 1938, he became the director of the Kunstgewerbeschule (school of applied arts) and the Kunstgewerbemuseum (museum of applied arts) in Zurich. In 1943, he also became director of the Textilfachschule (textile school) in Zurich. In 1949, he was commissioned to design the Rietberg Museum for non-European art in Zurich. In 1955, Max Bill invited him to join the School of Design (HfG) of Ulm. Several retrospectives of his work were carried out at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam in 1957 and at the Kunsthaus Zürich in 1964, among others.

The Darmstadt Professor awarded Johannes Itten an honorary doctorate in 1965. In 1966 he received the "Sikkens Art Prize of the Netherlands" and is now internationally recognized for representing Switzerland at the 33rd Venice Biennial.

Johannes Itten died in Zurich on March 25, 1967.

Marcel Breuer

Marcel Breuer, born in Hungary in 1902, was educated under the Bauhaus manifesto of “total construction”; this is likely why Breuer is well known for both his furniture designs as well as his numerous works of architecture, which ranged from small residences to monumental architecture and governmental buildings. His career flourished during the Modernist period in conjunction with architects and designers such as founder of Bauhaus, Walter Gropius, Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe.

Breuer began his career as first a student, then a teacher at the Bauhaus, a position that he secured in 1925. Incidentally, it was also the year that Breuer earned recognition for his design of the “Wassily” chair, a tubular steel chair – sleek and functional – that represented the industrial aesthetic and formal simplicity of the Modernist period.

In 1937 he was invited by instructor and colleague Walter Gropius to become a faculty member at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. There, he and Gropius worked together in a joint architectural firm. In 1941, Breuer split off from Gropius and opened his own practice. Much of Breuer’s early work was an exploration into post-war living. Projects like the “bi-nuclear house” were among many that were developed from this period by Breuer and his contemporaries. This was an era of the post-war boom, new materials and industries, prefabrication and the commodity of home ownership. By the 1950's, Breuer designed approximately sixty private residences.

Breuer’s career made a turning point when he was commissioned in 1953 to design the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Headquarters in Paris. This public and monumental building marked Breuer’s return to Europe and public projects. It was also around this time that Breuer established a satellite office in Paris to oversea other European commissions while still working on projects in the United States.

In 1963, Breuer began work on the Whitney Museum of Art in New Yor Ckity, probably one of his best-known public projects. The museum clearly speaks to Breuer’s Brutalist design tendencies – the primary use of concrete, the top-heavy form, and minimal glazing. Over the next few decades, Breuer designed housing projects, various buildings in universities and schools across the country, museums, research centers, the US Embassy in the Netherlands, and several buildings for the United States government in Washington. His design career was also filled with various iterations of the “Wassily” chair and other furnishings whose aesthetic still carries associations and influence today.

Marcel Breuer died in New York, United States, in 1981 at the age of 71.


Josef Albers was born in Bottrop (Westphalia, Germany) in 1888 and died in 1976 in New Haven, Connecticut, in the United States, his adopted country to where he emigrated in 1933, the year of the rise to power of the Nazi party, which impeded the continuation of the Bauhaus where Albers had been a teacher at its venues in Weimar, Dessau and Berlin. Having moved to America, Albers taught at Black Mountain College (North Carolina) until 1949. He was later head of the Department of Design at Yale University (New Haven, Connecticut), retiring from that position in 1958. From his early years at the Bauhaus in his native Germany until the end of his career at Yale, Albers combined artistic creation with teaching and many leading American artists trained with him.

Alfred Arndt

Alfred Arndt (Prussia, Germany, 1898 - Darmstadt, Germany, 1976). Architect, student and teacher of the Bauhaus. He was recruited in the First World War and in 1916 he worked as a foreman in Gdansk. From 1919 to 1920, he attended the trade school in Elbing and studied at the Academy of Art in Königsberg. At the same time, he had classes with the painter Robert Königsberg. In 1921, Arndt joined Wandervogel, a German youth movement oriented towards nature.

He began his career at the Bauhaus in Weimar, in the preliminary course given by Johannes Itten and later, he received classes from Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky and Oskar Schlemmer. From 1922 to 1926, he studied in the mural painting department of Wassily Kandinsky and Hinnerk Scheper. Between 1926 and 1927, he attended the carpentry workshop taught by Marcel Breuer.

In 1927 he married the photographer and also student of the Bauhaus, Getrud Arndt and they moved to Probstzella, where he commissioned the "Casa del Pueblo".

In 1929, he returned to the Bauhaus at the invitation of Hannes Meyer to take over the direction of the carpentry workshop. In 1932, the Bauhaus closed due to the Second World War, so Alfred Arndt returned to Probstzella, where he joined the Nazi party and was head of publicity. Between 1945 and 1947 he worked as municipal councilor for construction in Jena, but in 1948 the family moved permanently to Darmstadt, in the new Federal Republic of Germany.

His work Casa del Pueblo de Probstzella and the corresponding Hotelpark became the largest construction in Thuringia.
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