The Bauhaus from a Special Perspective

foreword written by Karin Šerman
text written by Matko Meštrović


Foreword - by Karin Šerman

Five years ago, in 2009, the entire cultural and artistic world celebrated the great 90th anniversary of the founding of the Bauhaus, one of the most intriguing artistic and pedagogical experiments in both European and international cultural and artistic contemporary history. As a very influential school in the field of visual and graphic culture, photography and especially in the sphere of architecture and design, where it can be regarded even as a landmark moment, the Bauhaus continues to attract interest and incites ongoing research to this day. Even more intriguing is each newly discovered document, offering fresh rereading of that artistic experiment and enabling new interpretations of its basic tasks and implications. One such document of particular importance to us has been discovered only recently. An audio recording of a speech by the Croatian design theorists Matko Meštrović has been discovered in the archives of the Croatian Television. It was broadcast on the Third Program of the Radio Zagreb in 1969, marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of this influential school. Forty years after the radio show, a repeated listening of that Meštrović's presentation of the Bauhaus and its echoes reveals impressively fresh and contemporary thoughts, precise insights and sharp judgments of this exceptional pedagogical and artistic phenomenon


On the Bauhaus - by  Matko Meštrović

Tomás Maldonado, until recently the director of the Ulm School of Design, wrote a few years ago in an article entitled Is the Bauhaus Up-To-Date, that the Bauhaus is up-to-date, not as an educational institution or an artistic and architectural movement of the 1920s, but as the defeated Bauhaus which tried, albeit without success, to open a humanistic perspective in the technical civilization, that is, to look at the human environment as a particular field of designing activity. What we have in mind is the Bauhaus that was trying to take responsibility for progressive and open culture in Germany. Thus, the Bauhaus, not as a recognized, assimilated and institutionalized tradition, but rather as a newly-discovered power of its conceptual program that yet remains to be realized. What is this “defeated Bauhaus that is current even today, what is its relevance? We will try to answer this question with a short presentation of the cultural, historical, and sociopolitical context in which the Bauhaus was created, and the evolution of its ideas through its three historical stages and their reflection in the Soviet Union and the United States in the 1930s. Finally, we will speak of the continuation of the Bauhaus in post-war Germany on the example of the Ulm School of Design, which last year unfortunately suffered the same fate as the Bauhaus, namely, it was closed down.