The 1920s: An International Outlook

While Expressionism held sway within German art up until World War I, a constructive idiom infused German art after World War I.

Compositions were simple, and artists used clear-cut lines and forms that leave behind a sense of structure. The constructive formal principles became associated with political commitment and a possible take on art’s role in a new society.

Bauhaus functional, rational and social art

The constructive style is particularly obvious at the art school Bauhaus, where artists such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and László Moholy-Nagy taught. The objective was to create architecture and art that is functional, rational, and in keeping with the social world around it.

Masters, apprentices, and journeymen

The school drew inspiration from medieval German guild traditions. The professors were known as “masters” and the students were  “apprentices” that would eventually become “journeymen”. Having been introduced to the creation of form on an introductory course they were assigned to workshops where two masters would teach them about form and craft, respectively.

Architectural art

The drawing House of the Z. Company offers an example of Klee’s architectural view of images: The somewhat mercantile theme reminds us that contractual matters and finance were also topics covered by the Bauhaus curriculum, but other than that the absolutely straight lines suggest the draughtsmanship of an architect, and in certain places the squares and diagonals look like roof structures and windows depicted in a technical drawing (elevation); elsewhere, parallel diagonals reminds us of a building drawn as an isometric projection.

To the right is a form characteristic of Klee, an arrow or lightning bolt symbolising the creation of a work as an event or process.

Paul Klee, House of the Z.company, 1922.

© Paul Klee, House of the Z.company, 1922.

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Updated: 26.apr.2018
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