The Bauhaus endeavoured to combine art, crafts and technology. In doing so, it saw itself as a centre for production and training. It focused on the theory and practice of design. The idea of comprehensive design referred not only to architecture or utilitarian objects but also to social and economic considerations. It was this far-reaching aspiration to reform objects, the world and people alike that brought architects, artists and educators together. The effects of this profound desire for reform are still visible a hundred years after the Bauhaus was founded, not merely in contemporary architecture or design, but also in training for designers, artists and architects that aspires to be up-to-the-minute.

With the triad “Education - Architecture – Arts”, Faculty II of the University of Siegen unites the disciplines that also once held the Bauhaus together. The Bauhaus Paradigms conference provides an opportunity to examine the continuing impact of Bauhaus concepts in the 21st century – specifically too in how architecture, art, (art) pedagogy and vocational education are taught: Which current or updatable intersections between the disciplines can be identified? How can art, technology and craftsmanship come together in design today and in the future? Which societal problems demand artistic answers?

In addition to investigating the utopian point of departure, the interdisciplinary conference will focus on a historical-critical survey of the «Bauhaus myth». Rather than starting from one exemplary paradigm, the conference will examine the heterogeneous aesthetic, ideological, political and pedagogical mixture that ‹formed› under the aegis of the Bauhaus. In this context, the primary concern is to expand the conventional understanding of the Bauhaus by addressing less discussed and new Bauhaus paradigms.

Four sections will examine: motifs within and reasons for the Bauhaus’ popularization; the historical and current limits and possibilities of education through design; the prospects opened up by new ways of teaching artists – also in the light of technological transformation due to digitization – and the now widespread tropes of the Bauhaus’ heroicisation in the 20th and 21st centuries.

We invite proposals for papers, and papers or workshops (workshops for sections III and IV only). Proposals should include: a 300 word abstract, short 150 word biography, institutional affiliation, and contact information. Deadline: April 20, 2019. Please send proposal to [email protected]

Section I: The Bauhaus in Popular Culture
Joseph Imorde, Anne Röhl, Andreas Zeising

Today, the name Bauhaus has a broader significance than simply symbolising the idea of design as such; in popular reception it expressly signals exemplary notions of ‹modernity› and is associated with broadly positive values. Probably no other artistic avant-garde movement has developed such a wide-ranging and international impact. This reception stems largely from prevailing political circumstances in various phases. It is tied to the codification of modernism as the International Style and as a cultural manifestation of the liberal Western world, functioning as a counter-image to the totalitarian ideologies of the 1930s. Such codifications shaped reception above all in the USA, where emigration of numerous leading Bauhaus figures gave rise at an early stage to the ‹Bauhaus idea› being carried forward independently. In post-1945 Germany, on the other hand, institutions such as the Ulm School of Design, the state-run Colleges of Applied Art, and above all the discipline of art pedagogy essentially linked the vision of modernism to a liberal ethos, considered to be best exemplified in the Bauhaus. In this spirit, the Bauhaus also found its way onto the art syllabuses.

Nowadays, the «Bauhaus myth», as well as being perpetuated in popularised art education, is also kept alive by the media, marketing and cultural tourism, as impressively demonstrated by the 2019 centenary celebrations. More than ever, conventional notions of design and modern architecture are associated today with the names of «visionary» Bauhaus artists and «Bauhaus icons everyone should know», to cite the title of a recent publication. At the same time, however, a clear dissolution of boundaries and diffusion become apparent, with popular reception referencing the ‹Bauhaus style› as a yardstick and applying it to every conceivable artistic phenomenon.

The conference panel focuses on current and historical forms of reception of ‹Bauhaus Modernism› in the wide-ranging segment of the popular realm and considers in particular how ideas of modern art with a far-reaching impact were and are formed and channelled in this field. This includes, for example, dissemination in media and exhibitions with a broad reach, as well as commercialization of design since the 1980s, the popularization of the Bauhaus in consumer products or toys, and, last but not least, the reception of the Bauhaus in school education.

Section II: Education through Design: The Bauhaus and the ‹Pedagogy of Objects›
Phillip D. Th. Knobloch, André Schütte, Jürgen Nielsen-Sikora

The practice of good design represented at the Bauhaus is directed not simply to everyday objects, buildings and services, but also to complex social and economic structures and systems. Over and above modelling and organising the surroundings we live in, the various Bauhaus activities are also concerned with giving shape to «well-formed people» (Gropius).

It is thus fair to talk of the Bauhaus as an educational institution to the extent that the architectures and objects designed there are designed as educational objects with (socio-) pedagogical aspirations. For the goal is not merely to have a formative impact on people through training Bauhaus students, but also through the housing estates, buildings, furniture or utensils realised by the Bauhaus. Against this background, there is a need to consider inter alia:

  • Questions about the anthropological, socio-political prerequisites and pedagogical aspirations underpinning the design of buildings and objects at the Bauhaus. 
  • How are ways of life and lifestyles represented and appellatively condensed in housing estates, buildings and objects? Which forms of organisation do they communicate?
  • Does the tangible design of the objects meet pedagogical requirements?
  • Where are the limits of design and designability for the Bauhaus?
  • Which pedagogical ideas and practices does the Bauhaus pick up on and what kind of pedagogy does it set itself apart from? Can one key pedagogical idea of the Bauhaus be identified at all or should we presume that there are a multitude of diverging, sometimes conflicting pedagogical blueprints?

Against this background, the idea of ‹good design›, already legitimized anthropologically, theoretically and politically by Schiller, could, from a systematic perspective, offer possible points of connection. In terms of the history of ideas, points of connections can be found to pedagogical considerations that ponder the educational value of objects. In terms of the sociology of knowledge, the question to be considered would be how and under what conditions the spotlight is turned on housing estates, individual buildings or everyday utensils as possible pedagogical ‹materials›. From a historical point of view, it would, for example, be important to address the connections, overlaps and differences between the Bauhaus and Weimar-era progressive education (Reform Pedagogy), as well as the education through art movement and the youth movement. Finally, also in terms of contemporary historical diagnosis, the question arises of what can still be expected today of the buildings and objects of Bauhaus pedagogy – for example, against the backdrop of changed conditions for designing urban space and global consumer culture. Taking as the point of departure a present marked by aestheticization and singularisation, in which inter alia the lifestyle of the creative class, creative stars and successful designers has become an attractive model for large swathes of society, the question that also needs to be addressed by pedagogy and educational science is to what extent being guided by design ideas and practices can open up future-oriented prospects.

Section III: Material in Teaching at the Bauhaus, in its Successor Institutions and in Art Pedagogy Today 
Sara Hornäk, Susanne Henning

This section explores how material was handled when training artists at the Bauhaus. The way in which individual artistic positions have been expressed in teaching and related lines of influence can be traced through the history of the Bauhaus’ successor institutions and right up to contemporary artistic teaching and learning contexts. This examination will address three crucial issues. We shall consider how material and materiality is dealt with, material actions in the field of tension between fine and applied art, as well as the underlying explicit and implicit art pedagogical ideas and concepts of the artists engaged in teaching. 

  1. Dealing with material in teaching and learning contexts at the Bauhaus, in its successor institutions and in contemporary art pedagogy contexts today
    • Which strategies for active handling of material were pursued in teaching and learning contexts at the Bauhaus and its successor institutions? Do comparable strategies exist in contemporary art pedagogy settings? If they do, which aspects give rise to similarities or even parallels? What kind of art pedagogical socialisation of teachers can be identified?
    • Which lines can be traced out, running through the strongly process-oriented approach to material in late 1960s sculpture and connecting with contemporary sculpture, taking the Bauhaus’ sculptural and material-oriented artistic positions as a point of departure?
    • Which changes in encounters with an expanded spectrum of materials in art and architecture determine learning processes today?
  2. Modes of material handling between fine and applied art from the Bauhaus to the present
    • To what extent can connections be identified in various Bauhaus teachings between sculptural processes and product design processes that could be relevant for art pedagogical considerations on material?
    • How do artistic material explorations relate to craft-oriented material explorations in various contexts?
    • How have contemporary processes of art education been influenced by the trend over recent decades for blurring boundaries between art and design/architecture?
  3. Artists as teachers
    • How do artists’ own artistic positions affect teaching in terms of the ways in which each artist handled material, initiated and accompanied artistic processes at the Bauhaus and how each artist does so in artist-oriented art pedagogy concepts today?
    • What is the relationship between artists’ teaching and school, university or art college teaching and learning contexts in the past and nowadays?

Section IV: The Bauhaus as a regulative idea in the digital age
Ulrike Buchmann, Katharina Gimbel

The anniversary year commemorating the founding of the Bauhaus by Walter Gropius in 1919 offers a particular opportunity to draw inspiration once again from the educational activities developed at the Bauhaus. Gropius himself was a highly specific embodiment of the antinomy of tradition and modernity: oriented towards the ideal of medieval craftsmanship, his vision of combining art and craftsmanship, workshop and master class, was revolutionary. The underlying principles guiding the Bauhaus’ actions – in concrete terms: a universalism that makes the whole and parts relationable and thus «comprehensible»; dealing with and processing socially provoked contradictions; a specific relationship between theory-practice; and design as a real utopia – encourage us to reinvent the Bauhaus as a regulative idea in the digital age. To what extent can the Bauhaus’ pedagogical concepts in particular be connected to current (vocational) educational questions?

This section will be held in the fabrication laboratory (Fab Lab) of the Chair of Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (Prof. Dr. Volkmar Pipek). Fab Lab Siegen is an open and interdisciplinary makerspace with a focus on joint realisation of innovative projects with digital and analogue fabrication options. These include, for example: sewing machines, including fabrics and yarns; soldering irons with various circuit boards blanks and electrodes; 3D printers with various filaments; paints, scissors; a laser cutter for processing wood and acrylic glass; a CNC machine and others. Experimental formats that reference theory-based discussions and also encompass the fabrication possibilities of the Fab Lab, are particularly welcome in as much as they realize a reflective theory-practice reference. For example, phenomena of critical making could on the one hand be viewed from an educational science perspective and considered in connection with Bauhaus pedagogical concepts.