Aspen to celebrate Bauhaus centennial next year with eight months of events
July 31, 2018
Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus with a massive collaboration of arts organization and with events spanning eight months in 2019.
It is one of many Bauhaus centennial celebrations around the world planned for next year. Aspen's place in the Bauhaus legacy is tied to Bauhaus master Herbert Bayer, who moved here in 1946 and helped build both the idea and physical structures for what we know today as Aspen. Bayer, who lived here until 1975, designed the Aspen Institute campus and the permanent Aspen Music Tent in 1964, renovated the Hotel Jerome and Wheeler Opera House, and built the original Sundeck atop Aspen Mountain.
"We are one of the epicenters of the Bauhaus, and it is incredible that in this tiny place called Aspen, Colorado, we have this unbelievable foundation," Lissa Ballinger, program manager for the centennial Bauhaus celebration in Aspen, said last week in a talk on the Bauhaus at the Wheeler Opera House.
The celebration — under the tagline "Our Legacy, Our Future" — will run from January through August.
Events will include a free Bauhaus Ball with a Bauhaus-inspired costume contest Jan. 7 at the Wheeler Opera House and a Bauhaus-themed Wintersköl celebration Jan. 10 to 14. Among the kid-friendly events will be a Fourth of July parade float workshop, hosted by Anderson Ranch Arts Center, from June 24 to 28. The Aspen Art Museum will host Heiki Hanada, architect of the new Bauhaus museum in Dessau, Germany, for a lecture in July. The Aspen Historical Society will mount a Bayer exhibition for all eight months of the celebration, and will give special Bauhaus tours of the city. And the Aspen Institute will host a Bauhaus Program Seminar from Aug. 4 to 7.
Details of more events will be announced in coming months.
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"Every arts organization up and down the valley is collaborating," said Ballinger, who also serves as the art curator at the Aspen Institute. "They are all participating in different ways that are unique to their institutional mission."
The partnership hosting the centennial celebration includes the Aspen Institute, the Art Base, Pitkin County Library, Anderson Ranch, Aspen Film, Aspen Historical Society, Carbondale Arts, The Arts Campus at Willits, Powers Art Center, Colorado Mountain College, Red Brick Center for the Arts, Aspen Music Festival and School and the Aspen Art Museum.
Founded by Walter Gropius, the Bauhaus art school and commune itself was founded in Weimar in 1919, moved to Dessau in 1925 and then five years later to Berlin, where it closed in 1933 upon the appointment of Adolf Hitler as Germany's chancellor.
"It only existed for 14 short years, but it has had this enduring impact," Ballinger said.
The life of the Bauhaus, between the end of World War I and the rise of the Nazis in Germany, was marked by the tumult of its time. It introduced a revolutionary educational philosophy to the world — combining all arts and crafts under one roof — and brought the unadorned and functional modernist design aesthetic to the fore in painting and fine art, printing and advertising, sculpture and architecture.
"It was in this political unrest and political upheaval that this new idea of an art school and this whole new manifestation of living was allowed to blossom," Ballinger said.
The Bauhaus hosted a litany of festivals and parties, and the centennial celebration in Aspen will follow suit.
"It was all about community and celebration. … I can't stop researching the Bauhaus because the more I learn, I can't believe how much fun they had," Ballinger said.
When the school was shut down, and members of the Bauhaus were forced to flee Germany, the Bauhauslers emigrated around the world. As a result, the Bauhaus movement spread globally through masters like Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Josef Albers and Gunta Stölzl.
In New York in 1938, Bayer designed an exhibition of Bauhaus art at the Museum of Modern Art. Among those who saw it were modern Aspen's city father and mother Walter and Elizabeth Paepcke, who convinced Bayer to work for the Container Corporation of America in Chicago and then to help them conceive and build Aspen.
"I love thinking about this radical Bauhaus, Austrian-born artist coming to Aspen in 1946," Ballinger said of Bayer. "Aspen was this really sleepy, deserted, cattle-ranching and potato-farming town of 700-odd people. He came here with all of these modernistic ideas and he integrated himself into the community and became a huge part of what we know today as modern Aspen."
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