Aspen’s Bauhaus Ball toasts art movement’s centennial |

Aspen’s Bauhaus Ball toasts art movement’s centennial

Aspen Institute Curator Lissa Ballinger works on her Bauhaus Ball costume. The Bauhaus Ball will be held June 6 at the Wheeler Opera House honoring the 100th anniversary. It is a free, community event that includes live music, films, Bauhaus-inspired art, performances and a juried costume contest.


What: Bauhaus Ball – An Evening of Whimsy and Wonder

Where: Wheeler Opera House

When: Thursday, June 6, 5:30 to 10 p.m.

How much: Free

More info: The evening will include a performance by the Apsen High School Jazz Band (5:45 p.m.), films on the Bauahus dances of Oskar Schlemmer and ‘How the Bauhaus Came to Aspen’ (6:30 p.m. and 8:45 p.m.), the Sweet Temerity Band (6:15 p.m.), a Costume Battle Royal (8 p.m.);



June 5 through July 18: ‘Great Ideas of Bauhaus’ print exhibition, Red Brick Center for the Arts

June 7-July 5: ‘Bauhaus Seen: Paintings by Richard Carter + Dave Durrance,’ R2 Gallery, Carbondale

June 10-14: Bauhaus to Your House furniture workshop, Anderson Ranch Arts Center

June 11: Bauhaus Evening, Red Brick Center

June 12: Aspen Institute Landscape Tour

June 13-Aug. 15: ‘Return to Simplicity,’ Colorado Mountain College Aspen

July 1-2020: ‘A Total Work of Art: Bauhaus-Bayer-Aspen,’ Resnick Gallery at Aspen Institute

July 1-2020: ‘Bauhaus 1919-1928,’ Paepcke Gallery at Aspen Institute

More info at

“Play becomes party — party becomes work — work becomes play,” the Bauhaus master Johannes Itten once said.

So as Aspen celebrates the centennial of the school and movement that reshaped the world’s conception of design, creation and education — and shaped modern Aspen through Bauhausler-turned-Aspenite Herbert BayerBauhaus 100 organizers, of course, planned a costume-heavy bash as the centerpiece of a year’s worth of events. Costume parties and celebrations were an essential part of the Bauhaus movement, Torsten Blume of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation wrote in a recent journal article, representing the “total work of art” ethos of the design school.

Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius dubbed these legendary parties “unified works of superior common vitality.” The Bauhaus painter Oskar Schlemmer once quipped: “Tell me how you party and I’ll tell you who you are.”

A Bauhaus band played Saturday night dances and monthly masked balls during the German school’s run from 1919 to 1933. Artists, masters and students gathered for birthday celebrations for Bauhauslers like Wassily Kandinsky and Gropius, they toasted the changes of the seasons and they hosted fittingly surreal happenings themed around things like “kite flying,” “metallic,” “eleven elves” and “catchword.” At these collective happenings, students invested their talents in creative costumes, party experiences and extravagant decorations. The 1928 metallic party, for example, had guests enter via a chute, sliding into a room filled with people in tinfoil dress.

“Such occasions allowed this unique design school to present itself with playful inventiveness as a non-conformist, avant-garde collective for education and work,” Blume wrote.

Parties were often punctuated with a curated dose of whimsy. In a how-to piece about Bauhaus centennial parties, Blume advised: “There must be surprises, interruptions, unexpected happenings, strange rituals, unplanned stuff and, every so often, bewilderment and confusion.”

Thursday night’s Bauhaus Ball at the Wheeler Opera House launches the Roaring Fork Valley’s Bauhaus 100 celebration into its overstuffed summer run. The party is free and open to the public, with costumes “wildly encouraged,” live music, a costume contest and, no doubt, some surprises. A series of Bauhaus costume-making workshops at the Red Brick Center for the Arts in May drew sell-out crowds.

The Bauhaus 100 celebration incorporates every arts organization in the valley and this week alone, along with the Ball, includes a Wednesday evening opening of Bauhaus-inspired prints at the Red Brick, an exhibition opening Friday at Carbondale’s R2 Gallery with paintings by Bayer protege Richard Carter and the Bauhaus-inspired Dave Durrance. Soon to come are Bauhaus openings at Colorado Mountain College (June 13), the Aspen Institute’s Resnick and Paepcke Galleries (July 1), along with workshops at Anderson Ranch Arts Center, talks at the Aspen Art Museum and elsewhere, tours of the Bayer landscapes at the Institute and Aspen’s Bauhaus-inspired architecture running through summer. The Aspen Music Festival and School’s summer season is peppered with Bauhaus-inspired and -adjacent concerts, beginning with Dessau native Kurt Weill’s work performed by the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble on June 19 and Gunther Schuller’s “Seven Studies on Themes of Paul Klee” on July 14. Meanwhile, the Aspen Historical Society’s monumental exhibition “Bayer & Bauhaus: how design shaped aspen” will run through 2020.