Get your Bauhaus on with interactive art in the Getty’s new online exhibition

Color triangle, Vassily Kandinsky, circa 1925–1933. Graphite and gouache on paper, 12.6 inches. "Vassily Kandinsky Papers, 1911–1940."
Color triangle, Vassily Kandinsky, circa 1925–1933. Graphite and gouache on paper, 12.6 inches. “Vassily Kandinsky Papers, 1911–1940.”
(Getty Research Institute)

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the radical German art school known as the Bauhaus, and the Getty Research Institute is commemorating that with two simultaneous shows, one of them an online exhibition titled “Bauhaus: Building the New Artist.”

“Building the New Artist” contains dozens of documents and images not on display at the Getty Center, said Maristella Casciato, senior curator of architecture at the Getty Research Institute, which is based at the center. Three interactive exercises help users soak up the teaching philosophy of the Bauhaus masters.

“I think it’s important for users of the online exhibition to understand how the interaction between those who teach and those who learn is still a valuable experience in our society,” Casciato said. “I want to show that it was playful and joyful, but the teaching was demanding for both the students and the masters.”

The Bauhaus School was founded in Weimar in 1919 by architect Walter Gropius. It became famous for blending theory and practice with the goal of removing the divisions between the fine and applied arts, and the Bauhaus movement’s impact endures in art, architecture, interior design, graphic design and typography.

Gesamtkunstwerk, a total work of art, was the philosophy of the movement, which sought to combine all the arts in pursuit of a fully realized creation. The online exhibition complements the GRI show at the Getty Center titled “Bauhaus Beginnings.”


Without traveling to the Brentwood campus, visitors to the online exhibition can see three sections illuminating Bauhaus curriculum: “Form and Color,” “Matters and Materials” and “Body and Spirit.” Each section has its own interactive experience.

In “Form and Color,” you’re are invited to take Vassily Kandinsky’s form and color survey, which he created to test his theory that certain primary shapes and colors correspond with one another.

“Matters and Materials” allows you to download Josef Albers’ cutting exercise, in which Albers used a single sheet of paper to create a 3-D design. The goal: help students think about construction in new ways.

Finally, in “Body and Spirit,” you are encouraged to animate a total work of art. This section is inspired by the Bauhaus conviction that artistic practice must be both physical, spiritual and mental.

A film clip of a performance of Oskar Schlemmer’s “The Triadic Ballet” at the Bauhaus Dessau in 1926 is included with this exercise. You can create your own version of a dance performance by selecting costumes, set design and choreography.

Casciato hopes visitors will soak up something more than theory and will feel a bit of the Bauhaus in their bones.

She called “Building the New Artist” an engine for the thoughts and practices of the Bauhaus school and said the exhibit answered the ultimate question: “How do I make this a platform that can generate interest far beyond L.A. and the gallery?”

“Farbenkugel in 7 Lichtstufen und 12 Tonen” (Color Sphere in 7 Light Values and 12 Tones), Johannes Itten, 1921. Lithograph. 29.25 inches by 12.7 inches. Bruno Adler, ed., “Utopia: Dokumente der Wirklichkeit,” I/II (Weimar, 1921), foldout from inside cover.
(Getty Research Institute)
“Wandelnde Architektur, Die Gliederpuppe, Ein technischer Organismus, Entmaterialisierung” (Ambulant Architecture, the Marionette, a Technical Organism, Dematerialization), Oskar Schlemmer, 1924. Letterpress on paper. 9.3 inches by 13.8 inches by 1.4 inches (open).
(Getty Research Institute)

Study for Vassily Kandinsky’s "Farbenlehre" (Color Theory) course, Erich Mrozek, circa 1929–1930. Collage with gouache on paper, 9.4 inches by 8.9 inches. "Bauhaus Student Work, 1919–1933."
(Getty Research Institute and Estate Erich Mrozek)
Diagram of the Bauhaus curriculum (adapted, right), Walter Gropius, 1922. Lithograph, 8 inches by 11.5 inches. From Walter Gropius, "Satzungen Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar" (Statutes of the State Bauhaus in Weimar), July 1922. "Bauhaus Typography Collection, 1919–1937."
(Getty Research Institute)
“Material-übungen” (Material studies). Artwork: Walter Tralau, Arieh Sharon, circa 1926–1929. Paper. Photo: Erich Consemüller, circa 1926–1929. Gelatin silver print. Sheet: 5.8 inches by 8.3 inches. “Assorted Papers Relating to Bauhaus Designers, 1919-1984.”
(Getty Research Institute)