Decoration as Trespass?

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Cake plate. Decoration: 1556, around 1930. Stoneware factory Sörnewitz AG, Sörnewitz-Meissen. Collection Stefan Bachmann, Berlin. Photo: Armin Herrmann, 2019

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Pastry tin. Form and decoration unknown, from 1930. Christian Carstens KG, Feinsteingutfabrik, Gräfenroda.Collection Stefan Bachmann, Berlin. Photo: Armin Herrmann, 2019

Duration: 11 October 2019 – 10 February, 2020

Intense colors, abstract compositions of lines and constructivist patterns on cake plates, cups and saucers – the sprayed decoration in ceramics of the 1920s and 1930s belongs to a different current in modern aesthetics than the functional, unadorned objects of the Werkbund and the Bau­haus. Applied using efficient stencil and spray techniques, they pay tribute both to rationaliza­tion and to the avant-­garde painting of the early 20th century. 

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Cup of a tea set. Design: Margarete Heymann-Loebenstein, Haël-Werkstätten für künstlerische Keramik GmbH, Marwitz near Velten, around 1929. Collection Werkbundarchiv - Museum der Dinge, Berlin. Photo: Armin Herrmann, 2019

Spray­-decorated ceramics continued to be an eco­nomical and fashionable commodity even during the Great Depression, manufactured and marketed in hundreds of variations, and representing the economic, social, technical and artistic discourses of the times: the conception of artis­tic and design work, the relations between unique, individually made pieces and anonymous mass production, between form and ornament. 

Why did the still popular spray-­decorated ceramics suddenly vanish from the market in the mid­-1930s? What is their place in – or in relation to – the classical modern canon? What connection is there between these designs and the pictorial motifs of the avant­-garde art that came to be denounced as »degenerate« by the National Socialists? The exhibition examines these questions in hundreds of specimens from private collections. 

THE EXHIBITION SERIES:

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Small cocoa pot: Form 528, around 1930. Large cocoa pot: Form 538, around 1930. Porzellan Fabrik C.A. Lehmann & Sohn, Kahla. Collection Ulrich Thomas, Berlin. Photo: Armin Herrmann, 2019.

The Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge is show­ing a sequence of three exhibitions entitled 111/99. Questioning the Modernist Design Vocabulary in the context of the Bauhaus year since November 2018 to the beginning of 2020.

Twelve years separate the 1907 founding of the Deutscher Werkbund reform movement and the 1919 founding of the style­defining Bauhaus Art School – the Deutscher Werkbund turned 111 in the year 2018, and the Bauhaus turned 99. Taking up the anniversaries as a play on num­bers, the Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge interrogates the programmatic overlap between the two institutions in the development of a modernist design idiom.

Why did certain features develop into trade­ marks of modernity, and why do they remain fixed to this day, despite any and all critical thinking: materials like glass, steel, and concrete; terms like objectivity, unadorned form and functionality; the colors white, black, and grey? How did the Werkbund and Bauhaus Lebensreform concept that was influ­enced by social, political, and economic debates get reduced to the rigid straight­ forwardness of a purely aesthetic recipe for design or book of patterns? 
These questions will be discussed in a sequence of exhibitions: 

• COMMERCIAL DESIGN INSTEAD OF APPLIED ART? 
  November 23, 2018 - March 11, 2019


UNIQUE PIECE OR MASS PRODUCT?
     April 04, 2019 - September 09, 2019

• DECORATION AS TRESPASS?
   October  11, 2019 – February 10, 2020
   Opening: October 10,  2019 at 7 pm