Extended until April 13th 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.
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 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 – April 13, 2020