Practising the Bauhaus!

In the Berlin exhibition "original bauhaus", cooperation with the Bauhaus Agents helps to place the preliminary course centre-stage

Kascha Lemke

original bauhaus

"original bauhaus" presents 14 case studies with more than 1,000 exhibits and 12 contemporary interpretations by international artists. The exhibition illuminates how unique pieces and series, remake and original are inseparably linked in the history of the Bauhaus. The Berlin anniversary exhibition focuses on the Bauhaus as what it was first and foremost–a school. Two exhibition chapters, a publication, and a series of workshops are therefore devoted to the preliminary course, the first stage that every Bauhaus student completed.

"The idea of working with the historical tasks set in the pre-course came from Bauhaus Agent Friederike Holländer," emphasized "original bauhaus" curator Nina Wiedemeyer at the opening press conference. So, much of what can be seen in the exhibition and tried out by visitors themselves, as well as what can be read in the book accompanying the exhibition, is the result of research and project work in the Bauhaus Agents Program.

Pre-course original

Every Bauhaus student had to complete the preliminary course at the beginning of his or her education–run at first by Johannes Itten, later by Josef Albers and László Moholy-Nagy. Josef Albers once formulated the aspiration that everyone should learn together and in a new way, so experiencing material, colour and form anew.

The "exercise canon" included, among other things: tactile exercises, folding paper, copying, writing names in mirror writing, drawing by heart, naming pairs of opposites, morning greetings, emotional stenograms, breathing stenograms, physical exercises, figure skating on paper, drawing lemons, etc. 

Nina Wiedemeyer and Friederike Holländer see the shared experiences at the beginning of training as a source of the community idea at the Bauhaus–and as potential for community and participation today.

In the exhibition, the student works are grouped according to tasks, inviting the visitors themselves to try out exercises from the pre-course lessons at the Bauhaus at inclusive exhibition stations.

Kascha Lemke

Ed. by Friederike Holländer and Nina Wiedemeyer for the Bauhaus-Archiv / Museum für Gestaltung,
Prestel Verlag, 224 pages, in German and English
With 50 pre-course exercises, 29 euros

Vorkurs original

In the "original bauhaus exercise book", which was published to accompany the exhibition, Nina Wiedemeyer and Friederike Holländer have compiled the results of their research. For the first time, 50 exercises have been listed and prepared in one publication–a valuable handbook for historical study, but above all for today's rapprochement towards and understanding of the Bauhaus school's revolutionary ideas and its departure from old-established structures. As Josef Albers put it: "Education begins with discoveries".

Pre-course reloaded

9th and 10th grade pupils from the Nelson Mandela School, partner school of the Bauhaus Agents Program, tested the exercises in advance. For one year, each week they attended a workshop run by the Bauhaus Agents as part of their compulsory elective art course. Under the motto "practising bauhaus", they tried out both historical and contemporary exercises from the preliminary course as interpreted by a team of artists and teachers (Doro Petersen, Imke Küster, Julia Marquardt, Zara Moris, Florentine Baumann). Other Berlin partner schools joined the group and completed workshops from the preliminary course compendium, and teachers have also been trained. A cooperation with the Beuth Hochschule finally enabled a six-hour pre-course marathon with over 80 architecture students, as Professor Minka Kersten integrated the test run into her design seminar.

Catrin Schmitt

Pre-course reloaded

An entire cosmos has thus been opened up for educational and outreach work. While working with the school pupils and students, the question arose: What would the preliminary course look like today? Artistic reinterpretations of the historical documents and additional information led to a new approach that provides inspiration not only for visitors to the exhibition "original bauhaus", but also for future outreach work.

The interactive media station located at the centre of the exhibition makes this particularly impressive and possible to experience for everyone attending the show. It was developed by the Bauhaus Agents together with media artists Patrick Kochlik and Jens Wunderling from Syntop. They transferred nine historical exercises into the digital age. Abstraction, scale and creativity can be tested by drawing animals, depicting surfaces, or making a collage of fabrics. The virtual "preliminary course works" by the exhibition visitors are then collaged onto a screen in real time to create a large joint projection.

original bauhaus
06.09.2019 to 27.01.2020
Berlinische Galerie
Wed. - Mon. 10 am - 6 pm

extended opening times:
23. to 27.01.20 until 8 pm

Every Sunday 11 am to 2 pm 
Workshop series "Vorkurs üben"
Entry included in exhibition ticket.
Advance booking necessary.

Upcoming Events
Paper Engineering from the Bauhaus 

Make holes – Seriously?

Breathology Expanded 

Leporello "Vorkurs üben"

Jugend im Museum e.V. offers tours for school classes.

Pre-course practice

In addition to these and other offers such as the "original bauhaus guide", the exhibition also focuses on personal mediation: two "live speakers" will be on site to provide information throughout the full exhibition. In addition, every Sunday there are workshops in the "Vorkurs üben" series.

The focus there will be on individual tasks of the preliminary course, which will be tested together with international experts from the fields of architecture, paper art, breathing techniques, photography and dance. A multifaceted pre-course programme is offered on 21 Sundays during the exhibition: from "Build your stool" with architect Van Bo-Le-Mentzel to "Photograms: Photography without a camera" with photographer Erika Babatz, and dance exercises "Repeating the Body" with award-winning choreographer, dance and video artist Jo Parkes.

Participation in workshops is included in the museum admission fee, advance registration is possible online via the Berlinische Galerie's calendar of events.


You can't get any closer. The exhibition organizers make active participation possible with such practical workshops and tactile exhibits. They bring the sensual or tactile qualities of the exhibits closer–and make the Bauhaus literally tangible. An invitation to go on living the ideas of the Bauhaus.

From the Exhibition Review in Dear Magazin (Nina C. Müller)
Catrin Schmitt
original bauhaus – Eröffnung
Catrin Schmitt
Catrin Schmitt
Catrin Schmitt
Catrin Schmitt
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