Ever since Michael Thonet established Gebrüder in 1819, the brand has been at the forefront of mass producing the now iconic bentwood and tubular steel furniture by designers from the Bauhaus era as well as contemporary designers and architects, as well as Thonet himself, of course. Gebrüder is not only one of the oldest modern design brands and manufacturers, it’s also one of the few that are still family owned and managed. The 5th generation of Thonet’s (Michael’s great-great-grandchildren) currently run the company in Germany, but a few days ago they announced their new partnership with M2L to distribute classics like Mart Stam’s chrome-plated cantilevered chair and the Vienna coffee house chair that started it all to the US market.
Grete Marks: When Modern Was Degenerate
Milwaukee Art Museum
700 North Art Museum Drive Milwaukee, WI
Through January 1
Grete Marks was born in Cologne in 1899 to an artistic Jewish family, and she enrolled in the ceramics program at the Bauhaus School in 1920. In 1923 she left the school to marry a young industrialist with whom she founded the Haël Factory for Artistic Ceramics to produce her designs. These works are composed of simple geometric shapes, glazed with striking colors and patterns in the style of Soviet Constructivist painters and showcasing the Bauhaus ideal of uniting industrial mass-production with Modernist aesthetics. Marks’ legacy as a potter was cut short by the Nazi party when in 1935 they declared her artwork “degenerate,” and her avant-garde pottery career ended with the onset of World War II. This will be the first American exhibition to explore Marks’ work and the circumstances that have prevented her name from entering the list of Bauhaus greats.
Lyonel Feininger: Photographs, 1928–1939
1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, CA
Through March 2012
The American-German artist Lyonel Feininger, famous for his urban and landscape paintings, took up photography in 1928. Already a longtime collaborator with Walter Gropius—Feininger taught printmaking at the Bauhaus for almost a decade while Gropius was director—Feininger turned to the “mechanical” medium to explore the effects of light and shadow, reflections, and night imagery. A majority of his photographs have remained in relative obscurity. The exhibit Lyonel Feininger: Photographs, 1928–1939 at the Getty Center is the first U.S. venue to present a comprehensive collection of his photography.
Lyonel Feininger: At the Edge of the World
Whitney Museum of American Art
945 Madison Ave. at 75th St.
New York, NY 10021
“The ultimate aim of all artistic activity is the building! Let us desire, conceive, and create the new building of the future together. . . [and it] will one day rise towards the heavens from the hands of a million workers as the crystalline symbol of a new and coming faith,” Walter Gropius boldly declared in his 1919 “Bauhaus Manifesto,” laying the foundations for a new architecture and a modern approach to design. Seeking to reunite the artist and artisan together, the founders of the Bauhaus looked to medieval guilds as a model for a new design school that would combine the arts and design under one roof.
To illustrate the manifesto, Gropius selected a woodcut by American-born German artist Lyonel Feininger, titled, “Cathedral,” an abstracted depiction of a late Gothic church. This collaboration marked Lyonel Feininger’s first involvement with the Bauhaus—he would be later hired to teach printmaking—that would continue until the school was closed under pressure from the Nazis in 1933.