Video: The "Iron Lady" who made a breakthrough in industrial design and was forgotten: Bauhaus Marianne Brandt
2023 Author: Richard Flannagan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-26 05:58
Marianne Brandt was one of the few women in the Bauhaus, and in the metal workshop she was the first and only one. Brandt's futuristic sets are today considered the forerunners of modern industrial design, products according to her projects are produced in factories to this day. But the life path of the "iron lady" Bauhaus was not easy.
Marianne learned of the existence of the Bauhaus in 1923. She was thirty years old, behind her shoulders - two diplomas of the Higher School of Fine Arts of the Grand Duchy of Saxony, in painting and in sculpture. Accidentally hitting the exhibition "State Bauhaus: 1919 - 1923", Marianne was simply shocked by what she saw. It was as if a great knowledge was revealed to her, to which she should devote her life. In the evening after visiting the exhibition, she destroyed all her past works, and on January 1, 1924, she entered the Bauhaus as a student. All her previous artistic experience did not matter here: Marianne had to comprehend the science of design from the very beginning, from the propaedeutic courses.
Subsequently, Marianna claimed that she did not go to study design under the influence of a sudden impulse - just her husband was also engaged in the visual arts, and someone needed to feed the family, and Marianna decided to change her profession to a more promising one.
Finding herself in the Bauhaus and turning from a spectator to a student, Marianne experienced disappointment and confusion. She did not like the Bauhaus painting - she did not feel the possibility of development in it. She found herself uncomfortable in the textile workshop (where the main "place for women" in the Bauhaus was). Making pieces of furniture from wood interested Marianne, but it was too hard for her physically. In the end, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, who had already taught her the art of photo collage, invited her to work in a metal workshop.
As a student, Marianne had the most boring job, but it seemed to her that the beginning should not be easy. In fact, the workshop initially accepted her unkindly, but over time, Marianne proved that she could handle metal no worse than men and finally won the respect of her colleagues.
Working with metal required not only intuition, taste and desire for creative experiments, but also taking into account manufacturing technology, material properties, and functional features of objects. It was 1924. Surprisingly, it was Marianne's projects from this period, a period of awkward apprenticeship, that became most famous - for example, her teapot.
A year later, Marianne temporarily left the Bauhaus - the first European design school was going through difficult times, moving from Weimar to Dessau. Brandt returned to her husband in Paris, but could not find a place for herself. Irrational at first, and then quite consciously, she shredded the pages of magazines and newspapers - from the outside it looked, of course, insane. Marianne has created collages dedicated to the life of a modern woman who wants to enjoy creativity, knowledge, free and sex, but constantly faced with prejudice, limitations and condescending male judgment.
When the Bauhaus recovered from the move, Marianne was offered a studio in a residential building and a place in the workshop. Marianne begins to engage not only in her own projects, but also in organizational activities, and in 1928 finds herself at the head of the workshop where she was initially considered “unfit for work”. Brandt's developments brought tangible income to the Bauhaus, her teacher even believed that most of the successful Bauhaus projects belonged to Marianne. With such a colossal amount of work, she found time for further education, choosing photography as her next specialization.
A year later, the name of Marianne was inscribed in the history of the development of design theory. She, feeling enough strength and experience in herself, joined in discussions about the role of the Bauhaus in the development of art and industry. Naum Gabo published a critical article on their activities, calling the Bauhaus style superficial and illustrating his theses with the work of Brandt and her workshop. Marianne responded with the programmatic text "Bauhaus-style", where she emphasized the rational, research and practice-oriented approach of the "design engineers" of the school.
But a couple of months later, Marianne decided to leave their workshop. She was annoyed by the abundance of administrative work and idle chatter, and she wanted to do design. Laszlo Moholy-Nagy gave her such luxurious recommendations that the previous school director, Walter Gropius, without a word took her to his design office in Berlin, but she worked there for only six months - for some unknown reason, Gropius, who generally praised her, ceases to appoint her to design of work on orders.
Marianne leaves for the Ruppelwerk factory, where the situation for her turns out to be even worse - she loses both creative freedom and any kind of creative communication. However, the factory itself owes a lot to Marianne, who successfully developed the ideas of the Bauhaus there.
In the early thirties, an economic crisis struck in Germany, the Bauhaus was closed by the Nazi government and its former employees, who remained in Germany, lost any opportunity to find a normal job. Marianne broke up with her husband, her oil painting classes did not bring her either income or fame. In 1945, her house was destroyed in a bombing raid and most of the archive was lost …
Walter Gropius, who managed to emigrate to the USA, supported her with simple parcels - flour, sugar, nails … Marianne was grateful to him to tears even for these little things.
The GDR had a negative attitude towards the activities of the Bauhaus, but Marianne remained there and even taught industrial design at the Dresden School of Art - albeit not for long. At the same time, the products according to Brandt's projects were produced in Italy - but the designer did not receive a penny for it.
Despite all the hardships and difficulties, Marianne Brand lived a long life, and as a designer - an eternal one. She died at the age of eighty-nine, and her designs are still being produced today.
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