Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Icon: Gunta Stolzl

I remember studying the Bauhaus when I was at high school, albeit very briefly considering the body of work that was produced by the artists/students from the school. Despite being considered as a modern and progressive school , there was very little female artists who went on to have successful art and design careers. The majority of artists associated with the school are male; Marcel Breuer, Wassilly Kandinsky and Paul Klee to name a few. Gunta Stolzl is one of the few female artists who studied and then went on to became a Bauhaus master.

Stolzl was a German artist who studied at the Bauhaus and then used her time as teacher in the school to rebuild the weaving department so that students gained both technical skills as well as creative thought processes. Her time in the school began in 1920 as a student and a full master by 1928. Her teaching career began when the school relocated from Weimar to Dessau.

Knotted floor carpet detail, 1923

Design for a knotted carpet, 1920-1922

Stolzl clearly understood the importance of developing a technical skill set and gaining inspiration outwith the confines of the school, when in 1921 she took a trip to Italy to view art and architecture she had looked at during her studies in the flesh. She also passed her journeyman's exam as a weaver and took courses in dyeing so that the dyeing department could be reopened in the school.

Design for a knotted carpet

The relocation of the school allowed Stolzl to create a much larger studio with better facilities and more structured classes in weaving techniques as well mathematics. Her own work became more functional and as well as using a more structured geometric style. Having a strong technical base of skills allowed for experimentation with a variety of materials therefore the structured curriculum did not stifle creativity, it only enhanced it.

Jacquard wall hanging 5 chore, 1928

Wall hanging, 1923

Unfortunately due to political pressure from the Nazi party, Stolzl was asked to give her resignation in 1931 and outraged students dedicated a school newspaper to the fact.

Wall hanging slit tapestry, 1927

African Chair, 1921

I am a huge fan of Gunta Stolzl's work and if I was unaware of who she was I definitely would not have believed the pieces shown here were created in the 1920s. The lasting impact of her work is a testament to her skills as a weaver and pioneer in design.

Portfolio of the 60th anniversary of kandinsky, bahaus dessau 1926

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