Herbert Bayer

November 3, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

At University I was, like many architecture students, greatly impressed with the Bauhaus and its far-sighted aim of combining all design and craft disciplines to the greater good of the community.

I had the Kandinsky and Klee posters on my wall, and I copied and stole images, ideas and styles for my schemes like every one else. I even had a go at making Josef Hartwig’s dynamic chess set, with mixed results. There was one name however that, though always in the texts, didn’t really catch my attention, that is until recently, when he’s popped up a number of times in articles and whilst surfing the net and hence, prompted this post.

In 1921 the 21 year old Herbert Bayer enrolled as a student at the Weimar Bauhaus, a move that would see him rise to the very top of the Graphic Design tree.

Studying under both Johannes Itten and Wassily Kandinsky, Bayer completed the course 4 years later and was so highly regarded, that he was almost immediately appointed by Walter Gropius as head of the newly created print and advertising workshop at the Bauhaus in Dessau.

In his eight years at the Bauhaus, Bayer created some of the Institute’s finest and most recognisable works, and although not the first to use type as a graphic device, his clear organisation and strong sense of geometry, revolutionised type and typography for generations of architects and designers to come.

He also developed a mostly lower case, sans-serif font known as Universal, which in its simple lines and graceful curves further reflected the intended modernism of the Bauhaus.

Bayer remained at the Bauhaus until 1928 when he moved to Berlin to become the art director of Vogue magazine, and to focus on more commercially based advertising projects.

In 1938 Bayer emigrated to the US, where he arranged the exhibition “Bauhaus 1919-1928” at the New York Museum of Modern Art in the very same year. In 1974 the artist moved to California, where he died in 1985.

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