In recent years there have been initiatives to put some light on the women that made the Bauhaus (one of the most influential design schools of all time) along with their male counterparts. We see their contributions in product design, ceramics and photography and even more so in textiles.
Although the school was quite progressive, some subjects were (still are?) considered “appropriate for women” like textiles while metalwork and architecture studies were not, so the female students at the Bauhaus didn’t have much choice as to which workshops they could participate in.
Nonetheless, one of the most successful workshops in the influential school was precisely weaving and textiles. The predominantly female classes were during their most fruitful years, led by the only female master: Gunta Stölzl.
Under her direction, the workshop expanded and the students pushed forward creation, experimentation and with her abilities to weave complex designs into commercial pieces, achieved commercial success.
Student to “Young” Master
Gunta arrived at the Bauhaus in Weimar as a student in 1919. She attends classes given by artists Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky, which will have an influence on her future abstract creations at the looms.
For some time the weaving workshop was headed by teachers that were not particularly interested in the craft nor mastered the technical aspects of it, so the students learned by doing and experimenting. At the same time Gunta guided their classmates becoming the natural choice to lead the workshop later on.
She had previously studied decorative arts, ceramics, glass painting, art history and in addition to the weaving studies, she took dyeing classes in Krefeld.
1.”Damast”, 1930 2. “5 Choirs” / Image: guntastolzl.org
In 1927 Gunta was appointed “Jungmeister” (Young Master) and directed the entire weaving workshop.
She encouraged improvisation and experimentation in her classes both artistic and technical and was interested in the properties of materials, exploring new fibres, threads and techniques.
After forced to resign due to increase persecution from the Nazi supporters, Gunta left Germany for Switzerland, where she continued to work with textiles for interior design and later focused on tapestry weaving.
Today her work is part of many important museums like the Victoria&Albert in London, MoMa in New York, the Bauhaus-Archiv in Berlin and the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo.
Because of Gunta’s vision and skills to transform abstract art into beautiful weaving pieces, like wall hangings, fabrics and tapestry, and her exploration of colours, textures, and characteristics of fibres that she is celebrated both as an artist and a designer.
1.”Rhythm”, 1973 2. “Spuren im Winterwald”, 1979 3. “Geometrisch”, 1979 / Images: guntastolzl.org
To know more:
Gunta Stölzl.org – Website created by Gunta’s daughters with bio, texts, exhibitions and more.
Bauhaus Kooperation – This foundation is dedicated to the research and exhibition projects of the Bauhaus collection and archives.
The women at Bauhaus – Discover more about the ladies that were almost forgotten.
Monika Stadler (Gunta’s younger daughter) talk about her mother’s life and work at the Barbican Centre (UK).
Have a great week!