This season is classic BBC Four, marking the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus with a wit, insight and surprise that we hope even the mighty Walter Gropius would be proud of.Cassian Harrison, Channel Editor, BBC Four
Date: 02.08.2019 Last updated: 06.08.2019 at 14.35
This August BBC Four and BBC Arts mark the centenary of Bauhaus and investigate the power of design in new season of documentaries.
This August six fascinating documentaries shine a light on the art and power of groundbreaking design, from journeying into the heart of the Bauhaus movement to mark its centenary - its origins, trailblazers and legacy - to investigating other influences on the art of design in the 20th century.
The Bauhaus movement began in 1919 when Walter Gropius founded a school with the vision of bridging the gap between art and industry by combining crafts and fine arts - Bauhaus can literally be translated as building house. This pioneering school eventually morphed into its own art movement - the Bauhaus movement embodied economic sensibility, simplicity and a focus on mass production.
Bauhaus 100 (1 x 60) recounts the definitive story of the men and women of the Bauhaus who dared to dream how art and design could radically change the modern world. Featuring collection of Bauhaus enthusiasts and experts, Bauhaus 100 offers a unique insight into both the history and the legacy of this pioneering design movement.
Jim Moir (aka Vic Reeves) will join recent graduates from Central Saint Martin’s to stage a Bauhaus take over in Bauhaus Rules (1 x 60). He brings the radical principles of Bauhaus to a new generation with the aim of discovering if the school’s groundbreaking approach to training artists still holds its power 100 years on.
The lives of two of the movement's key figures - Anni Albers and Dieter Rams - are also profiled in further documentaries. Anni Albers: A Life In Thread (1 x 30) tells the incredible story of Anni Albers who helped transform perceptions of textiles from a craft to modern art form. Whilst Rams (1 x 60) profiles a man who for 50 years, left an indelible mark on the field of product design with his iconic work at Braun and Vitsoe, and his influence on Apple.
An Engineer Imagines: Peter Rice (1 x 60) is a cinematic homage to the life and ideas of Peter Rice, widely regarded as the most distinguished engineer of the late 20th century. The documentary traces Rice’s extraordinary work, from his native Ireland through, London, Sydney and Paris, to his untimely and tragic death in 1992.
Finally, Jonathan Meades completes his quartet on the architecture of the great European dictators of the 20th century in Franco Building With Jonathan Meades (WT) (1 x 60). He reveals that Franco’s influences and his lasting contribution to Spanish architecture. Away from the obvious tourist sites Meades also looks at the dark side of Franco’s legacy, such as the Franco’s mausoleum - The Valley Of The Fallen - built by republican prisoners of war in the 1940s and 50s.
Cassian Harrison, Channel Editor, BBC Four, says: “This August BBC Four celebrates the amazing power of design to transform our lives, build entire art movements and even give dictators the legacy they crave. This season is classic BBC Four, marking the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus with a wit, insight and surprise that we hope even the mighty Walter Gropius would be proud of.”
Lamia Dabboussy, Acting Director, BBC Arts, says: “The influence of design on our lives is immense - it is everywhere around us. Bauhaus helped shape a global movement, and so BBC Arts, in its quest to bring the greatest range of arts and culture to audiences, will focus on the profound impact of this movement. We will shine a light on how art and industry combined to become a cultural phenomenon.”
One hundred years ago an art school opened in Germany that would change the world forever. It was called the Bauhaus. A century later, its radical thinking still shapes our lives today.
Bauhaus 100 recounts the definitive story of the men and women of the Bauhaus who dared to dream how art and design could radically change the modern world. Detailing the story of Walter Gropius, architect and founder of the Bauhaus, and the teachers and students he gathered to form the influential school.
Traumatised by his experiences during the Great War and determined that technology should never again be used for destruction - but instead to save humanity - Gropius decided to reinvent the way art and design were taught. At the Bauhaus, all the disciplines would come together to create the buildings of the future and define a new way of living in the modern world.
To assist him in this endeavour, Gropius assembled the finest minds and artistic talents of his time, including famed artists Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee, who attracted swathes of students from all kinds of backgrounds, hungry for the new innovative teaching methods defined by Gropius in the school’s manifesto.
The experiment proved a success of sorts - but while the teaching and products of the Bauhaus paved the way for the future, the lifestyle of the Bauhaus students angered the locals in the sleepy town of Weimar, and when a right-wing government came to power, the Bauhaus was effectively exiled from the city.
Rather than closing down the school, Gropius took the opportunity to move it wholesale to the city of Dessau, where the mayor offered him the opportunity to build a new campus, now considered one of the defining buildings of the 20th century. Here finally, Gropius’s vision came to fruition. But the pressures of running the school, and his own personal ambitions, led to Gropius leaving the Bauhaus.
His two successors also struggled against the climate of the time, with the rise of the Nazi party, which accused the Bauhaus of being Jewish and Bolshevik. After raids by stormtroopers, and a brief move to Berlin, the Bauhaus was finally closed forever.
The legacy of the school still continues to this day, however. Many of the teachers and students left Germany and spread the Bauhaus philosophy and teaching methods across the globe. Some stayed behind and collaborated; others were persecuted by the Nazi regime.
The documentary explores how, 100 years on, the story and achievements of the Bauhaus seem more relevant than ever before.
Bauhaus 100 (1x60') is a BBC Studios production for BBC Arts and BBC Four. It was commissioned by Emma Cahusac. The Executive Producer for BBC Four is Janet Lee, the Director is Mat Whitecross and the Producer is Alice Rhodes.
Presented by Jim Moir (aka Vic Reeves), Bauhaus Rules brings the radical principles of the Bauhaus to a new generation, to discover if the school’s groundbreaking approach to training artists still holds its power 100 years on.
Over the course of a week, six Central St Martins graduates - across fine art, fashion, graphic design and architecture - are challenged each day to create a new work of art, design or performance, sticking strictly to rules inspired by the artists who taught at the Bauhaus.
Founded in 1919 by architect Walter Gropius, the Bauhaus is best known for its striking modernist architecture, attention-grabbing typography and stylish form-meets-function design. But beneath all this was a pioneering art school that revolutionised the way we teach art - placing collaboration, experimentation with materials and the flouting of art convention at centre stage.
From Oskar Schlemmer, the cutting-edge costume designer, to Wasilly Kandinsky, one of the early pioneers of abstract art, the Bauhaus tore up the old rules of art and design and placed radical new ones in their place.
Setting the rules in this unique experiment are key figures from today’s worlds of art and design, who have been influenced by the Bauhaus in their own work - from artist David Bachelor to graphic designer Neville Brody.
During this transformational week, the Central Saint Martin’s graduates experience esoteric breathing exercises, are given a taste of a rather potent garlic mush that was the hallmark of the Bauhaus canteen, and are challenged to reinterpret a legendary Bauhaus party with costumes and room decoration crafted out of metallic objects. The experience challenges their preconceptions not only of the Bauhaus, but of how to make art.
Bauhaus Rules (1x60') is a BBC Studios production and was commissioned for BBC Arts and BBC Four by Emma Cahusac. Janet Lee is the Executive Producer for BBC Studios and Simon Lloyd is the Director and Producer.
Anni Albers: A Life In Thread
Anni Albers: A Life In Thread tells the incredible story of Anni Albers, one of the female Bauhaus pioneers who helped transform perceptions of textiles from craft to modern art form.
Anni enrolled in 1922 at the legendary Bauhaus school of art in Weimar Germany with hopes of becoming a painter, but behind the scenes its founding headmaster Walter Gropius feared too many women might damage his new school's reputation, so Anni and the majority of female applicants were swiftly funnelled into the weaving class which became known as the women’s workshop.
There, Anni joined a remarkable group of young women who may not have set out to study textiles but who quickly turned the looms to their advantage and used them to weave a radical new kind of modern art-textile abstraction.
The film documents the turbulent final years of the Bauhaus weaving workshop in which Anni Albers was forced to flee Germany due to her Jewish heritage and start a new life in America. She went on to become the undisputed leader in her field but while her husband Josef Albers’ paintings saw him become one of the world’s most famous living artists, Anni’s textiles were always side-lined as a feminine craft.
The documentary concludes by examining and addresses the changing perceptions of Anni’s work in the mainstream art-world where, until recently, she was better known for being the wife of Josef Albers.
Anni Albers: A Life In Thread (1x30') is a BBC Studios production for BBC Arts and BBC Four and was commissioned by Emma Cahusac. The Executive Producer for BBC Studios is Janet Lee and the Director and Producer is Alex Harding.
For more than 50 years, German designer Dieter Rams has left an indelible mark on the field of product design with his iconic work at Braun and Vitsoe, and his influence on Apple. So at 87 years old, why does he now regret being a designer?
Rams is a design documentary, but it’s also a rumination on consumerism, sustainability, and the future of design. Dieter's philosophy is about more than just design - it’s about a way to live. The film also features an original score by pioneering musician Brian Eno.
Rams (1 x 60) is a BBC Factual Acquisition for BBC Arts and BBC Four. It was produced and directed by Gary Hustwit and the Executive Producer is Jessica Edwards.
An Engineer Imagines: Peter Rice
An Engineer Imagines is a cinematic homage to the life and ideas of Peter Rice widely regarded as the most distinguished engineer of the late 20th century. Without his innovations and collaborations with the leading architects of his time, some of the most recognizable buildings in the world would not have been possible.
The film traces Rice’s extraordinary work, from his native Ireland through, London, Sydney and Paris, to his untimely and tragic death in 1992.
Directed by 2014 Bafta Award-winning cinematographer and director Marcus Robinson, the film is a visual crie de couer to a visionary designer, bringing Rice’s inspiring creations to life to give a real sense of being located in the present day, almost as if Rice were still alive.
Through a series of interviews with former colleagues, family and friends, interwoven with the stunning time-lapse photography, An Engineer Imagines: Peter Rice unfolds the remarkable story of one of the great minds of the 20th century; how man pushed the boundaries of art and science to achieve the unimaginable.
An Engineer Imagines: Peter Rice (1 x 60) is a Fine Point Films and Igloo Films co-production film, funded by Screen Ireland, Northern Ireland Screen, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, RTE and the BBC. It was commissioned for BBC Arts and BBC Four by Emma Cahusac. Directed by Marcus Robinson, the Producer for Fine Point Films is Brendan Byrne and Brian Willis for Igloo Films.
Franco Building With Jonathan Meades
Jonathan Meades looks at the architectural legacy of one of Europe’s most notorious dictators - Francisco Franco. He reveals that Franco’s lasting contribution to Spanish architecture wasn’t in the dull official buildings that he commissioned, but in the tower blocks of tourist towns like Benidorm.
Writer and broadcaster Jonathan Meades has in his time made films about the architecture of the infamous European dictators of the 20th century - Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini. He’s now completing the set by turning his gaze onto Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. Franco, unlike the other three, died peacefully in his bed, having been in power for 36 years, and his architectural legacy, Meades argues, was more enduring and surprising than any of the others.
In his search for how Franco shaped Spain, Meades doesn’t look in the obvious places. For him Franco’s legacy isn’t to be found in the dull and pompous government buildings put up in the 1940s and 50s after the Spanish Civil War but in the riotous clash of building styles of the 1960s and 70s that grew up along Spain’s coasts, particularly the proliferation of skyscrapers in resorts such as Benidorm. It’s here that a new type of city was created, one that has influenced urban development all over the world.
The theme of tourism runs through Meades’s excursion into the world of Franco’s Spain. Apart from giving the go-ahead to the development of Mediterranean beach resorts to encourage mass tourism, Franco also actively encouraged the revival of the medieval pilgrimage trail to Santiago de Compostela, the north-western city named after St James.
Away from the obvious tourist sites, Meades looks at the dark side of Franco’s legacy. He uncovers the sinister history of Franco’s mausoleum - The Valley Of The Fallen - built by Republican prisoners of war in the 1940s and 50s. Meades describes it as "the biggest slave labour project in Europe since World War II". The building is currently the site of a massive controversy in Spain. The socialist government wants to exhume Franco’s body and detoxify the site, while Franco’s family strenuously reject any attempt to remove him. The issue remains unresolved to date.
Jonathan Meades’s television essays turn conventional wisdom on its head, providing new insights into Spanish history, architecture and landscape.
Franco Building With Jonathan Meades (1 x 60) is a BBC Studios production for BBC Arts and BBC Four and was commissioned by Emma Cahusac. The Executive Producer for BBC Studios is Janet Lee and the Director and Producer is Francis Hanly.