“This is an absolute triumphideas, lives, and the dramas of the twentieth century are woven together in a feat of storytelling. A masterpiece.” Edmund de Waal, ceramic artist and author of The White Road
The impact of Walter Gropius can be measured in his buildingsFagus Factory, Bauhaus Dessau, Pan Ambut no less in his students. I. M. Pei, Paul Rudolph, Anni Albers, Philip Johnson, Fumihiko Maki: countless masters were once disciples at the Bauhaus in Berlin and at Harvard. Between 1910 and 1930, Gropius was at the center of European modernism and avant-garde society glamor, only to be exiled to the antimodernist United Kingdom during the Nazi years. Later, under the democratizing influence of American universities, Gropius became an advocate of public art and cemented a starring role in twentieth-century architecture and design.
Fiona MacCarthy challenges the image of Gropius as a doctrinaire architectural rationalist, bringing out the visionary philosophy and courage that carried him through a politically hostile age. Pilloried by Tom Wolfe as inventor of the monolithic high-rise, Gropius is better remembered as inventor of a form of art education that influenced schools worldwide. He viewed argument as intrinsic to creativity. Unusually for one in his position, Gropius encouraged women’s artistic endeavors and sought equal romantic partners. Though a traveler in elite circles, he objected to the cloistering of beauty as “a special privilege for the aesthetically initiated.”
Gropius offers a poignant and personal storyand a fascinating reexamination of the urges that drove European and American modernism.
Fiona MacCarthy is the author of William Morris: A Life for Our Time, winner of the Wolfson History Prize and the Writers’ Guild Nonfiction Award; and the well-received Byron: Life and Legend. A former design correspondent for The Guardian and architecture critic for The Observer, she has curated exhibits at the Victoria & Albert Museum and the National Portrait Gallery in London. MacCarthy is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a Senior Fellow at the Royal College of Art.
Table of Contents
Gropius Family Tree ix
Preface: The Silver Prince 1
First Life Germany
1 Berlin 1883-1907 11
2 Spam 1907-1908 23
3 Berlin 1908-1910 31
4 Vienna and Alma Mahler 1910-1913 44
5 Gropius at War 1914-1918 72
6 Bauhaus Weimar and Lily Hildebrandt 1919-1920 102
7 Bauhaus Weimar and Maria Benemann 1920-1922 130
8 Bauhaus Weimar and Ise Gropius 1923-1925 145
9 Bauhaus Dessau 1925-1926 174
10 Bauhaus Dessau 1927-1928 193
11 America 1928 211
12 Berlin 1928-1932 221
13 Berlin 1933-1934 249
Second Life England
14 London, Berlin, Rome 1934 273
15 London 1934 292
16 London 1935 311
17 London 1935-1936 324
18 London 1936-1937 346
Third Life America
19 Harvard 1937-1939 361
20 Harvard and the Second World War 1940-1944 389
21 Return to Berlin 1945-1947 409
22 Harvard and TAG 1948-1952 423
23 Wandering Star: Japan, Paris, London, Baghdad, Berlin 1953-1959 441
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