our play, our party, our work

^ Oskar Schlemmer. Stelzenläufer 1927.



<Play becomes celebration; celebration becomes work; work becomes play. 

Our play should become work; our work, a celebration; and our celebration, play.

I regard this as the supreme excellence of the human tasks>


[‘our play, our party, our work’ was the title given by Johannes Itten to his lecture of 1919]


<Once established, the Bauhaus was held together as much by the social gatherings and festivities that masters and students organised collaboratively as by Gropius’s vision for a new art school. These celebrations served to promote contact between the school and the public, with attendance from locals and party-goers from further afield, making the school a lively cultural centre. Parties were also of central importance to Gropius’s educational vision and from the outset he stressed the significance of extracurricular entertainment with the ‘encouragement of friendly relations between masters and students outside of work’. Such festivities gave free rein to the masters and students to demonstrate their creativity and design invention, providing innumerable opportunities to conceive invitations, posters, costumes and decorations. An additional pedagogical aim of the festivities was the encouragement of play within teaching. Masters from Johannes Itten and Oskar Schlemmer to Paul Klee valued play as an essential ingredient of artistic creativity.

The Bauhaus parties moved from the imaginative improvisations and the rhythm of the seasons during Weimar, with the Lantern Festival in the spring and the Kite Festival in the autumn, to spectacular and monumental stage productions in Dessau. These large public parties were elaborately prepared around themes, such as the White Party (1926), in which everyone was instructed to appear in a costume ‘dotted, chequered and striped’, or The Beard Nose Heart Party arranged by the Bauhaus band. The highpoint of celebrations was in 1929 with the resplendent Metal Party. The school was given glittering look and guests came attired in metallic objects from tin foil to frying pans and danced to the sound of bells. They entered the building by sliding down a large chute that deposited them in the first of several rooms decorated with silver spherical balls and reflecting walls faced with white metal>


[source text: Barbican Art Gallery, 2012. Bauhaus: Art as Life. Koenig Books]

^ Bauhaus Stage Workshop 1928.

^ Oskar Schlemmer. Das Triadische Ballet 1924.

Oskar Schlemmer. Das Triadische Ballet 1924. 

^ Bauhaus Stage Workshop 1928.

^ Andor Weininger. Mechanical Stage Revue 1926.

Oskar Schlemmer. Das Triadische Ballet 1924. Installation at Barbican Exhibition.

^ Walter Gropius. Drawing by Stefan Sebök. Total theatre 1926-27.

^ Hinnerk Scheper. Colour-coded orientation plan for the Bauhaus Building 1926.

^ László Moholy-Nagy. Kinetic constructive system 1922-1928.

^ Puppets for the Oskar Schlemmer Stage Workshop 1923.

^ Oskar Schlemmer. Metal Party 1929.

^ Nonsense Soldier. Costume for the Metal Party 1929.

^ Attributed to Irene or Herbert Bayer. Costume for the Neue Sachlichkeit Party 1926.


images from the Bauhaus: Art as Life exhibition at Barbican centre, London. Co-curated by Catherine Ince and Lydia Yee. 3 May – 12 August 2012.

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