Formal Analysis of Bauhaus
Bauhaus is a German school of design established in Weimar in 1919 by Walter Gropius. Its aim was to bring people working in architecture, modern technology, and the decorative arts together to learn from one another. Realizing that mass production had to be the precondition of successful design in the machine age, its members rejected the Arts and Crafts Movement. The school developed a style that was spare, functional, and geometric. Bauhaus designs are highly prized today, but when the school was active, it was generally unpopular.
The Bauhaus was closed by the Nazis 1n 1933, but its members, including Walter Gropius, spread its teachings throughout the world. Figure 1: Joost Schmidt, Bauhaus exhibition poster, 1923 (Bakke, L, H. 2008). In Figure 1 one can see that Schmidt used geometrical shapes that consist of rectangles and circles. From the bottom there is a semi circle, then a rectangle and then again a circle at the top where we can see the logo which is also very geometric. Clear and crisp silhouettes are created by the edges, making the image simple, clean and timeless.
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There is a unity of the shapes that is created by the flat tones of colour making all the shapes fit well together just like a machine does, again emphasizing the machine aesthetic. All of the above mentioned is to represent the function of the poster that is to raise awareness, to inform the people and also to reflect upon machine aesthetic. If we divide the poster vertically in half one can see that the poster is in an asymmetrical layout because the right hand side is heavier, thus reflecting the machine aesthetic and to ensure that the poster is not boring.
The semi circle at the bottom looks like it is keeping the whole layout together just like a machine is fitted together. Type can also be a part of the shapes in this layout. The type used in figure 1 are block like and bold, they are also made up of geometric shapes such as circles, squares and rectangles, making it look mechanical. The use of different weight in the words on the poster creates a visual hierarchy, by drawing the viewer’s attention first to the name of the host, Bauhaus, then to the type of event and then to the date of the event. This represents the function of the poster, which is to advertise an event.
Schmidt used a primary colour, namely red, at the top semi circle of the logo and also on the right hand side near the date to emphasize the most important information given on the poster, which is the name of the exhibition and the date. The colours used on this poster creates a sense of hierarchy – the viewer firsts see the warm red. The colours play an important role in informing the viewers of the event that took place. There is a distinct contrast between the black of the shapes and type and the colours used on the red rectangles, squares and semi circles.
The effect of this is to lead your eyes to the warm red colour first, which is the most important information, and this makes the poster interesting to look at as well. There is also a distinct contrast between the beige background and the tints and tones used on the shapes. Black is mostly used on the shapes, emphasizing the machine. This again gives the viewer important information. The logo consists of geometric shapes but also lines. It seems as if the logo is made up of only one line, which again shows one how simplified and mechanical, the products were.
The logo also represents the people. The shapes/lines are organized into a major diagonal from the left to the right corners in addition to a smaller diagonal created by the word “Austellung” and a smaller rectangle to the right which makes the figure seem dynamic and creating a sense of movement. In conclusion we can see that the early products of the Bauhaus school all focused on the function of the products they made. The posters advertised, informed and gave information to the viewers, which was the main function of the posters created.