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Deutscher Werkbund

From Academic Kids

The Deutscher Werkbund (German Work Federation) was a German association of architects, designers and industrialists, an important precursor to the Bauhaus.

It was founded in 1907 in Munich at the instigation of Hermann Muthesius, existed through 1934, then re-established after World War in 1950. Muthesius was the author of the exhaustive three-volume "The English House" of 1905, a survey of the practical lessons of the English Arts and Crafts movement. Muthesius was seen as something of a cultural ambassador, or industrial spy, between Germany and England.

The Werkbund was less an artistic movement than a state-sponsored effort to integrate traditional crafts and industrial mass-production techniques, to put Germany on a competitive footing with England and the United States. Its motto "Vom Sofakissen zum Städtebau" (from sofa cushions to city-building) indicates its range of interest.

The organization originally included twelve architects and twelve business firms. The architects include Peter Behrens, Theodor Fischer (who served as its first president), Josef Hoffmann and Richard Riemerschmid.

Other architects affiliated with the project include Heinrich Tessenow and the Belgian Henry van de Velde. The Werkbund commissioned van de Velde to build a theatre for its 1914 Cologne Exhibition in Cologne, the theatre which turned out to be his best work, and which only stood for one year before being destroyed as a result of World War I.

Key dates of the Deutscher Werkbund:

  • 1907 Establishment of the Werkbund in Munich
  • 1914 Colonge exhibition
  • 1924 Berlin exhibition
  • 1927 Stuttgart exhibition (including the Weissenhof settlement)
  • 1929 Breslau exhibition
  • 1938 Werkbund closed by the National Socialists
  • 1949 reestablishment

Links

  • Werkbundarchiv (http://www.werkbundarchiv-berlin.de/), Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin (in German)

References

  • Lucius Burckhardt (1987). The Werkbund. ? : Hyperion Press. ISBN 0850721083.
  • Frederic J. Schwartz (1996). The Werkbund: Design Theory and Mass Culture Before the First World War. New Haven, Conn. : Yale University Press. ISBN 0300068980.

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