Contact us Monday to Friday 9:30 AM to 6:30 PM UTC (Paris - France) on + 33 (0) 7 57 83 20 12

Mies van der Rohe: the modernist architect who led the Bauhaus at its end.

The last and also third supervisor of the Bauhaus was among the world's best-known architects.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, simply Mies for everyone design, is one of the most imposing figures in this field. Whether it is his gnomic statements - “much less is superfluous” and also “God is in the information” - or the legendary structure of the Barcelona or the legendary Barcelona chair, its visibility borders on the mythical.

As William JR Curtis actually placed him, he is “among those architects who refuse to disappear”.

Mies is much more recognized for its structures than the Bauhaus

Mies is perhaps best recognized today for his American skyscrapers such as the towers of Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, Seagram, or IBM Plaza - developments that have seen him bear the blame for any type of ordinary glass tower. because. The pregnancy of these works, as well as its shift from an even more classical arrangement to innovation, all took place in pre-war Germany.

If he was born in the mind of an educator for his time as head of the Illinois Institute of Innovation (IIT), the few years he spent as the head of an incredibly besieged Bauhaus are mentioned less often.

Mies van der Rohe Director of the Bauhaus

Mies may have been born in mind more for his time as head of the Illinois Institute of Modern Technology than for the leadership of the Bauhaus.

Mies' entry into the Bauhaus was never going to be particularly easy. Walter Gropius' successor, Hannes Meyer, was dismissed from the institution in 1930 by the mayor of Dessau for having probably politicized the students with his communist aims.

After trying, unsuccessfully, to persuade Gropius - then focused on his architectural method - to return, the mayor instead suggested Mies, who was assigned the same year.

Despite the Bauhaus' reputation for creating jobs, Mies entered college as a full member of German progressivism, imposing his own (then still fairly new) concepts on what modern style should be.

Mies, Gropius and Le Corbusier all helped Peter Behrens.

Mies was born in Aix-la-Chapelle in 1886. Son of a stonemason, he worked in his father's workshop and for several style companies before settling in Berlin in 1905, eager to get involved. in a reputable engineering company.

He enrolled in the workplace of Bruno Paul, a promoter and interior designer who had a preference for abstract classicism, whose intention was successful, and who would later develop a residence and two restaurants for the 'Perfume's Werkbund event.

While benefiting Paul (but seemingly resisting every one of his helpful tips and offers), Mies completes his very first building: the remarkable traditional Riehl Home in Potsdam.

Mies van der Rohe Bauhaus director.

Mies, one of the most important designers of the XNUMXth century, was already established when he accepted the post of director of the Bauhaus.
Excited by this 21-year-old's debut, Peter Behrens offered Mies a task at her workplace - alongside Gropius and Le Corbusier - which was originally the maintenance of the factory in AEG wind turbines. Mies was forging a reputation as a designer of upper-yard homes, and to better reach this clientele, he gave up his birth name - Maria Ludwig Michael Mies - for something more classic, including his mother Rohe's last name and Dutch “van der” due to the preserved nature of the German fragment “von”.

In addition to the time spent in WWII building roads and bridges, Mies' building strategy has changed. While still indulging in the bizarre neoclassical arrangement, he was building a reputation for his visionary contemporary concepts.

He was architectural supervisor for the Werkbund, helping to organize the design of the Weissenhof Estate, collaborated with the G-style publication and was also the owner of the Der Ring cumulative building. His striking modernist launch, never developed but eternalized in photomontage, was the 1919 Friedrichstrasse Tower, whose skin of glass and steel bones are a sign of things to come. Mies designed the German Pavilion of 1929, better known as the name of Structure de Barcelona, ​​a year before becoming director of the Bauhaus.
It was his efficient handling of the Stuttgart Werkbund event that earned Mies the command of the 1929 German pavilion at the international presentation in Barcelona: one of his most influential jobs. This official composition of the planes was, according to its commissioner Georg von Schnitzler, to provide “a voice to the spirit of a new era”. It's likely that Mies didn't care much about his propaganda role, much more as a way to test ideas for a free strategy and a floating roof system.

Mies was an apolitical supervisor of the Bauhaus.

A year later, taking on the thankless task of running the Bauhaus during an unusually billed political minute, Mies seemed to view the situation in Germany much more as an inconvenience that hampered work. That was sort of the factor: he was to be the apolitical supervisor after Communist Meyer, who was going to run the school without any other kind of political problem.

Mies' approach to overturning these irrelevant political tasks was brutal, defined by some as tyrannical. Each intern was interviewed independently and threatened with expulsion if he did not follow the new guidelines.

Mies designed the Barcelona armchair, in partnership with the architect Lilly Reich, for the Barcelona pavilion. She ended up becoming an icon for the Bauhaus.
Political conversations should be avoided, they should not stay late in the canteen, and they should not make noise in the community. Advocacy was suppressed, as were questionable jobs, and Meyer overwhelmingly explained it as “back to normal school”.

There was, however, an almost total shift towards architecture: the workshops of furniture, murals and steel were merged into interior decoration. Paul Klee is gone, and Wassily Kandinsky found himself twiddling his thumbs. Much of this activity was like Mies: her only brand new team visit was that of Lilly Reich, her collaborator and, for a time, her romantic companion, and a sense of visual hegemony. de Miesian quickly settled down.

Mies paid for the last Bauhaus house in Berlin.

One wonders how much Mies tried to develop modernism as apolitical in order to survive under Nazism, but it soon proved ineffective: when the Nazi event took control of Dessau's council, it closed the Bauhaus.

Mies used her own funds to rent an abandoned manufacturing plant in Berlin, which would serve as the college's third residence, during her lesser-known year in German resources. The interns worked on the renovation of this factory, and for nearly a year they worked without interruption, until the Gestapo robbed the school, believing it was producing anti-Nazi propaganda.

Mies opposed this, and at one point the school was allowed to resume operations, and some educators, including Kandinsky, were replaced by people who would certainly support Nazi principles better. Mies and the various other staff considered it much better to voluntarily shut down the college themselves.

The layout of Mies' towers would certainly set the tone for North American commercial architecture for decades. The photo is by Alexpankratz.
Between the final closure of the Bauhaus and the emigration of Mies to the United States, it developed very little. Like Gropius, he embarked on the Reichsbank competitions of 1933, but otherwise seemed determined to endure the Nazis, designs contested by former Bauhaus colleagues who had left the country much more hastily. Against his will, in 1937, he was transferred to America.

In the United States, after the Depression, Mies found many business clients ready to learn about concepts that seemed impossible in Germany - Modern Style: An International Event at the New York Modern Art Gallery in 1932 actually had get Mies' name recognized.

He also taught and perfected at IIC from 1938 to 58, and would become an American himself in 1944, defining, for better or for worse, what will certainly be the accepted mode of construction of social design, corporate and academic for decades.

Dezeen's guide to the 100 years of the Bauhaus.

Dezeen's 100 Years of the Bauhaus series verifies the college's lasting impact.
The Bauhaus is one of the most important art and style colleges in the background. To mark the centenary of the institution's beginnings, we have in fact developed a collection of short articles discovering the vital figures of the institution as well as its missions.

Mies is perhaps remembered much more for his time as head of the Illinois Institute of Innovation than for leading the Bauhaus.

Back to top