Bauhaus 100 review – a celebration of an art school that was truly radical | Art and design – Google Alerts

To mark the centenary of the endlessly influential art school’s foundation by Walter Gropius, BBC Four spent a night in the Bauhaus. It began with a half-hour trot through the life and pioneering artwork of Anni Albers, in A Life in Thread. From her banishment to the weaving workshop (where female students were expected to go instead of metalwork or other departments – progressive institutions always have surprisingly traditional limitations) we witnessed her transformation of the ancient craft into unique art and a lauded career.

Then we had an hour of Bauhaus at 100, tracing its roots as a reaction against expressionism and a bid to put the pieces of a shattered postwar world back together in a new and better way. Whether it worked is an open question. The school was effectively shut down by the increasingly powerful Nazi regime in 1933 and the programme was bookended by a discussion about the controversial decision to cancel a recent event at the Bauhaus building (now a Unesco heritage site) after far-right activists threatened to disrupt it. But, as one of the contributors noted, no experiment in creativity can ever really be said to have failed. Let alone one in whose influence we are still steeped today, with whose designs – both typographical and architectural – we still live, even if we have not kept hold of the idealistic message the marriage of form and function was intended to convey.

After all that edutainment, you might have felt ready for a bit of fun. Along came Bauhaus Rules, presented by “Jim Moir, AKA Vic Reeves” – as he was billed in the credits – to provide. The unashamed gimmick here was to take a handful of art students and give them a different Bauhaus-based task, overseen by a different artist, every day for a week and see how they took to the school rules. Ian Whittlesea did the breathing exercises that Johannes Itten, who developed the Bauhaus “preliminary course” that still forms the basis for all art foundation…

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