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Gunta Stölzl

 
 

A Loom
with a View!

   

 

The softer side to steel tubing and leather at the Bauhaus show at MoMA, a must-see for anybody who appreciates the finer points of aesthetics and design history and who is in love with the idea of living in beauty, the designed environment at every level.  The house or apartment as sanctuary, refuge from the ravages of urban decay.  The romanticism of fabric as nurturing; close the drapes on the graffiti that vandalizes the wall outside!  One realizes how important textiles and cloth were at the Bauhaus.  Weaving, with all its connotations of Arachne and the spider, of storytelling, of women’s work….brought now into the industrial age.

 

To those who mistakenly interpret the Modernist aesthetic as cold and colorless, remember, before the Wassily Chair had a leather seat, it was first upholstered with textured fabric.  Mies had heavy scarlet drapes that fell sinuously to the floor in the Barcelona Pavilion.  The Bauhaus show is woven through with the sensuousness and drape of fabrics that lend nuance and softness to steel and glass....and Gunta Stölzl made an art out of weaving; pattern and color becoming a harmony of abstraction in her hands.

 

Gunta Stölzl arrived at the Bauhaus as a student and later was the technical director of its Weaving Workshop and was the only woman to teach at the Bauhaus.  She took weaving to a new place where art met technology, using innovative materials and methods of production.  Her training as a painter is evident in her talent for designing subtle abstractions of shadings and geometry, what Anni Albers, whose weavings are also at the show called 'her animal instinct for color'.  Stölzl herself acknowledges the painterly influence of Paul Klee on her palette.

 


The famous Romantic Chair

 

In 1921 she collaborated with Marcel Breuer in creating that strange and lovely creature of the imagination…the Romantic Chair.  the high-backed 5-legged chair, oak painted with water-soluble color and of a fabric of wool, cotton, silk, and brocade threads that were partially woven directly on the chair, it simply vanished – lost for many years before it mysteriously reappeared in 2004 and was acquired by the Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin.  Somewhere woven into the fabric is the fact that Breuer and Stölzl were lovers at the time.  The chair, also called the African Chair, is an example of the early Bauhaus interest in pre-modern patterns and forms, but the legs are all de Stijl!   Stölzl also collaborated with Breuer on Chair (1921) of birch and black lacquer with colored webbing.

 

There are her beautiful tapestries on show at MoMA: 5 Chöre (top) 1928, fields of song, hues that vibrate and contrast, yet remain contained by geometry.  The beautiful Wall Hanging (1922-23) is the subtlest symphony of color - taupes, the palest yellow, mustard, a dark burnt orange run together.    

  

 

See: Bauhaus 1919-1933: Workshops for Modernity , MoMA

 

Read: Bauhaus, the accompanying catalogue

 

Read: Gunta Stölzl, Bauhaus Master, Monika Stadler

 

Buy: Gunta Stölzl rugs, DWR, based on works on paper  

 


 

 

 

Swatch-buckling!


Fabric for Steel Chairs  Gunta Stölzl, 1936, Jute & Plastic Thread

(via MoMA)

 

 

 

 

 

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Gunta Stölzl rug, DWR

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