Watch Bauhaus World, a Free Documentary That Celebrates the 100th Anniversary of Germany’s Legendary Art, Architecture & Design School

This April 1st marks the 100th anniver­sary of the found­ing of the Bauhaus, the Ger­man art school that, though short-lived, launched an entire design move­ment with a stark, func­tion­al aes­thet­ic all its own. It can be tempt­ing, look­ing into that aes­thet­ic that finds the beau­ty in indus­try and the indus­try in beau­ty, to regard it as pure­ly a prod­uct of its time and place, specif­i­cal­ly a 20th-cen­tu­ry Europe between the wars search­ing for ways to invent the future. But as revealed in Bauhaus World, this three-part doc­u­men­tary from Ger­man broad­cast­er Deutsche Welle, the lega­cy of the Bauhaus lives on not just in the rep­u­ta­tions of its best known orig­i­nal mem­bers — Wal­ter Gropius, Paul Klee, Lás­zló Moholy-Nagy, and Josef Albers, among oth­ers — but in the cur­rent­ly active cre­ators it con­tin­ues to inspire in every cor­ner of the Earth.

“What do esca­la­tors in Medel­lín, Ara­bic let­ter­ing in Amman, sto­ry-telling fur­ni­ture from Lon­don, urban farm­ing in Detroit and a co-liv­ing com­plex in Tokyo have to do with the Bauhaus?” asks Deutsche Welle’s web site. They all draw from “the influ­ence that the phi­los­o­phy of the Bauhaus move­ment still exerts on the glob­al­ized soci­ety of the 21st cen­tu­ry,” a time that has its soci­etal par­al­lels with the year 1919.

To illus­trate those par­al­lels as well as the con­tin­u­ing rel­e­vance of Bauhaus teach­ings, “we meet archi­tects, urban plan­ners, design­ers and artists from around the globe who, in the spir­it of the Bauhaus, want to rethink and change the world.” True to its title, Bauhaus World’s jour­ney involves a wide vari­ety of coun­tries, and not just Euro­pean ones: dif­fer­ent seg­ments pro­file the work of Bauhaus-influ­enced design­ers every­where from Mex­i­co to Jor­dan, Colom­bia to Israel, the Unit­ed States to Japan.

It’s in Japan, in fact, that the first part of Bauhaus World, “The Code,” finds the out­er reach­es of the spread of Bauhaus that began with the exile of its mem­bers from Nazi Ger­many. The sec­ond part, “The Effect,” deals with the endur­ing influ­ence that has turned Bauhaus and its prin­ci­ples from a move­ment to a brand, one that has poten­tial­ly done more than its share to make us as design-obsessed as we’ve become in the 21st cen­tu­ry — a cen­tu­ry that, the third and final part “The Utopia” con­sid­ers, may or may not have a place for the orig­i­nal Bauhaus ideals. But what­ev­er Gropius, Klee, Moholy-Nagy, Albers, and the rest would think of what the Bauhaus they cre­at­ed has become over the past hun­dred years, over the next hun­dred years more and more design­ers — emerg­ing from a wider and wider vari­ety of soci­eties and tra­di­tions — will come to see them­selves as its descen­dants.

Bauhaus World will be added to our list of Free Doc­u­men­taries, a sub­set of our col­lec­tion, 4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

How the Rad­i­cal Build­ings of the Bauhaus Rev­o­lu­tion­ized Archi­tec­ture: A Short Intro­duc­tion

An Oral His­to­ry of the Bauhaus: Hear Rare Inter­views (in Eng­lish) with Wal­ter Gropius, Lud­wig Mies van der Rohe & More

32,000+ Bauhaus Art Objects Made Avail­able Online by Har­vard Muse­um Web­site

The Female Pio­neers of the Bauhaus Art Move­ment: Dis­cov­er Gertrud Arndt, Mar­i­anne Brandt, Anni Albers & Oth­er For­got­ten Inno­va­tors

Down­load Beau­ti­ful­ly-Designed Bauhaus Books & Jour­nals for Free: Gropius, Klee, Kandin­sky, Moholy-Nagy & More

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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