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EditEd for thE Bauhaus dEssau foundation

By torstEn BlumE




This publication is released for the exhibition “Dance the Bauhaus.

The Stage as Spatial Apparatus” in the Bayer Erholungshaus, Leverkusen

(20 September 2015 – 3 January 2016). The exhibition is a production of

the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation in cooperation with Bayer Cultural Affairs

and was curated by Torsten Blume and Andrea Peters.

Bibliographic information published by the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek

The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the

Deutsche Nationalbibliografie; detailed bibliographic data are

available in the Internet at http://dnb.dnb.de.

© Bauhaus Dessau Foundation for works by Walter Köppe

© Dr. Stefan Consemüller for works by Erich Consemüller

© Estate of T. Lux Feininger for works by T. Lux Feininger

© Hattula Moholy-Nagy for works by László Moholy-Nagy

© Kaj Delugan for works by Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack

© Kunstsammlungen Gera for works by Kurt Schmidt

© Michael Schreyer for works by Lothar Schreyer

© Phyllis Umbehr/Galerie Kicken Berlin for works by Otto Umbehr

© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015, for works by Walter Gropius, Lucia Moholy,

Wassily Kandinsky, Joost Schmidt, Andor Weininger

© Xanti Schawinsky Estate, Zurich, for works by Xanti Schawinsky

ISBN 978-3-86502-361-2

© 2015 Bauhaus Dessau Foundation, Torsten Blume and E. A. Seemann

Publishing House, in the Seemann Henschel GmbH & Co. KG, Leipzig


The use of texts, photographs or illustrations also in part, without the

agreement of the copyright holder is prohibited as a breach of copyright

and is liable to prosecution. This also applies to any duplication,

translation, micro-filming and processing using electronic systems.

Front cover image: Xanti Schawinsky, “I furfanti” (figurine design

for “The Two Gentlemen of Verona”, robber ballet by William Shakespeare,

1925, tempera, pencil and ink on paper, 33.3 x 45 cm)

Jacket design, layout and typesetting: Nicole Schwarz, Berlin

Project management: Iris Klein

Assistance: Hannah Crass

Translation: Abigail Prohaska, Berlin

Reproductions: Medien Profis GmbH, Leipzig

Print and binding: Horst Schreckhase, Spangenberg

Printed in Germany

The author has made every effort to find all image rights and their owners.

If any were overlooked, we kindly request that you contact the author.


thE Bauhaus dancEd



art figurEs



Bauhaus dancEs



stagE machinEs



spatial apparatusEs



spatial collEctivEs



play Bauhaus





thE author

photo crEdits






Wolfgang rössger, 1927

4 ⁄

georg hartmann, Karla grosch

and two students in front of the

Bauhaus building in dessau, 1929

⁄ “Instead of imposing sanctions

on themselves, people of today are

opening up. Everyone is striving

towards light and air, to liberating


lászló moholy-nagy, 1929 1 5 ⁄

Bauhaus people on the banks

of the Elbe in dessau, ca. 1927

6 ⁄


spatial apparatusEs

Besides the concepts related in a

narrower sense to the immediate

happenings on stage, several utopian

ideas were developed at the Bauhaus,

which – based on the new stagespace

models of the modern theatre

movement – imagined theatre as

a complex amalgam of mechanical

devices and media, to a certain degree

as “theatre machine”. Large-scale

examples include the designs by Walter

Gropius for Erwin Piscator’s “Total

Theatre”, those by Farkas Molnár for

the “U-Theatre”, and by Andor

Weininger for the “Spherical Theatre”.

László Moholy-Nagy had written

already in 1925: “It is time to produce

a kind of stage activity which will

no longer permit the masses to be

silent spectators, which will not only

excite them inwardly but will let them

take hold and participate—actually

allow them to fuse with the action on

the stage at the peak of cathartic

ecstasy. [...] In today’s theatre, stage

and spectator are too much separated,

too obviously divided into active

and passive, to be able to produce

creative relationships and reciprocal

tensions. [...] The next form of the

advancing theatre in cooperation with

future authors — will probably

answer the above demands with suspended

bridges and drawbridges

running horizontally, diagonally, and

vertically within the space of the

theatre; with platform stages built far

into the auditorium; and so on.

Apart from rotating sections, the stage

will have movable space constructions

and disc-like areas, in order to

bring certain action moments on

the stage into prominence, as in film

‘close-ups.’ [...] The possibilities

for a variation of levels of movable

planes on the stage of the future

would contribute to a genuine organisation

of space.” 48

Walter Gropius developed his

concept of a “Total Theatre” for

Erwin Piscator – who had opened

his “Piscator-Bühne-Theater

am Nollendorfplatz” in Berlin in

1927 – out of a combination of film

projection and drama. It aimed

at nothing less than out-performing

cinema and theatre. “Today’s circus,

Walter gropius, “total theatre.

ground plan with peripheral

stage area”, 1927, black

and coloured ink, photo collage

over blue print, 80 x 100 cm

48 ⁄ spatial apparatusEs

operetta, vaudeville, the clowns in

America and elsewhere (Chaplin,

Fratellini) have accomplished great

things, both in this respect and

in eliminating the subjective -even if

the process has been naive and

often more superficial than incisive.

Yet it would be just as superficial

if we were to dismiss great performances

and shows in this genre

with the word ‘kitsch’” 49 , to quote

Moholy-Nagy’s supportive words

on the Gropius project. With his

“Total Theatre” Gropius had reshaped

the vision of a multi-functional

and multi-perspective theatre building

in the spectator is activated as

“Massenmensch (mass-man)” and

given the collective sensation of

being part of a gigantic, dynamic and

all-embracing scenario.

The theatre building was conceived

as an architectural machine

designed to change stage forms

even during the performance, this

“animation of the entire auditorium” 50

making the spectators feel they

are part of the happenings themselves.

The conventional borderline between

stage and auditorium – if

not obliterated – would be blurred as

much as possible. Andor Weininger’s

“Spherical Theatre”, Xanti Schawinsky’s

“Constructive Spatial Theatre” and

Farkas Molnár’s “U-Theatre” in

principle followed Walter Gropius’s

“Total Theatre” ideas and are likewise

examples of scenically dynamised

stage architecture. As spatial apparatuses,

they aimed to facilitate

new, complex, poly-sensuous and,

last but not least, collective experiences,

moreover in multi-perspective

stage landscapes without fixed spectator

positions. Andor Weininger

saw in them an instrumentarium “for

educating people in new modes of

perception through the design of new

movement rhythms”. 51

50 ⁄ spatial apparatusEs

farkas molnár, the

“u-theatre” in operation, 1924

⁄ The “U-Theatre” should be

equipped with four stages,

which can be acted on singly or

together, for drama, dance

and music. It would be particularly

suitable “for acrobatic

performances in the air”.

The planned equipment included:

“mechanical music apparatus,

combinations of innovative sound

instruments, radio and lighting

effects. [...] Suspended bridges,

drawbridges between stages and

theatre circles and galleries.

Other mechanical aids for intensifying

the effect, water apparatuses,

fragrance dispensers.”⁄

farkas molnár, 1924 52

andor Weininger, “Kugeltheater.

schnitt (spherical

theatre. section)”, 1927,

pencil and crayon on paper,

12.7 x 19.4 cm

⁄ “The spectators are situated

on the inner edge of the sphere

in a new spatial relationship,

hence they are situated with an

overview of everything and

because of the centripetal force

in a new, psychological, optical,

acoustic relationship; they

are confronted with possibilities

for concentric, eccentric,

randomly directed and mechanical

procedures on the


andor Weininger, 1927 53

51 ⁄ spatial apparatusEs

Xanti schawinsky,

“design for a constructive

spatial theatre”, 1926,

tempera, ink and pencil on

cardboard, 54 x 48.9 cm

lászló moholy-nagy,

“Kinetic-constructive system.

structure with movement

tracks for play and conveyance”,

constructed in its entirety by

the graduate engineer stefan

sebök, 1928, after the first

version of 1922, drawing and

photo collage over blueprint,

ink, watercolour on cardboard,

76 × 54.5 cm

⁄ “The building has an outer

track with spiral gradient

for transporting the public, thus

has railings. Instead of steps a

moving ramp [...] the horizontal

ring platform spins everything

downwards in connection

with the elevator and through

the rotation of the whole construction.

[...] The first plans for

the dynamic-constructive power

system can only be based on

experimental and demonstrating

apparatuses for testing

the interconnections of human

being, material, energy, space.”⁄

lászló moholy-nagy, 1929 54

53 ⁄ spatial apparatusEs

Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin

pp. 38 (photo: T. Lux Feininger),

39 r. (photo: Robert Binnemann),


Private collection, Berlin

pp. 11, 19 (photo: T. Lux Feininger),

36 b. (photo: T. Lux Feininger),

37 (photo: T. Lux Feininger),

39 l. (photo: Robert Binnemann)

Private collection, Vienna

pp. 43 (photo: A. & E. Frankl),

46 (photo: Atelier Eckner, Weimar)

thE author

torstEn BlumE

is research and artistic associate of the Bauhaus

Dessau Foundation and also responsible for

experimental projects on the historic Bauhaus

stage. Since 2011 he has been developing the

project “play bauhaus” in a series of dance

pieces, installations and workshops in Dessau,

Prague, London, Taipei, Seoul and Tokyo. The

overall theme is to imagine the stage as a practice

medium for working on performance concepts,

to re-investigate it, and to present the Bauhaus

stage in impromptu and playful research as a

specific perspective on experimentation. Furthermore,

he has curated various Bauhaus exhibitions,

most recently, with Christian Hiller, “Man Space

Machine. Stage Experiments at the Bauhaus

(Dessau, Oslo, Seoul; 2013–2015).

Bauhaus Dessau Foundation

pp. 4, 5 (photo: T. Lux Feininger),

6 (photo: Irene Bayer),

7 (photo: Lucia Moholy),

14 (photo: Erich Consemüller),

21, 22, 23 l., r. (photo from: Oskar Schlemmer,

László Moholy-Nagy, Farkas Molnár:

Die Bühne im Bauhaus. Bauhausbücher vol. 4,

Munich 1925, pp. 30, 31),

25 (photo: Photo Ernst Schneider, Berlin),

27 b., 28 (photo: Erich Consemüller),

29 b., 31 (photo aus: Oskar Schlemmer,

László Moholy-Nagy, Farkas Molnár:

Die Bühne im Bauhaus. Bauhausbücher vol. 4,

Munich 1925, p. 13),

32 (photo: Erich Consemüller),

35 b. l., b. r., t. r. (photo: Erich Consemüller),

35 t. l. (photo: T. Lux Feininger),

36 t. (photo: Ruth Hollós),

42 (photo: ContinentalPhoto, Berlin),

47 t., b., 50 (photo from: Oskar Schlemmer,

László Moholy-Nagy, Farkas Molnár:

Die Bühne im Bauhaus. Bauhausbücher vol. 4,

Munich 1925, p. 62),

56, 57 (photo: Louis Held),

58 (photo: Walter Funkat),

59 b. (photo: Otto Umbehr),

63 (photo: Sebastian Gündel),

64 (photo: Jienne Liu),

65 (photo: Sebastian Gündel)

Theatre Collection of the University of Cologne

pp. 26, 44 t., b. l., b. r., 45, 49, 51

Xanti Schawinsky Estate, Zurich

ill. on cover, pp. 27 t.,

29 t. (photo: Photo Strauch, Halle),

41, 52, 53, 59 t. (photo: T. Lux Feininger), 60, 61

76 ⁄ thE author / photo crEdits

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