Walter Gropius: Between the Bauhaus and Harvard

Apr 19
1:00 pm
2:00 pm
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DOCOMOMO US/New York Tri-State presents a virtual program coinciding with the recent publication of Walter Gropius, An Illustrated Biography, authored by Leyla Daybelge and Magnus Englund and published by Phaidon in October 2022. Walter Gropius, the architect, designer, and visionary founder of the Bauhaus School was one of the most influential pioneers of International Modernism.

By his own reckoning, this 20th-century Renaissance man lived three distinct lives. His “first life” in Germany, as a young architect and Director of the legendary Bauhaus school of design and architecture, is widely known. His “third life” in America as head of the Graduate School of Design at Harvard and a founding member of the The Architects Collaborative (TAC) partnership, where he inspired an international dynasty of younger architects and built controversial projects, such as New York’s Pan Am Building, is also well documented.

But Gropius’ “second life,” the years between 1928 and 1937, have often been unfairly overlooked. Hounded out of the Dessau Bauhaus by Right Wing forces, he took a road trip across Jazz-Age America before setting up as an independent architect in an increasingly hostile, Nazi-dominated Berlin. During this period, he designed furniture, cars, important high-rise housing developments and even an unrealized Palace of the Soviets in Moscow, before fleeing to London. There he lived as a penniless exile, at the center of England’s artistic avant-garde, leaving a small handful of private architectural commissions and developing ideas, which would inform his later American practice.

Leyla Daybelge and Magnus Englund, authors of Walter Gropius, An Illustrated Biography, explore the legacy of Walter Gropius’ life between two worlds. Daybelge and Englund also co-authored the 2019 book Isokon and the Bauhaus in Britain, and are both trustees of the Isokon Gallery Trust. They have delivered dozens of highly acclaimed lectures on Isokon and Walter Gropius, both in Britain, across Europe and in the US.