Bauhaus Weaving TheoryFrom Feminine Craft to Mode of Design

Bauhaus Weaving TheoryFrom Feminine Craft to Mode of Design

Tai Smith

Print publication date: 2015

ISBN: 9780816687237

Publisher: University of Minnesota Press


The Bauhaus school in Germany has been understood through the writings of its founding director Walter Gropius and several artists who taught there: Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and László Moholy-Nagy. Far less recognized are texts written by women in the school’s weaving workshop. The weavers’ innovativeness can be attributed to their notable textiles products: from colorful, expressionist tapestries to the invention of sound-proofing and light-reflective fabric. But it was also here that, for the first time, a modernist theory of weaving emerged—an investigation of its material elements, loom practice, and functional applications. What Bauhäusler like Anni Albers, Gunta Stölzl, and Otti Berger accomplished through writing, as they harnessed the vocabulary of other disciplines (painting, architecture, or photography), was a profound step in the recognition of weaving as a medium-specific craft—one that could be compared to and differentiated from others. Writing On Weaving finds new value and significance in the work the Bauhaus weavers did as writers. Employing a method that bridges art history, design history, craft theory, and media and cultural studies, it raises and seeks to answer several, interdisciplinary questions: Are the concepts of “craft” and “medium” isomorphic, or structurally distinct? How might the principles and methods of weaving challenge modernist assumptions about distinct media? To what degree are crafts and media reliant on theoretical, textual armatures to be specific? How does a medium accrue a gendered value, as “feminine?”