Peter’s Auction Pick of the Day: Students of the Bauhaus

February 12, 2019

Students and Descendants of the Bauhaus

Recognized as one of the world’s most influential modernist art schools, the Bauhaus has had a far reaching hand in shaping some of history’s most distinguished creatives. Convinced of the need to abolish the distinction between fine and practical arts, Walter Gropius established the Bauhaus school in 1919. The school functioned as a workshop with an emphasis on the study and use of material and championed new systems for artistic dialogue and instruction. With the central principle of  ‘form following function,’ the Bauhaus fostered productive design that naturally embraced industrial and mechanical applications.

Herbert Bayer, Yellow (Chromatic) Center
February 17, 2019 Modern Art & Design Auction

During his time as a Bauhaus student, Herbert Bayer worked to develop a “universal” typeface. Out of aesthetic frustration with what he saw as the unnecessarily ornate style of standard German typeface, Bayer crafted his font to reflect the clarity and ease-of-use touted by the Bauhaus method. In 1925, Bayer began teaching design at the Bauhaus and offered one of the school’s earliest courses on typography. As Bayer established his commercial practice in the United States, his corporate work realized channels for collective enrichment. Alongside select designers, such as Saul Bass, Bayer sought to elevate everyday visual consumption. Bayer’s elegant modern illustrations and paintings prescribed imaginative thinking  for the masses as he delivered functional design to a wide consumer audience.

Oskar Fischinger, Eclipse
February 17, 2019 Modern Art & Design Auction

While he never received formal training, Oskar Fischinger was swept up by the avant-garde spirit of the Frankfurt art world in the 1920s. Fischinger reportedly cherished a copy of a Bauhaus catalogue, that he received from a gallerist, which illustrated works by the school’s most prominent faculty.  In his infant artistic explorations, Fischinger found that the film medium could more wholly extend the goals of prior abstractionists, such as Bauhaus veteran Vasily Kandinsky. Naturally, Fischinger began to consider film a more productive medium than its still predecessors and in true Bauhaus spirit set out to test its capacity. While still in Germany, Fischinger worked in both experimental and commercial film, most notably designing the special effects for Fritz Lang’s, Woman in the Moon (1929). He later brought his ideas on Bauhaus film design to Hollywood, where is helped popularize abstract animation in the US.

Margaret De Patta jewelry
February 17, 2019 Modern Art & Design Auction

In the summer of 1940, Margaret De Patta enrolled in a course taught by the Bauhaus master-artist, László Moholy-Nagy, at Mills College. The famed Moholy-Nagy was quick to identify De Patta’s talent and reaffirm her visual rhetoric. Moholy-Nagy reportedly told De Patta that her budding jewelry practice, which approached the metal craft as a fine art, echoed fundamental Bauhaus and Constructivist principles without even trying. Later that year, De Patta sought to extend her formal training under Moholy-Nagy and moved to Chicago to attend the School of Design. During this “critical year of study,” De Patta perfected her signature ‘floating’ stone composition. The designer’s affinity for materials such as stainless steel, beach stone, and others typically disregard by purveyors of fine-jewelry, allowed her to rigorously interpret the basic tenets of architectural design. While De Patta’s works presented an apex of modern design she held to the democratic philosophy that they should be accessible to the masses. Despite De Patta’s choice to study and practice her art within the US, this intersection of fine art and accessibility locates De Patta as an international descendant of the Bauhaus school.


Lot 178
Herbert Bayer
Yellow (Chromatic) Center
Varnished acrylic on paper
Signed, dated, and inscribed “21” in red paint lower right in composition; signed, dated, and inscribed “21/acrylic varnished 14 3/4″ x 14 3/4″” in graphite lower right edge of sheet; titled and inscribed “For my friend George with many thanks from Herbert Bayer” in graphite lower left edge of sheet
Composition: 14.75″ x 14.75″; Sheet: 22.5″ x 21.875″; Frame: 25.25″ x 23.5″
Provenance:  Private Collection, Los Angeles, California (gifted directly by the artist, 1970)

Estimate: $8,000 – 12,000
February 17, 2019 Modern Art & Design Auction

Lot 180
Herbert Bayer
Edition Domberger Stuttgart Portfolio
Published by Edition Domberger, Stuttgart
The complete portfolio of six color screenprints on paper, justification page, and original portfolio case
#32 of 85
Each signed in graphite lower right margin beneath image; edition lower left
Images each: 17.625″ x 17.625″; Sheets each: 19.625″ x 19.625″; Frames each: 20″ x 20″; Portfolio case: 21″ x 19.875″ x .75″

Estimate: $3,000 – 5,000
February 17, 2019 Modern Art & Design Auction

Lot 228
Oskar Fischinger
Oil on canvas
Retains Gallery 609 label frame verso
Canvas (vis.): 41.5″ x 49.375″; Frame: 44″ x 52″
Provenance:  Elfriede Fischinger, Los Angeles, California; Gordon Shwayder Rosenblum, Lakewood, Colorado (acquired directly from the above, c. 1982); Thence by descent
Exhibited:  “Fischinger: A Retrospective,” Gallery 609, Denver, May-June, 1981

Estimate: $10,000 – 15,000
February 17, 2019 Modern Art & Design Auction

Lot 229
Oskar Fischinger
Perspective I
Oil on canvas
Numbered “#69” to canvas overlap verso
Canvas (vis.): 47.25″ x 39.25″; Frame: 49.625″ x 41.625″
Provenance:  Elfriede Fischinger, Los Angeles, California; Gordon Shwayder Rosenblum, Lakewood, Colorado (acquired directly from the above, c. 1982); Thence by descent

Estimate: $6,000 – 9,000
February 17, 2019 Modern Art & Design Auction

Lot 164
Margaret De Patta
Studio, designed c. 1960
Signed with impressed artist’s cipher and inscribed “Sterling” to underside
1.875″ x 3.75″ x .625″
Provenance:  The artist; Thence by descent
Literature: Space, Light, Structure: The Jewelry of Margaret De Patta. U. Ilse-Neuman and J. M. Muñiz. 2012. 96 for a similar example illustrated.

Estimate: $7,000 – 10,000
February 17, 2019 Modern Art & Design Auction

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