Martin Groh

Ludwig Grote and the Bauhaus

The exhibition on Bauhaus painters curated by Ludwig Grote in 1950 at the Haus der Kunst in Munich was not a model for the first documenta. Grote, who through his various activities in Dessau knew the Bauhaus and its participants at close quarters,

saw the Bauhaus as a - although often divided - joint movement of many different arts and crafts. The documenta, on the other hand, emphasized the individual, high-ranking artistic personality and regarded itself as a forum above all for the visual arts from all over the world.

The creation of the BAUHAUS by Walter Gropius is regarded today in the world as the most important and influential cultural act of Germany in our century. [...] From him the new building movement began, here the new principles for all design tasks were developed with the means and in the spirit of the present, here the new style encompassing the entire culture was created.

Die Maler am Bauhaus, exhibition at Haus der Kunst Munich, May-June 1950, exhibition catalog, Munich 1950, flap text

Cover of the exhibition catalog: Die Maler am Bauhaus, Ausstellung Haus der Kunst München, Mai-Juni 50, Munich 1950.

Ludwig Grote (1893-1974) euphorically praised the Bauhaus in the book accompanying the exhibition he curated on “Die Maler am Bauhaus” (The Painters at the Bauhaus). It took place from May to June 1950 at the Haus der Kunst in Munich and was just one of a whole series of sensational shows about, among others, Der Blaue Reiter, Max Beckmann, and Oskar Kokoschka, which he had organized within a few years.

In the Bauhaus exhibition, Grote showed paintings by Joseph Albers, Herbert Bayer, Lyonel Feininger, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Gerhard Marcks, Oskar Schlemmer, and others. He assigned each of the artists a certain role within the Bauhaus community and cited them as witnesses to the common sentiments of the Bauhaus members as a "spiritual, creative movement," without refraining from addressing the strong inner conflicts during the development of the Bauhaus.

more about Joseph Albers
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more about Herbert Bayer
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more about Lyonel Feininger
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more about Wassily Kandinsky
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meore about Paul Klee
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more about Gerhard Marcks
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more about Oskar Schlemmer
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Ludwig Grote, 1926
© Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nürnberg, DKA, NL Grote, Ludwig, AMK 28.

In his introduction to the catalog of the first documenta, which took place five years later, Werner Haftmann explicitly referred once again to Grote's Bauhaus show. He discussed the approach of restricting the exhibition to a clearly defined theme within German art as a possible alternative to that of the documenta, but how in the end he decided to make the exhibition concept broad and international in keeping with the time and circumstances.

In 1924, the art historian Ludwig Grote became Anhalt's state curator in Dessau. In this capacity, he was responsible for the general preservation of art and monuments and for the traditional Anhaltischer Kunstverein. One year later he also became advisor to Lord Mayor Fritz Hesse, on whose behalf he negotiated the transfer of the Bauhaus WeimarBauhaus Weimar to Dessau.

In 1927, he took on a further task when he was appointed part-time director of the Anhaltische Gemäldegalerie in Dessau, which he founded and which was housed in the Palais Reina in the city. Grote involved Bauhaus artists in the modernization of the classicist building; for example, Hinnerk Scheper was responsible for the color scheme. For the collections of old German and Dutch painting, Grote set up an art museum in Palais Reina based on the latest methods of presentation, expanded the holdings to include modern art, and enabled Bauhaus artists to show their works there. For Grote, art presentation was educational work and meant returning the fine arts to the general public.

Due to his good relationship to the Bauhaus, he was accused by the National Socialists of "cultural Bolshevism," which led to his retirement in 1933. In the ensuing years he lived in Berlin and Munich, where he worked as a private scholar, publicist, and consultant for restoration companies and in the art business. After his successes as an exhibition organizer, he was "First Director" (from 1958 General Director) of the Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nürnberg from 1951 to 1962. He rebuilt the museum together with the architect Sep Ruf in the spirit of the international Bauhaus style.

more about the documenta 1
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more about Werner Haftmann
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