Aspen’s year-long celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Bauhaus school of architecture and design is set for one of its biggest three-day stretches starting this Wednesday, June 5, with two Bauhaus-themed art exhibitions sandwiched around the much-anticipated Bauhaus Ball.
First up will be an opening at Aspen’s Red Brick Center for the Arts on Wednesday. The exhibition, entitled “Great Ideas of Bauhaus,” will feature posters made by local artists working in the printmaking medium and will kick off with an opening reception from 5-7 p.m.
“We took as our inspiration ‘Great Ideas of Western Man,’ an advertising campaign done by the Container Corporation of America starting in the 1950s,” said Sarah Roy, the Red Brick’s director. “The corporation was owned by Walter and Elizabeth Paepcke, who, of course, are very influential and beloved figures in the history of Aspen.”
The “Great Ideas of Western Man” campaign sought to differentiate CCA (at one time the world’s largest manufacturer of cardboard) from its competitors by having well known, avant-garde designers create marketing materials based on quotes from famous historical figures. Guided by Elizabeth Paepcke and Bauhaus-trained architect and designer Herbert Bayer, “Great Ideas” became a huge success beyond its intended advertising role and led to a number of folios and a book covering the campaign’s 25-year life span and more than 190 pieces.
The works tackled such weighty issues as social justice and the betterment of society and essentially created an entirely new advertising medium that focused less on product than it did on ideas. Seeing as how it was the brainchild of three of Aspen’s most revered influencers (the Paepckes and Bayer), it seemed like a natural jumping-off point for the Red Brick when the nonprofit sought to be a part of town’s Bauhaus festivities.
“We took the idea and invited 20 local printmaking artists to take a quote from the Bauhaus – something that expresses the Bauhaus mission or its philosophy – and create a piece of artwork in response to that quote,” said Roy. “It’s amazing what they’ve come up with.”
Representing towns up and down the valley and arts centers like the Red Brick, Snowmass Village’s Anderson Ranch and Carbondale’s Studio for Arts and Works, the artists based their pieces on quotes from the likes of Bayer, Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius, Swiss artist Paul Klee, Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky and the husband-and-wife abstract-art team of Josef and Anni Albers. The works will be hanging in the Red Brick’s main hallway gallery through July 18, and an artists conversation with live demos is scheduled for June 11.
(Fittingly enough, another exhibition opening in the Red Brick’s West Gallery on Wednesday is also based on a quote, this one by Albert Einstein. Having read Einstein’s statement that “If the bee disappeared off the face of the Earth, man would only have four years left to live,” local painter Sophia Foster was inspired to create a series of works exploring the importance of honeybees. The exhibition, “More Than Honey,” will also be on display through July 18.)
Thursday evening will bring the Bauhaus Ball to the Wheeler Opera House from 5:30-10 p.m. A free community event, the ball will feature live music, films, Bauhaus-inspired art and a juried costume contest with prizes.
On Friday the Bauhaus action moves downvalley for Carbondale’s monthly First Friday celebration and the opening of the exhibition “Bauhaus Seen” at the R2 Gallery at the Launchpad. The gallery will feature works by Aspen’s Dave Durrance and Dick Carter, who served as an assistant in Bayer’s studio in the 1970s. The main part of the show, however, will be an exhibition of furniture created by designers from around the country and curated by Carbondale’s Brad Reed Nelson.
“Brad asked us to look at Bauhaus furniture pieces from that era and pick one and recreate it in our own style,” said Mark Tan, the studio coordinator for woodworking at Anderson Ranch Arts Center and one of the featured furniture makers in the exhibition. “So I looked at Josef Albers and his five nesting tables from 1927. Each table had the same frame and each top had a different color. I took one of them and sort of extruded it longer to make more of a functional bench.”
“Bauhaus Seen” will kick off with an opening reception Friday night from 6-8 p.m. and will be on display through July 6. Anyone looking to delve deeper into furniture design and learn more about the Bauhaus era is invited to join Nelson for a five-day class at Anderson Ranch Arts Center later this month. Entitled “Bauhaus to Your House,” the workshop will run from June 10-14. For more information or to register, visit andersonranch.org.