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History Lesson - Gunta Stölzl

Gunta Stölzl (1897- 1983) was a highly influential German textile artist who played a fundamental role in the Bauhaus school curriculum and history. The Bauhaus was a new design and art school, with a fresh set of rules and approaches, and no boundaries to age or sex. Prior to enrolling in the school, she first studied decorative painting, glass painting, ceramics, art history and style at a school of applied arts in Munich.

Gunta joined the Bauhaus as a student in 1920, became a junior master in 1927 and was appointed the school’s first and only female master the very next year. Throughout her roles at the school, she played a key role in transforming and transitioning pictorial based weaving works to modern industrial designs. Whilst gleaning ideas from modern art learned from her teachers Itten, Klee and Kandinsky and applied it to weaving and textiles. It became clear that Gunta was a teacher and leader herself within her peers. She was a part of a group of women who created what was first called the Women’s Department (oh, gender roles), later to be renamed the Weaving Department. However, they wouldn’t learn the craft within the school as there was not enough resources. So they would travel throughout Europe and learn weaving outside of school, becoming experts and eventually bringing the knowledge back home.

A lack of traditional, technical guides led to lots of experimentation, and Gunta helped birth a new kind of textile design. Under Gunta’s innovative direction, the weaving workshop became one of the Bauhaus most successful faculties.

Gunta was dismissed from the school in 1931 for political reasons, just two years before the Bauhaus was dissolved under pressure from the Nazis. In her later years, she dedicated herself to the tapestry craft until the end of her life in 1983.

Her innovative, beautiful and ultimately influential body of work can be found in museums and collections across Europe, the US and Japan.

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