The Kunstmuseum Bern is devoting an exhibition to the prominent Swiss artist and Bauhaus master Johannes Itten in 2019, the Bauhaus centenary year. The exhibition sets itself the goal of being the first ever to present this artist’s utopian vision of uniting art and life in an all-embracing way.
When the Bauhaus was founded, Johannes Itten had already adopted a radical position as an artist in his pursuit of the "uttermost dematerialisation of individual objects”, and he formulated this idea programmatically in the famous Bauhaus almanac Utopia: Dokumente der Wirklichkeit (Utopia: Documents of reality).
Key exhibition pieces are Itten’s newly researched diaries and sketchbooks. They were integral to his artistic practice from 1913 onward and have never been shown on such a broad scope before. They not only help us understand Itten’s art-theoretical reflections on colour but also his thoughts on the principles of art and his hitherto unknown study of the old masters – while also providing leads on the literature he read on contemporary esoteric and scientific ideas. In his diaries he likewise inquired into things such as vegetarianism, breathing techniques, rhythmic gymnastics and other practices or mindsets geared toward changing lifestyles, which are again increasing in popularity today. The many sketches simultaneously reveal a fascinating range of visual forms of representation that span abstraction, diagrammatic reduction, collage and figuration in a contradictory mode to the usual narratives of the evolution of avant-garde art.
The exhibition retraces Itten’s development from his beginnings in Switzerland through the periods he spent in Stuttgart, Vienna, Weimar and Herrliberg, covering also his pursuits in Berlin, Krefeld and Amsterdam, which have previously received only scant attention. Juxtaposed with leading works of his painted oeuvre, this comprehensive presentation succeeds in illustrating a new angle on Itten’s hitherto concealed understanding of the world and on his artistic working processes that were based thereon.
Curators : Nina Zimmer and Christoph Wagner
An exhibition by Kunstmuseum Bern. Subsequently it will be shown at the Kunstforum Hermann Stenner in Bielefeld (8.3.-28.6.20).
Visit the other big anniversary exhibition at the Zentrum Paul Klee: bauhaus imagnista (20.09.19 – 12.01.20). This show premieres an investigation into Bauhaus reception history that goes beyond the borders of Europe, presenting a totally new angle on the Bauhaus.