August 11th, 2022
Design and Form: The Basic Course at the Bauhaus by Johannes Itten
Thames and Hudson
Recommended Read 'Design and Form: The Basic Course at the Bauhaus' by Johannes Itten (1888 - 1967), published by Thames and Hudson. A very interesting book into some of the basic theories of colour, tone and shape that were taught at the highly influential Bauhaus school, in the earlier part of the century. Most of the book comprises of images of artwork from artists of the time.
Johannes Itten was a Swiss artist, writer, teacher and theorist and was part of the Expressionistic movement. He was Mazdaznan, a strict vegetarian and meditated to develop inner understanding and intuition.
Originally he trained as a school teacher incorporating new theories of teaching, notably including the practice of not correcting his students' creative work individually, so as not to crush their creative impulse. He chose certain common mistakes to teach the whole class.
From the influence of Hölzel, Itten chose a series of basic shapes (the line, the plane, the circle, the spiral) as a means from which to begin creation. His students did gymnastic exercises before class to relax! Later music and other relaxation techniques.
Itten had a HUGE influence on the use of colour in modern art and even the cosmetics industry. He taught the preliminary course at the innovative Bauhaus from 1919 to 1922 - the basics of material characteristics, composition, and colour. He theorised 7 types of colour contrast. These were hue, value, temperature, complements, simultaneous contrast (Chevreuil), contrast by saturation, contrast by extension.
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