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My dalliance with the Bauhaus, and ‘less is more'

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30.11.2019

I never studied at the Bauhaus, a veritable temple of modern design, though occasionally I’ve had to remind myself of that.

Such was the profound impact on me of the revered art school, which would be 100 this year if the Nazis hadn’t forced its closing in 1933. I was born the following year, so my attraction to it was fated to be what physicists call action at a distance.

The Bauhaus was founded in Weimar, Germany. It was a citadel of the new. It gave birth to sleek chairs with tubular-steel legs that gave them the look of a bicycle’s handlebars. One faculty member, Wassily Kandinsky, painted the first purely abstract painting.

I was raised in Albany Park, where overstuffed armchairs were enveloped in plastic slip covers. My parents were traditionalists. The children of immigrants, my mother and father had barely made it into the middle class. They wanted their apartment to look like those of Americans who inherited an elevated social standing.

I dimly recognized that I was witnessing the age-old battle between the avant garde and the bourgeoisie. My father made it clear which side he favored.

Once he dragged me into a chi-chi art gallery. It featured paintings........

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