Costume Designs For The
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Oskar Schlemmer, German (Stuttgart, Germany 1888 - 1943 Baden-Baden, Germany)
Costume Designs for the "Triadic Ballet"
Other Titles
Original Language Title: Das Triadische Ballet
Work Type
Physical Descriptions
Black ink, gouache, metallic powder, graphite, and typewritten collage elements on cream wove paper, mounted to cream card
mount; actual: 46.3 x 64 cm (18 1/4 x 25 3/16 in.)
actual: 38.6 x 53.7 cm (15 3/16 x 21 1/8 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • stamp: on mount at l.c., red ink: DAS TRIADISCHE BALLETT / OSKAR SCHLEMMER
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Museum Purchase
© The Oskar Schlemmer Theatre Estate, Secretariat: IT - 28824 Oggebbio (VB), Italy
Accession Year
Object Number
Modern and Contemporary Art
2 collage elements

Label Text: 32Q: 1520 Art in Germany Between the Wars (Interwar and Bauhaus) , written 2015
In this work, Schlemmer depicts the costume designs for his “Triadic Ballet.” Divided into columns, the drawing corresponds to the ballet’s three acts, which were staged on yellow, white (sometimes pink), and black sets. One woman and two men performed 12 dances and wore 18 different costumes. Begun as early as 1912, the ballet was not presented in its entirety until 1922, a year after Schlemmer joined the Bauhaus, where he led the sculpture and later theater workshops. The ballet, which has no narrative, was an elaborate yet fanciful exploration of Schlemmer’s interest in the relationships between human figures and their environments. The costumes abstract the body into simplified geometrical forms, while the choreography, consisting primarily of steps that traced basic elements such as straight lines, circles, spirals, and ellipses, created a kind of complementary “floor geometry.” The two typewritten labels provide details about the ballet and its performance history.

Publication History

Herbert Bayer, ed., Bauhaus, 1919-1928, exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York, NY, 1938), p. 65

Charles Werner Haxthausen, The Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University, Abbeville Press (New York, NY, 1980), p. 119, repr.

Kristin A. Mortimer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums/Abbeville Press (Cambridge, MA; New York, NY, 1985), no. 386, p. 322, repr.

Peter Nisbet and Emilie Norris, Busch-Reisinger Museum: History and Holdings, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1991), p. 65, ill.

Peter Nisbet and Joseph Koerner, The Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, ed. Peter Nisbet, Harvard University Art Museums and Scala Publishers Ltd. (Cambridge, MA and London, England, 2007), p. 129

Leah Dickerman and Barry Bergdoll, Bauhaus 1919-1933: Workshops for Modernity, exh. cat., ed. David Frankel, Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York, 2009), cat. no. 217, p. 170, color repr.

Kathleen James-Chakraborty and Eva Forgas, Bauhaus: Art as Life, exh. cat., Barbican Art Gallery and Koenig Books Ltd (London, 2012), p. 195, fig. 174, ill.

Christine Kutschbach, Von Kopf bus Fuss: Bausteine zu einer Kulturgeschichte der Kleidung, Kulturverlag Kadmos (Berlin, 2015), pp. 60-61, ill. (color)

Exhibition History

From Werkbund to Bauhaus: Art and Design in Germany 1900-1934, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge

Works from the 20th Century Collection of the Busch-Reisinger, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 06/15/1980 - 09/01/1980; Wildenstein Gallery, New York, New York, 09/23/1980 - 10/24/1980

German Art of the Twenties, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, 02/26/1981 - 04/11/1981

Deutsche Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts aus dem Busch-Reisinger Museum, Stadtische Galerie im Stadelschen Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt, 10/23/1982 - 01/16/1983; Bauhaus-Archiv, Berlin 30, 02/10/1983 - 04/17/1983; Kunstmuseum Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, 05/08/1983 - 06/26/1983

Modernism: Designing a New World, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 04/06/2006 - 07/23/2006; MARTa Herford, Herford, 09/16/2006 - 01/07/2007

Bauhaus 1919-1933: Workshops for Modernity, Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York, 11/08/2009 - 01/25/2010

32Q: 1520 Art in Germany Between the Wars (Interwar and Bauhaus), Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 03/06/2015 - 05/06/2015

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

The Bauhaus

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