© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

Bauhaus artists and designers sought to revolutionize society by radically reshaping the environments in which people lived. The objects in this case, products of the school’s metal, pottery, and carpentry workshops, reflect innovative approaches to the design of everyday household items—from the minimalist rethinking of the ornate tea glasses of eastern Europe to the transformation of chess pieces into pure geometric form. The design of decorative art objects at the Bauhaus was as strongly informed by modern artistic theories as the paintings and sculpture produced there. The table lamp, for example, made in the metal workshop when the constructivist artist László Moholy-Nagy served as its director, explores the circular form in three dimensions: as a disk, cylinder, and sphere. Now considered an icon of Bauhaus design, in 1924 the lamp failed to achieve the Bauhaus goal of creating objects well suited for industrial production, due to its high fabrication cost. Relatively few Bauhaus objects were mass-produced, in fact, despite the school’s efforts to establish partnerships with industry. The objects’ extreme modernity and frequently high prices made them less appealing to the general public and relatively uncommon outside the homes of artists and intellectuals and the Bauhaus buildings.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
BR49.248.A-B
People
Wilhelm Wagenfeld, German (Bremen, Germany 1900 - 1990 Stuttgart, Germany)
Carl Jakob Jucker, Swiss (Zurich, Switzerland 1902 - 1997 Schaffhausen, Switzerland)
Title
Table Lamp
Classification
Lighting Devices
Work Type
lighting device
Date
1924
Culture
German
Location
Level 1, Room 1520, Modern and Contemporary Art, Art in Germany Between the Wars
View this object's location on our interactive map
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Transparent glass, opaline glass, mercury-silvered German silver, and silvered brass
Dimensions
sight: 36.2 cm (14 1/4 in.)
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Gift of Walter Gropius
Copyright
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Accession Year
1949
Object Number
BR49.248.A-B
Division
Modern and Contemporary Art
Contact
am_moderncontemporary@harvard.edu
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Publication History

Peter Nisbet and Emilie Norris, Busch-Reisinger Museum: History and Holdings, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1991), p. 81, ill.

Beate Manske, "A Design Makes History: Wilhelm Wagenfeld's Bauhaus Lamp," in Wilhelm Wagenfeld 1900-1990, ed. Beate Manske (Hatje Cantz: 2000). (2000)

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. 99

Exhibition History

From Werkbund to Bauhaus: Art and Design in Germany 1900-1934, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, 05/12/1980 - 04/26/1980

Bauhaus Art and Design, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, 06/07/1982 - 10/30/1982

32Q: 1520 Art in Germany Between the Wars (Interwar and Bauhaus), Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 12/10/2018; Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 08/05/2019 - 01/01/2050

The Bauhaus and Harvard, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 02/08/2019 - 07/28/2019

Subjects and Contexts

The Bauhaus

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Modern and Contemporary Art at am_moderncontemporary@harvard.edu