Rebuilt Bauhaus Masters’ Houses Revealed in Photography Series

When in 2013 it was announced that two Bauhaus masters’ houses, left in ruin for decades following the Second World War, were going to be rebuilt, German photographer Ralph Gräf was excited to visit Dessau. He had long been an admirer of Bauhaus aesthetics. Inspired by the modern interpretations designed by David Chipperfield and Bruno-Fioretti-Marquez Archiecture, Ralph made a series of photographs of the new Bauhaus architecture, entitled Bauhaus.

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The Bauhaus series takes the viewer inside the new Bauhaus buildings with appealing clear-cut lines and objective compositions. The almost scientific presentation of the Bauhaus masters’ buildings owes to Ralph’s previous career as a biologist, in turn celebrating the functionality of the original cross-disciplinary movement. We also get Ralph’s take on the famous Bauhaus school building.

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We sat and spoke with the artist:

THE PLUS: What was the initial concept for the series? What inspired you to go to Dessau?
Ralph Gräf:
Since my first, more or less accidental visit to Dessau over ten years ago, I’ve been fascinated by Bauhaus architecture and design. When I visited the Bauhaus school building and the master’s houses, I realised how enormous the impact Bauhaus was – and still is – for our contemporary urban environment. I’ve always liked taking aesthetic and geometric photos of modern architecture, and when I heard that the Master’s houses of Walter Gropius and Lazlo Moholy-Nagy, which were destroyed in bombings during the second world war, are about to be re-built by the architects David Chipperfield and the bureau of Bruno-Fioretti-Marquez from Berlin, I decided to create a portrait of these buildings alongside the old original buildings in Dessau.

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RG: Tell us about the process behind composing a new image.
TP:
To me it was important to capture the austere functionality of the Bauhaus architectural style in clear, photographic compositions. When standing inside the buildings, I first walked around and contemplate to feel the atmosphere and try to find optimal viewpoints. Then I’m tried to find compositions with clear perspectives and defined eye-catchers. From a technical point of view, most photos were taken with a wide-angle lens without a tripod, as its use is not allowed with the standard photo license I had.

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RG: How many times did you visit?
TP:
I visited the sites three times in all. I didn’t have much time on my first visit. I continued photographing it on a second visit and I was there again for a third visit this year to show the buildings to my wife, who had not seen them before and was curious about the buildings having seen my photographs.

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TP: You’ve said that you want to stimulate the imagination of the viewer with your photographs. What kind of emotions do you hope to instil with the Bauhaus series?
RG:
Mainly calm. Yet, my statement in my biography that one of my intentions is to stimulate emotions with my photos was more aimed at my other series on lost places and my staged photos with “The Traveller”. The Bauhaus photos should mainly be decorative.

TP: Why do you think minimalist aesthetics are so popular still today?
RG:
I think minimalist aesthetics evokes a feeling of tranquillity. And the latter is something we really need in our frantic everyday lives. Moreover, interior architecture with Bauhaus motifs are very popular, maybe due to its timelessness. Of course, architectural photo motives go hand in hand with modern interior design.

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TP: What kind of themes do you find yourself returning to in your storytelling?
RG:
Certainly, motives which say something about times gone by. The motives do not need to be beautiful in a common sense, but they must allow a clear photographic composition. I like to make the viewer recall his or her own memories while looking at my photos.

TP: Will there be a Bauhaus III?
RG:
I’m not sure. I have several photos from Dessau left on my hard drive, however, I think if there will be a Bauhaus III, I’ll focus on Bauhaus architecture outside Dessau. There are many testimonies of original Bauhaus architecture also in Berlin…

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