Quilt, about 1900
Our ideas about modernism focus on simple geometric shapes.
Quilt, about 1950
During the early 20th century, German artists organized the Bauhaus, an art school based on strict principles of design, a reaction to the Craftsman movement and Art Nouveau with their reverence for the natural line and the handmade object. Bauhaus principles emphasized that form must follow function. Design in the modern world should be created for mass manufacture.
Bauhaus aesthetics took direction from ideas such as Adolf Loos' 1908 manifesto Ornament and Crime, which foreshadowed architecture inspired by the unadorned box.
The Bauhaus in Germany
Like another trend setter Elsie DeWoolf, Adolf Loos may have had a bad childhood experience with the wallpaper.
Bauhaus ballet, costumes by Oscar Schlemmer, 1926
Too bad this fashion didn't catch on. Simple shapes CAN be figure flattering.
Model wearing a mask by Schlemmer in a Bauhaus chair by Marcel Breuer
The human face reduced to acceptable ornament.
Textile Design by Sonia DeLaunay, 1930
Acceptable ornament included the basic shapes of circle, square and triangle in primary colors.
'Patchwork' by Sonia Delauney
Folk art such as quilts influenced the modern designers
Patchwork dress by Sonia Delaunay, 1913
Good Design Exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in 1952
European modernism became the accepted standard for architecture and interiors.
My generation of Baby Boomers rejected the visual rules of International Style, one reason we were so drawn to crazy quilts and Art Nouveau. But taste changes; style swings between the curved line and the straight line...
between shelves full of doo-dads and the unadorned wall.
Read more about the Bauhaus and those enemies of ornament.