Marianne Brandt and The Bauhaus Photomontages
Marianne Brandt (1893-1983), a leader of the Bauhaus style, is best known as a Bauhaus designer and metal-worker. Much less well-known are the photomontages that constitute the critical complement to her metal works from the mid-1920s and early 1930s. It was in these photomontages that Brandt first focused her analytical gaze on contemporary society and politics, and, in particular, on the ominous and destructive aspects of modern technology so apparent in the First World War. Drawing on the vast array of visual material made available by the Weimar Republic’s burgeoning illustrated press, Brandts photomontages relied upon the technologies of modern visual culture to challenge pictorial conventions and imagine new roles for women.
Marianne Brandt began her education in art in 1911 at a private art school in Weimar. Afterwards, she was accepted at the Hochschule für Bildende Kunst Weimar (now the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar) and studied painting with the artists Fritz Mackensen and Robert Weise before studying sculpture with Richard Engelmann. In 1919, she married the Norwegian painter Erik Brandt. In 1920, she took a one-year study tour with visits to Paris and the south of France. She came to the Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar in 1924. Brandt attended the preliminary course taught by Josef Albers and László Moholy-Nagy, as well as classes by Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky. In addition, she worked in the metal workshop with László Moholy-Nagy.
She continued her training at the Bauhaus in Dessau and continued her work in the metal workshop with László Moholy-Nagy. In 1926, she had already designed the first lighting fixtures for the Bauhaus Building in Dessau. From the summer semester of 1927, she was in charge of technical experiments in lighting in the metal workshop. From May 1928 to 1st July 1929, she was the director of the metal workshop. On 10th September 1929, she earned her Bauhaus diploma, the diploma no. 2 of the metal workshop. In 1928 and 1929, Brandt and Hin Bredendieck also organised the collaboration with the companies Körting & Mathiesen AG (Kandem) in Leipzig and Schwintzer & Gräff in Berlin. At the same time, she worked with Hin Bredendieck and others on designs for lighting fixtures for mass production.
Brandt left the Bauhaus at the end of 1929, having worked at the architecture office of Walter Gropius from July to December 1929. She contributed to the interior design of the Karlsruhe-Dammerstock housing estate. Afterwards, she directed the design department of the company Ruppelwerk Metallwarenfabrik GmbH in Gotha until 1932. She lived in Chemnitz from 1933 to 1945. In 1939, she became a member of the Reich Chamber of Culture, yet she did not join the NSDAP. In 1949, Mart Stam appointed her as a lecturer at the HfBK Dresden. She worked at the University of Applied Art (now the Berlin Weißensee School of Art) until 1954. At the same time, she supervised the exhibition Deutsche Angewandte Kunst der DDR (German applied art of the GDR) in Beijing and Shanghai in 1953/54. Her reputation was established above all by her industrial products made from metal and glass. She also produced numerous photographs and photomontages.
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