* A BBC RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK *
In this majestic biography of the charismatic founder of the Bauhaus, Fiona MacCarthy argues that Walter Gropius's visionary ideas still influence the way we live, work, and think today.
'A masterpiece' Edmund de Waal, bestselling author of The Hare with Amber Eyes
'Moving and vivid' Rowan Moore, Observer
Mention the Bauhaus and iconic design objects such as a Marianne Brandt teapot, an Anni Albers weaving or a Marcel Breuer chair come to mind. But the Bauhaus was more than an art school - it was the birth of a whole new philosophy of art. It stood for delight, experiment and creative freedom. From 1910 to 1930 Gropius was at the centre of European modern art and design, gathering around him talents that included Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Josef Albers and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. Once Hitler came to power, Gropius's situation became untenable. The Nazis opposed everything the Bauhaus stood for, and Gropius had little choice but to leave Germany. His story is one of exile in a century of conflict.
In this riveting book - illustrated with over 130 photographs and drawings - Fiona MacCarthy draws on new research to re-evaluate Gropius's work and life. She illuminates the world of an inspiring, energetic man and the events and people that shaped him - from his shattering experiences in World War One, to his turbulent marriage to the notorious Alma Mahler and the tragic early death of their daughter Manon, through his disorientating years in London, to his final peaceful and productive partnership with Ise Gropius and his late starring role in twentieth-century architecture and design in America. She challenges more recent views of Gropius as a doctrinaire modernist, exploring his intellectual and emotional life with psychological insight, wit and sympathy. This is biography at its finest and most vivid.