Herbert Bayer (1900-1985) was one of the Bauhaus‘s most influential students, teachers, and proponents, advocating the integration of all arts throughout his career. Bauhaus was a German art school from 1919 to 1933 that combined crafts with the fine arts, and became famous for a new, unique, revolutionary approach to design.
Bayer worked as a graphic designer, painter, photographer, sculptor, art director, environmental and interior designer, and architect. He was the last living member of the Bauhaus.
At the Bauhaus he studyed painting with Vasily Kandinsky and Paul Klee, and photography from László Moholy-Nagy. He taught typography and created his ”Universal Alphabet”, a typeface consisting of only lowercase letters that would become the signature font of the Bauhaus. He taught at the school until 1928, with courses on advertising, design, and typography.
Bayer began shooting photographs in 1928, after leaving the Bauhaus. From 1928 to 1938, he was based in Berlin working as a commercial artist.
Bayer utilized various media to create dynamic typefaces, paintings, and architecture. He used his knowledge of geometric shape integration to create aesthetically pleasing designs for advertisements. He was an art director for Vogue magazine in Berlin, and designed tourist pamphlets for the Third Reich’s hosting of the Olympic Games in 1936. But, he was labeled a ”degenerate artist”; fleeing the Nazis regime for NYC with an invitation from Alfred H. Barr, Jr., founding director of The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), to do the installation of the exhibition Bauhaus: 1919–28 (1938) at MoMA. Bayer worked in close collaboration with the the great Edward Steichen, head of the museum’s young Department of Photography, designing the show Road To Victory (1942), a breakthrough approach to photography exhibition. Bayer remained in America for the remainder of his career. He became a citizen in 1944. One of those pesky immigrants, he arrived in this country with just $25.
Bayer’s work is in collections of the world’s great museums, including MoMa, The Los Angeles County Art Museum, and Denver Art Museum.