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MIND THE DESIGN: THE BAUHAUS TURNS NINETY

If the legacy of modernism has emerged in recent years as the central preoccupation of contemporary art and architecture, interest in the Bauhaus and its key proponents has only intensified. Accordingly, as the storied design school celebrates the ninetieth anniversary of its founding in Weimar, Germany, an impressive array of retrospective exhibitions has been mounted this year in Europe and the United States, including “The Bauhaus Comes from Weimar” at five Weimar institutions (April 1–July 5), “Marcel Breuer: Design and Architecture” at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence (April 17–July 19), “Bauhaus: A Conceptual Model” at the Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin (July 22–October 4), and “László Moholy-Nagy” at the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt (October 8, 2009–February 7, 2010). Looking ahead to the Museum of Modern Art’s major survey “Bauhaus 1919–1933: Workshops for Modernity,” which opens in New York on November 8, Artforum asked architectural historian K. MICHAEL HAYS to consider what more the Bauhaus might have to offer after nearly a century of unprecedented influence in virtually every field of art and design.

PRESENT QUESTIONS ABOUT MODERNISM end up being philosophically akin to questions about the self: How does who I am now relate to who I was before, and how do I know whether I can apply the same interpretations and appraisals to the different conditions? What does the consciousness mean, as William James asked, “when it calls the present self the same with one of the past selves which it has in mind”? As in thinking about the self, we do not consider the present to be simply and inevitably a continuation of the past, a past that in turn functions only to provide assurance of ongoing identity. The present is, rather, a condition precipitated through the actualization of multiple connections among contingent events of all sorts, which have released new powers to act in ways different from before. As in thinking about the self, so with modernism do we face the necessary contradiction that, in

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