Johannes Itten
Stäbe und Flächen, 1955

After training as a secondary school teacher at Bern University, Johannes Itten set off on a major journey around Europe in 1912, in order to visit exhibitions on the Cubists and Impressionists, the ‘Blauer Reiter’ and a show of Kandinsky’s work. In the following years (1913-16) he worked as Adolf Hölzel’s assistant at the Stuttgart Academy. His teaching at the Bauhaus (1919-1923) is based on the first ‘Itten School’ in Vienna (1916-19). Here he had his pupils do motif exercises relating to the classical painting genres, but also breathing, body and rhythm studies intended to lead to a fully rounded training pattern. Sequences of musical rhythms (time order) were translated in proportion sequences (two- and three-dimensional order), in parallel with breathing stenograms and gymnastic exercises. Itten’s Stäbe und Flächen [Bars and planes] from 1955 show Itten’s interest in crystalline forms and abstraction detached from the object.

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