Ceramic workshop at the Bauhaus in Dornburg

Ceramic workshop at the Bauhaus in Dornburg

During our explorations in the Weimar and Jena region, we came across traces of the "Bauhaus" that is so well-known in architecture, but were then surprised to find an offshoot of this well-known training and further education center in Dornburg.

The ceramic workshop at the Bauhaus, which is also known as the Bauhaus pottery, existed in Dornburg from 1919 to 1925 as an outsourced workshop of the State Bauhaus in Weimar, which is still remembered today by a pottery museum and a small manufactory.

Walter Gropius commissioned sculptor Gerhard Marcks

bauhaus dornburg 1Walter Gropius, as director of the Bauhaus founded in 1919, commissioned the sculptor Gerhard Marcks to set up a ceramics workshop to train Bauhaus students in the field of porcelain and ceramics. The first workshop only existed for a short time in a Weimar oven factory and was relocated to Dornburg around 30 km away in 1920. This was based on contacts with the master potter there, Max Krehan, who was willing to work with the Bauhaus. The workshop, initially with five students, was housed in the stables near the Dornburg rococo palace; Max Krehan was the master craftsman and Gerhard Marcks the master of form. In 1923 the workshop was divided into an apprentice workshop for training and a test and production workshop. The latter corresponded to Walter Gropius' requirement to develop prototypes for industrial production. As a result, the journeymen Otto Lindig and Theodor Bogler designed a casting process for ceramics, with which Theodor Bogler's so-called mocha machine and his combination teapot, which was assembled according to the modular principle, were created.

Multi-part mocha machine by Theodor Bogler

bauhaus dornburg 7The multi-part mocha machine by the ceramist Theodor Bogler met Walter Gropius' requirements for the ceramics workshop to develop new mold and model construction techniques for the serial production of everyday ceramics. Through the division into modules and their standard typing, the Mokka machine corresponded to the "simplicity in multiples" demanded by Gropius.

Theodor Bogler studied between 1919 and 1920 at the State Bauhaus in Weimar, where he attended the preliminary course with Johannes Itten and lessons with Lyonel Feininger. He spent the following summer semester in Munich to study architecture and art history at the Ludwig Maximilians University and at the Technical University.

From 1920 to 1924, Bogler attended the ceramic workshop of the State Bauhaus Weimar in Dornburg. There he completed an apprenticeship as a potter and took over the commercial management of the workshop for a short time. On July 15, 1922, he passed the journeyman's examination at the Weimar Chamber of Crafts. During this time u. a. well-known ceramics such as a mocha machine or variants of the combination teapot.

The Bogler storage jars shown in the kitchen of the “Am Horn” model house at the 1923 Bauhaus exhibition were among the first industrial goods from the ceramics workshop.

Theodor Bogler and the Benedictine Abbey of Maria Laach

bauhaus dornburg 3In December 1924, Bogler left the Bauhaus in Weimar in order to head the model and mold workshop at the Velten plant of the Velten-Vordamm stoneware factory near Berlin from 1925. There he designed a whole series of molds and glazes that document the collaboration with some of the people working there.

In 1927 he entered the Benedictine Abbey of Maria Laach in the Eifel and studied philosophy and theology there and in the Archabbey of Beuron on the Danube from 1928 to 1933. In 1931 he was ordained a monk and in 1932 he was ordained a priest. At the same time, Bogler continued to work as a ceramist.

For the art workshops of the abbey, many of the designs from Velten were revised by Bogler and provided with liturgical emblems. He used designs by himself, Werner Burri and Hedwig Bollhagen.

bauhaus dornburg 5The painting and the stencil decoration corresponded to the taste of the time and the industrial working method. In addition to the Velten sign, the lily, there was also a stamp with the stylized Maria Laach Abbey in different colours.

From 1934 to 1938 he worked at times with the workshops of Hedwig Bollhagen in Marwitz near Velten. After 1948 he managed the art workshops and the art publishing house Ars Liturgica in Maria Laach. He also designed ceramics for this purpose in the 1950s, which were executed by the Wilhelm Herkenroth pottery and the Rudi Stahl pottery. The designs for Herkenroth in particular are clearly reminiscent of the Velten era. He also designed for the State Majolica Manufactory in Karlsruhe.

Product presentation at trade fairs in Frankfurt am Main

bauhaus dornburg 4The workshop presented its products at trade fairs in Frankfurt am Main and Leipzig. In 1924 she was represented at the Berlin Werkbund exhibition "Die Form". The workshop also maintained contact with stoneware and porcelain factories, of which only a few manufacturers included the unconventional ceramic forms of the Bauhaus in their production on an experimental basis, including the Staatliche Porzellanmanufaktur Berlin and the stoneware factories in Velten-Vordamm.

When the Bauhaus moved its headquarters from Weimar to Dessau in 1925, no more pottery was set up there. The ceramists from Dornburg founded their own workshops or worked together with the ceramics industry. Otto Lindig continued to run the Dornburg workshop independently. After the Second World War he left Dornburg to take up a teaching position at the University of Fine Arts in Hamburg. In the GDR, the pottery was preserved. The Berlin master potter Heiner-Hans Körting and later his son Ulrich Körting made vessels and sculptures in it. The "Dornburg Owl" developed as a ceramic figure with a rotating head into a branded item in pottery.

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