cover image Bauhaus: A Graphic Novel

Bauhaus: A Graphic Novel

Valentina Grande and Sergio Varbella, trans. from the Italian by Katharine Cofer. Prestel, $24.95 (128p) ISBN 978-3-7913-8857-1

In a similar vein as Grande’s The Women Who Changed Art Forever, she and Varbella present a philosophical love letter to the Bauhaus school of design (1919–1933), conveying the academy’s influence via comics with layouts that embody its core principle of form married to function. Narrating in the voice of the school itself (“those voices, still so alive, that have traversed me”), Grande leads readers from Bauhaus’s founding and early years in Germany’s Weimar Republic to its closure at the hands of the Gestapo. The script presumes a certain familiarity with art and literary history, and breezes through (or avoids) heaps of biographical information, eager instead to dig into the philosophy that underpinned the work of artists such as Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky. Many other figures are discussed, including weaver Gunta Stölzl, who “transformed a minor art into an innovative sector.” Though some of the prose feels scholarly, it’s easy to appreciate Varbella’s striking artwork, with each page designed in the Bauhaus style to combine bold, evocative visuals with legibility and clarity of information. Though it’s regrettably abridged, artists and students will find this to be an erudite celebration of one of the most influential movements in modern art and architecture. (May)