In homage to Gunta Stölzl, an inspiration for GAN

We wouldn’t be who we are if we didn’t remember where we came from. Today at GAN, on International Women’s Day, we pay homage to Gunta Stölzl, textile designer, weaving artist and the only woman who taught at the Bauhaus, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.

Gunta Stölzl (Munich, 1897-Küsnacht, 1983) studied at the School of Decorative Arts in Munich from 1914 to 1916, after which she left school to serve as a volunteer nurse for the Red Cross during the First World War. After the war, in 1919, she took an entry-level course at the Bauhaus in Weimar, taught by Johannes Itten, and in 1920 she entered as an apprentice at the textile workshop. In Zurich, alongside Itten, she co-organized the Ontos textile workshops. After Bauhaus moved from Weimar to Dessau in 1925, Stölzl became a teacher of the textile workshop, becoming its director in 1927. With the rise of Nazism and after her marriage to an Israeli architect, the then director of the school, Mies Van Der Rohe, requested her resignation. It was then that Stölzl returned to Zurich and founded her own artisan textile company in collaboration with Bauhaus alumni.

Today, her works are exhibited in several museums, including the MoMA in New York and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Günta Stoltz was not only an incredibly creative and skillful woman, with a clear vision of her trade, but she was also the feminine minority in an eminently masculine context at the Bauhaus which, in spite of its egalitarian and inclusive ideology, in practice reserved the painting, sculpture and architecture workshops for men exclusively.

Despite the lack of mentors and support, Gunta Stölzl went ahead with her powerful creative vision in which she applied the imaginary of modern art by Johannes Itten (color theory), Paul Klee (visual thought) and Wassily Kandinsky (abstract art) to new weaving techniques.

She taught her students to use manual looms as a means of artistic expression and instilled in them the love for craftsmanship and the conviction that only through good design could artisanship evolve and last.

Pioneer of female empowerment, she told her classmates that there is no difficulty that talent, effort, and cooperation cannot overcome.

On a day like today, the GAN team feels her legacy is more alive than ever. With the tribute to her figure, we thank her and all the women who throughout history have fought and fight for equality and creative freedom.

Happy International Women’s Day!

PHOTO 1: Gunta Stölzl

PHOTO 2: The Weavers on the Bauhaus Stairway. Dessau, 1927

From left going up the stairs: Lena Bergner; Grete Reichardt. Centre top: Gunta Stölzl; next to her: Lijuba Monastirsky. Coming down: Otti Berger, Lis Beyer. On her right: Elisabeth Mueller and Rosa Berger. Ruth Hollos behind, Lisbeth Oestreicher in front.

Photo: T. Lux Feininger

PHOTO 3: Masters On the Roof of the Bauhaus Building. Dessau, 1926

From left: Josef Albers, Hinnerk Scheper, Georg Muche, László Moholy-Nagy, Herbert Bayer, Joost Schmidt, Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Lyonel Feininger, Gunta Stölzl und Oskar Schlemmer.