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Johannes Itten

A famous painter, a school teacher, and designer was born in 1888 in Switzerland. Having taught children in primary schools for a little, Johannes Itten started attending Geneva École des Beaux-Arts for one semester. After a few years, he got acquainted with Walter Gropius, who invited Itten to be a master at the Bauhaus. He set up a preliminary course at the Bauhaus, which was his own universal design theory. His doctrine totally changed the education of art.

The peculiarity of teaching was that he told students not to imitate the work of the prominent masters but to explore and develop their own feelings, techniques, and styles. The course consisted of three parts: natural forms and art of color, the analysis of canonic pieces of art and life drawing. Johannes Itten founded his school of art, where he taught holistic art.

Arts made by Johannes Itten

Here you will find the paintings of Johannes Itten, which became the highlights of his creative work. They are popular even in modern times where tastes and styles differ a lot.

The Encounter (1916).

The Encounter artwork had been painted before Itten arrived to the Bauhaus and had contained the most important criteria that would later become crucial for his teaching there. Itten’s color wheel, usage of geometric figures: circles, rectangles, triangles broke the ground for his future interests.

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The artwork symbolizes a branch of paintings made during 1915-1916. Another meaning is a personal one that those paintings linked the tragic death of his beloved girlfriend, H. Wendland. The work represents the entwinement of spiral figures. The Encounter artwork can be viewed as the study of the art of color and its dynamics.

Tower of Fire (1920).

In his early years, Johannes Itten was fond of painting architectural structures, based on the arrangement of different geometric figures. Tower of fire artwork was an example of a sculpture that would never be realized. The statue is build up out of red, blue and yellow blocks. There are 12 blocks: the first four are said to be made of stone, the next four are metal ones, and the upper ones symbolize air, wind, water, and earth. In the Itten color theory, the number twelve has its own meaning, just as in the alendar.

Study of Contrasts (1920).

The student Moses Mirkin made the artwork during the Itten’s course. The task was to experiment and try to combine materials such as wood, iron, and glass. Students had to use their creativity and search for the ways to combine such materials. This experimentation became fundamental for the education of art. The focus on materiality was a guide for students on the Bauhaus curriculum, organized by the medium.

Key ideas in painting

Vorkurs or, in other words, foundation course by Johannes Itten set up techniques and styles at the Bauhaus that became crucial for teaching the art nowadays. The main thing was to encourage and develop the desire in students of not being afraid to experiment with colors and shades, materials, and styles. The course was the first and an obligatory one in Bauhaus curriculum. No student was able to move on to the next course without completing the first one.

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Johannes Itten inspired students to use elements of a true mysticism in their paintings. Being interested in neo-Zoroastrian religion, he taught his students how to meditate and breathe. Gymnastics was one of the elements when it comes to maximizing creative skills. At the Bauhaus, they used Itten’s teachings widely until new philosophy was introduced.

Itten worked out a color theory, the matter of which lies in associations of types of people or seasons with colors and its shades. In his work, it is stated that there exist seven types of comparative analysis.

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Johannes Itten. (2018, Jul 16). Retrieved from https://artscolumbia.org/artists/johannes-itten-biography-53199/

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