celebrating 100 years of bauhaus, its connections & contributions to modesto
the Bauhaus influenced the education, practice and theory of architecture, art and design worldwide, including here in Modesto.
For many Modestans, Bauhaus is an awesome tapas haus off of Downey and Kimble Aves serving delicious cured and smoked meats, pickled seasonal vegetables, and a wide selection of international and local craft beers. And so it is. But Bauhaus is also one of (if not the) most influential and revolutionary global movements of art, architecture and design.
Founded in Dessau, Germany, in April 1919 by acclaimed architect Walter Gropius, the Bauhaus was a school whose functional, rational, modernist approach influenced the education, practice and theory of architecture, graphic arts, product design, textiles, and many other forms of art and design worldwide, including here in Modesto. In 2019, a global movement is underway to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus and its myriad of contributions to society. This is why we’ve selected “Bauhaus 100: Modesto” as the theme for MADWEEK 2019.
The global influence of Bauhaus can be directly traced to and seen in downtown Modesto today. Our iconic Stanislaus County Hall of Records is the first ever “International Style” county building in California. In 2017, the Modesto Art Museum commissioned and published the report “The Stanislaus County Hall of Records: Modesto’s Monument in Modern Architecture,” documenting the historical significance of this architectural gem to Modesto and to California. The structure was built in 1939 with New Deal funds and designed by Modesto architect Russell Guerne DeLappe. Situated on the block demarcated by I, H, 11th and 12th Streets and facing the elegant old post office building, the Hall of Records is a precious example of the modernist Bauhaus architectural style pioneered in Germany in the early 1900s. Its design resembles so closely that of the original Bauhaus building in Dessau, Germany, that even a trained eye could be fooled.
Just around the corner from and connected to the Hall of Records is the current Stanislaus County Courthouse, Modesto’s most direct line descendant of the Bauhaus. Completed in 1960, our Courthouse was designed by architect Mitchell Van Bourg, who was himself a graduate student of Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius at Harvard in the 1940s. Among other elements, Van Bourg’s use of long strips of windows in the Courthouse design are characteristic of the International or Bauhaus style developed by Gropius.
In 2018, the Museum Art Museum commissioned a modernist poster of DeLappe’s Hall of Records by local designer Jordi Camps, Jr. and unveiled during MADWEEK to raise awareness of this priceless architectural, cultural, communal, and economic asset.
The Museum has commissioned a second poster this year by local designer Eric Le celebrating the Van Bourg Courthouse. The poster will be unveiled during the MADWEEK 2019 Opening Event at the State Theatre on Saturday, September 21, 2019. The evening will also include featured speaker Sean Ragasa, Design Director at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) in San Francisco, and lead architect for the new courthouse being constructed in Modesto, with an expected construction completion date in late spring 2023.