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WHO IS…HERBERT BAYER?

Posted 1 April 2015 by Kat

Hello there!

We really want to make Tate Kids as helpful and as fun as possible and you guys have said you want more help with your art homework! So here it is! EVERY WEDNESDAY you can come here to have a weekly introduction to some of your most favourited artists on Tate Kids.

One of your favourite artists is the cool and quirky Herbert Bayer – but who is Herbert Bayer?

Herbert Bayer, Four Segmented Circles 1970 © DACS, 2015

Herbert Bayer, Four Segmented Circles 1970 © DACS, 2015

Herbert Bayer was a graphic artist and a photographer who was born in Austria in 1900. When he was 21 he went to Weimar in Germany to study architecture at The Bauhaus. The Bauhaus was a radical new art and design school that wanted to do great things. The founder was an architect called Walter Gropius who wanted to combine all art forms, like painting, sculpture, design and architecture, into one single art form and call it craft. He thought painters could also be architects and designers could also be sculptors and that they didn’t have to stick to just one thing.

Herbert Bayer also thought this. So after he finished his studies he began teaching printing and advertising at the school. While he was there he decided to design a simple typeface because he found the lettering used in Germany too ornate and serious. He called his new typeface Universal. It only used lowercase letters and this is what it looks like:

Herbert Bayer, Tipografía Universal, 1926.

Herbert Bayer, Tipografía Universal, 1926.

In 1928 he started taking photographs and became interested in Surrealism, which was a new form of art where artists tried to show their dreams. Bayer began making strange photomontages of floating hands and eyes.

Then in 1937 Herbert Bayer had to leave Germany. He had become unpopular with the Nazi government, who did not like art that was experimental and open to new ideas. They held an exhibition of all the art they thought was bad and they called it Degenerate Art. Herbert Bayer’s art was in the exhibition, and after that he was not allowed to work as an artist or a designer. So he left Germany and went to America.

This screen print was made in America in 1970 and is called Chromatic Twist, 1970. It is an example of geometric abstraction, which was a style of art that had been taught at the Bauhaus. Geometric abstract painting consist of very simple shapes, like a square or a circle, which appear to be floating in space.

Herbert Bayer, Chromatic Twist 1970 © DACS, 2015

Herbert Bayer, Chromatic Twist 1970 © DACS, 2015

Bayer’s paintings, prints and designs continue to inspire young graphic artists today and his typeface is used all over the world.

Have you seen the use of Bayer’s paintings or font anywhere recently?

What do you think of his work? Do you like this style of art? Which is your favourite artwork by Herbert Bayer?

Have you tried to make a painting or drawing inspired by Bayer? If you have, we’d love to see! Upload it to My Gallery or email it us kids@tate.org.uk

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  1. Greg says:

    Just discovered this blog. What a wonderful idea! My kids are enjoying it much!