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10/20/2014

Notes on the Formation of an Imaginist Bauhaus (Asger Jorn)

BUREAU OF PUBLIC SECRETS

Notes on the Formation of


an Imaginist Bauhaus
What was the Bauhaus?
The Bauhaus was an answer to the question: What kind of education do artists need in order to take
their place in the machine age?
How was the Bauhaus idea implemented?
It was implemented with a school in Germany, first at Weimar, then at Dessau. Founded in 1919 by the
architect Walter Gropius, it was destroyed by the Nazis in 1933.
What is the International Movement for an Imaginist Bauhaus?
It is the answer to the question where and how to find a justified place for artists in the machine age. This
answer demonstrates that the education carried out by the old Bauhaus was mistaken.
How has the idea of an International Movement for an Imaginist Bauhaus been implemented?
The Movement was founded in Switzerland in 1953 as a tendency aimed at forming a united organization
capable of promoting an integral revolutionary cultural approach. In 1954 the experience of the Albissola
gathering demonstrated that experimental artists must get hold of industrial means and subject them to
their own nonutilitarian ends. In 1955 an imaginist laboratory was founded at Alba. Conclusion of the
Albissola experience: complete inflationary devaluation of modern values of decoration (cf. ceramics
produced by children). In 1956 the Alba Congress dialectically defined unitary urbanism. In 1957 the
Movement is promulgating the watchword of psychogeographical action.
What we want
We want the same economic and practical means and possibilities that are already at the disposal of
scientific research, of whose momentous results everyone is aware.
Artistic research is identical to human science, which for us means concerned science, not purely
historical science. This research should be carried out by artists with the assistance of scientists.
The first institute ever formed for this purpose is the experimental laboratory for free artistic research
founded 29 September 1955 at Alba. This type of laboratory is not an instructional institution; it simply
offers new possibilities for artistic experimentation.
The leaders of the old Bauhaus were great masters with exceptional talents, but they were poor teachers.
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10/20/2014

Notes on the Formation of an Imaginist Bauhaus (Asger Jorn)

The students works were only pious imitations of their masters. The real influence of the latter was
indirect, by force of example: Ruskin on Van de Velde, Van de Velde on Gropius.
This is not at all a criticism, it is simply a recognition of reality, from which the following conclusions
may be drawn: The direct transfer of artistic gifts is impossible; artistic adaptation takes place through a
series of contradictory phases: Shock Wonder Imitation Rejection Experimentation
Possession.
None of these phases can be avoided, though they need not all be gone through by any one individual.
Our practical conclusion is the following: We are abandoning all efforts at pedagogical action and
moving toward experimental activity.
ASGER JORN
1957

Notes sur la formation dune Bauhaus imaginiste and three other texts were originally published
together under the title Against Functionalism (1957), then included in Pour la Forme: bauche dune
mthodologie des arts, a large collection of Jorn's writings published by the Situationist International
(Paris, June 1958; reprinted by ditions Allia, 2001). This translation by Ken Knabb is from the
Situationist International Anthology (Revised and Expanded Edition, 2006). No copyright.
[Other Texts by Asger Jorn]
[Other Situationist Texts]

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