The Photographers of the New Bauhaus


  • Aaron Siskind, Untitled from The Pleasures and Terrors of Levitation, 1961

The New Bauhaus, later called the Institute of Design (ID) at what is now the Illinois Institute of Technology was one of the most important schools of design and photography in America during the twentieth century. Founded in Chicago in 1937 by Lászlo Moholy-Nagy, the New Bauhaus aimed to train “the perfect designer” through a modernist and multi-disciplinary curriculum that encouraged experimentation and broke down the hierarchy between fine and applied arts and industry.  

The ID photography program flourished between 1951-1961, under the direction of Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind. Many assignments were formal and technical, while others encouraged students to be aware of social and political issues on the streets of Chicago where they often worked. Once they had mastered the basics of the Foundations Course, students were pushed to pursue unique personal projects and use photography as a means to see familiar things in new ways. Students of Siskind and Callahan became important artists and influential teachers of the next generations of artists as more and more college level art programs were established following World War II. The teaching methods developed here by Moholy-Nagy, Siskind, Callahan and others continue to influence arts pedagogy.    

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Museum of Contemporary Photography

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