09 July 2018

Bauhaus visionaries honoured with blue plaque

A blue plaque for three pioneering art teachers has been unveiled on the daringly modern 1930s Isokon Building in Belsize Park
Portraits of Marcel Breuer, László Moholy-Nagy and Walter Gropius.

Portraits of Marcel Breuer, László Moholy-Nagy and Walter Gropius. © Bauhaus Archive, Berlin.

Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer and László Moholy-Nagy - all designers and teachers at the influential German art school, Bauhaus - have been commemorated with an English Heritage blue plaque.

The plaque was unveiled on the Grade I listed Isokon Building, originally known as Lawn Road Flats. The trio, all revolutionaries in the modernism art movement, lived and worked in this Belsize Park building in the 1930s.

At the unveiling today Kate Mavor, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said:

'To be able to recognise three prominent individuals of the Bauhaus - Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer and László Moholy-Nagy - together on the same building where they lived and worked is an excellent opportunity to honour their significant contribution to the fields of art, architecture and design. It is highly appropriate that their joint blue plaque will appear on the Isokon Building, itself an example of radical modern design.'

John Allan, Chairman of the Isokon Gallery Trust, said:

'Since the Isokon Gallery opened in 2014, we have welcomed over 15,000 visitors from around the world who want to learn more about the remarkable story of Isokon, in which these three Bauhauslers play such an important part. This blue plaque underlines the enduring resonance of this story.'

The Isokon building with the installed blue plaque

What is Bauhaus?

Gropius founded Staatliches Bauhaus, in the German city of Weimar in 1919. Bauhaus was an art school combining crafts and the fine arts and became known around the world for its pioneering approaches to design and its supposed links to political radicalism.

Through keeping in constant touch with the rapid advances in ideas, new materials and technology, the Bauhaus created ground-breaking designs which have had a lasting influence. Its key players also acquired a political reputation which made them unpopular with the oncoming Nazi regime.

Breuer initially attended the Bauhaus school as a student before becoming director of its furniture workshops in 1924. Moholy-Nagy joined the staff in 1923 and edited the house magazine of the Bauhaus and its 14 books, the Bauhausbücher, for which series he wrote on film, photography and architecture.

After leaving the Bauhaus in Germany, all three went on to have successful careers in design and architecture, living in the striking Isokon Building in London, where their plaque has been installed.

Walter and Ise Gropius and Marcel Breuer on the Isokon roof terrace in 1935.

Walter and Ise Gropius and Marcel Breuer on the Isokon roof terrace in 1935. © Pritchard Papers, University of East Anglia.

The importance of the Isokon Building

The Isokon Building was completed in 1934 and was designed to provide low cost accommodation for the increasingly mobile and single professional. It was the first block of flats to be built in Britain in the fully modern style and became a landmark in progressive architectural design.

The building was built by Wells Coates for the design entrepreneur Jack Pritchard. Breuer also designed chairs for Pritchard's Isokon Furniture Company.

In 1936 the building's communal kitchen was converted into the Isobar restaurant, which was co-designed by Breuer. This became a creative hub for residents including Agatha Christie, Naum Slutzky and for artists such as Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth who lived nearby.

The English Heritage blue plaque for Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer and László Moholy-Nagy.

Find out more about Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer and László Moholy-Nagy on our blue plaques page.

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