There is something poetic to the often-repeated story that the founder and builder of one of the most important schools in the history of 20th century art, design and architecture could not actually draw.
Whether sparked by this particular shortcoming or a grander desire to unify the arts, collaboration is a running theme in the life of Walter Gropius, an ideas man who did not always have the means to deliver.
It is something he had a miraculous talent for, from paying students at college to complete his drawings, to bringing some of modernism’s most mythic characters into his orbit.
It became the underlying principle of the Bauhaus, a school that combined the education of arts, architecture and craft, with the vision of producing complete works of art.
Gropius began career in office of Peter Behrens
Gropius was born in 1883 to wealthy Berlin parents. He wasn’t the first Gropius to train as an architect – his great-uncle Martin (1824-1880) has also made a name for himself in the industry.
Walter Gropius actually dropped out of college before finishing his degree. A year after leaving, in 1908, a recommendation from patron of the avant-garde Karl-Ernst Ostenhaus landed him in the office of architect Peter Behrens, a founder of the Deutsche Werkbund association.