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Still Undead: Popular Culture in Britain Beyond the Bauhaus

At Nottingham Contemporary


Still Undead explores how Bauhaus ideas and teaching lived on in Britain, via pop culture and art schools. This exhibition coincides with the centenary of the pioneering art and design school’s founding in Weimar. Spanning the 1920s to the 90s, and including works by some 50 artists, designers and musicians, Still Undead narrates the eclectic and fragmented ways that the Bauhaus’s legacy has been transmitted and transformed. It is structured around six loosely chronological groupings, which move from the Bauhaus to British art schools, from the high street to the nightclub and beyond.

Still Undead departs from experiments in light and sound created by Bauhaus students and teachers. Combining music, costume and performance, these works were key to the school’s lively culture of parties and festivals. After the Nazis came to power in 1933, and the Bauhaus closed, a number of its masters and students came to Britain. A lack of work pushed them towards a variety of projects, making everything from sci-fi special effects and documentary photography to shop-window displays.

After World War II, Bauhaus methods reshaped British art schools through a new approach to artistic training known as Basic Design. This emphasised intuition and experimentation, colour and material. At the beginning of the 1960s, a young generation began to reimagine the aims of the Bauhaus for an era of consumerism and commercial design.

In the 1970s and 80s, youth culture – by way of art-school bands, DIY publishing and club nights – looked back to early 20th-century avant-gardes for inspiration. This section of the exhibition is a collage of performance, music and graphic design, which invokes the spirit of Bauhaus parties and theatre. The exhibition title, Still Undead, is borrowed from a 1982 song by the British band Bauhaus, suggesting that these spirits linger on, neither dead nor alive.

Nottingham Contemporary

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