Marianne Brandt (1 October 1893 – 18 June 1983), German painter, sculptor, photographer and designer who studied at the Bauhaus school and became head of the metal workshop
Ashtray, Bauhaus, designed by Marianne
Brandt in 1926
Today, Brandt's designs for household objects such
as lamps, ashtrays and teapots are considered the harbinger of
modern industrialist design.
born in Chemnitz as Marianne
In 1919 she married the Norwegian painter Erik
Brandt, with whom she traveled in Norway and France. She trained as a
painter before joining the Weimar Bauhaus in
There she became a student of Hungarian modernist
theorist and designer László Moholy-Nagy
in the metal
workshop. She quickly rose to the position of workshop assistant
and succeeded Moholy as the workshop's director in 1928, serving in
the post for one year and negotiating some of the most important
Bauhaus contracts for collaborations with industry. These contracts
for the production of lights and other metal workshop designs were
a rare example of one of the workshops helping to fund the school.
After leaving the Bauhaus for Berlin in 1929, Brandt worked for
in his Berlin studio.
subsequently became the head of metal design at the Ruppel firm in
Gotha, where she
remained until losing her job in the midst of the ongoing financial
depression in 1932.
During the period of National
in Germany, Brandt attempted to find work outside of
the country, but family responsibilities called her back to
Chemnitz. She was unable to find steady work throughout the period
of the Third Reich
. In 1939 she did
become a member of the "Reichskulturkammer," the official Nazi
organization of artists, in order to obtain a
few art supplies, which had otherwise been forbidden to her.
However, Brandt was never a member of the National Socialist Party
. After many years of
living apart, she and Erik Brandt officially divorced in
died in Kirchberg,
Saxony at the age of 89. While the Bauhaus was
generally reviled as "decadent" during much of the GDR period, by
the end of her life Brandt had a loyal group of students from her
many years as a teacher of design.
designs for metal ashtrays, tea and coffee services, lamps and
other household objects are now recognized as among the best of the
Weimar and Dessau
Further, they were among the few Bauhaus designs to
be mass-produced during the interwar period, and several of them
are currently available as reproductions. In an auction in December
2007, one of her teapots —the Model No. MT49 tea infuser— was sold
for a record-breaking $361,000.
Beginning in 1926, Brandt also produced a body of photomontage
work, though all but a few were not publicly known until the 1970s
after she had abandoned the Bauhaus style and was living in
Communist East Germany. The photomontages came to public attention
after Bauhaus historian Eckhard Neumann solicited the early
experiments, stimulated by resurgent interest in modernist
experiment in the West. These photomontages often focus on the
complex situation of women in the interwar period, a time when they
enjoyed new freedoms in work, fashion and sexuality, yet frequently
experienced traditional prejudices. Brandt's montage works were
subject of the touring exhibition entitled "Tempo, Tempo!
Bauhaus Photomontages of Marianne Brandt," organized by Elizabeth
Otto, which appeared at the Bauhaus Archive in Berlin, Harvard's Busch-Reisinger Museum and the
International Center of
Photography in New York from 2005 to 2006.
catalogue of the same name explores these works and Brandt's
Brandt is also remembered as a pioneering photographer. She created
experimental still-life compositions, but it is her series of self
portraits which are particularly striking. These often represent
her as a strong and independent New Woman
of the Bauhaus; other examples show her face and body distorted
across the curved and mirrored surfaces of metal balls, creating a
blended image of herself and her primary medium at the
- How Bauhaus was shaped into greatness — International
- Brockhage, Hans and Reinhold Lindner. Marianne Brandt.
Chemnitz: Chemnitzer Verlag, 2001.
- Otto, Elizabeth. Tempo, Tempo! The Bauhaus
Photomontages of Marianne Brandt. Berlin: Jovis Verlag,
- Wynhoff, Elisabeth. Marianne Brandt: Fotografieren am
Bauhaus. Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2003.