About the exhibition

Herbert Bayer: Bauhaus Master marks the centenary of the founding of the Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany, in 1919 and features rare works by the groundbreaking 20th-century graphic designer Herbert Bayer. On view in the second-floor permanent collection galleries from Nov. 16 through April 5, 2020, the exhibition follows Bayer’s role as both student and teacher at the Bauhaus, as well as his illustrious career in the United States following his 1938 emigration.

In a vintage advertisement for a magazine, a model wearing ruby-red lipstick tousles her blonde hair. The form of her polished curls is amplified in a colorful abstract montage of pale blue, white, orange, and black circles. The circles overlap to create a figure "8." TExt: Noreen Super Color Rinse is the choice of women who take pride in their appearance... happy, successful women with careers in business, the professions, public life, and society... all determined to look their best. Noreen, simply, easily applied, gives the hair distinction with new beauty. It doesn't over-do, but retains the natural look while imparting fresh color and lustre... blending out distressing imperfections. Choose from 14 glamorous shades to keep your hair faultlessly lovely.

Print, Noreen Super Color Rinse, ca. 1953; Designed by Herbert Bayer; Offset lithograph; Collection of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Born in Austria and active in Germany and the U.S., Bayer (1900–1985) was a student and teacher at the Bauhaus, where he helped define a new language of graphic design suited to modern life. Charting his stylistic shifts and theoretical contributions, Herbert Bayer: Bauhaus Master highlights Bayer’s interest in typography and photography, design theory, information design, fashion and beauty, and poster design, as well as his corporate work.

A big blue eye widened in surprise. Underneath the eye is drawn a diagram of a camera lucida focused at a sculpture (classical male bust) on a plinth.

Booklet pages, Das Wunder des Lebens (The Miracle of Life), 1935; Designed by Herbert Bayer; Gravure; Collection of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Herbert Bayer: Bauhaus Master will feature information graphics, books, advertising, posters, ephemera, and magazine layouts for diverse clients. Many works on view will be drawn from a trove of more than 500 pieces documenting Bayer’s career in the U.S., recently acquired to the Cooper Hewitt collection through a gift from the Taub Foundation.  Key works from the Bauhaus period are on loan from the collection of Merrill C. Berman.

The exhibition is organized by Ellen Lupton, senior curator of contemporary design, Cooper Hewitt.

Book cover with the title "Herbert Bayer: Inspiration and Process in Design". The top half of the cover is a color block of orange-red with white lettering over it. The bottom half is a black-and-white image of a folded sheet of paper that reads "bauhaus". Superimposed on this image are a pencil, blocks, a sphere, and a large triangular shape.
Herbert Bayer: Inspiration and Process in Design
This book, written by Ellen Lupton, explores the evolution of Herbert Bayer's design process, from his student works featuring hand lettering to mechanically printed typography and hyperreal photo illustrations.
Image features a poster showing three zones of color set against a white background. Text is featured in contrasting white or black within the areas of color. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Transcending Advertising
Herbert Bayer first became involved with Container Corporation of America (CCA) when Walter Paepcke, at the suggestion of his wife Elizabeth, began commissioning advertisements from avant-garde artists and designers, advocating for a collaborative relationship between art and industry. After completing several innovative advertisements, Bayer designed an exhibition for CCA in 1945 titled “Modern Art in...
Image features black and white photomontage combining image of roast pork apparently flying in the sky alongside US Army bombers. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Recipe for Victory
A pork shank flies through the air, flanked by nine Allied bombers. Perspective lines shoot out from a distant point of origin, emphasizing the speed, impact, and patriotic urgency of the heroic ham and her military escort. But why? Signed “herbert bayer” in the upper left corner, this mysterious black-and-white printed photomontage is part of...
Image features a brochure with a diagram of the overall menstrual cycle on the front cover in pink, red, yellow, white, and black against a black background. White numbers representing days of the month are arranged in a circle, and different types of moons appear in white in the four corners. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Herbert Bayer, Master of the Universe
Herbert Bayer is known for his work as a student and teacher at the Bauhaus, the famous German art school that integrated art, design, and daily life. During Bayer’s formative years at the Bauhaus (1921–1928), he helped create the modern discipline of graphic design by using photography, type, and geometric systems to promote products and...