Marianne Brandt

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Marianne Brandt
Marianne Liebe

1 October 1893
Died18 June 1983 (aged 89)
EducationBauhaus (Weimar School)
Known forindustrial design, painting, sculpture, photography
Spouse(s)Erik Brandt, 1919-1935 (divorced)

Marianne Brandt (1 October 1893 – 18 June 1983) was a German painter, sculptor, photographer, metalsmith, and designer who studied at the Bauhaus art school in Weimar and later became head of the Bauhaus Metall-Werkstatt (Metal Workshop) in Dessau in 1927. Today, Brandt's designs for household objects such as lamps and ashtrays are considered timeless examples of modern industrial design.[1] She also created photomontages.


Brandt was born into a prominent family in Chemnitz as Marianne Liebe. In 1919 she married the Norwegian painter Erik Brandt, with whom she travelled in Norway and France. She trained as a painter before joining the Weimar Bauhaus in 1924 to study metalworking.[2] 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 acting 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 Walter Gropius in his Berlin studio. She 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.[citation needed]

Early in 1933, at the beginning of the Nazi period in Germany, Brandt first attempted to find work outside of the country, but family responsibilities called her back to Chemnitz. She was unable to find steady employment throughout the Nazi period. In 1939 she became a member of the "Reichskulturkammer," the Nazi regime's official artists' organisation, in order to obtain art supplies, which would otherwise have been forbidden to her. However, Brandt was never a member of the Nazi Party. After many years of living apart, she and Erik Brandt officially divorced in 1935.[citation needed]

After World War II, Brandt remained in Chemnitz to help rebuild her family's home, which had been severely damaged in the bombings. She lived out her days in East Germany, and died in Kirchberg, Saxony, at the age of 89.[3]


Marianne Brandt studied painting and sculpture at the Weimar Saxon Grand Ducal Art School from 1911 to 1917. She then went on the study and teach at the Bauhaus in Weimar and Dessau from 1923 to 1928. Between her time at art school and her job at Bauhaus, Brandt worked as a freelance artist.[4] She studied painting with the artists Fritz Mackensen and Robert Weise before studying sculpture with Robert Engelmann. In 1920 she took a one-year study tour with visits to Paris and the south of France. She also took courses taught by Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky. She and Max Sinowjewitsch Krajewski designed the lamp fittings for the Bauhaus building in Dessau from ca. 1925 to 1926. She served as an assistant in the Bauhaus metal workshop from 1927 and then filled the position of its acting head in 1928. In 1929 Brandt was employed in Walter Gropius's architectural office in Berlin. From 1930 to 1933 Brandt worked at the Ruppel Metal Goods factory in Gotha, Germany. From 1949 to 1951 Brandt was a lecturer at the Dresden Academy of Fine Art in the wood metal and ceramics department and from 1951 to 1954 she worked at the Academy of Applied Art in Berlin. German metalworker and designer; studied and worked at the Bauhaus in the 1920s.[citation needed]

During the early 1900s, women were not seen working in painting, carving, architecture, or metalworking. These professions were often looked at as male-dominated professions. Brandt overlooked this stereotype and continued painting, sculpting and metalwork. Though Bauhaus welcomed “any person of good repute, without regard to age or sex”, there was still a strong gender bias. László Moholy-Nagy was impressed by Brandt’s commitment and work, he opened a spot for her in the Bauhaus metal workshop. She became the first woman to attend the metalworking studio. During her time as a student, she produced successful works of art. It was later admitted to Brandt that the instructors believed there was no place in the metal workshop for women. The instructors felt displeasure having her there and purposely gave the women dull, dreary work to do. Her designs became so successful, that she replaced László Moholy-Nagy as the studio director in 1928. Marianne successes allowed her to rise to the top of her profession despite those against her. She helped establish sexual equality in the workplace and for that, she will forever be associated with the ‘Bauhaus.[5]


Brandt's 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 Bauhaus. 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.[1]

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.[citation needed]

In 1926, Brandt moved with the Bauhaus to Dessau and a year later took charge of lighting design with the metal workshop, before becoming its director from 1928 to 1929. Much of Brandt’s energy was directed into her lighting designs, including collaborations with small number of Bauhaus colleagues and students. One of her early projects was the ME78B hanging lamp (1926). This elegant pendant light made of aluminum featured a simple saucer shade combined with an innovative pulley system and counter-weight, which allowed the height of the lamp to be adjusted with ease; the pendant was used in multiple locations in the Dessau campus, including the metal, weaving and architecture department, as well as the dining room of Gropius’s own house.[6]

During the 1930s and 1940s, Brandt lived in near isolation, despite having many opportunities available to her after her time at Bauhaus. She had just finished showing five photographs at an exhibition put on by Werkbund. The section her work was shown in was curated by her old boss Moholy-Nagy. After travelling from job to job and project to project, Brandt lived in her hometown of Chemnitz for sixteen years and did not have any official position. She still produced work, but it was not for a specific purpose or commission. She began to paint, in both watercolour and tempera. These materials were cheaper and the pieces could be completed more quickly. The paintings are sometimes melancholy and depressing, but this is not surprising considering their timing during her unemployment and the Nazi period.[7]

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 Bauhaus. Brandt was one of few women at Bauhaus who distanced herself from the fields considered more feminine at the time such as weaving or pottery.[citation needed]

Tea sets[edit]

Tea pot, in silver and ebony (1924)

Brandt's tea sets use geometric forms and incorporated ideas from movements such as Constructivism and De Stijl. There is little ornamentation. The sets used material such as silver plate and brass; and ebony for the handles. The tea sets were almost entirely handmade but it led to mass production of similar products. The reproduction rights to Brandt's tea set[which?] were granted to Alessi, an Italian metalware design company, in 1985.[8] Along with the rights to the tea set, the company also has rights to produce her ashtray design[which?].[4]

Brandt's tea set designs are characteristic of the early phases of modernism. Form predominates over ornament and there is a clear sense of at least symbolic compatibility with modern mass-production technology.[8]



  • (in German) Brockhage, Hans and Reinhold Lindner. (2001) Marianne Brandt. Chemnitz: Chemnitzer Verlag
  • (in English) Otto, Elizabeth. Tempo, Tempo! The Bauhaus Photomontages of Marianne Brandt. (2005) Berlin: Jovis Verlag
  • (in German and English) Otto, Elisabeth (2019) Marianne Brandt in Schierz, Kai Uwe (ed.), et al. 4 "Bauhausmädels": Gertrud Arndt, Marianne Brandt, Margarete Heymann, Margaretha Reichardt, pp. 86–119. Dresden: Sandstein Kommunikation ISBN 978-3954984596
  • (in German) Wynhoff, Elisabeth. (2003) Marianne Brandt: Fotografieren am Bauhaus. Hatje Cantz Verlag


  1. ^ a b How Bauhaus was shaped into greatness — International Herald Tribune
  2. ^ Nero, Julie (2014). "Engaging Masculinity: Weimar Women Artists and the Boxer". Woman's Art Journal. 35 (1): 40–47. ISSN 0270-7993. JSTOR 24395362.
  3. ^ Photography at the Bauhaus. MIT Press. 1990. p. 342. ISBN 9780262061261.
  4. ^ a b Icons of Design: The 20th Century. Munich, New York: Prestel. 2000. pp. 36, 37. ISBN 978-3791323060.
  5. ^ van den Berg, Lynne. "Marianne Brandt – Iconic Bauhaus Designer | Mid-Century Modern Furniture Then and Now". Mid-Century Modern Furniture Then and Now. Paradigm. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  6. ^ Bradbury, Dominic (2018-11-06). Essential modernism : design between the world wars. Benton, Tim, 1945-, Buchanan, Mel,, Hoy, Anne H.,, Kentgens-Craig, Margret, 1948-, Kugler, Jolanthe, 1977-, Poynor, Rick. New Haven, Connecticut. ISBN 9780300238341. OCLC 1030393774.
  7. ^ Otto, Elizabeth (14 May 2013). "Marianne Brandt's Experimental Landscapes in Painting and Photography during the National Socialist Period". History of Photography. 37:2 (2): 167–181. doi:10.1080/03087298.2013.769780. S2CID 191542185.
  8. ^ a b Icons of design! : the 20th century. Albus, Volker, 1949-, Kras, Reyer., Woodham, Jonathan M. Munich: Prestel. 2000. ISBN 978-3791323060. OCLC 45066681.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)

External links[edit]