Still Undead: Pop Culture in Britain Beyond the Bauhaus

Kurt Schwerdtfeger, <i>Reflektorische Farblichtspiele</i>, 1922. Light performance, apparatus reconstructed, 2016. Courtesy of Microscope Gallery and Kurt Schwerdtfeger Estate, 2016.
  • Kurt Schwerdtfeger, Reflektorische Farblichtspiele, 1922. Light performance, apparatus reconstructed, 2016. Courtesy of Microscope Gallery and Kurt Schwerdtfeger Estate, 2016.

Still Undead explores the Bauhaus in relation to art and subculture in Britain. The exhibition coincides with the centenary of the pioneering yet short-lived art and design school’s founding in Weimar. It traces how Bauhaus experiments in light, sound and performance lived on, refracting into disparate fields: electronic music, kinetic sculpture, shop-window display, mod fashion, queer club culture. Spanning the 1920s to the 80s, the exhibition includes works by some 30 artists, designers and musicians.

Still Undead opens in Germany in the 1920s, departing from the reflected light installations by Bauhaus students. These were used as backdrops for ballets and performances as well as parties. The exhibition travels to Britain in the 1930s and 40s, following the works of emigré Bauhaus masters and students, who found employment in sometimes unlikely places, producing anything from sci-fi special effects to portrait photography.

Bauhaus pedagogy shaped British art schools in 1950s and 60s, via what came to be known as the Basic Design approach. Various figures in 1960s design – including Mary Quant, Terence Conran and Vidal Sassoon – found inspiration in the Bauhaus. Still Undead concludes with an immersion into the parties, DIY publishing and art-school bands of the 1970s and 80s.