Chairs. Dieckmann!
The Forgotten Bauhaus Master Erich Dieckmann

07.05.2022 to 14.08.2022
Kunstgewerbemuseum

For the first time in over 30 years, a major solo exhibition is featuring furniture designer Erich Dieckmann (1896–1944), who taught at the Bauhaus and the arts and crafts school at Burg Giebichenstein in Halle (Saale). The exhibition – featuring some 120 pieces of furniture, graphics, designs and drawings, as well as contemporary works based on Dieckmann’s approach to design – pays tribute to an influential designer who, like Marcel Breuer, experimented with forms and materials and developed series of modular furniture using rigorously geometric forms. The exhibition can be viewed in Berlin and Halle (Saale), the two cities where Dieckmann’s impact was greatest.

Erich Dieckmann and the Bauhaus

Erich Dieckmann came to the Bauhaus in Weimar in 1921 to pursue a carpentry apprenticeship. After the Bauhaus moved to Dessau in 1925, Dieckmann stayed at the successor institution, the Staatliche Bauhochschule Weimar, directed by Otto Bartning. He became head of the carpentry workshop there that same year. In 1931 Dieckmann followed many former Bauhaus instructors to the school of arts and crafts at Burg Giebichenstein, where he oversaw the carpentry workshop from 1931 until his dismissal by the National Socialists in 1933. He then struggled, seriously ill, to make ends meet with administrative and consultant jobs until his death in November 1944 at the age of 48. Dieckmann’s attitude towards and involvement in National Socialism can only be reconstructed fragmentarily and therefore needs to be closely scrutinised.

Dieckmann’s First Chair on Display

The exhibition features Dieckmann’s first chair – made of wood and rush wickerwork – which he designed as a Bauhaus student in 1923. It is followed by his modular furniture developed around 1930 for the interior design programmes to completely furnish work spaces, living areas and bedrooms. The accompanying designs and historical photographs provide information on the furniture’s construction as well as its placement and impact within the intended space. Dieckmann, however, did not limit himself to purely geometric designs and subsequently developed curvilinear models, as his bentwood, tubular steel, and wicker furniture demonstrate.

Extensive Drawing Legacy

Other exhibits stem from the Erich Dieckmann drawings estate, acquired by the Kunstbibliothek (Art Library) and comprising some 1,600 objects. These were digitised and catalogued for the collection between 2017 and 2019 with funds provided by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media. The objects from the estate displayed in the exhibition include Dieckmann’s composition studies and designs for numerous pieces of furniture, as well as watercolour drawings of ideally furnished settings. In combination with the furniture, these drawings allow the viewer to follow the entire creative process – from the initial, often abstract idea of a form to its creative and functional development and realisation as a ready-to-use object.

Erich Dieckmann’s Contemporaries

The section The Others augments the exhibition with information about Erich Dieckmann’s contemporaries and presents designers who, like him, worked during the interwar period. Furniture and design objects by, among others, Marcel Breuer, Mies van der Rohe and Eckart Muthesius, selected from the Kunstgewerbemuseum’s (Museum of Decorative Arts) rich collection illustrate the diversity of furniture styles around 1930.

Living like Dieckmann

In the exhibition section, Living like Dieckmann, contemporary artist Margit Jäschke and designer Stephan Schulz demonstrate how Dieckmann’s designs can be sustainably, artistically and beneficially refined for the 21st century. To this end, they reproduced Erich Dieckmann’s furniture and restaged it in a setting similar to a living space.

A New View of SITTING

In the exhibition’s fourth section, A New View of SITTING, students from the Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design Halle turned their attention to their school’s former teacher. In several semester projects, they developed concepts tracing Dieckmann’s oeuvre into the present.

A special exhibition of the Kunstgewerbemuseum and the Kunstbibliothek – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin in cooperation with the Saxony-Anhalt Arts Foundation and the Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design Halle.

The exhibition is funded by the state of Saxony-Anhalt.

The exhibition is on view in Halle (Saale) until 27 March 2022, after which it will be shown in an expanded version at the Kunstgewerbemuseum in Berlin.

Exhibition Catalogue

A catalogue accompanying the exhibition has been published by Mitteldeutscher Verlag (208 pages, ISBN 978-3-96311-643-8, 30 euros, German only).

Erich Dieckmann, Three chairs, 1925-1935, pencil and colored pencil on paper
© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kunstbibliothek / Dietmar Katz
Crashkurs Design: Stühle


Ausstellungsgespräch | 60 Minuten | 30 €

Erich Dieckmann mit Schüler*innen, v.l.n.r. Bernhard von Brandenstein, Katharina
Dieckmann, Erich Dieckmann, Hela Jöns, Fotosammlung Lena Müller-Pretzsch, Halle, aus:
Vegesack, Alexander von (Hrsg.): Erich Dieckmann. Praktiker der Avantgarde. Weil am Rhein
1990
Nimm Platz! Achtung Stuhl!


Workshop | 120 Minuten | 60 €

© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Ute Klein

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Research project: The Erich Dieckmann Estate

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