Why are women forgotten in art and design history?

This year marks 100 years since the Bauhaus was formed, but despite the school’s progressive reputation, it failed to recognise the women who contributed to it – just as with virtually every other art movement

When it was founded in 1919, the Bauhaus school represented a new approach to art that did away with the pretension of previous movements. Burning bridges between artist and artisan, focus was placed on craft, process and the building of art rather than the end product itself. The iconic school would go onto influence design and architecture over the next century with hallmark names like László Moholy-Nagy, Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky and Marcel Breuer at its helm, who all taught at the iconic school as ‘masters’ during its 24-year history. However, few women were made masters, and women artists tend to rank further down on the Who’s Who list of Bauhaus icons, despite the school’s reputation as a bastion of gender equality.

The intrinsic gender imbalance at the Bauhaus meant that the school perpetuated favouritism towards its male members, according to Patrick Rössler, author of Bauhausmädels. The book, which translates as ‘Bauhaus gals’ – at the time a term of admiration – centres on the women of the Bauhaus who are often absent from conversations about the school’s history.