Con Artists and Tightrope Walkers – How the Bauhaus Came to Weimar

There is possibly no other period in German history which so aptly exemplifies how multifaceted, complex and yet productive the relationship of art, society and politics can be than the brief era of the Weimar Republic. Following World War I, Germany experienced immense turmoil. The German Empire had been relegated to history. The old social order had not yet collapsed, but the new had not yet arrived either. In February 1919, the National Assembly convened in Weimar to draft a new constitution for the young democracy. The only problem was that no one knew exactly how a modern and democratic society should function.

During this time of upheaval and social instability, a new school of art was established in Weimar in spring 1919 – the State Bauhaus. With its innovative approach to artistic instruction and experimentation, the Bauhaus aimed to achieve no less than reconciling craftmanship and art in the Industrial Age and countering social chaos with order, structure and clarity. When political tempers flared, it responded with aesthetic coolness. It saw its mission as a struggle for progress and modernity – both in art and society.

The Kunstfest 2018 kicks off a series of commemorative events marking the upcoming 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus. Two figures serve as its thematic thread and uniquely express the condition of the young Weimar Republic – the con artist and the tightrope walker. Both possess a trait which proved beneficial for surviving those years: fearlessness. They also symbolise the balancing act of modern life which saw the prospects of social advancement offset by the fear of social decline. Both figures are products of a society which had not yet established its own principles of order and desperately struggled to find its political and social balance.

The highlight of our festival programme is an exhibition by Janek Müller at three separate locations entitled «How the Bauhaus Came to Weimar. An Archive of Heat and Cold». Not only does it present fascinating, original documents from the earliest days of the Bauhaus, but also portrays the school of art and design as a source of inspiration for addressing the challenges of today. The exhibition is accompanied by discussions, a film series, a puppet theatre piece on the political debate surrounding the Bauhaus, and many other events. Together they commence a two-year artistic examination of the Bauhaus and its legacy, which will conclude with the Kunstfest 2019.

As always, the Kunstfest begins with a large open-air spectacle. We have added a number of special events for children and families, such as an acrobatic circus performance from France. And every evening, the Künstlergarten invites audiences to free concerts next to the former Bauhaus Museum on Theaterplatz.

The Kunstfest 2018 will be our last edition. We arrived in 2014 with the aim of reinventing this traditional festival. We opened it to all art forms and made it more international while tying it even closer to the city. The overwhelmingly positive response to our programmes demonstrates that the Kunstfest is now inseparably linked to Weimar and all of Thuringia.

We would like to thank everyone who has encouraged us, shared constructive criticism and supported us over the past five years. And naturally, we thank you, our audience. We wish our successors all the best for the future. But before we pass the baton, we look forward one more time to the extraordinary artistic experiences and exciting encounters awaiting us at the Kunstfest 2018. Celebrate with us – and remain true to the Kunstfest in the years to come!

Christian Holtzhauer and the team of Kunstfest Weimar

Words of welcome

Words of Welcome by Bodo Ramelow, Prime Minister of Thuringia and patron of the Kunstfest Weimar 2018

Following its «reboot» in 2014, the Kunstfest Weimar looks forward to an impressive finale under the direction of Christian Holtzhauer. Like a magnifying glass, it focuses on the diverse, ambivalent and at times highly contradictory cultural heritage of Thuringia’s capital of culture as symbolic of our nation.

This year the Kunstfest highlights themes related to the anniversaries of the Bauhaus and the Weimar Republic, establishing a link between the political and social upheavals and the artistic awakening which occurred around the same time.

Audiences can look forward to fascinating events that explore the Bauhaus and its design ideas which ultimately defined the style of the future. In this sense, young creative artists will transform this classical city into an inspiring and pulsating venue.

Bodo Ramelow


Words of Welcome by Stefan Wolf, Lord Mayor of the City of Weimar and patron of the Kunstfest Weimar 2018 

Dear Friends of Kunstfest Weimar, Dear Guests and Visitors of Weimar,
This year’s edition of the Kunstfest Weimar marks the end of a five-year era of artistic direction under Christian Holtzhauer. I am sorry to see him go, for his new, participative approach reached many people outside the conventional art scene and drew many to Weimar who had rarely attended the festival in previous years.

At this final «Holtzhauer Kunstfest», we have many surprising moments to look forward to. The 100 th anniversary of the Bauhaus in Weimar in 2019 provides the thematic frame for this year’s festival. These 17 festival days will sweep us away to strange worlds whose intensity makes the Weimar Kunstfest such an extraordinary event series. I greatly look forward to seeing how German and international artists explore this theme which took root in the small town of Weimar and eventually spread across the globe at countless levels.

Stefan Wolf

Europäische UnionWeimarer Sommer