Bayer Center Opens, Preserving Aspen’s Bauhaus Legacy | Culture & Leisure

When someone is as creative as Herbert Bayer was, it’s easy to put on a good show.

Curator Bernard Jazzar said so with a smile during a conversation at the new Resnick Center for Herbert Bayer Studies on Saturday morning.

As guest curator of the inaugural exhibition “Herbert Bayer: An Introduction” — which officially opened to the public this week, along with the new Bayer Center — Jazzar put on a good show, indeed.

The highly anticipated grand opening of the Bayer Center began on Sunday during the Aspen Ideas Festival, and the first exhibit will be on view through December 3.

To honor and preserve the legacy of multidisciplinary artist and designer Herbert Bayer — who moved to Aspen in 1946 and designed the Aspen Institute’s Meadows campus — the institute announced plans for the new facility in 2019.

The 8,000 square foot building, designed by Jeffrey Berkus Architects and Rowland and Broughton, was built two years later and is named after Lynda and Stewart Resnick, who donated $10 million to support the project.

Jazzar was the Curator of the Lynda and Stewart Resnick Collection since 1993. Having curated five exhibitions for the institute – four of which explored Bayer’s work and one celebrating the 100th celebration of the Bauhaus founding – he is well acquainted with the life, works and Bayer’s interdisciplinary perspective and its influence not only on the institute but on Aspen as a whole.

“Herbert’s art and his design are so interconnected,” Jazzar said. “You couldn’t separate one from the other, and they inquired.”

Jazzar’s curatorial intelligence and precise details of Bauhaus and Bayer history are evident in the center’s inaugural exhibition. Having a background in architectural design himself, the curator explained how he worked closely with the building’s architects to relate elements of the exhibition, such as spacing and lighting, to the state of the building. spirit of the Bauhaus.

“We kept thinking about Bauhaus and Bayer: how would they do it and how could we do it without being a copycat,” Jazzar said. “It’s important not to copy but to be inspired, and I think this version is really successful.”

Composed of more than 150 works chronologically classified in 13 galleries, the monographic exhibition takes a deep dive into Bayer’s life and highlights the artist’s vast body of work – with an intentional focus on Bayer’s lesser-known paintings – through a retrospective narrative and intimate experience of the space.

Jazzar said he focused on how gallery spaces flow and how an individual moves through them, keeping in mind aspects ranging from natural and artificial light to the size of the piece and the size of the artwork.

“So this connection between natural and artificial light – things being beautifully linked – is part of what Bauhaus students and teachers would want to consider,” Jazzar said. “For example, as Bayer designed buildings on the [institute] campus, he oriented them to make sure the light was entering.

The curator pointed out that another key factor in Bayer’s design of the institute’s campus was how he ensured everything was scaled to nature.

“Rather than making a three-story building and imposing it on the spot, he looked at the environment and said to himself, ‘How can I keep the red mountains as my main view, how can I let the river be part of it?’” Jazzar said. “So to start imagining that even with the first building, it sets itself in nature, letting nature be the dominant aspect.”

In terms of the chronological format of the exhibition, the exhibition begins in the galleries on the ground floor – which was partly related to the preservation of the artwork, said Jazzar, noting that a large Some of Bayer’s early works were on paper and that paper cannot take sunlight.

Aside from the lack of sunlight, the space downstairs is also larger, which allowed Jazzar to enhance the narrative impact of Bayer’s previous life – “where things were changing very quickly”, he added.

These changes are reflected in the way Jazzar organized the galleries, mostly by decade, and even in the way he chose to juxtapose the artist’s work on the walls.

“I think starting with the early plays down there and then coming up here and seeing these glorious late plays, things that more people know about – it has an impact,” he continued.

The curator even intended to make an impact on the color of the walls, implementing “Bayer blue” as the background tint on a few of the exhibit walls as another way to connect with Bayer.

“Because in that first presentation, I was telling Herbert’s story,” Jazzar said. “I wanted her favorite color, blue, to be part of the story.”

During an Aspen Ideas Festival session titled “Through the Lens of Bayer: The Aesthetic Beauty of Bauhaus Comes to Life,” Jazzar joined Dan Porterfield, President and CEO of the Aspen Institute, to discuss the importance of Bayer, the Bauhaus and the new center as a space preserving not only the legacy of the artist, but also the legacy of Aspen.

“This museum gives us the opportunity to welcome all members of the greater Aspen community to campus to learn about the history of this incredible part of the world,” Porterfield said in his opening remarks.

Because the Bayer Center is a space for the community of Aspen and surrounding Roaring Fork Valley communities to come explore and examine the story of its revitalization, it can evoke greater “pride” in the area, he said. he continued.

“When you have access to your aesthetic heritage, you understand yourself in another way — in a deeper way,” Porterfield said.

Coinciding with the Bayer Center’s official opening day, Porterfield and Jazzar’s talk took place on Sunday, as did a free screening and discussion event featuring the documentary “The New Bauhaus: Life and Legacy by László Moholy-Nagy” – which was also part of the program for this year’s Ideas Festival.

Beyond preserving Bayer’s historical legacy and works of art, the institute’s museum will serve as a research platform and community forum.

Later this year, the facility will include an education center, museum shop and archival study room for visiting scholars, according to a “fact sheet” provided by the center. A community education and outreach program tailored to the western Colorado region is also in the works, and the center is preparing to announce a series of partnerships with universities, libraries and research institutes.

The Resnick Center for Herbert Bayer Studies is free and open to the public, with summer hours of operation noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. For more information on guided tours and the center, visit

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