Courageous and fun-loving – that’s how Gunta Stölzl’s daughter remembers her. Stölzl’s genuine affinity for textiles and the weaving workshop brought her so far that Stölzl took over at the Bauhaus in Dessau, first as master of works and finally as director the weaving workshop. She remained devoted to the weaving workshop throughout her life.

Portrait of Gunta Stölzl, photo: unknown, around 1926. Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin.
Portrait of Gunta Stölzl, photo: unknown, around 1926. Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin.

Gunta Stölzl studied decorative painting, glass painting, ceramics, art history and style at the Kunstgewerbeschule (school of applied arts) in Munich from 1914 to 1916. During the war, she worked from 1916 to 1918 as a Red Cross nurse. In 1919, after briefly re-enrolling at the school of applied arts in Munich, she began her studies at the Staatliches Bauhaus Weimar.

African Chair, chair: Marcel Breuer / textile: Gunta Stölzl, 1921. Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin / © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016 / unknown (Breuer).
African Chair, chair: Marcel Breuer / textile: Gunta Stölzl, 1921. Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin / © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016 / unknown (Breuer).

In winter 1919–1920, Stölzl attended Johannes Itten’s preliminary course as well as the glass painting workshop and wall painting department that he directed. From 1920 to 1921, she attended the women’s class taught by Johannes Itten and Helene Börner. From 1921 to 1924–1925, Stölzl trained in the weaving workshop with Georg Muche and attended classes taught by Johannes Itten and Paul Klee. In 1924, she was commissioned by Johannes Itten to set up a weaving workshop (Ontos Workshops) in Herrliberg near Zurich and also collaborated on the development of a dye works. From 1925 to 1926, Stölzl was the master of form in the weaving workshop at the Bauhaus Dessau. She subsequently became the director of the weaving workshop from 1926 to 1930–31. Among other projects, Stölzl developed textile covers for some of the furniture designed by Marcel Breuer at the Bauhaus Dessau. Important works (carpets and woven textiles) were created according to her designs. In 1928, she travelled to Moscow with other members of the Bauhaus and attended Vkhutemas, the Russian state art and technical school there. In 1929, she married the Bauhaus student Arieh Sharon. Their daughter Yael was born later that year.

Slit Tapestry Red-Green, author: Gunta Stölzl, 1927–1928. Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin / © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016.
Slit Tapestry Red-Green, author: Gunta Stölzl, 1927–1928. Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin / © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016.

After her departure from the Bauhaus in the spring of 1931, Stölzl left for Switzerland. In 1932, she founded the hand weaving company S-P-H-Stoffe in Zurich with the former Bauhaus members Gertrud Preiswerk and Heinrich-Otto Hürlimann. She also a member of the Schweizer Werkbund (Swiss Work Federation). S-P-H Stoffe was forced to close in 1933 for financial reasons. However, Stölzl and Hürlimann continued to direct the company under the name S-H-Stoffe (Sharon-Hürlimann). In 1936, Gunta Stölzl and Arieh Sharon were divorced. In 1937, she was given the award Diplôme Commémoratif – Exposition Internationale des Arts et des Techniques for her work at the Paris World Exhibition. While Hürlimann also left the business in 1937, Stölzl continued to run the weaving company thereafter as Sh-Stoffe. In 1942, she married the Swiss writer Willy Stadler and became a Swiss citizen. In 1943, their daughter Monika Agnes was born. The international interest in Gunta Stölzl’s work was to grow in the years to follow. In 1967, she gave up her activities in the workshop and dedicated herself to producing tapestries. She participated in the major touring exhibition 50 Jahre Bauhaus in 1968.

Draft for 'Five choirs', author: Gunta Stölzl, 1928. Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin / © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016.
Draft for 'Five choirs', author: Gunta Stölzl, 1928. Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin / © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016.

Literature:
Schmidt-Lorenz, Klaus (1997): Die Kunst der Serie. Die Bauhaus-Weberin Gunta Stölzl, in: Design Report, No. 9.
Stadler, Monika & Yael Aloni (2009): Gunta Stölzl. Bauhausmeister, Ostfildern.
Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau (1997): Gunta Stölzl. Meisterin am Bauhaus Dessau. Textilien, Textilentwürfe und freie Arbeiten 1915–1983, Stuttgart.
Thöner, Wolfgang (1997): Gunta Stölzl. Meisterin am Bauhaus Dessau, in: Textilkunst, No. 3.