László Moholy-Nagy recognised Marianne Brandt’s unique talent early on. Encouraged by him, she studied in the male domain of the metal workshop. And she was more successful than many of her fellow classmates. Brandt’s metal objects for everyday use are still hallmarks of the Dessau Bauhaus.

Portrait of Marianne Brandt, photo: unknown,  around 1926. Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin.
Portrait of Marianne Brandt, photo: unknown, around 1926. Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin.

Marianne Brandt began her education in art in 1911 at a private art school in Weimar. Afterwards, she was accepted at the Hochschule für Bildende Kunst Weimar (now the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar) and studied painting with the artists Fritz Mackensen and Robert Weise before studying sculpture with Richard Engelmann. In 1919, she married the Norwegian painter Erik Brandt. In 1920, she took a one-year study tour with visits to Paris and the south of France. She came to the Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar in 1924. Brandt attended the preliminary course taught by Josef Albers and László Moholy-Nagy, as well as classes by Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky. In addition, she worked in the metal workshop with László Moholy-Nagy.

Photograph of a Study in Balance from the Preliminary Course by László Moholy-Nagy, construction: Marianne Brandt / photo: Lucia Moholy, 1923. Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin / © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016.
Photograph of a Study in Balance from the Preliminary Course by László Moholy-Nagy, construction: Marianne Brandt / photo: Lucia Moholy, 1923. Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin / © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016.

She continued her training at the Bauhaus in Dessau and continued her work in the metal workshop with László Moholy-Nagy. In 1926, she had already designed the first lighting fixtures for the Bauhaus Building in Dessau. From the summer semester of 1927, she was in charge of technical experiments in lighting in the metal workshop. From May 1928 to 1st July 1929, she was the director of the metal workshop. On 10th September 1929, she earned her Bauhaus diploma, the diploma no. 2 of the metal workshop. In 1928 and 1929, Brandt and Hin Bredendieck also organised the collaboration with the companies Körting & Mathiesen AG (Kandem) in Leipzig and Schwintzer & Gräff in Berlin. At the same time, she worked with Hin Bredendieck and others on designs for lighting fixtures for mass production.

Coffee and Tea Set, design: Marianne Brandt / photo: Lucia Moholy, 1924. Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin / © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016.
Coffee and Tea Set, design: Marianne Brandt / photo: Lucia Moholy, 1924. Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin / © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016.

Brandt left the Bauhaus at the end of 1929, having worked at the architecture office of Walter Gropius from July to December 1929. She contributed to the interior design of the Karlsruhe-Dammerstock housing estate. Afterwards, she directed the design department of the company Ruppelwerk Metallwarenfabrik GmbH in Gotha until 1932. She lived in Chemnitz from 1933 to 1945. In 1939, she became a member of the Reich Chamber of Culture, yet she did not join the NSDAP. In 1949, Mart Stam appointed her as a lecturer at the HfBK Dresden. She worked at the University of Applied Art (now the Berlin Weißensee School of Art) until 1954. At the same time, she supervised the exhibition Deutsche Angewandte Kunst der DDR (German applied art of the GDR) in Beijing and Shanghai in 1953-54. Her reputation was established above all by her industrial products made from metal and glass. She also produced numerous photographs and photomontages.

With All 10 Fingers, author: Marianne Brandt, 1930. Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau / © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016.
With All 10 Fingers, author: Marianne Brandt, 1930. Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau / © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016.

Literature:
Otto, Elisabeth (2009): A 'Schooling of the Senses'. Post-Dada Visual Experiments in the Bauhaus Photomontages of László Moholy-Nagy and Marianne Brandt, in: NEC. New German Critique, 107, p. 89–131.
Otto, Elisabeth (2005): Tempo, Tempo! Bauhaus-Fotomontagen von Marianne Brandt, Berlin.
Wynhoff, Elisabeth (2003): Marianne Brandt: Fotografien am Bauhaus. Ausstellung im Institut für Kunst und Design im Kolkmannhaus, Wuppertal, Ostfildern.
Weinert, Manja (2003): Marianne Brandt. Fotomontagen und Foto-Text-Collagen, Diplomarbeit, Berlin.
Weise, Anne-Kathrin (1995): Leben und Werk von Marianne Brandt, Dissertation, Berlin.