Together with Hans Fischli, Margaret Camilla Leiteritz won the competition for Bauhaus wallpaper. The designs were used by the Gebrüder Rasch factory in Bramsche as the basis for the Bauhaus collection of wallpaper, which is still in production today. As the Bauhaus representative, Leiteritz herself supervised the initial production.
Margaret Camilla Leiteritz, the daughter of the Art Nouveau artist Woldemar Leiteritz, was born in Dresden on 19 April 1907. From 1918 to 1924, she attended the local Higher Girls’ School, before studying librarianship in Dresden and Leipzig, graduating in 1926. She worked in Dresden Municipal Library from 1927 to 1928, giving up the job in order to train at the Bauhaus in Dessau.
The beginning of her studies there in 1928 was particularly influenced by her training in the preliminary course, taught by Josef Albers (materials and handicrafts), Hinnerk Scheper (perspective), Joost Schmidt (type and advertising) and Wassily Kandinsky (abstract formal elements). Up to 1931, the year in which Leiteritz received her diploma and left the Bauhaus, she studied in the Mural Workshop, which was headed initially by Scheper and starting in June 1929 by Alfred Arndt. She also studied for four semesters in the free painting classes taught by Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky, and in 1931 attended Joost Schmidt’s course in nude and figure drawing.
A competition opened to all of the students at the Bauhaus by Hannes Meyer for pattern designs for the Rasch Ltd. wallpaper factory was of course of particular interest to students in the Mural Workshop. In 1929, Margaret Camilla Leiteritz won a third of the prizes awarded in the competition; the rest all went to Hans Fischli, who was to remain a lifelong friend of hers. After the competition, she was entrusted with colouring tasks and monitoring of wallpaper production at the Rasch company and thus had a decisive influence on the development of the first Bauhaus wallpapers.
Leiteritz interrupted her studies at the Bauhaus in 1929–1930 for a traineeship as a stage designer at the State Theatre in Kassel, and also for a visit to Paris lasting several weeks during the summer semester of 1930. In 1931, she was appointed to a librarianship post in the Arts and Crafts Museum in Dresden, which she held until 1945. Much of her artistic work was lost during the bombing of Dresden and her flight to Silesia. The surviving materials include photographs of paintings that were destroyed, costume studies from 1928, and illustrative pieces on works by ancient Greek and modern authors.
In 1946, Leiteritz found her way to the Harz region, where she worked as a designer for the Goebel Master Painters and Decorators company in Gebhardshagen. In 1950, she moved to Wuppertal, where she worked for two years as a librarian and director of the Paint Materials Collections of the ‘Dr. Kurt Herberts’ paint factory – a company that Oskar Schlemmer had worked in during the war – and began to paint once again. She entered the last stage in her professional career in 1952 as librarian at the Document Centre of the Institute for Gas Technology at the Technical University of Karlsruhe, where she worked until 1973.
Margaret Camilla Leiteritz died on 29 March 1976. Recognitions and appreciations of her artistic work while she was still alive included her participation in the '50 Jahre Bauhaus' exhibition in Stuttgart in 1968. In 1977, some of her work was presented at the Cologne Art Fair, and one-person exhibitions have been held in the Municipal Library in Karlsruhe in 2002–2003, in the Museum of Applied Art in Frankfurt in 2004, in the Kloster Bentlage Rheine cultural centre in 2006, and again in 2006 in the Kandinsky/Klee Masters’ Houses in Dessau.
Text: Burckhard Kieselbach
Lindemann, Klaus E. R. (1987): Die Bauhauskünstlerin Margaret Leiteritz. Gemalte Diagramme, Karlsruhe.
Museum für Angewandte Kunst Frankfurt (2004): Margaret Camilla Leiteritz. Baushauskünstlerin und Bibliothekarin, Frankfurt.
Mühlmann, Heinrich P. & Andrea Krieg (2004): Margaret Camilla Leiteritz. Bibliothekarin und Malerin, AKMB-news, 10, No. 1, p. 43–47, http://archiv.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/artdok/volltexte/2007/321, 10.06.2016.