Cover: Gropius: The Man Who Built the Bauhaus, from Harvard University PressCover: Gropius in HARDCOVER


The Man Who Built the Bauhaus

Product Details


$35.00 • £30.95 • €31.95

ISBN 9780674737853

Publication Date: 04/15/2019


560 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

50 photos

Belknap Press

North America only

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A riveting book about a man who nurtured a vastly ambitious project through extraordinary times.The Economist

MacCarthy transforms [Gropius] from a dull institutionalist—head of the Bauhaus and, later, prominent professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design—into a stylistic rebel who lived and loved in an exuberant community of artist outcasts that would be scattered across the world after Weimar Germany became the Third Reich. Whereas critics of the Bauhaus have seen it as the harbinger of giant faceless office towers and superhighways slicing through cities, MacCarthy presents the school as a fount of idealism: both an artistic collective, surging with creative energy, and a political project briefly filled with the angst and élan of a lost generation soon to be crushed by Hitler. Most of all, MacCarthy shows that Gropius’s true legacy was the talent he nurtured in others—I. M. Pei, Philip Johnson, Paul Klee, Marcel Breuer, and Wassily Kandinsky, to name but a few.The New Republic

MacCarthy is out to change wrong-headed perceptions in her biography… Rather than giving us a portrait of a mechanical architectural rationalist, she underscores Gropius’s humanity, and how that inspired his visionary philosophy as well as the consummate aesthetic courage he showed through an extremely volatile, even dangerous, political age.—Mark Favermann, Arts Fuse

A luminous, vigorous study of a prodigiously gifted man driven by singular passion.Hyperallergic

MacCarthy makes a compelling case for the architect as an impassioned idealist and romantic… An incredibly readable and rounded biography and gives credit where it’s due to the formidable women who shaped him.Literary Review

A comprehensive biography of the figure whom the painter Paul Klee, a teacher at the Bauhaus, called ‘the silver prince.’—Dan Chiasson, The New Yorker

An engrossing read.—Caroline Rob Zaleski, Architectural Record

A great read, suitable for the beach, which Gropius and other Bauhäusler loved, from the banks of the Elbe to Cape Cod… An account of the sentimental journey of one of the most influential architects and pedagogues of the 20th century.—Barry Bergdoll, The Architect’s Newspaper

For those craving a bit more personal insight into the life of the notoriously uptight Walter Gropius, Fiona MacCarthy’s biography will be sure to scratch that itch.—Jonathan Hilburg, The Architect’s Newspaper

[A] revelatory biography… Strikingly readable… Gropius emerges here as a kind of obsessive, passionate genius… Transforms our understanding of the history and significance not only of Gropius but of the group of 1930s innovators who comprised the movement.The Arts Desk

MacCarthy’s enjoyable biography is an impressive achievement, finally giving us not just Gropius the architect in black and white, but the human being in full color.The Evening Standard

[Gropius’s] achievements overshadow the man and it’s the great virtue of Fiona MacCarthy’s biography to bring this austere figure to life.—Michael Webb, Form

MacCarthy’s book doesn’t claim to offer deep analysis of all of Gropius’s or the Bauhaus’s artistic output. But, as a way of bringing the human stories of this extraordinary phenomenon to life, it’s hard to beat.The Guardian

[A] meticulously researched, balanced and brilliantly written biography… MacCarthy refuses the often ill-researched reductionist characterizations of Gropius as the arrogant, dour modernist. Instead, she passionately weaves a gripping and powerful narrative deserving of a wide audience while also making for essential reading for anyone studying architecture and design.The Irish Times

[A] comprehensive portrait of the German-born architect best known for founding the Bauhaus… MacCarthy offers a buoyant account of her subject’s life.Booklist

Presents a lively portrait of this seminal figure. The book brims with personal details… This is an enjoyable, well-written portrait of a giant of 20th-century modernism.Choice

MacCarthy brings insight and sensitivity to a sweeping, penetrating life of Walter Gropius… She produces a multidimensional portrait of a towering, complex figure… Engrossing, impressively researched, and keenly perceptive.Kirkus Reviews

A complex narrative about a complex man. Fiona MacCarthy’s richly detailed biography of Walter Gropius, one of the twentieth century’s most influential architects, reads like a detective story.—Moshe Safdie, founding principal of Moshe Safdie Architects

Saint or sinner? Visionary or myopic? In the century since the Bauhaus opened, its founder Walter Gropius has been lionised and demonised. Did Gropius inspire the world’s most influential and humane art school, or was he the evil genius of miserable industrial culture? Fiona MacCarthy is Britain’s first and best writer on design. She rescues Gropius’s reputation in a book full of learning, insight, dry wit, and belief. Just like the man himself.—Stephen Bayley, cofounder of the Design Museum, London, and author of Taste

This is an absolute triumph—ideas, lives, and the dramas of the twentieth century are woven together in a feat of storytelling. A masterpiece.—Edmund de Waal, ceramic artist and author of The White Road

MacCarthy’s lucid biography shows Gropius as a man of ideas who has indelibly influenced how we conceive of and respond to the environments that shape our everyday lives.—Mohsen Mostafavi, Dean and Alexander & Victoria Wiley Professor of Design, Harvard Graduate School of Design, and author of Structure as Space

Gropius, too often dismissed as a chilly theorist, emerges in a clearer, subtler, and far more sympathetic light from Fiona MacCarthy’s wide-ranging and authoritative biography.—Hilary Spurling, author of Matisse the Master

Fiona McCarthy has helped us to see Gropius in a radically different light. This is a very significant biography of a very significant man.—Sir Christopher Frayling

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