Herbert Bayer. Mit Zuversicht in's neue Jahr Dorland wünscht viel Glück, 1930-1931. Letterpress and pochoir, 8 1/4 × 11 1/2" (21 × 29.2 cm). Jan Tschichold Collection, Gift of Philip Johnson. © 2023 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

“[A]rt of the future...would go...out into the street, to the people, into the environment.”

Herbert Bayer

Artistic polymath Herbert Bayer was one of the Bauhaus’s most influential students, teachers, and proponents, advocating the integration of all arts throughout his career. Bayer began his studies as an architect in 1919 in Darmstadt. From 1921 to 1923 he attended the Bauhaus in Weimar, studying mural painting with Vasily Kandinsky and typography, creating the Universal alphabet, a typeface consisting of only lowercase letters that would become the signature font of the Bauhaus. Bayer returned to the Bauhaus from 1925 to 1928 (moving in 1926 to Dessau, its second location), working as a teacher of advertising, design, and typography, integrating photographs into graphic compositions.

He began making his own photographs in 1928, after leaving the Bauhaus; however, in his years as a teacher the school was a fertile ground for the New Vision photography passionately promoted by his close colleague László Moholy-Nagy, Moholy-Nagy’s students, and his Bauhaus publication Malerei, Photographie, Film (Painting, photography, film). Most of Bayer’s photographs come from the decade 1928–38, when he was based in Berlin working as a commercial artist. They represent his broad approach to art, including graphic views of architecture and carefully crafted montages.

In 1938 Bayer emigrated to the United States with an invitation from Alfred H. Barr, Jr., founding director of The Museum of Modern Art, to apply his theories of display to the installation of the exhibition Bauhaus: 1919–28 (1938) at MoMA. Bayer developed this role through close collaboration with Edward Steichen, head of the young Department of Photography, designing the show Road to Victory (1942), which would set the course for Steichen’s influential approach to photography exhibition. Bayer remained in America working as a graphic designer for the remainder of his career.

Note: Opening quote is from Herbert Bayer, unpublished lecture, “Art in the Modern World,” delivered at the Aspen Institute, August 27, 1974, p. 6, reproduced and cited in Chanzit, Gwen Finkel, and Herbert Bayer. Herbert Bayer and Modernist Design in America (Ann Arbor, Mich: UMI Research Press, 1987), 160.

Mitra Abbaspour, Associate Curator, Department of Photography, 2014

Wikipedia entry
Herbert Bayer (April 5, 1900 – September 30, 1985) was an Austrian and American graphic designer, painter, photographer, sculptor, art director, environmental and interior designer, and architect. He was instrumental in the development of the Atlantic Richfield Company's corporate art collection until his death in 1985.
Information from Wikipedia, made available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License
Getty record
Bayer worked variously as advertising artist, photographer, painter, sculptor, architect and landscape designer, reflecting his training at the Bauhaus from 1921 to 1925. In 1925, he took over the printing and advertising offices of the Bauhaus in Dessau, where he designed Bauhaus publications. Photography became his preferred mode of expression in the 1930s and his work from this period shows the influence of Surrealism. His photomontages typically show blended levels of reality and dreamlike images. He moved to New York in 1938 where he curated two Bauhaus exhibitions which toured internationally from 1967 to 1971. American architect and author, former member of Bauhaus.
Austrian, American, German
Artist, Author, Manufacturer, Architect, Art Director, Designer, Typographer, Graphic Designer, Interior Designer, Muralist, Environmental Artist, Graphic Artist, Painter, Lecturer, Photographer, Sculptor
Herbert Bayer
Information from Getty’s Union List of Artist Names ® (ULAN), made available under the ODC Attribution License


164 works online



  • Engineer, Agitator, Constructor: The Artist Reinvented, 1918–1939. The Merrill C. Berman Collection at MoMA Exhibition catalogue, Hardcover, 288 pages
  • Photography at MoMA: 1920 to 1960 Hardcover, 416 pages
  • The Original Copy: Photography of Sculpture, 1839 to Today Exhibition catalogue, Hardcover, 256 pages
  • Bauhaus 1919-1933: Workshops in Modernity Exhibition catalogue, Hardcover, 344 pages

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