Leipzig’s Grassi Museum is a total work of art of the modernist era. New Objectivity and Art Deco, palace building traditions and the Bauhaus all converge in a unique way in this building ensemble. As one of the few museums built in the Weimar Republic, the imposing edifice was completed between 1925 and 1929 in Leipzig’s inner city, based on designs by the architectural firm of Zweck & Voigt. Municipal planning director Hubert Ritter supervised the construction. And Bauhaus Master Josef Albers designed unique stained glass windows for the front of the museum.
The museum complex – which bears the name of the merchant Franz Dominic Grassi, whose bequest funded construction of the predecessor building – actually unites three museums under one roof: the Museum of Applied Arts, Museum of Ethnology and the Museum of Musical Instruments. With its greened inner courtyards and gardens, the large and noble building complex is reminiscent of a palace. Its architecture is clearly distinguished by stylistic elements of the New Objectivity, making the addition of ornamental Art Deco details unusual and unexpected. These touches give articulation to the reddish porphyry stone on the façades and are especially apparent in the swanky element, referred to colloquially as the “Golden Pineapple”, that crowns the central roof. Inside, the Art Deco influence is most clearly evident in the “Pillared Hall”, so named because of its triangular room dividers. It is designed entirely in the style of Art Deco, from its diamond-patterned parquet flooring and the glamorous blue, red and gold colouring right up to the decorative light fittings.
The main staircase prominently features 18 windows, up to 7 metres high, based on designs made in 1926 by Bauhaus Master Josef Albers. The renowned stained glass workshop “Puhl & Wagner, G. Heinersdorff” faithfully replicated the multi-layered, flashed-glass windows. The clear contours, varied light effects and striking use of black elements combine to make the windows a total work of abstract art.
Albers’s glass windows did not survive the air raids of the Second World War, which caused severe damage throughout the museum. After many years of provisional use, the Grassi Museum was extensively refurbished between 2001 and 2005. The restoration was finally completed in 2011 with the faithful reconstruction of Josef Albers’s windows of hand-blown glass. [KM/DK]
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Die Umrüstung der Beleuchtung auf LED wird gefördert vom Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz und nukleare Sicherheit aufgrund eines Beschlusses des Deutschen Bundestages.