Never-before-heard Audio Gives us Insight to the Creativity of Prominent Architects and Reveals Forgotten Bauhaus Secrets

via 99% Invisible. Image Courtesy of f Institute of Personality and Social Research, University of California, Berkeley / The Monacelli Press

via 99% Invisible. Image Courtesy of f Institute of Personality and Social Research, University of California, Berkeley / The Monacelli Press

In two intriguing new podcasts, the team over at 99% Invisible uncovered some never-before-heard audio and forgotten secrets about elements of architectural history. In the first, The Mind of an Architect, producer Avery Trufelman explores the audio archives of the Institute of Personality Assessment and Research (IPAR), where a study undertaken in the late 1950s mapped the personalities of prominent architects. Eero Saarinen, Philip Johnson, and Richard Neutra were among the study group, and the data came to some interesting conclusions about the role of ego and the presence of creativity. 

In the second, Photo Credit; The Negatives of the Bauhaus Sam Greenspan explores the misattribution of credit for some of the most prolific images of the Bauhaus. Taken in the 1930s by German photographer Lucia Moholy, the historic images paint one of the clearest pictures of life at the Bauhaus. In the turmoil of the war, her negatives were lost, and absorbed by the school’s collection, denying her the credit she deserved. 

The Mind of an Architect

Creative rankings of the architects involved, via 99% Invisible. Image Courtesy of f Institute of Personality and Social Research, University of California, Berkeley / The Monacelli Press

Creative rankings of the architects involved, via 99% Invisible. Image Courtesy of f Institute of Personality and Social Research, University of California, Berkeley / The Monacelli Press

Architects have often been regarded as both mathematicians and artists, blending elements from each outlook to create the perfect hybrid. The IPAR certainly believed this, and in 1958 engaged a subject group of 40 architects to participate in personality tests to determine the markers of creativity. Catalyzed by the space race, the program was run in the hope of extracting characteristics of creatives and leaders, to then apply to a broader field. 

The never-before-heard audio clips from the study show some insight into the minds of these famous men; whether it be Philip Johnson referencing The Fountainhead in an ethics discussion or the group arguing about where on the body a third arm should be placed. You can listen to the episode via the Soundcloud link below, or check out the illustrated transcript at the 99% Invisible website.

Photo Credit: Negatives of the Bauhaus

Bauhaus School Photograph via 99% Invisible. Image © © Lucia Moholy Estate/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Bauhaus School Photograph via 99% Invisible. Image © © Lucia Moholy Estate/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Intellectual property in photography is not black and white; as explained in the podcast, a photo of someone else’s artwork is unlikely to receive credit. Conversely, a photo of a three-dimensional object or scene, such as a building, requires a great deal of compositional skill that makes an image one’s own. Lucia Moholy’s Bauhaus images captured the building and its ethos in an unmistakeable style, and the images went on to help define the world’s understanding of the legendary school. 

Moholy’s work often focused on the buildings of Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius, and her compositions were similarly balanced and simplistic. After the turbulence of the second world war in Germany, Moholy’s negatives were lost. When the pictures started cropping up as promotional and documentarian material for the Bauhaus, it was eventually revealed that Gropius himself had assumed the right to them, essentially having Moholy “written out of the history.” 

To hear the full story click on the Soundcloud link below and for more of Moholy’s photographs head to the 99% Invisible website.

News via 99% Invisible.

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