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Abstract _ Wiebke Dursthoff

Kibbutz and Bauhaus. Arieh Sharon and Modernism in Palestine

During the 1920s and 1930s a big potential of building projects emerged in Palestine. They were carried out following the style of modern architecture. Architects, having learned their profession in Europe, could carry on with a language of architecture in the British Mandate, shaped by their experiences abroad. For Jewish people, especially in Palestine, the modern architecture was understood as a relief from the past, a release from social exclusion and antisemitism, but also a demonstration of their Western, European rootage or rather their identity. Therefore many Jewish advocates of this particular stylistic movement saw the future in Modernity.

The Bauhaus school was founded in 1919 in Germany as a reformed school of crafts and the fine arts. The idea behind it was that returning to the crafts was the foundation of all artistic activity. Some pioneers, who had immigrated to Palestine, among those Arieh Sharon (1900-1984), attended the Bauhaus school, which had been relocated from Weimar to Dessau, to gain professional qualifications. Their declared goal was to put their knowledge to use in Palestine to build up the land and edify themselves, as a song of the pioneers went back then. Those trained in Germany returned to Palestine and transferred the basic principles of the „Neues Bauen” to their home country.

Arieh Sharon was one of the most proliferous architects and his lifework is a case in point of the generation he represents. He laboured in a kibbutz in Palestine before undergoing professional training at the Bauhaus and then returned to Palestine with new ideas and impressions. Arieh Sharon was inspired by the teaching of Walter Gropius and especially Hannes Meyer. Upon his graduation at the Bauhaus, Sharon worked for some time at Hannes Meyer's architecture firm, who at that point was also Director of the Bauhaus. Sharon then relocated to Palestine, where he settled in Tel Aviv. He designed and carried out in Palestine buildings for residential use in the Kibbutz and whole layouts for the Kibbutz-Movement. His buildings show that Sharon had internalized the new style and thus taken it to a new home in Palestine.

Modernity as an artistic style shows enough potential for further research. Especially the international cultural range of classic modernity, despite of a large number of publications, still shows aspects that have not been researched yet. One of the questions unanswered is the way how the „Neues Bauen” was adapted in Palestine and carried out there even in kibbbutzim. This is especially true for the well-known architect Arieh Sharon, whose art and work have not been researched and appreciated satisfactorily.

Wiebke Dursthoff, Kibbutz und Bauhaus. Arieh Sharon und die Moderne in Palästina, Berlin: Edition Critic 2016


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