When artist, designer, architect, and Bauhaus artist Herbert Bayer arrived in 1946 at the invitation of Walter and Elizabeth Paepcke, it proved a fateful moment for Aspen. That same year marked the opening of the Aspen Ski Corporation, and the combined visions of Paepcke and Bayer went on to transform Aspen from a ghost town into the world-renowned confluence of progressive culture and natural splendor that it is today.
Bayer was first a student of Walter Gropius’s Bauhaus under the direction of masters such as Wassily Kandinsky and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy before becoming a master teacher himself and going on to direct Germany’s Vogue Magazine. As fascism gripped the country, Bayer was classified among the ‘Degenerate Artists’ by the Nazi regime and fled for the United States shortly thereafter in 1938.
Herbert Bayer’s art and architectural work soon created an impression in Aspen, where he renovated some of the town’s most essential public spaces—the Wheeler Opera House and the Hotel Jerome—with bold color choices characteristic of the Bauhaus aesthetic. He also designed Aspen Mountain’s original restaurant, the Sun Deck. Bayer designed some of Aspen’s most captivating private residences, and his work culminated in the creation of the Aspen Institute’s distinctive campus complex and Anderson Park. His mastery of typography helped brand Aspen as a glamorous ski destination with a campaign of visual advertising that was far ahead of its time. His contributions to the town’s intellectual life as co-founder of the International Design Conference in Aspen and advisor for the Aspen Institute were as influential as his architectural works.
Today as the world commemorates the centennial of the Bauhaus, we honor the legacy of one of its masters right here in the Roaring Fork Valley. As goes the ethos of Bauhaus, the city of Aspen integrates art into every aspect of its public life, work, and recreation. Bayer’s commitment to an integrated human environment helped establish many of the historic preservation measures that control the town’s growth and development today. The school’s legacy was one founded in the moral power of design and architecture, and Aspen’s embrace of its modernist principles and aesthetic connects us with cities around the globe as we unite to celebrate 100 years of Bauhaus.