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JANUARY 26 & 27
Smoothly, even blandly, Judith Perlman’s documentary charts how such Bauhaus stars as Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Josef Albers packed up and moved from Dessau and Berlin to New York, Chicago, and Black Mountain College. The commentary downplays the politics—in noting Gropius’ 1928 meeting with Henry Ford, for example, the film doesn’t mention the anti-Semitism shared by Ford and the Nazis who would soon drive the architect from Germany—and the most articulate talking head turns out to be Tom Wolfe, who admits he doesn’t care much about architecture. Almost despite itself, however, the film gets interesting in the final half-hour, when such disciples and heretics as Philip Johnson, I.M. Pei, James Ingo Freed, Stanley Tigerman, Michael Graves, and Helmut Jahn hint that something went wrong and tentatively debate the virtues of “postmodernism,” “urbanism,” and other assaults on Bauhaus absolutism. “Modern architecture was a war against the city, and none of us knew that,” claims Freed ingenuously; Bauhaus in America would be better if it had asked some of these guys what they knew and when they knew it. At 8 p.m. at the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden’s Ring Auditorium, 8th & Independence Ave. SW. FREE. (202) 357-2700. (Mark Jenkins)