Automaton of a Ship dated 1585 from the Holy Roman Empire on display at the
Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna
Made by Hans Schlottheim in Augsburg from partially painted silver, copper alloy and iron.
Centrepieces in the shape of a ship have a long tradition. Here the decorative figures and coats of arms glorify the ruler and his empire. A complex mechanism propels the ship across the table while the crew movers to the music from inside the ship. As a highlight the cannons fire a salvo.
Ancient Egyptian model showing two men assisting in the birthing of a calf. Artist unknown; ca. 2000 BCE (11th Dynasty, Middle Kingdom). Now in the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto. Photo credit: Keith Schengili-Roberts/Wikimedia Commons.
In 1938, MoMA issued a press memo informing New York City editors that on December 7, the Museum would open “what will probably be considered its most unusual exhibition—and certainly one of its largest.” That exhibition was Bauhaus: 1919–1928, an expansive survey dedicated to this incomparably influential German school of art and design. On display were nearly 700 examples of the school’s output, including works of textile, glass, wood, canvas, metal, and paper. It was a celebration of the remarkable creativity and productivity of the Bauhaus, which had been forced to close under pressure from the Nazi Party just five years prior. The size and scope of this tribute indicated the importance of the Bauhaus to MoMA’s development: the school had served as a model for the Museum’s multi-departmental structure, and inspired its multidisciplinary presentation of photography, architecture, painting, graphic design, and theater.