Born: 10 November 1888; Südern-Linden, Switzerland
Died: 1967; Zürich, Switzerland
Field: painting, design, art theory
School or Group: Bauhaus
Genre: abstract painting
Johannes Itten was a Swiss expressionist painter, designer, teacher, writer and theorist associated with the Bauhaus (Staatliche Bauhaus) school. Together with German-American painter Lyonel Feininger and German sculptor Gerhard Marcks, under the direction of German architect Walter Gropius, Itten was part of the core of the Weimar Bauhaus.
He was heavily influenced by Adolf Hölzel and Franz Cižek, in Vienna using the work and textbook of Eugène Gilliard, an abstract painter, as a base. From Hölzel, Itten adopted a series of basic shapes (the line, the plane, the circle, the spiral) as a means from which to begin creation, and the use of gymnastic exercises to relax his students and prepare them for the experiences that were to occur in the class.
From 1919 to 1922, Itten taught at the Bauhaus, developing the innovative "preliminary course" which was to teach students the basics of material characteristics, composition, and color. In 1920 Itten invited Paul Klee and Georg Muche to join him at the Bauhaus. He also published a book, The Art of Color, which describes these ideas as a furthering of Adolf Hölzel's color wheel. Itten's so called "color sphere" went on to include 12 colors. In 1924, Itten established the “Ontos Weaving Workshops” near Zurich, with the help of Bauhaus weaver Gunta Stölzl.