Johannes Itten

Johannes Itten

Swiss artist
Date of Birth: 11.11.1888
Country: Switzerland

  1. Biography of Johannes Itten
  2. Early Life and Education
  3. Role in the Bauhaus
  4. Legacy

Biography of Johannes Itten

Swiss artist, theorist of new art, and educator, Johannes Itten gained worldwide recognition for his educational course at the Bauhaus, known as the Preliminary Course, which formed the basis of teaching in many contemporary art schools. An attentive researcher and sensitive educator, Itten presented his theoretical and pedagogical views, and most importantly, his system of training artists in his famous books on color and form, published in multiple languages. His system aimed not to suppress individuality but to assist artists in finding their own path without losing confidence in their abilities.

Early Life and Education

Itten was born in Switzerland and initially pursued a career as a teacher. However, his passion for art led him to enroll in art courses at a private art school in Vienna, where he studied under the guidance of Adolph Hölzel. Hölzel's teaching methods and emphasis on composition had a profound influence on Itten's artistic development.

Role in the Bauhaus

During the early years of the Bauhaus, Itten played a significant role as an artist and art educator. He was introduced to Walter Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus, through his first wife, Alma Mahler (later Werfel), who had connections to Vienna's art scene. Prior to joining the Bauhaus, Itten had his own private art school in Vienna.

Itten's expertise as a teacher made a lasting impression on Gropius, resulting in an invitation for Itten to speak at the National Theater of Weimar for the grand opening of the Bauhaus on March 21, 1919. Itten's presentation focused on the study of old masters.

On June 1, Itten participated in the first meeting of the Council of Masters, where the start date for his course was determined: October 1, 1919. Alongside other Bauhaus founders, Itten aimed to overcome traditional teaching methods and develop artists' mastery of form and color as the fundamental, universal tools of artistic creation.


Johannes Itten's contributions to art education and theory remain influential to this day. His emphasis on individuality and self-expression, paired with a strong foundation in form and color, has shaped the teaching methods of many contemporary art institutions. Itten's legacy as an artist, educator, and theorist continues to inspire aspiring artists around the world.