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The Unsinkable Modernist | by Martin Filler | The New York Review of Books

Whatever else one might think of Walter Gropius—the pioneering German architect who founded the Bauhaus a century ago this year and thereby earned an irrevocable place in the pantheon of Modernism—it is hard not to be impressed by his most salient talent: survival. He escaped misfortunes that included being buried alive for three days while a front-line officer in World War I; the narcissistic manipulations of his first wife, Alma Mahler; the barbarism of Hitler, which imperiled his more sympathetic second wife, who was Jewish, and forced the couple to flee their homeland; the philistine indifference to Modernism in interwar Britain, their first refuge from Germany; and the intrigues of academic politics that repeatedly enmeshed him. Yet after each new somersault of fate he somehow landed on his feet and emerged undeterred.