The Extended Field of Vision UP057

Herbert Bayer, a Bauhaus student (1921–1925) and teacher (1925–1928), framed a theory of the “extended field of vision”, which sets new coordinates for the design of space in a museum exhibition. The scheme, by which he proposes to be guided in such design, depicts a person surrounded by expositional surfaces located in different planes.

The viewer, placed at the centre of the space constructed by the artist, has the ambition to capture an immense “extended” field of 360°, and is thus a new version of the Renaissance man who tests potentially limitless possibilities. On the one hand, such an exhibition system serves as an auxiliary mechanism, activating the gaze, provoking its movement, widening the angle of vision, sometimes raising the level of the eyes beyond what is natural. On the other hand, Bayer writes of “improved” human vision, evoking the idea of special powers and resonating not only with the Renaissance idea of the physically perfect polymath, but also with the early 20th-century idea of the Superman/Übermensch.