Dictionary of Art and Artists



 

 


History of

Architecture and Sculpture

 
 

 

 
 

 
 

CONTENTS:

 
 

PART ONE
THE ANCIENT WORLD
PREHISTORIC ART
EGYPTIAN ART

ANCIENT NEAR EASTERN ART
AEGEAN ART
GREEK ART
ETRUSCAN ART
ROMAN ART
EARLY CHRISTIAN AND BYZANTINE ART

PART TWO
THE MIDDLE AGES
EARLY MEDIEVAL ART
ROMANESQUE ART
GOTHIC ART

PART THREE
THE RENAISSANCE THROUGH THE ROCOCO
LATE GOTHIC
THE EARLY RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
THE HIGH RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
MANNERISM AND OTHER TRENDS
THE RENAISSANCE IN THE NORTH
THE BAROQUE IN ITALY AND SPAIN
THE BAROQUE IN FLANDERS AND HOLLAND
THE BAROQUE
THE ROCOCO

PART FOUR
THE MODERN WORLD
NEOCLASSICISM AND ROMANTICISM
REALISM AND IMPRESSIONISM
POST-IMPRESSIONISM, SYMBOLISM, AND ART NOUVEAU

PART FIVE
TWENTIETH-CENTURY
TWENTIETH-CENTURY SCULPTURE
TWENTIETH-CENTURY ARCHITECTURE


INDEX
FIGURES

 

 
 

 
 

CHAPTER THREE
 

TWENTIETH-CENTURY ARCHITECTURE
 

Part I. ARCHITECTURE - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,
Part II. ARCHITECTURE - 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20,
Part III. ARCHITECTURE - 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29
 

 


ARCHITECTURE
 

Faith in the self-regulating ability of the capitalist system was shattered in October 1929 by New York's Wall Street crash which rocked the financia world and ruined countless careers. Overnight, the luxurious, gourmet style of Art Deco became a symbol of a luckless epoch. Its wasteful abundance was now all too often equated with the decadence of the Prohibition profiteers and their cocktail culture. The proud New York high-rise projects such as the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings and the Rockefeller Center were only completed because their contracts had already been signed; nothing of comparable magnitude was to be built for a long time. The Empire State Building by architects Shreve, Lamb and Harmon remained for the most part unleased, and it was jokingly renamed the "Empty State Building". It was surely no coincidence that the game of "Monopoly", in which players could practice property speculation, was invented in 1929. Some sectors actually profited from the crisis: talking films and radio entertained even the less well-off, and Hollywood's "dream factory" lived well from productions of extravagant melodramas. The New Deal policy which Franklin D. Roosevelt introduced in 1933 was designed to counter the effects of the Great Depression. It was complimented by comprehensive state-financed construction and development projects such as the regulation of the Tennessee River and dam building in the western United States. Recovery began above all in the field of consumer goods production, however, and was substantially encouraged by extensive electrification. Whereas only 24 percent of all households had electricity in 1917, by 1940 this total had risen to 89 percent. Radios thereby sold just as well as refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, toasters and other small appliances. The demand was for functional and useful goods rather than luxury items, and manufacturers, facing increasing competition, began to take a greater interest in product designs which might improve sales. Industrial designers such as Walter Dorwin Teague, Raymond Loewy, Norman Bel Geddes and Henry Dreyfuss put a new face on everyday objects and created the New Deal style - both sensually pleasing and smoothly hygienic at once. The aerodynamic drop shape of airplanes, automobiles and locomotives, such as the 1930 Lockheed Orion, the 1934 Chrysler Airflow and the Burlington Zephyr of 1933, became the omnipresent symbol of the age. Lighters, cocktail shakers, vacuum cleaners and even pencil sharpeners in streamlined forms satisfied the general enthusiasm for speed and technological progress. Everything had rounded corners and chrome trimmings. A new interest in design had already been aroused towards the end of the

twenties as a result of various museum-initiated design presentations. Many of these ambitious compilations were adopted by department store chains and thus reached a broader public. Unlike Hitchcock and Johnson in 1932, still set upon an anguiar-cut stylistic vocabulary, the exhibition committee of a 1929 design show in the New York Art Center had decorated the only architecture room purely with photographs of buildings by Erich Mendelsohn. Recognizable in his rounded corners was an architectural line which announced the arrival of a modern age energetically and without unnecessary decorum. The clear forms of the European avant-garde were increasingly adopted by American architects in the following years, but interpreted more fashionably in their stylistic aspects.

In the "Ladies' Home Journal" in 1 930, Norman Bel Geddes had introduced the prototype of a "House of Tomorrow" in which elements of functional architecture were combined to create a new stylistic concept. Smooth surfaces formed vertical and horizontal curves, windows were simply cut, porches projected like rounded "eyebrows" from the facade and balustrades recalled ship's railings. Expanding the picture to include walls of glazed modules, superimposed masts and pastel-coloured coatings, the result was cheerful, unassuming buildings which, particularly in beach resorts such as Miami, grew to become an atmospheric form of recreational architecture.

Such a lighthearted approach was unthinkable in Europe, with its bitter debates surrounding traditional and modern architecture. It was in the field of shop, cinema and night club interiors that combinations of decorative design fantasies and Modernist verve were most likely to be found. In many buildings, however, imaginative decoration remained hidden behind a reserved exterior. The American scene, on the other hand, was largely characterized by building commissions which did not need to take historical urban structures into consideration. Gas stations, snack bars and cinemas in - often standardized - eyecatching forms sprang up everywhere, designed to appeal directly to a large, motorized market. "Drive-in" became a magic word and the future, the destination of the journey.

The "Century of Progress Exposition", built on an artificial promontory on Lake Michigan, opened in Chicago in 1933. The show, originally scheduled to last five months, was eventually extended by a whole year. By the time it finally closed, 38 million curious visitors had entered this consumer's paradise illuminated by thousands of coloured neon lights. The pavilions of the major companies set the scene. Their architecture was to attract potential buyers, and designers were encouraged to give their fantasies free reign - despite the fact that their buildings would soon be demolished. Materials such as aluminium, stained glass and bakelite were among the most popular, along with asbestos sheeting and other technical innovations from the construction industry. Much-admired novelties included the industrially-manufactured "Dymaxion Houses" by entrepreneur-inventor Richard Buckminster Fuller, which could be assembled on the building site in just a few steps. Their name was taken from their principle: dynamic plus maximum efficiency.

Optimistic visions of the future once again reached a high point at the New York World's Fair held in Flushing Meadow Park in 1939. Automobile companies in particular took centre stage. In the "Highways and Horizons" pavilion of General Motors, designer Norman Bel Geddes exhibited the giant model of his "Metropolis of Tomorrow" - no longer the horrific vision of Fritz Lang's film "Metropolis", but a radiant city organism, flooded with pulsating traffic. America here demonstrated that it had finally freed itself from its oft-quoted "colonial" dependence on Europe.

 


PEREET.

Even more important for Le Corbusier was the precedent set by Auguste Perret
(1874-1954). Early in the century he had been among the first to make effective use of recent advances in reinforced concrete and to define its architectural character. His greatest achievement is the Church of Notre Dame at Le Raincy outside Paris (fig. 1191). It is an astonishingly successful translation of Romanesque architectural forms (compare fig. 405) into ferroconcrete, while the vast expanses of glass "walls" are counterparts to the stained-glass windows of Gothic cathedrals (see fig. 443). This feat is not important in itselfit could, after all, readily be dismissed as mere historicism. Yet Perret has brilliantly solved one of the thorniest problems facing the modern architect: how to create a suitable expression of traditional spirituality in our secular machine age using a twentieth-century vocabulary. Le Raincy is so pivotal that all later church architecture in the West is indebted to its example, no matter how different the results.



1191.
AUGUSTE PERRET. Notre Dame, Le Raincy. 1923-24





1191.
AUGUSTE PERRET. Notre Dame, Le Raincy. 1923-24

 

 


Auguste Perret

Auguste Perret, (born Feb. 12, 1874, near Brussels, Belg.—died Feb. 25, 1954, Paris, Fr.), French architect notable for his pioneering contributions to the vocabulary of reinforced-concrete construction.

He was the son of Claude-Marie Perret, a stonemason who, after 1881, had a flourishing business as a building contractor in Paris. Auguste studied architecture at the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris, but left before receiving his diploma to enter his father’s business. With his brothers, Gustave and Claude, he built (1903) at 25 rue Franklin, Paris, what was probably the first apartment block designed for reinforced-concrete construction. His garage on the rue de Ponthieu (1905) demonstrates how light and open an interior can be when the use of reinforced concrete has minimized the need for structural supports. Through its exposed frame, the garage exhibits Perret’s concern for structural honesty. A visible framework was also a notable characteristic of the interior of his Paris Théâtre des Champs-Élysées (1913). He used thin shell roof vaulting for his warehouses in Casablanca (1915) and elegant concrete arches for a clothing factory in Paris (1919). Publicity resulting from Perret’s Church of Notre-Dame at Le Raincy (1922–23), near Paris, probably fully established the novel and progressive character of his ideas and the immense structural possibilities of reinforced concrete.

Among Perret’s many notable buildings of the 1920s and 1930s was the École Normale de Musique in Paris (1929), considered by many to be an acoustical masterpiece. After World War II he was appointed chief architect for the reconstruction of Le Havre. Notable Perret buildings there are the Hôtel de Ville and the church of St. Joseph, both designed in 1950 and completed before his death. By that time his ideals were in sharp conflict with those of many of the younger architects who were less interested in the expression of structural systems than in the variety of spatial and sculptural effects made possible by reinforced concrete.
 

Encyclopædia Britannica
 

 




Auguste Perret. Apartment House in Rue Franklin,
Paris, 1903-1904


 


Auguste Perret. Apartment House in Rue Franklin,
Paris, 1903-1904

 

 


EXPRESSIONISM.

Architecture between the wars is sometimes labeled Expressionist if it does not conform to the International Style. Such a view is valid only insofar as it represents the assertion of the right of the individual to express a personal point of view against the norms of modernism. The International Style based its ideals on standardization for the sake of universality. As such, it represents the triumph of classicism. In reality, however, it was never the dominant approach after
1917, any more than abstraction was in painting. It seems best, then, to limit Expressionism in architecture following World War I to the few years around 1920.



MENDELSOHN.

Inspired by the Arts and Crafts Movement's liberal politics and Utopian ideals, a number of German architects gave free rein to their imaginations. The most eccentric building from this period is the Einstein Tower at Potsdam (fig.
1190) by Erich Mendelsohn (1887-1953), which has an organic quality that looks back to the Art Nouveau architecture of Antoni Gaudi and Henry van de Velde (see figs. 1016 and 1020). Despite this retrospective element, Mendelsohn was no reactionary, and the Einstein Tower, which functioned as an observatory, has also been hailed as the forerunner of Le Corbusier's later work (see fig. 1198).
 


1190. ERICH MENDELSOHN. "Einstein Tower", Potsdam, 1921




"Einstein Tower". Elevatios and details

 

 


Erich Mendelsohn

Erich Mendelsohn, (born March 21, 1887, Allenstein, Ger. [now Olsztyn, Pol.]—died Sept. 15, 1953, San Francisco, Calif., U.S.), German architect known initially for his Einstein Tower in Potsdam, a notable example of German Expressionism in architecture, and later for his use of modern materials and construction methods to make what he saw as organically unified buildings.

While studying architecture at the Technical Academy in Munich, he supported himself by selling his paintings and by designing decorations for store windows and stage productions. During that period he had close contacts with the Blaue Reiter group of German Expressionist artists in Munich.

While serving in the German army during World War I, he made a series of highly imaginative architectural sketches that attracted widespread attention when they were exhibited in Berlin shortly after the war.

The sketches led to Mendelsohn’s first commission after the war, the Einstein Tower, Potsdam (1919–21). This bizarre, highly sculptured structure caused an immediate sensation. He had intended the structure to convey the possibilities of poured concrete, but a shortage of this material necessitated the substitution of brick covered with cement. The hat factory of Steinberg, Hermann & Co. that he designed at Luckenwalde (1920–23) also had a striking appearance, and it was entirely functional as well.

During the 1920s Mendelsohn designed a number of structures that were particularly notable for their prominent and imaginative use of glass in strongly horizontal compositions; outstanding were the Schocken stores at Stuttgart (1927) and Chemnitz (1928).

Mendelsohn was forced to leave Germany in 1933, when the National Socialist (Nazi) Party came to power. He went first to Brussels and then to London. His most important work in England was the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill (with Serge Chermayeff, 1933), which had a glass-enclosed, semicircular stairway tower. During the same period, he carried out important commissions in Palestine, notably large hospitals at Haifa (1937) and Jerusalem (1938). In 1941 Mendelsohn went to the United States, and in 1945 he settled in San Francisco, where his important works include the Maimonides Hospital (1946). To his credit also are synagogues and community centres in St. Louis, Mo.; Cleveland, Ohio; Grand Rapids, Mich.; and St. Paul, Minn.
 

Encyclopædia Britannica
 

 




Erich Mendelsohn. Friedrich Steinberg Hat Factory,
Hermann & Co. in Luckenwalde, Germany, 1921-1923





Elevations of the factory complex




Erich Mendelsohn. Friedrich Steinberg Hat Factory. Interior view




Erich Mendelsohn. Schacken Department Store in Stuttgart, 1926-1928




Erich Mendelsohn. Design sketches





Erich Mendelsohn and Serge Chermayeff.
De La Warr Seaside Pavilion in Bexhill-on-the-Sea, England, 1934-1935





Erich Mendelsohn. Columbus House, Berlin, 1931-1932

 
 

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