Dictionary of Art and Artists



History of

Architecture and Sculpture



















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



The years between 1914 and 1 920, the years of the First World War and the political confusion and radical changes that followed, were bitter ones for many German architects. "My drawing-board here in the office sits empty, every day the same nothing ... I'm hanging about as an 'imaginary architect'", wrote Bruno Taut in 191 9 in a letter to Karl Ernst Osthaus. During the War, that "epidemic of derangement", he built a fictitious, better world for a future society in visionary designs and rapturous Utopias. His "Stadtkrone" of around 1916 were drawings of fantastically tiered city crowns,- these were followed by a series of sketches of "Alpine Architektur", hymnically crystalline objects to wreath alpine peaks. "Crystals in eternal ice and snow - covered and adorned ... with areas and blocks of coloured glass - mountain blooms." Taut offered a practical illustration of such crystalline form in the Glass Pavilion which he built for the 1914 Werkbund Exhibition in Cologne.

Loose groups and organizations were one means by which artists, writers and architects attempted to overcome their isolation. Taut himself sought comrades-in-arms who shared his belief in an artistic architecture with the highest ideals and who strove for freedom from material obligations and purposive rationalism. In 1918 he was among the founders of both the Arbeitsrat for Kunst, an "art soviet" seeking a politico-cultural voice, and the Novembergruppe, a small group of progressive artists. In 1919, together with like-minded artists and architects, he organized the Glaserne Kette (Glass Chainl, a circle whose members communicated with one another in so-called chain letters signed under pseudonyms. Thus Bruno Taut was "Glas", Hermann Finsterlin "Prometheus", the brothers Hans and Wassili Luckhardt "Angkor" and "Zacken", and Walter Gropius "Mah". Their common goal was to overcome ossified academic architecture with fundamentally new forms taken from animate and inanimate nature. A forum for these ideas was also provided by Touts journal "Fruhlicht", which also published Mies van der Rohe's first design for a glass skyscraper. They were "tired of the dry tone" and the "respectable form", as Adolf Behne noted in his book "Wiederkehr der Kunst" (The Return of Art), written during the war.

The spectrum of published visions ranged from Paul Scheerbart's rhymes -"ohne einen Glaspalast ist das Leben eine Last" (Life is a burden without a glass palace) - to the "biomorphic fantasies" of Hermann Finsterlin, who wrote in 1921: "Inside the New House we will not only feel ourselves the inhabitants of a fairy-tale crystal cluster, but also the internal occupants of an organism, wandering from organ to organ, a giving and receiving symbiosis of a 'fossile giant womb'. A small fragment of the translatory multi-clause sentence of the world's forms lies in the sequence of city, house, furniture and vessel: one grows out of the other, like the gonads of an organism ... As 'outside', soft hollows will sink themselves around the rest-seeking body, but the foot will wander across glass-transparent floors, allowing the antipodean bas-relief to be fully experienced, pushing into the illusionary the necessary but terrible horizontal which, were it solid and dense, would cut though the new space and building like a pathological membrane. Through the transparent flooring, however, an omni-dimensional sense of space is diffused, maintaining the occupant in an unsuspected equilibrium ... Thus the house could become an experience, a living marsupial mother who lovingly nurtures and forms us like the fluid sack of a baby gall-fly, a grail which fills itself daily anew with the forces of our pulsating earth, and not a coffin for cloth dummies set - and cut - to size four in a Procrustean bed, transplanted, foreign creatures whose accusations we have

hourly to absorb." Finsterlin illustrated his concepts of such organic housing in sensual, colourful sketches, solutions which were naturally never built. Erich Mendelsohn's career also began with drawings of architectural fantasies -"data, contour specifications of a sudden face", as he called them in a letter. A series of these sketches was exhibited in 1919 in Paul Cassirer's famous Berlin gallery under the title "Architecture in Iron and Concrete". The first drafts for the Einstein Tower in Potsdam were shown here,- it was to make him famous just a few years later. Although the internal organization of this laboratory complex was largely determined by scientific requirements, Mendelsohn had full freedom in its architectonic design, something of which he took full advantage. He called the extraordinarily dynamic outline of the bodies and surfaces "the logical motive expression of the powers inherent in the building materials iron and concrete". The tower is actually a simple brick building, but covered with a thick cement stucco to make it look as if it was cast purely of concrete. After a series of attempts it had simply proved too difficult and too expensive to build the formwork required by its irregularly-curved forms.

Compared to the modelled surfaces of Mendelsohn's earlier designs, Otto Bartning's buildings and designs from the same period seem ceremonial and controlled. The dominant forms in his architecture are crystalline fractures and angular folds. The plan of probably the most beautiful of his executed rooms, the Music Room in the Wylerberg House near Kleve, shows the complicated -but not agitated - figurations which he was capable of creating. The construction is irregularly polygonal and at the same time stabilized by a strong axial symmetry towards the extreme tip of the bay.

Hugo Haring countered such artistic-formalistic solutions with his theory and practice of "organ-like building". He demonstrated this concept in a cow stall for the Garkau farm estate in Schleswig-Holstein. The cattle stand not in the usual long rows next to each other, but around a pear-shaped feed table. The hay loft lies above the stall, so that food can be delivered directly to the feed table through a ceiling hatch. The ceiling pitches inward for optimal ventilation. Rising warm air is thus channelled towards the outer wall and released through a slit between the ceiling and walls. The high windows cannot be opened and serve only to let in light. According to Haring, the goal was "to find the form which most simply and directly served the functional efficiency of the building", a form which in each case needed to be "discovered". "Organ-like building has nothing at all to do with the imitation of organs of the natural world. The fundamental demand we make from an organic viewpoint is that the shape of things should no longer be determined from without, but that it must be sought within the essence of the object." Haring thus identified the essence of architecture as a developmental process leading to the goal of "efficient form". The fact that the cow stall does not employ a strictly utilitarian form based solely on agricultural operating procedures can nevertheless be seen in a number of formal details, such as the pointed semicircle of the silo porch, in the shape of a heart, quite apart from considerations of cost-efficiency when compared to conventional stabling. These buildings are thus often more a criticism of conventions in building form than logical, mature architectural solutions. Although traditional elements are adopted, they are set in motion via expressive structures reaching beyond the building itself.

There was expressive building in other European countries during these same years, although with greater reference to traditional local styles and with fewer idealistic trimmings. Particularly in the Netherlands, which had remained neutral during the First World War, social-democratic building policies provided challenging opportunities for young architects in the form of municipal commissions. House-building associations, too, were awarding contracts for large-scale housing estates. Many of these contracts went to architects such as Melchior van der Mey, Pieter L. Kramer and Michel de Klerk, members of the Amsterdam School, which had created a powerful organ in its "Wendingen" magazine. Their facades are probably the most impressive aspect of their buildings - suggestive, imaginative creations of ornamental brickwork with vital plasticity.

In his buildings, with their initially conventional appearance, Swedish architect Gunnar Asplund developed a symbolic repertoire of details which he employed to very deliberate effect. He thereby entirely omitted the usual ornaments, cornices and emphases. The front facade of his Lister District Court is an entertaining composition of more or less clearly encoded elements, which thematically illustrate both the principle of the facade and the function of the building. The course of the earth with sun and moon appears in the large, bright round of the entrance and the dark clock in the pediment, while the entrance steps appear as if folded down from the matching opening in the facade. A light wave motif creates an optimistic mood, and only a few serious details recall the extravagance of those classical appendages usually attached to law-courts.



The first to cross that threshold fully was
Walter Gropius (1883-1969). The Fagus Shoe Factory (fig. 1174), designed with Adolf Meyer (1881-1929), represents the crucial step toward modernism in European architecture. The most dramatic feature is the walls, which are a nearly continuous surface of glass. This radical innovation had been possible ever since the introduction of the structural steel skeleton several decades before, which relieved the wall of any load-bearing function. Sullivan had approached it, but he could not yet free himself from the traditional notion of the window as a "hole in the wall." Far more radically than Sullivan or Behrens, Gropius frankly acknowledged, at last, that in modern architecture the wall is no more than a curtain or climate barrier, which may consist entirely of glass if maximum daylight is desirable. Only in the classically conceived entrance did he pay a nod to the past.

, Adolf Meyer and Eduard Werner.
Fagus Shoe Last Factory in Alfeld/Leine, Germany, 1910-1914

Vestibule in the
extension wing


Walter Gropius

Walter Gropius, in full Walter Adolph Gropius (born May 18, 1883, Berlin, Ger.—died July 5, 1969, Boston, Mass., U.S.), German American architect and educator who, particularly as director of the Bauhaus (1919–28), exerted a major influence on the development of modern architecture. His works, many executed in collaboration with other architects, included the school building and faculty housing at the Bauhaus (1925–26), the Harvard University Graduate Center, and the United States Embassy in Athens.

Youth and early training
Gropius, the son of an architect father, studied architecture at the technical institutes in Munich (1903–04) and in Berlin–Charlottenburg (1905–07). He worked briefly in an architectural office in Berlin (1904) and saw military service (1904–05). Before completing school he built his first buildings, farm labourers’ cottages in Pomerania (1906). For a year he traveled in Italy, Spain, and England, and in 1907 he joined the office of the architect Peter Behrens in Berlin.

Gropius acknowledged that his work with Behrens and the design problems he undertook for a German electricity company did much to shape his lifelong interest in progressive architecture and the interrelationship of the arts. From the time he left Behrens in 1910 until 1914, Gropius developed a clear commitment to and talent for organization and a dedication to promoting his ideas on the arts. In 1911 he became a member of the German Labour League (Deutscher Werkbund), which had been founded in 1907 to ally creative designers with machine production. Gropius argued for such building techniques as prefabrication of parts and assembly on the site. However much he accepted the inevitability and restrictions of mechanization, he felt it was up to the artistically trained designer to “breathe a soul into the dead product of the machine.” He was against imitation, snobbery, and dogma in the arts and cautioned against such oversimplification as the notion that the function of a product should determine its appearance.

Gropius’ growing intellectual leadership was complemented by his design of two significant buildings, both done in collaboration with Adolph Meyer: the Fagus Works at Alfeld-an-der-Leine (1911) and the model office and factory buildings in Cologne (1914) done for the Werkbund Exposition. The Fagus Works, bolder than any of Behrens’ works, is marked by large areas of glass wall broken by visible steel supports, the whole done with little affectation. The Cologne buildings were more formal, some say influenced by the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Together these two buildings testify to Gropius’ design maturity prior to World War I.

During that war Gropius served as a cavalry officer on the Western Front, was wounded, and received the Iron Cross for bravery. In 1915 he married a widow, Alma (Schindler) Mahler, whom he had met in 1910 when she was still married to the Austrian composer Gustav Mahler. Their wartime marriage, dependent on furloughs, was complicated by her affair with the German author Franz Werfel, and they were divorced in 1919. Their only child, Alma Manon, died in 1935.

Bauhaus period
Even before the end of the war, the city of Weimar approached Gropius for his ideas on art education. In April 1919 he became director of the Grand Ducal Saxon School of Arts and Crafts, the Grand Ducal Saxon Academy of Arts, and the Grand Ducal Saxon School of Arts, which were immediately united as Staatliches Bauhaus Weimar (“Public Bauhaus Weimar”). Gropius’ acceptance of this appointment was the most decisive step in his career. With his temperament for the practical world of art, politics, and administration, Gropius succeeded in establishing a viable new approach to design education, one that became an international prototype and eventually supplanted the 200-year-old supremacy of the French École des Beaux-Arts.

A key tenet of Gropius’ Bauhaus teaching was the requirement that the architect and designer undergo a practical crafts training to acquaint himself with materials and processes. Although the program was to have been a comprehensive one, budget limitations permitted only a portion of the crafts shops to open. No formal study of architecture was offered at Weimar. Despite the early Werkbund principle of joining art with industry, much activity centred on handicrafts, such as ceramics, weaving, and stained-glass design. Many painters and sculptors joined the staff: Paul Klee, Lyonel Feininger, Wassily Kandinsky, Gerhard Marcks, and, later, László Moholy-Nagy and Josef Albers—altogether an astonishing roster of artists.

Somehow it did not seem incongruous for artists to be teaching applied design. As an introduction to design principles, a beginning course, Vorkurs, was developed by the Swiss painter and sculptor Johannes Itten, which itself became the most widely copied aspect of the Bauhaus curriculum. Students explored two- and three-dimensional design using a variety of simple materials, such as wire, wood, and paper. The psychological effects of form, colour, and texture were studied as well. Although his instructors were gifted, it was Gropius’ own persistence that made this educational experiment work.

Historians disagree on the character of the early Bauhaus years. Certainly in 1919–22 Bauhaus students were allowed to express subjective feelings in their art; individuality and expressionism were not uncommon. The prewar Gropius belief that art must conform to and express the economic character and rational order of modern society seemed to be submerged in a new belief that the greatness of art stood above utilitarian considerations. A reverse shift came in 1922, not without controversy; Itten left, and a more rational and objective approach returned. The individually made products were intended as prototypes for machine production, and some designs were produced commercially. They emphasized geometrical forms, smooth surfaces, regular outlines, primary colours, and modern materials—all of which, to many eyes, epitomized impersonality in art. It is this last phase of Bauhaus output that is publicly accepted as characteristic of Bauhaus “style,” although Gropius himself disdained the use of the word “concept.”

Gropius saw architecture and design as ever changing, always related to the contemporary world. He spoke of the architect’s duty to encompass the total visual environment. He himself designed furniture, a railroad car, and an automobile. He emphasized housing and city planning, the usefulness of sociology, and the necessity of using teams of specialists.

In 1925 the Bauhaus moved to Dessau with the promise of better financial support and an escape from the growing antagonism of the conservative Weimar community. In Dessau, Gropius designed the school building and faculty housing (1925–26). The school itself is a key monument of modern architecture and Gropius’ best-known building. Its dynamic composition, asymmetrical plan, smooth white walls set with horizontal windows, and flat roof are features associated with the so-called International Style of the 1920s. Gropius resigned as director of the Bauhaus in 1928 to return to practice privately as an architect in Berlin. During 1929–30 he designed a portion of a housing colony in Berlin–Siemensstadt. Gropius’ regular facades of enormous length, together with a rigid orientation, illustrate an excessively intellectual solution with a “curse of uniformity,” which Gropius himself decried in later years.

Harvard years
Unsympathetic to the Nazi regime, he and his second wife, Ise Frank, whom he had married in 1923, left Germany secretly via Italy for exile in England in 1934. Hitler’s government closed the Bauhaus in 1933. Gropius’ brief time in England was marked by collaboration with the architect Maxwell Fry that resulted in their important work, Village College at Impington, Cambridgeshire (1936).

In February 1937 Gropius arrived in Cambridge, Mass., to become professor of architecture at Harvard University. The following year he was made chairman of the department, a post he held until his retirement in 1952. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1944. At Harvard he introduced the Bauhaus philosophy of design into the curriculum, although he was unable to implement workshop training. He was also unsuccessful in abolishing the history of architecture as a course. His crusade for modern design, however, was immediately popular among the students. His innovations at Harvard soon provoked similar educational reform in other architectural schools in the United States and marked the beginning of the end of a historically imitative architecture in that country.

In addition to his teaching, Gropius collaborated with Marcel Breuer, a former Bauhaus pupil and later fellow teacher, from 1937 until 1940. Among their designs was Gropius’ own house in Lincoln, Mass., which, with its use of white-painted wood and fieldstone, restated New England traditionalism in modern terms. This house and others designed by them were controversial, but the architects lived to see acceptance of their ideas. In 1942 Gropius renewed his interest in the production of architecture by industry when he became the vice president of General Panel Corporation, a company that made prefabricated housing. He retired in 1952.

In 1946, with six of his former Harvard pupils as partners, Gropius formed The Architects Collaborative (TAC), based in Cambridge. Among its varied American and international commissions, TAC received one to do the Harvard University Graduate Center (1949–50), a grouping of dormitory buildings and dining commons. The design is reminiscent of but less forceful than the Dessau Bauhaus buildings. Other TAC designs include the United States Embassy in Athens (1960) and the University of Baghdad (design accepted 1960, still under construction). Gropius remained an active member of TAC until he died at the age of 86. In accord with his request made in 1933 that his funeral not be a mournful affair but marked in a festive manner, 70 friends in Cambridge drank champagne in his memory two days after his death.

Most assessments of Gropius’ influential career centre upon his achievements as educator and author rather than as architect. In his own building designs he turned away from personal and subjective aspects in favour of reaching for intellectual solutions of larger and socially urgent problems. Among his most important ideas was his belief that all design—whether of a chair, a building, or a city—should be approached in essentially the same way: through a systematic study of the particular needs and problems involved, taking into account modern construction materials and techniques, without reference to previous forms or styles.

His architecture does not have the aesthetic fascination of Wright’s or Le Corbusier’s but reflects a sober and programmatic concern that marked his whole life. Yet always, in conversation and criticism, he reminded his pupils of the vitality of the individual spirit, of the spontaneity of life itself. His habit of wearing a beret with a business suit was perhaps symbolic of the two worlds he hoped to bridge, “the gap between the rigid mentality of the businessman and technologist and the imagination of the creative artist.”

H.F. Koeper

Encyclopædia Britannica



Walter Gropius. Fagus Shoe Last Factory. View from the south, 1912

Site plan.

Walter Gropius. Model factory at the Werkbund Exhibition in Cologne, 1914

Walter Gropius. Model factory at the Werkbund Exhibition in Cologne, 1914


Walter Gropius. Bauhaus Building in Dessau, Germany,

Walter Gropius. Bauhaus Building in Dessau, Germany, 1925-1926

Walter Gropius.
Stairwell in the workshop wing

Walter Gropius. Bauhaus Building in Dessau.
View from the south-east

Plan of the first floor.

Walter Gropius. Director's House in Dessau, Germany, 1925-1926

Walter Gropius. Semi-detached Master's House
for Lazzlo Moholy-Nagy in Dessau, Germany, 1925-1926

Walter Gropius. Dammerstock Estate, Karlsruhe, Germany, 1928-1929

Walter Gropius. Torten Estate, Dessau, Germany, 1926-1928

Walter Gropius. Axonometric projection.




The Werkbund exhibition of
1914, which featured Van de Velde's theater (fig. 1020), was a showcase for a whole generation of young German architects who were to achieve prominence after World War I. Many of the buildings they designed tor the fairgrounds anticipate ideas of the 1920s. Among the most adventurous is the staircase of the "Glass House" (fig. 1175) by Bruno Taut (1880-1938), made magically translucent by the use of glass bricks, then a novel material. The structural steel skeleton is as thin and unobtrusive as the great strength of the metal permits. The total effect precociously suggests Stella's Brooklyn Bridge (see fig. 1071) translated into three dimensions.

If the interior seems astonishingly prophetic, the exterior of the "Glass House" (fig. 1176) was shaped like a multifaceted bulbous crystal not unlike those on John Nash's Brighton pavilion (fig. 927). It was inspired, oddly enough, not by technology but by the widespread mystical fascination with crystal. To Taut, architecture "consists exclusively of powerful emotions and addresses itself exclusively to the emotions." We may call this approach Expressionism, because it stresses the artist's emotional attitude toward himself and the world. Taut's mysticism was shared by the members of Der Blaue Reiter. Does modern architecture not incorporate the spontaneous and irrational qualities of Fantasy as well? Indeed it does. But because the modern architect shares the Expressionist's primary concern with the human community, rather than the labyrinth of the imagination, Fantasy plays a much lesser role than Expressionism, which has subsumed it.

1175. BRUNO TAUT. Staircase of the "Glass House." Werkbund Exhibition, Cologne. 1914
1176. BRUNO TAUT. The "Glass House," Werkbund Exhibition, Cologne. 1914


BRUNO TAUT. The "Glass House." Interior view.

The "Glass House." Plan

Bruno Taut, Martin Wagner. Britz Estate in Berlin, 1925-1927

Bruno Taut with Hugo Haring and Otto Rudolf Salvisberg.
Zehlendorf Hausing Estate, Berlin, 1926-1931

Bruno Taut and Franz Hillinger.
"Carl Legien Residential City", Berlin, 1925-1930




The visionary side that distinguishes Expressionist architecture is best seen in the Century Hall (fig. 1177) built by Max Berg (1870-1948) in Breslau to celebrate Germany's liberation from Napoleon in
1812. Berg, for the first time, has taken full advantage of reinforced concrete's incredible flexibility and strength. The vast scale is not simply an engineering marvel but a visionary space that fulfills the grandest dream of Boullee (compare fig. 872). The immediate ancestry of Century Hall can be traced back to the Bank of England by John Soane (see fig. 931), while the exterior is strangely reminiscent of Ledoux's tollgate (fig. 873). Ultimately, the interior looks back to the Pantheon (fig. 250), but with the solids and voids in reverse, so that we are reminded of nothing so much as the interior of Hagia Sophia (fig. 330). That Century Hall further recalls the soaring spirituality of a Gothic cathedral (such as our fig. 458) is not a coincidence: Berg shared with Rouault and Nolde an intense religiosity, which later led him to abandon his profession for Christianity.

1177. MAX BERG. Century Hall, Breslau. 1912-13


1177. MAX BERG. Interior of the Century Hall, Breslau. 1912-13



Max Berg

Max Berg, (born 1870, Stettin, Pomerania, now Szczecin, Pol.—died 1947, Baden-Baden, now in West Germany), architect of the “German Expressionist school,” noted for the huge reinforced concrete dome of his Jahrhunderthalle (Centenary Hall; 1912–13) at Breslau (now Wrocław, Pol.). Berg studied at Technische Hochschule, Berlin. He was city architect for Breslau from 1912 to 1913. Also at Breslau he designed the Exhibition Hall Messehof and the hydroelectric station. By 1925 he had abandoned architecture to devote himself to Christian mysticism.



The final component of modernist architectureits Utopian sidewas added by the Futurist Antonio Sant'Elia (1888-1916), who declared that "we must invent and reconstruct the Futurist city as an immense, tumultuous yard and the Futurist house as a gigantic machine." The Central Station Project for his Citta Nuova (New City; fig. 1178) is treated in terms of circulation patterns that determine the relationships between buildings, establishing a restless perpetual motion that fulfills the Futurist vision announced in Boccioni's work (see figs. 1053 and 1129). But it is the enormous scale, dwarfing even the most grandiose complexes of the past, that makes this a uniquely modern conception. It even includes a runway for airplanes, impractical as that may seem.

Central Station Project for Citta Nnova (after Banham).


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