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 recognition which Ludwig Mies van der Rohe earned from the much-discussed Weifienhof exhibition in Stuttgart probably led to his invitation to design the German Pavilion at the International Exhibition in Barcelona in 1929. This "Pavilion of the German Empire" formed the setting for the official opening ceremony performed by the Spanish royal couple, Alfons XIII and Victoria Eugenia. In its light and generous elegance, it was much more than a mere architectural showpiece. The elongated, flat-roofed building was distanced from the street by a wide travertine terrace with a shallow pool. Vertical slabs of costly marble and metal-framed panels of glass in shades of white, grey and green crticulated the flowing spatial continuum, its skilful relationship to the exterior creating an impression of extensive depth. The architectonic concept underlying the Barcelona Pavilion was first applied to a private residence in the Tugendhat Villa. A semicircle of wood screening the dining area and a free-standing panel of onyx dore formed the only partitions within the 250 square metres of living area. To the south and east the room opened onto the garden through wide, continuous glazing, while its street front appeared reserved and withdrawn.

The Tugendhat House was considered, along with Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye in Poissy, a pinnacle of modern architecture, but its exquisite exclusivity could hardly serve as
ń model during a time of economic depression. That role fell instead to office buildings such as Erch Mendelsohn's Columbus House or the Luckhardt brothers' Telschow House on Potsdamer Platz in Berlin. These two dynamic symbols of metropolis and efficiency corresponded far more closely to the search for an economic and self-confident architecture of the present. And yet all these buildings had something in common. But in order to identify their joint characteristics and subsequently to formulate the aesthetic criteria of a new style, distance not only spatial —was needed: a distance such as that of Henry-Russel Hitchcock and Philip Johnson in faraway New York. In 1931 they prepared an exhibition on modern architecture in the Museum of Modern Art for which an accompanying catalogue, entitled "The International Style", was published in 1932. "The idea of style ... has become real and fertile again ... This contemporary style, which exists throughout the world, is unified and inclusive, not fragmentary and contradictory like so much of the production of the first generation of modern architects." Such a subsumption naturally failed to find uniform acceptance in Europe. Thus, in 1935, Walter Gropius said of his position in the twenties: "The aim of the Bauhaus was not to propagate any kind of style, system, dogma, formula or fashion, but purely and simply to exert a stimulating influence on planning."

Bruno Taut, whose work was by no means characterized by Purist severity and who had made masterly use of colour and form in his architectural designs, steered similarly clear of aesthetic considerations in his "Five points of new architecture". For him, beauty arose solely from the agreement of building and function. Materials and construction were subordinate to their best possible usage as the only valid criterium. Details served the whole. Only the principle of repetition was acknowledged an "artistic means". Hitchcock and Johnson responded indirectly with the objection that it was" nearly impossible to organize and execute a complicated building without making some choices not wholly determined by technology and economics ... Consciously or unconsciously, the architect must make free decisions before his plan is complete." Thus the aesthetic definition of the International Style differed fundamentally to that of Functionalism, albeit without individually citing truly different buildings. The functionalist principle embraced far more the technical and social aspects of modern architecture.

Rationalism was the name preferred in particular by those Italian architects who first formed the "Gruppo 7" in 1926 and later, in 1931, the MIAR (Movimento Italiano per l' Architettura Razionale). Here, too, aesthetics played a minor role, but Rationalism included more than just functional solutions and fell clearly within the tradition of rational and socially-regulated architecture. The "Gruppo 7" attempted to base its modern architecture on the "spirit of tradition"; the MIAR wanted to bring Fascist and modern architecture to congruence, as illustrated by Giuseppe Terragni's Casa del Fascio in Como. Neither were successful, however, although Italian Fascism did not adopt such a vigorously anti-progressive stance as German National Socialism. Official bodies in Italy ultimately still tended towards a homespun neo-classicism. The concepts of Rationalism and Functionalism stood for an architectural understanding that sought to free itself from individualism through its belief in a better society, and which placed design in the service of social progress. Industrial construction methods, plain facades and standardized plans all contributed to this end. Hitchcock and Johnson, on the other hand, encapsulated the characteristics of the International Style in three aesthetic principles. The first saw "architecture as enclosed space". Since the load-bearing structure is preferably a steel or concrete skeleton frame, not only can the plan be developed more freely but the load-bearing masonry bodies lose their previous significance. The exterior shell merely offers protection against the weather. The ideal material for an outer skin is a facade entirely of glass, such as Mies van der Rohe employed in his 1922 design for a skyscraper. It does not rest on the foundations, but hangs from the inner frame. The impact of such a curtain wall could be further intensified by recessing the piers and securing the facade elements to projecting slabs.

The "enclosed space" is comparable to the "pure volume" described by Le Corbusier ten years earlier. With the rejection of secondary, decorative facade elements, fenestration gains new significance. Rather than being placed in deep soffits, glazing is now incorporated as far as possible into the surface, in order to emphasize the character of the skin. In 1930, in a commentary on their buildings Am Rupenhorn in Berlin, the Luckhardt brothers compared the changes taking place in architecture with those in the clothing sector: "As clothing, in particular women's clothing, has become more practical and healthier and has adapted itself to the requirements of hygiene and the demand for sporting activity, so too modern architecture will be an expression of such concerns." From this they derived concrete requirements of a "new living form": "Light and air in increased quantities,
... the 'flexible' plan which allows interior walls to be positioned according to the individual needs of the occupant, ... the possibility of freely designing the size and layout of the openings in the outer walls."

Hitchcock and Johnson declared a second major principle to be the "attempt at modular regularity". The regular grids of skeleton frame constructions resulted naturally from the standardization of building components and had long been common practice in American high-rise construction, since varying support intervals only increased costs. This principle replaced axial symmetry as aesthetic order and was accompanied by a pronounced emphasis upon the horizontal, which corresponded to the storey slabs with interspersed parapets and window strips as well as the dominant flat roof. The grid system invited rectangular volumes, but it was precisely in the exploitation of the elasticity of its order that the artistic challenge lay. In interior design in particular, freely-formed walls promised "a more favourable distribution of available space", whereby the thin supports could remain standing in space. Some of the attractive and exciting results that can be achieved with controlled fractures and curvatures are beautifully illustrated in the Schminke House built by Hans Scharoun in 1933. In contrast to numerous examples of formal stagnation, he here demonstrated opportunities for developing the vocabulary of form by rejecting all dogmatic solutions and extracting organic form from functional relationships. The house refuses clear orientation,- rotated axes change its directions of movement. Scharoun countered its marked horizontality with his effective placing of a gang-way-like staircase on the "bow" of the house. Formal variety is here intensified into ń bold composition of animated lines. The living room inside this tip is flooded with light through its window walls and is extensively isolated from the protection of the house. Adolph Behne found it especially pleasing that "the panes are etched at a number of points where the eye demands a point of reference".

This bears a direct relation to Hitchcock and Johnson's third principle, the "avoidance of superimposed decoration". Traditional ornamentation was now replaced by the subtle design of window frames, entrances, porches, parapets and even inscriptions. The authors also treat the role of colour in this context. Although crystalline-white surfaces were employed by choice in the thirties, colour design nevertheless played a substantial and indeed decorative role for details. George Howe and William Lescaze explained the interaction of different materials in the example of the Philadelphia Saving Fund Society tower: "The way in which different materials were combined in terms of type, surface structure and colour with the aim of achieving a decorative effect, without the actual decorative forms, has particular repercussions for architecture. These effects are increased through an extensive use of artificial light and the visual distraction of numerous light reflections and refractions, particularly in rooms for the public, where stainless steel and yellow bronze were used in conjunction with highly-polished marble. Marble usually served as cladding for large, wide wall surfaces. Stainless steel was chosen in preference to other white metals for its resistance and hardness, this latter allowing the very economical dimensioning of every detail,- an extremely appropriate, standard-raising design medium. Aluminium was mainly used for the wide window bands of the lower floors, as well as for radiators, ventilation ducts and light fixtures." Leaving aside the stylistic characteristics listed by Hitchcock and Johnson, a further vital aspect of modern architecture remained its internationalism. On his "Gli elementi dell architettura funzionale", a compilation of hundreds of buildings from around the world, Alberto Sartoris commented: "A further essential aspect of Functionalism is the search for a contemporary style with uniform construction methods which must, however, permit a variety of uses and interpretations ... The demand for simple, sober and useful forms leads to the development of a uniform aesthetic direction." International similarities were striking above all in the work of younger architects, as was the rapid spread of the New Architecture.

In Czechoslovakia, Brno became one of the centres of the Modern Style. Architects such as Bohuslav Fuchs, Otto Eisler and Jindrich Kumpost were active here. Important figures in Austria included Ernst A. Plischke and Lois Welzenbacher,- in Denmark, Arne Jacobsen,- and in the Netherlands, Johannes A. Brinkmann, L. C. van der Vlugt, Willem van Tijen and Johannes Duiker. In Amsterdam Gropius' concept of a high-rise apartment building for workers was partly realized in the Bergpolder Block. It was built out of steel, although its intermediate ceilings, doors and windows were of wood. Inadequate soundproofing, noise penetrating the apartments from the outside walkways and the expensive maintenance required by the exposed metal parts detracted somewhat from its success, but the building proved the benefits of slab housing end encouraged other, comparable projects. Pioneering work in Great Britain was carried out chiefly by young immigrant architects such as Amyas Connell and Berthold Lubetkin, while in France a new generation, which included Eugene Beaudouin, Marcel Lods and Andre Lurcat, was finding success. In California, Richard Neutra and Rudolf Schindler had already developed their own interpretations of volume and light in the twenties. The need to identify common directions and to awaken understanding for new approaches in architecture, and hence in urban planning, led to the founding of CIAM (Congres Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne). Topics discussed by the first congress of 1928 included modern technology, standardization, cost-efficiency, urban planning, youth educction as well as architecture and the State. Further congresses followed: the main theme in Frankfurt in 1929 was "The existence-minimum apartment",- and in Brussels in 1930, "Rational methods of development". The fourth congress, planned for Moscow, had to be rescheduled following a change in Soviet building policy, which had now fallen back into academic line. It was eventually held on a cruise from Marseilles to Athens. The starting-point for negotiations on "The functional city" were standardized plans and analyses of a large number of major cities, on the basis of which concrete conditions were to be investigated. Functional analysis as a means of design planning was also applied to urban development, and led to the identification of the four primary functions of the city residential, work, free-time and traffic.

The concluding "Principles of the Fourth Congress" demanded that the urban areas corresponding to these four functions should be designed according to their own laws and requirements. They should furthermore be interrelated in such a way "that the regular daily cycle of working, living and relaxing can also be designed to achieve maximum time savings". Numerous finer points detailed the consequences. Roads are thus differentiated according to function: residential streets connect the quieter estates, while wide expressways without intersections allow the rapid flow of rush-hour traffic. The planning of residential areas was to take into consideration the quality and location of building sites and only lead to higher population densities where levels of industrial emissions, fog and damp were relatively low. As a principle there was to be no building along busy roads, while green belts were to surround zones reserved for industry. It proved extraordinarily difficult, however, to formulate the conclusions of the congress. In 1943 the French group finally published an annotated version of the "Principles" as "The Athens Charter"; Le Corbusier was the only author to be named in later editions. In a number of fundamental points the emphasis was shifted; the functional division of city zones thus appeared more rigid and schematic than was originally intended. Le Corbusier thereby unfortunately gave decisive impetus to the increasing dismemberment of cities. The decisive requirement for successful urban planning, namely the municipalization of property, or its rescue from the field of speculation, was a Utopia and could thus not be created under the reigning social conditions of the day.



Although its style and philosophy were codified about
1930 by a committee of Le Corbusier and his followers, the International Style was by no means monolithic. Soon all but the most purist among them began to depart from this standard. One of the first to break ranks was the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto (1898-1976), whose Villa Mairea (figs. 1188 and 1189) reads at first glance like a critique of Le Corbusier's Savove House of a decade earlier. Like Rietveld's Schroder House. Villa Mairea was designed for a woman artist; her second-story studio, covered with wood slats, dominates the view of the house from three directions. This time, however, the architect was given a free hand by his patron, and the building is a summation of ideas Aalto had been developing for nearly ten years. He adapted the International Style to the traditional architecture, materials, life-style, and landscape of Finland. Aalto took the opposite approach of Le Corbusier's in order to arrive at a similar end. Aalto's primary concern was human needs, both physical and psychological, which he sought to harmonize with functionalism. The modernist heritage, which extends back to Wright, is unmistakable in his vocabulary of forms and massing of elements; yet everywhere there are romantic touches that add a warmth absent from the Savoye House. Wood, brick, and stone are employed in various combinations throughout the interior and exterior, in contrast to Le Corbusier's pristine classicism. Free forms are introduced at several places to inject an element of playfulness, as well as to break up the cubic geometry and smooth surfaces favored by the International Style.

Aalto's importance is undeniable, but his place in twentieth-century architecture remains unclear. His infusion of nationalist elements in Villa Mairea has been interpreted both as a rejection of modernism and as a fruitful regional variation on the International Style. Today his work can be seen as a direct forerunner of Late Modern architecture.

1188. AlVAR AALTO. Villa Mairea, Noormarkku, Finland. 193738

AlVAR AALTO. Villa Mairea, Noormarkku, Finland. 193738

Interior, Villa Mairea


Alvar Aalto

Alvar Aalto, in full Hugo Alvar Henrik Aalto (born Feb. 3, 1898, Kuortane, Fin., Russian Empire—died May 11, 1976, Helsinki, Fin.), Finnish architect, city planner, and furniture designer whose international reputation rests on a distinctive blend of modernist refinement, indigenous materials, and personal expression in form and detail. His mature style is epitomized by the Säynätsalo, Fin., town hall group (1950–52).

Early work
Aalto’s architectural studies at the Technical Institute of Helsinki were interrupted by the Finnish War of Independence, in which he participated. Following his graduation in 1921, Aalto toured Europe and upon his return began practice in Jyväskylä, in central Finland. In 1927 he moved his office to Turku, where he worked in association with Erik Bryggman until 1933, the year in which he moved to Helsinki. In 1925 he married Aino Marsio, a fellow student, who served as his professional collaborator until her death in 1949. The couple had two children.

The years 1927 and 1928 were significant in Aalto’s career. He received commissions for three important buildings that established him as the most advanced architect in Finland and brought him worldwide recognition as well. These were the Turun Sanomat Building (newspaper office) in Turku, the tuberculosis sanatorium at Paimio, and the Municipal Library at Viipuri (now Vyborg, Russia). His plans for the last two were chosen in a competition, a common practice with public buildings in Finland. Both the office building and the sanatorium emphasize functional, straightforward design and are without historical stylistic references. They go beyond the simplified classicism common in Finnish architecture of the 1920s, resembling somewhat the building designed by Walter Gropius for the Bauhaus school of design in Dessau, Ger. (1925–26). Like Gropius, Aalto used smooth white surfaces, ribbon windows, flat roofs, and terraces and balconies.

The third commission, the Viipuri Municipal Library, although exhibiting a similar dependence on European prototypes by Gropius and others, is a significant departure marking Aalto’s personal style. Its spatially complex interior is arranged on various levels. For the auditorium portion of the library Aalto devised an undulating acoustic ceiling of wooden strips, a fascinating detail that, together with his use of curved laminated wood furniture of his own design, appealed both to the public and to those professionals who had held reservations about the clinical severity of modern architecture. The warm textures of wood provided a welcome contrast to the general whiteness of the building. It was Aalto’s particular success here that identified him with the so-called organic approach, or regional interpretation, of modern design. He continued in this vein, with manipulation of floor levels and use of natural materials, skylights, and irregular forms. By the mid-1930s Aalto was recognized as one of the world’s outstanding modern architects; unlike many of his peers, he had an identifiable personal style.

Finnish pavilions for two world’s fairs (Paris, 1937; New York City, 1939–40) further enhanced Aalto’s reputation as an inventive designer of free architectural forms. In these designs, both chosen in competition, he continued to use wood for structure and for surface effects. Also during this period, in 1938, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City held an exhibition of his work, showing furniture that he had designed and photographs of his buildings.

Aalto’s experiments in furniture date from the early 1930s, when he furnished the sanatorium at Paimio. His furniture is noted for its use of laminated wood in ribbonlike forms that serve both structural and aesthetic ends. In 1935 the Artek Company was established by Aalto and Maire Gullichsen, the wife of the industrialist and art collector Harry Gullichsen, to manufacture and market his furniture. The informal warmth of Aalto’s interiors is best seen in the much-admired country home Villa Mairea, which he built for the Gullichsens near Noormarkku, Fin.

Mature style
The decade of the 1940s was not productive; it was disrupted by war and saddened by his wife’s death. In 1952 he married Elissa Mäkiniemi, a trained architect, who became his new collaborator.

Aalto’s commissions after 1950, in addition to being greater in number, were more varied and widely dispersed: a high-rise apartment building in Bremen, W.Ger. (1958), a church in Bologna, Italy (1966), an art museum in Iran (1970). His continuing work in Finland, however, remained the measure of his genius. Many of his projects involved site planning of building groups. Two such projects were the master plans of colleges at Otaniemi (1949–55) and at Jyväskylä (1952–57). Aalto’s experience in planning originated early with such industrial commissions as the Sunila cellulose factory (1936–39, extended 1951–54), which included workers’ housing and was a triumph of comprehensive planning.

The single work that epitomizes Aalto’s mature style is perhaps the Säynätsalo town hall group. Modest in scale in its forest setting, it nonetheless asserts a quiet force. Its simple forms are in red brick, wood, and copper, all traditional materials of Finland. Viewing it, a person feels the achievement of a perfect building, in that the essence of the time, the place, the people, and their purpose is brought into focus by the awareness of the architect.

Aalto received many honours. He was a member of the Academy of Finland (Suomen Aketemia) and was its president from 1963 to 1968; he was a member of the Congrès Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne from 1928 to 1956. His awards included the Royal Gold Medal for Architecture from the Royal Institute of British Architects (1957) and the Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects (1963).

Aalto, whose work exemplifies the best of 20th-century Scandinavian architecture, was one of the first to depart from the stiffly geometric designs common to the early period of the modern movement and to stress informality and personal expression. His style is regarded as both romantic and regional. He used complex forms and varied materials, acknowledged the character of the site, and gave attention to every detail of building. Aalto achieved an international reputation through his more than 200 buildings and projects, ranging from factories to churches, a number of them built outside Finland.

Aalto’s preliminary plans were freely sketched, without the use of T-square and triangle, so that the unfettered creative urge for inventive shapes and irregular forms was allowed full play before functional relationships and details were resolved. The absence of theoretical rigidity revealed itself in his final designs, which happily retained the spontaneity and individuality of his early sketches. As a Swiss art historian expressed it, he dared “the leap from the rational-functional to the irrational-organic.” Since Aalto’s staff was small (some six to eight architects), all of the work bore the imprint of his personality.

Aalto wrote little to explain his work, but his architecture conveyed a variable, lively temperament, free from dogma and without monotony. His work was said to express the spirit of Finland and its people, primitive yet lyrical. His friendships with such artists as Fernand Léger, Jean Arp, and Constantin Brancusi may have nourished his fondness for curvilinear shapes. While his work was never compulsively innovative, neither was it static. His late designs showed an increased complexity and dynamism that some regarded as incautious. In particular, his work of the late 1960s and early 1970s was marked by splayed, diagonal shapes and clustered, overlapping volumes. Energy and imagination were ever present.

H.F. Koeper

Encyclopædia Britannica


Alvar Aalto. Sunila Celluloid Factory Estate in Kotka, Finland, 1936-1954

Alvar Aalto. Tuberculesis Sanatorium in Paimio, Finland, 1928-1933

Alvar Aalto. Tuberculesis Sanatorium.
Main staircase


Alvar Aalto. Senior Student's Dormitory at the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1947-1948

Alvar Aalto. Senior Student's Dormitory at the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1947-1948


Alvar Aalto. Town Hall in Saynatsalo, Finland, 1949-1952

Alvar Aalto. Town Hall in Saynatsalo, Finland, 1949-1952

Alvar Aalto. Cultural Centre in Helsinki, 1955-1958

Cultural Centre in Helsinki. Plan



Jorn Utzon.

Jorn Oberg Utzon,  was a Danish architect most notable for designing the Sydney Opera House in Australia. When the Sydney Opera House was declared a World Heritage Site on 28 June 2007, he became only the second person to have his work recognised as a World Heritage Site while he was still alive


Jorn Utzon

Jørn Utzon, (born April 9, 1918, Copenhagen, Den.—died Nov. 29, 2008, Copenhagen), Danish architect best known for his dynamic, imaginative, but problematic design for the Sydney Opera House in Australia.

Utzon studied at the Copenhagen School of Architecture (1937–42) and then spent three years in Stockholm, where he came under the influence of the Swedish architect Gunnar Asplund. He also studied in the United States, and, for a six-month period in 1946, he worked in the office of the Finnish architect and designer Alvar Aalto. Among his important early works were two houses in Denmark, his own at Hellebæk (1952) and another at Holte (1952–53).

In 1957 Utzon won the design competition for a new opera house at Sydney with a dramatic design that brought him international fame. Construction, however, posed a variety of problems, many resulting from the innovative nature of the design, a series of sail-like shells. He resigned from the project in 1966, but construction continued until September 1973. The completed Opera House is now Sydney’s best-known landmark. In 1999 Utzon agreed to return as the building’s architect, overseeing an improvement project. He redesigned the reception hall—the only interior space that had been true to his plans—and it opened in 2004 as the Utzon Room. Two years later a new colonnade was completed, marking the first alteration to the Opera House’s exterior since 1973. In 2007 the Opera House was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Utzon is also noted for two housing estates, one near Helsingør (1956) and another in Fredensborg in northern Sjælland (1957–60). Both made effective use of the surrounding terrain. His Bagsůaerd Church (1976) in suburban Copenhagen has the appearance of clustered farm buildings. He was given numerous awards for his works, including a gold medal by the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1978. In 2003 Utzon received the prestigious Pritzker Architectural Prize.

Encyclopædia Britannica


Jorn Utzon. Sydney Opera House

The Sydney Opera House is a multi-venue performing arts centre in the Australian city of Sydney. It was conceived and largely built by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, finally opening in 1973 after a long gestation starting with his competition-winning design in 1957. Utzon received the Pritzker Prize, architecture's highest honour, in 2003.

Jorn Utzon. Sydney Opera House

Jorn Utzon. Sydney Opera House

Jorn Utzon. Birkehoj Houses, Elsinore, Denmark, 1963


Discuss Art

Please note: site admin does not answer any questions. This is our readers discussion only.

| privacy