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

 

Unlike France and the United States, where Auguste Perret and Frank Lloyd Wright combined in their thinking new compositional avenues with rational clarity, efforts in Germany following the decline of Art Nouveau produced almost nothing of a valid Modern Style before World War I. Architecture was dictated by a largely uninterrupted commitment to imperial pomp and neoclassical monumentality. Even the works of a man as outstanding as Peter Behrens - his Berlin villa for archaeologist Theodor Wiegand, for example, and the Petersburg Embassy - showed a more than slight tendency towards stolidity. The much-discussed garden cities and country houses of Heinrich Tessenow, Richard Riemerschmid and Hermann Muthesius were characterized by conservative fussiness and solidity. Values such as "soundness, truthfulness and simplicity" were of more importance then the joy of experimentation. Different building requirements were met with different styles; the architectural Utopia such as Tony Gamier created in France with his "Cite industrielle", where factories, communal facilities and apartments were designed along uniform principles using the most modern methods of concrete construction, was a singular departure. The search for new form remained for the most part restricted to the industrial sector. "It is first and foremost", wrote Walter Muller-Wulckow, "the powers of modern economic life that attract new creative personalities and allow them to develop."

Fundamental criticism of production conditions was considered "left-wing" and party-political. It was possible, however, for a middle-class organization such as the Deutscher Werkbund to encourage change within the bounds of existing manufacturing structures. The Werkbund was founded in October 1907 by twelve artists and twelve factory owners with the declared intent of improving the form and quality of consumer goods. Largely influenced by the English Arts and Crafts movement, it nevertheless adopted a more flexible attitude to machine manufacturing. This openness to industry was one of the main reasons for its success. For William Morris on the other hand, the pioneer of the Arts and Crafts movement, the principle cause of unsatisfactory work conditions was not merely the alienation which resulted from the division of the production process, but the very existence of mechanized production. His subsequent anachronistic call for pure craftsmanship was adhered to not even by Morris himself - he too designed products which were produced by machines. The logical solution was to transfer the satisfaction given by a perfectly-crafted product to an industrialized setting. Fritz Schumacher formulated this idea on the occasion of the Deutscher Werkbund's foundation in 1907: "We must recreate the joy of work; this is tantamount to an increase in quality."

In a discussion of Walter Gropius' Fagus Factory in the journal "Der Industriebau", it was stated that many factory owners would "admit that artistic collaboration on plant construction can produce what industry can no longer do without - publicity of a most sophisticated kind". Widespread criticism of industry overlooked the fact that it was in precisely this sector that decisive contributions towards innovative factory and product design were being made, whereby product design and factory architecture were two aspects of the same goal. An outstanding example here was the Berlin electrical giant AEG (General German Electrical Company). In 1907 the company appointed Peter Behrens as artistic advisor and designer of its entire product range, thereby pursuing and institutionalizing the efforts it had previously invested in presentational form. In addition to lamps, ventilators and catalogues, Behrens designed numerous factories for the AEG, whose aesthetic programme most clearly apparent in the famous assembly shop of the Berlin Turbine Factory, was fittingly described as "nobilization". An industrial plant, its technical structures already specified, is here transformed into monumental architecture. For Julius Posener, the significance of this monumentality was twofold: "On the one hand, the building should naturally make an impression, be an advertisement", should illustrate in a magnificent gesture the success and self-confidence of the company. Then "secondly, and more importantly, it should publicize internally. It should impress the workers." They should feel part of a company of which they could be proud. Leaving aside the "beautification" of engineering products - a secondary activity which is today called "design" and was harshly criticized by architects such as Adolf Loos - a certain hierarchy of design is visible in factory architecture: production processes are just as precisely specified as the static requirements calculated by engineers for factory halls. Industrial buildings created without the help of architects, such as the Steiff Company's soft toy factory, were in no way the worst of their kind. Architects were clearly aware of this fact. Their goal was to create not just a technical shell but, as Walter Gropius expressed it in 1913, "a dignified guise" which would impress passers-by and increase the efficiency of the workers, by giving them not only "light, air and clarity" but also the impression of an overall concept which would help them - fully in the interests of the industrialist - to rise above the stupidity of factory work. "They will work more happily towards the creation of great common values in workplaces which are designed by artists to satisfy the sense of beauty with which we all are born and which enliven the monotony of mechanical work." In his turbine factory Peter Behrens employed well-known methods to achieve this desired effect: a huge gable and broad corner pylons are merely grandiose facades. The principle works, but is still tied to old attitudes and takes their conventions into consideration. Even Gropius, whose Fagus factory showed him to be the most progressive architect of the time, still emphasized the entrance portal with a projecting superstructure. Hermann Muthesius described this relationship between tradition and perception in a metaphor: just as the thin metal spokes of a bicycle wheel did not immediately inspire confidence, but nevertheless represented the best solution for such a lightweight construction, so the delicacy of iron in structural engineering, now accepted in practice, would prove itself aesthetically articulate only once the eye had grown accustomed to it.

Leading architects agreed that monumentality and art were mutually inseparable. Gropius collected photographs of industrial buildings and was especially impressed by the large grain silos in American agricultural centres. He believed their geometric forms to be "heralds of a coming monumenta style". In a slide lecture in Hagen in
1911, he sought "to consider the field of the secular industrial building within the sphere of monumental art". He noted that "force, severity and stringency" naturally correspond to the organization of the working world. But purely functional arrangement - and here he also meant pure civil engineering - could not produce an artistic result,- this required the intervention of "creative will". Gropius then took a decisive step towards a definition of the special nature of industry: "Modern materials such as iron and glass, with their transparent incorporeality", seemed incompatible with "the goal of corporeality in architecture". But Gropius believed - as he demonstrated in his Fagus Factory in Alfeld - that "here, too, artistic will sweeps away seemingly insurmountable difficulties and, with inspired artfulness, wrests the impression of corporeality from unsubstantial materials ... Artistic potential lies in every material. Modern products such as rubber, linoleum, paper and concrete were at first unjustly viewed as inferior surrogates for other materials." Industrial construction became one of Gropius' main fields of activity after leaving Behrens' office, whereby he succeeded in realizing his ideas in a convincing way with his first commission for the Fagus shoe last factory. Architect Eduard Werner had already submitted the final plans for the new factory when building sponsor Carl Benscheidt brought in Gropius, finally making him responsible for the "architectonic-artistic building design". In other words, the plan and "constructive layout" were to be left untouched, but the building's "appearance" was to be "tastefully" redesigned. The facade of the main building is clearly distinguished from its more self-contained neighbours.

Iron frames are inserted between narrow yellow brick columns which support generous glazing and grey-painted metal sheets in the parapet area. As an "art form" it differs substantially from both the purely "technical form" and from Werner's more conventional proposals. Its characteristic features suggest a reinterpretation of motifs from Behrens' turbine factory,- it is now the columns, rather than the glazed surfaces, which recess inwards, while - in a radical reversal of traditional practice - emphatic, solid corners are abandoned in favour of a fully transparent solution in which corner supports are omitted altogether. The Fagus Factory illustrates, like few other buildings of its time, "that character of precise, clear, material beauty" of which R. Rose wrote in the journal "Deutsche Bauhutte" in 1919, "which our art is developing more and more clearly and which will stand in later times as witness to our way of thinking, a symbol of our work".

 


DEUTSCHER WERKBUND.

Central to the early development of modernism in Germany was the Deutscher Werkbund, an alliance of "the best representatives of art, industry, crafts and trades" founded in 1907 by Hermann Muthesius (1861-1927). His mission was to translate the Arts and Crafts Movement into a machine style using the most advanced techniques of industrial design and manufacturing.



BEHRENS.

The way was led by Peter Behrens
(1869-1940), the chief architect and designer for the electrical firm A.E.G. His Turbine Factory of 1909-10 (fig. 1173) transforms the factory shed into a monument to industry through the unmistakable reference to Greek temples (compare fig. 172). Yet it does so without resorting merely to a historicist veneer. Rather, it articulates a modern aesthetic stemming from Mackintosh's Glasgow School of Art (fig. 1018). The result is an austere simplicity surpassing that of Sullivan's Carson Pirie Scott & Company store (fig. 1025). Structurally there is little new here. Reinforced concrete had been in use since the later nineteenth century; even the wall of glass does not advance beyond Paxton's Crystal Palace (see fig. 977). Yet the building was of critical importance for Behrens' three disciples, who became the founders of modern architecture: Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Le Corbusier.



1173. Peter Behrens (arch.), Karl Bernhard (eng.)
AEG Turbine Factory Assembly Hall in Berlin, 1908-1910




AEG Turbine Factory Assembly Hall in Berlin.
Cross- section through the main and side halls
 

 



Peter Behrens

Peter Behrens, (born April 14, 1868, Hamburg—died Feb. 27, 1940, Berlin), architect noted for his influential role in the development of modern architecture in Germany. In addition, he was a pioneer in the field of industrial design.

After attending the fine arts school at Hamburg, Behrens went to Munich in 1897 during the time of the renaissance of arts and crafts in Germany. In 1900 the Grand Duke of Hessen called him to his newly founded artists’ colony at Darmstadt. There, Behrens built his own house (1901) with all its furnishings. In 1903 he became director of the arts and crafts school in Düsseldorf.

The most important event in Behrens’ career occurred in 1907. Emil Rathenau, general director of the AEG (Allgemeine Elektricitats Gesellschaft—one of the largest manufacturing concerns in the world), appointed him as artistic adviser for all AEG products. Rathenau was a farsighted industrialist who recognized the industry’s need for the refining hand of an artist. Up to that time Behrens had been a mediocre painter, producing woodcuts, book covers, ceramics, interiors, fabrics, and carpets, but he began to concentrate intensely on creative work in the industrial sphere. His contributions included the hexagonal trademark of the AEG, its catalogs, and its office stationery, products such as electric fans and street lamps, and retail shops and factories. Between 1909 and 1912 he built the AEG factory complex. His turbine assembly works with its glass curtain wall was the most influential building in Germany at that time. During that period Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Le Corbusier worked in his office.

Behrens’ later works included factory and administrative buildings: the Mannesmann-Werke in Düsseldorf (1911–12), Farbwerke at Höchst (1920–24), the classical German embassy at St. Petersburg (1911–12), and the factory for the Austrian Tobacco Administration at Linz (1930). From 1922 to 1927 he was professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. His later buildings demonstrated his belief that a building complex must have a heavy massiveness.

Encyclopædia Britannica
 

 




Peter Behrens. House for Gustav Obenauer
in Saarbrucken, Germany, 1905-1906





Cross-section.




Peter Behrens. Crematorium in Hagen-Delstern, Germany, 1906-1907




Crematorium in Hagen-Delstern,
Interior view





Peter Behrens. Cuno House in Hagen, Germany, 1908-1910




Peter Behrens. AEG Small Motors Factory in Berlin,
1910-1913





Peter Behrens. AEG High-tension Plant in Berlin, 1909-1910.
Perspective drawing




Peter Behrens. AEG High-tension Plant in Berlin, 1909-1910.
Perspective drawing




Peter Behrens. Building for the aeronautical section of AEG, Henningsdorf, 1915




Peter Behrens. IG Farben Company office building, Germany,
1920-1924

 

 

POELZIG.
 

 


Hans Poelzig

Hans Poelzig, (born April 30, 1869, Berlin—died June 14, 1936, Berlin), German architect who is remembered for his Grosses Schauspielhaus (1919), an auditorium in Berlin that was one of the finest architectural examples of German Expressionism.

Poelzig taught at the Breslau Art Academy (1900–16) and the Technical Academy in Berlin (1920–35). His Luban Chemical Factory, situated near Posen, and office building at Breslau (both 1911–12) contained novel elements, but nothing suggesting the imagination evident in his Grosses Schauspielhaus. This structure, a rebuilding of the Schumann Circus, had as its most notable feature an interior lined with stalactite shapes that, particularly under changing lighting conditions, created a grottolike atmosphere. The theatre was demolished in 1988. Poelzig’s later works, especially the administrative building of I.G. Farben in Frankfurt am Main (1930), are monumental in design and have a classical flavour.

Encyclopædia Britannica
 

 

 


Hans Poelzig. Sulphuric Acid Factory in Luban, Poland, 1911-1912

 


Hans Poelzig. Sulphuric Acid Factory in Luban, Poland, 1911-1912

 


Hans Poelzig. Sulphuric Acid Factory in Luban, Poland, 1911-1912

 


Hans Poelzig. Grobes Schauspielhaus, Berlin, 1919

 
 

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