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Despina Stratigakos

(b Riga, Latvia, March 12, 1901; d Washington, DC, April 19, 1978).

American architect of Latvian birth, active also in Palestine. Gidoni was a Berlin-based architect who was among those who fled Nazi persecution and helped to bring European modernism to Palestine and the USA. She attended the Academy of Arts in St Petersburg in Russia and received further training at the Berlin Technical University, but did not graduate with a degree. In 1928 she opened an office for interior design in Berlin. When Adolf Hitler seized power in 1933, her Jewish background put her at peril. Hearing that people with technical skills were needed for the construction of new cities in Palestine, she resettled in Tel Aviv, where she maintained her own architecture office from 1933 to 1938. Both her design skills and the vision of a modern architecture that she had brought with her from Berlin were in demand. Tel Aviv was not only growing rapidly, but also developing a new style....

Article

Elisabeth Vitou

(b Istanbul, Nov 21, 1900; d Antibes, Oct 29, 1970).

American architect of Armenian birth. After studying at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Vienna, he worked for a time with Josef Hoffmann and Oskar Strnad. He went to live in Paris in 1920 and became an important colleague of Robert Mallet-Stevens. His first projects included a design for a concrete villa on pilotis, which Siegfried Giedion considered a forerunner of Le Corbusier’s Villa Laroche, and which confirmed him to be an exponent of functionalism, favouring concrete, geometric volumes and smooth walls. He gained public recognition with his designs for Sonia Delaunay’s Boutique Simultanée and the Cubist garden at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris in 1925. This led to the commission for the garden of the villa for Vicomte Charles de Noailles at Hyères. In 1926, while working on Robert Mallet-Stevens’s Rue Mallet-Stevens in Paris, he set up his own firm and worked on a variety of projects for villas and large houses in the Paris area and on the Côte d’Azur. The widely publicized villa that he built for the couturier ...

Article

Aba Elhanani

(b Vienna, Sept 23, 1890; d Jerusalem, 1954).

Israeli architect and graphic artist of Austrian birth. He graduated from the Technische Hochschule and Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Vienna (1912), and later worked for Friedrich Ohmann until 1914, when he joined the Austrian Army. In 1919 he participated in an Expressionists’ exhibition in Vienna, and in the early 1920s he was engaged to prepare architectural drawings for the new Parliament building in Belgrade. In 1925 he moved to Palestine and, after working for Alexander Baerwald in Haifa, started his own architectural practice in Jerusalem (1926). He participated in many art exhibitions in Palestine, later Israel, after 1928, producing work in a restrained Expressionist style; as well as charcoal and crayon landscapes of the hills surrounding Jerusalem, he also produced drawings of the faces of beggars from Jerusalem’s Old City, which show the influence of Egon Schiele and Edvard Munch. In his architectural work he was an ardent disciple of functionalism, with a preference for the geometry of cubes and prisms that was influenced by De Stijl and Purism; these he could identify with the traditional morphology of the Arab villages in Galilee that he had studied in many of his landscape drawings. His style matched perfectly the ideals of community and austerity shared by the founders of the kibbutz movement, who became his most loyal clients. For them he designed common dining halls, children’s houses and general housing. His dining hall (...

Article

Malcolm Reading

(b Tbilisi, Georgia, Dec 14, 1901; d Bristol, Oct 23, 1990).

British architect, planner and critic of Georgian birth. He was born into a prosperous Georgian family: his father was an admiral, and the family enjoyed numerous vacations throughout Europe. Lubetkin was in Moscow during the revolutionary year of 1917 and enrolled in the Vkhutemas, the school of art and architecture. He was taught by leading innovators of 20th-century art, including Kasimir Malevich, Aleksandr Rodchenko and Vladimir Tatlin. In 1922 Lubetkin went to Berlin as assistant to El Lissitsky and David Shterenberg, who were preparing the first exhibition of progressive Soviet art outside the USSR at the Van Diemen Gallery. For the next two years he studied at the Textilakadamie and at the Baukunstschule, Charlottenburg, Berlin; he also worked for the architect Bruno Taut. After further study in Vienna and Warsaw, in 1924 he worked briefly for Ernst May in Frankfurt am Main. During this period he became committed to the Modernist ideals of a socially responsible architecture and the search for new forms to express this....

Article

Ita Heinze-Greenberg

(b Allenstein [now Olsztyn, Poland], March 21, 1887; d San Francisco, Sept 15, 1953).

German architect, teacher, and writer, active also in England, Palestine, and the USA. Mendelsohn was one of the most influential exponents of architectural Expressionism, and his sketches of fluid organic building forms and his Einstein Tower, Potsdam, are among the best-known products of the movement. Although his later work abandoned three-dimensional forms in favour of more conventional, geometric designs, these often incorporated curvilinear plans and retained an innovative dynamism.

Mendelsohn grew up as one of six children of a Jewish business family in the small East Prussian town of Allenstein. Following his father’s wishes, in 1907 he began to study economics at the University of Munich but in 1908 followed his own inclinations and enrolled as an architecture student at the Technische Hochschule, Berlin. In 1910 he returned to Munich to complete his architectural studies under Theodor Fischer, one of the most progressive teachers at the Technische Hochschule, and as a student he met several Expressionist artists, including Paul Klee, Franz Marc, Vasily Kandinsky, and Hugo Ball. After graduating in ...

Article

Uriel M. Adiv

(b Jaroslaw, Poland, May 28, 1900; d Tel Aviv, July 26, 1984).

Israeli architect, urban planner and writer, of Polish birth. He settled originally in Palestine in 1920 with a group of young pioneers who were intent on reviving Jewish nationhood. He joined the kibbutz at Gan Shemuel, later taking charge of the planning and execution of the farm buildings and dwelling units. He studied architecture and building construction in Germany from 1926 to 1929 at the Bauhaus, Dessau. Under the overall leadership of Walter Gropius and from 1928 Hannes Meyer, he took the basic design course of Josef Albers, Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky and the architectural course under Meyer and Hans Wittwer. In 1929 he married Gunta Stölzl, artistic director (1927–31) of the weaving workshop at the Bauhaus. In 1929–31 he directed Meyer’s office in Berlin, where he helped to execute the latter’s design for the Allgemeiner Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund school, Bernau.

Sharon returned to Palestine in 1931, strongly imbued with the Functionalist approach of the Bauhaus, and particularly of Meyer. He set up a private practice in Tel Aviv and began designing a wide variety of projects, including public buildings, cooperative housing estates, urban plans and rural ...

Article

Mark Allen Svede

(b nr Cēsis, April 28, 1896; d Tbilisi, Georgia, July 14, 1944).

Latvian painter, printmaker, ceramicist, interior designer, tage and film set designer and theorist. He was the foremost ideologue for modernism in Latvia and was one of its greatest innovators. His militant defence of avant-garde principles befitted his experience as a soldier and as one of the artists who, after World War I, was denied a studio by the city officials and staged an armed occupation of the former premises of the Riga Art School. At the end of the war he painted in an Expressionist manner: In Church (1917; Riga, priv. col., see Suta, 1975, p. 19), for example, is an exaltation of Gothic form and primitivist rendering. Unlike his peers Jāzeps Grosvalds and Jēkabs Kazaks, he was extremely interested in Cubism and Constructivism, the theories of which informed his paintings, drawings, prints and occasional architectural projects of the 1920s. At this time he and his wife, the painter ...