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Article

Hans Frei

(b Winterthur, Dec 22, 1908; d Zurich, Dec 9, 1994).

Swiss architect, sculptor, painter, industrial designer, graphic designer and writer. He attended silversmithing classes at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Zurich from 1924 to 1927. Then, inspired by the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (1925), Paris, by the works of Le Corbusier and by a competition entry (1927) for the Palace of the League of Nations, Geneva, by Hannes Meyer and Hans Wittwer (1894–1952), he decided to become an architect and enrolled in the Bauhaus, Dessau, in 1927. He studied there for two years as a pupil of Josef Albers, László Moholy-Nagy, Paul Klee and Vasily Kandinsky, mainly in the field of ‘free art’. In 1929 he returned to Zurich. After working on graphic designs for the few modern buildings being constructed, he built his first work, his own house and studio (1932–3) in Zurich-Höngg; although this adheres to the principles of the new architecture, it retains echoes of the traditional, for example in the gently sloping saddle roof....

Article

Allan Doig

(b Utrecht, Aug 30, 1883; d Davos, Switzerland, March 7, 1931).

Dutch painter, architect, designer and writer. He was officially registered as the son of Wilhelm Küpper and Henrietta Catharina Margadant, but he was so convinced that his mother’s second husband, Theodorus Doesburg, was his father that he took his name. Little is known of his early life, but he began painting naturalistic subjects c. 1899. In 1903 he began his military service, and around the same time he met his first wife, Agnita Feis, a Theosophist and poet. Between about 1908 and 1910, much influenced by the work of Honoré Daumier, he produced caricatures, some of which were later published in his first book De maskers af! (1916). Also during this period he painted some Impressionist-inspired landscapes and portraits in the manner of George Hendrik Breitner. Between 1914 and 1915 the influence of Kandinsky became clear in such drawings as Streetmusic I and Streetmusic II (The Hague, Rijksdienst Beeld. Kst) and other abstract works....

Article

Catherine Cooke

(Yakovlevich)

(b Minsk, May 23, 1892; d Moscow, Jan 7, 1946).

Belarusian architect, urban planner, theorist and teacher. His age and background prepared him ideally for a central position among the architects who led the Modernist avant-garde in the USSR in the 1920s. He is best known for his leadership, with Aleksandr Vesnin, of the Constructivist architectural group from 1925 to 1931, but he was a consistently influential figure in Soviet architecture from the early 1920s until his premature death after World War II. Ginzburg insisted on constant re-evaluation and innovation in three key dimensions: architecture must tackle new social tasks; it must create new ‘spatial organisms’ to facilitate, reflect and catalyze those tasks; and it must harness the new technologies of mass production and the new building materials to achieve fulfilment of those tasks. A new ‘style’ would be the aesthetic correlate and result of these innovations.

The son of an architect in Minsk, with limited access as a Jew to higher education in Russia, Ginzburg attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and the Ecole d’Architecture in Toulouse before joining the studio of ...

Article

Christopher Green

[González Pérez, José Victoriano Carmelo Carlos]

(b Madrid, March 23, 1887; d Boulogne-sur-Seine, May 11, 1927).

Spanish painter, draughtsman, illustrator and writer, active in France. His artistic career was spent almost exclusively in France, where he was considered one of the leading Cubist painters from 1912 until his death. An artist valued for the depth and consistency of his approach rather than as an innovator, he is recognized for his independent and distinctive approach to Cubism and as one of its most influential later practitioners and theoreticians.

Gris specialized in mathematics, physics and engineering at the Escuela de Artes y Manufacturas in Madrid from 1902 to 1904; he later described this phase of his education as formative. His approach to Cubism, which has often been called scientific in its logic and precision, may well have been affected by his knowledge of technical drawings. He broke his scientific studies, however, to train briefly with the academic painter José Moreno Carbonero (1860–1942), and he decided to become an artist. From ...

Article

Éva Bajkay

(b Ersekujvar, Hungary, March 21, 1887; d Budapest, July 22, 1967).

Hungarian writer, painter, theorist, collagist, designer, printmaker and draughtsman. His family moved to Budapest in 1904, and, after finishing an apprenticeship as a blacksmith, in 1908 he began publishing stories and poems. In 1909–10 he travelled across Western Europe and spent some time in Paris, becoming acquainted with modern art and anarchist ideas. He published short stories, plays and poems in Budapest and from November 1915 he edited the periodical A Tett (‘The deed’), which was anti-militarist and discussed socialist theories and avant-garde ideas. In summer 1916 he spent time in the Kecskemét artists’ colony with his brother-in-law Béla Uitz and under his influence executed his first ink drawings (e.g. Landscape, 1916; Budapest, N.G.). Progressive young artists and aesthetes grouped themselves around Kassák; after A Tett was banned in September 1916, he started in November a new periodical, MA (‘Today’; see MA group), which he edited with Uitz (to ...

Article

Jorge Glusberg

[Fallik, Fernando]

(b Košice, Czechoslovakia [now Slovak Republic], 1924; d Buenos Aires, May 25, 2016).

Argentine sculptor, theorist, and poet of Slovak birth. A resident of Argentina from 1928, he studied at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes “Manuel Belgrano” in Buenos Aires, and in 1944 he collaborated with Joaquín Torres García and the Argentine poet Edgar Bayley (1919–1990) on the magazine Arturo (one issue only), which proposed geometric abstraction for the first time in Argentina. He was also a leading figure of Arte Madí, together with Carmelo Arden Quin (1913–2010). During this period he produced his first articulated mobiles (e.g. Royi, 1944; see Glusberg 1985, 73), which involved the active participation of the spectator, and early examples of sculptures made of neon (e.g. Madí Aluminium Structure No. 3, 1946). Like his colleagues in Arte Madí, he proposed the radical autonomy of the art object, and in his later work he explored the possibilities of a diverse range of materials, including even water in his ...

Article

Catherine Cooke

(Aleksandrovich)

(b Moscow, Jan 3, 1881; d Dec 7, 1941).

Russian theorist, architect, urban planner and teacher. His principal contribution to Soviet architecture was the creation of the theoretical basis of Rationalism, which (with Constructivism) formed one of the two main Modernist movements in early Soviet architecture and urbanism. As a leading figure in the creation and organization of the Basic Course at the Vkhutemas, Moscow, through which all new students passed, Ladovsky was a particularly influential figure in the Russian avant-garde during the 1920s.

After several years working in architectural offices, Ladovsky entered the College of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, Moscow, relatively late, in 1914, and he was already 36 when he graduated in 1917. In the first small exploratory groups and institutes that formed thereafter, he emerged as a leading innovator. The programme of the Zhivskul’ptarkh group (1919–20), which sought a new common ground between painting, sculpture and architecture, conformed precisely to his vision. Ladovsky’s projects with this group already demonstrate the secondary role given to construction, which remained a tenet of his more fully elaborated theory. In the ...

Article

John Milner

[Lisitsky, El’ ; Lisitsky, Lazar’ (Markovich )]

(b Pochinok, Smolensk province, Nov 23, 1890; d Moscow, Dec 30, 1941).

Russian draughtsman, architect, printmaker, painter, illustrator, designer, photographer, teacher, and theorist.

After attending school in Smolensk, he enrolled in 1909 at the Technische Hochschule, Darmstadt, to study architecture and engineering. He also travelled extensively in Europe, however, and he made a tour of Italy to study art and architecture. He frequently made drawings of the architectural monuments he encountered on his travels. These early graphic works were executed in a restrained, decorative style reminiscent of Russian Art Nouveau book illustration. His drawings of Vitebsk and Smolensk (1910; Eindhoven, Stedel. Van Abbemus.), for example, show a professional interest in recording specific architectural structures and motifs, but they are simultaneously decorative graphic works in their own right and highly suitable for publication. This innate awareness of the importance of controlling the design of the page was to remain a feature of Lissitzky’s work throughout radical stylistic transformations. He also recorded buildings in Ravenna, Venice, and elsewhere in Italy in ...

Article

Nelly Perazzo

(b Buenos Aires, Apr 24, 1922).

Argentine painter, graphic designer, teacher, and theorist. He studied at the Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires from 1938. In 1944 he was a co-founder of the Argentine avant-garde review Arturo, which was concerned with both art and literature and led to the formation in 1945 of the Asociación arte concreto invención, of which he was also one of the main instigators. In 1948 he traveled to Europe, where he came into contact with Max Bill and other Swiss Constructivists, whose example inspired him both as a painter and as a theorist on his return to Argentina. Blue with Structure and A Form and Series (both 1950, Buenos Aires, Mus. A. Mod.) are typical of a rigorous type of painting with which he became identified. He stressed the application of such ideas, moreover, not only to art but also to social and political concerns, seeking nothing less than the transformation of the physical environment in which we live. Such convictions gave coherence to all his activities from that time on, including his co-founding in ...

Article

Michael Spens

(b Manchester, Aug 17, 1908; d July 28, 2000).

English architect, theorist and teacher. After graduating from the School of Architecture, University of Manchester, in 1930, he joined the teaching staff there until becoming Head of the School of Architecture, Hull, from 1934 to 1939.

In 1933 he set up in private practice, subsequently designing the nursery school (1937–8), Northwich, and the Morton House (1937–9), Brampton, which were tentative examples of Modern Movement architecture in England. In 1935 he married the architect Sadie Speight, who became a lifelong collaborator. In 1937 he was co-editor, with Ben Nicholson and Naum Gabo, of Circle: International Survey of Constructive Art, which attempted to define common preoccupations of Constructivist painters, sculptors and architects on a European scale. In 1939 his work entered a new phase when he was engaged by the London, Midland and Scottish Railway Company, and from 1949 to 1956 he worked for the London County Council (LCC). With the LCC he led the design team working under ...

Article

Terence A. Senter

(b Bácsborsod, Mohol Puszta, Hungary, July 20, 1895; d Chicago, Nov 24, 1946).

American painter, sculptor, photographer, designer, film maker, theorist, and teacher, of Hungarian birth. Moholy-Nagy’s importance in the 20th century is based as much on his theories as on his practical work. His ideologies related to the relationship between space, time, and light, and the interaction of man with these forces. His great achievement was that he applied his mystical outlook to highly practical enterprises and always recognized the purpose behind his creativity.

Moholy-Nagy’s ambition developed when he exchanged village life for the city of Szeged after his father left his family. Academically outstanding, Moholy-Nagy read law for a year at Budapest University before joining the artillery in World War I. Influential praise for his war sketches converted his aspiration from literature to art. His Expressionist style, social conscience, and investigation of light paralleled trends in the Hungarian avant-garde, from ...

Article

(b Amersfoort, March 7, 1872; d New York, Feb 1, 1944).

Dutch painter, theorist, and draughtsman. His work marks the transition at the start of the 20th century from the Hague school and Symbolism to Neo-Impressionism and Cubism. His key position within the international avant-garde is determined by works produced after 1920. He set out his theory in the periodical of Stijl, De, in a series of articles that were summarized in a separate booklet published in Paris in 1920 under the title Le Néo-plasticisme (see Neo-plasticism) by Léonce Rosenberg. The essence of Mondrian’s ideas is that painting, composed of the most fundamental aspects of line and colour, must set an example to the other arts for achieving a society in which art as such has no place but belongs instead to the total realization of ‘beauty’. The representation of the universal, dynamic pulse of life, also expressed in modern jazz and the metropolis, was Mondrian’s point of departure. Even in his lifetime he was regarded as the founder of the most ...

Article

Gisela Hossmann

[Johannes] (Siegfried)

(b Berlin, April 6, 1888; d Minusio, nr Locarno, Feb 1, 1976).

American painter, film maker, theorist and writer of German birth. He studied at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Berlin and at the Akademie in Weimar from 1908 to 1909. Until c. 1910 he produced academic figure drawings, individual genre scenes and book illustrations (e.g. for Boccaccio’s Decameron). His early paintings showed the influence of Symbolism and of Jugendstil. Between 1911 and 1914 he came under the influence of Cézanne and also of Expressionism. At this time his paintings were flat in character, but with a fluid, dynamic and expressive drawing style, strongly outlined forms and powerful brushstrokes, as in Kurfürstendamm (1911; Locarno, Pin. Casa Rusca).

From 1914 until 1916 Richter’s work was influenced by Cubism, and he realized his idea of the visualization of rhythmical movements, proportion and order. His aim was the ‘free orchestration of forms …as music has orchestrated time …with sound’. Following the example of Picasso and Braque, Richter chose musical subjects for his paintings, such as ...

Article

Richard Humphreys

(Herman Edward Karl Julius)

(b Hannover, June 20, 1887; d Kendal, Westmorland, England, Jan 8, 1948).

German painter, sculptor, designer and writer. He studied at the Kunstakademie in Dresden (1909–14) and served as a clerical officer and mechanical draughtsman during World War I. At first his painting was naturalistic and then Impressionistic, until he came into contact with Expressionist art, particularly the art associated with Der Sturm, in 1918. He painted mystical and apocalyptic landscapes, such as Mountain Graveyard (1912; New York, Guggenheim), and also wrote Expressionist poetry for Der Sturm magazine. He became associated with the Dada movement in Berlin after meeting Hans Arp, Raoul Hausmann, Hannah Höch and Richard Huelsenbeck, and he began to make collages that he called Merzbilder. These were made from waste materials picked up in the streets and parks of Hannover, and in them he saw the creation of a fragile new beauty out of the ruins of German culture. Similarly he began to compose his poetry from snatches of overheard conversations and randomly derived phrases from newspapers and magazines. His mock-romantic poem ...

Article

Ewa Mikina

(b Warsaw, Jan 9, 1894; d Warsaw, June 10, 1988).

Polish painter and theoretician. He studied at the School of Fine Arts, Warsaw, from 1913 to 1919. In 1921–3 he exhibited with the Formists and with future Constructivists, with whom he began to identify more closely, joining the groups Block (1924), Praesens (1926) and a.r. (1929). He was also a member of Cercle et Carré and Abstraction-Création, and a frequent visitor to Paris, where from 1925 onwards he established contact with the artistic avant-garde and became friendly with Piet Mondrian, the writer Michel Seuphor (b 1901) and J. Brzękowski, the Polish poet and editor of the journal L’Art Contemporain. In 1929–31, together with Brzękowski, also a member of the a.r. group, Stażewski popularized among the international avant-garde Władysław Strzemiński’s idea of assembling a collection of international modern art in Poland. Stażewski did not paint during the occupation of Poland by the Nazis, but after World War II he established semi-formal links with successive modern and avant-garde groupings in Warsaw, including the ...

Article

(b Minsk, Belorussia, Nov 21, 1893; d Łódź, Dec 26, 1952).

Polish painter, theoretician, typographer and draughtsman. On completion of his engineering studies at the Moscow Military Academy, he was drafted into the Tsarist army in 1914; seriously wounded, he subsequently began his artistic studies in the post-Revolutionary academies in Moscow, Vkhutemas and Inkhuk. In 1920–22 he was associated with Unovis, and during this period he was influenced by Suprematism, whose principles would in later years form the basis of his polemics. In 1921 he married the sculptor Katarzyna Kobro, and at the beginning of 1922 they both moved to Poland. He published his first articles on the Russian avant-garde in the Kraków periodical Zwrotnica in 1922. Strzemiński organized the Wystawa Nowej Sztuki (‘Exhibition of new art’) in Wilno (now Vilnius, Lithuania) in 1923, which acted as a manifesto of Polish Constructivism; he exhibited Suprematist architectural projects, Cubist paintings and Synthetic Compositions as well as Suprematist abstract works constructed from simple forms in contrasting colours. With Strzemiński’s help, in ...

Article

Syrkus  

Olgierd Czerner

Polish architects, writers and teachers. Szymon Syrkus (b Warsaw, 24 June 1893; d Warsaw, 8 June 1964) studied architecture in Vienna, Graz, Riga, Moscow (where he met left-wing Russian artists) and Warsaw between 1911 and 1922. In 1920–21 he was also studying painting and sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków, where he joined the Formists and completed a series of woodcuts under their influence. Between 1922 and 1924 Szymon spent time in Berlin, Weimar and Paris, and he met members of the Bauhaus and De Stijl. He returned to Warsaw in December 1924, and the following year he designed a building (Warsaw, 18 Wolska Street) for the National Health Service, published his first article and became a member of the Block group. Together with Mieczysław Szczuka and Teresa Żarnower (1895–1950) he drew up theoretical designs for residential buildings, and these were exhibited in ...

Article

Ewa Mikina

(b Oct 19, 1898; d Tatra Mountains, Aug 13, 1927).

Polish painter, draughtsman, designer, typographer and writer. From 1915 to 1920 he studied at the School of Fine Arts, Warsaw. Allusions and sometimes quotations from Italian 15th- and 16th-century painting give his earliest works, of 1918–20, a Dadaist character (e.g. the Miracle of St Mark). The works featured in his second one-man exhibition (1921), however, were spatial constructions and mobiles made from metal, glass and wood clearly showing the influence of Vladimir Tatlin. The drawing Christ at the Court-martial pointed to his later social concerns. Szczuka’s left-wing convictions were reflected in his artistic programme, which advocated a productivist, utilitarian version of Russian Constructivism. He gave up painting in order to experiment with different materials, and he introduced new techniques. In his theoretical texts he wrote of a post-bourgeois society in which it would be possible to bring down the barriers between art and work and where productive activity in every sphere would be creative....

Article

Hajime Yatsuka

(b Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefect., July 24, 1904; d Tokyo, Feb 2, 1979).

Japanese architect and writer. He graduated from the architecture department of Tokyo Imperial University in 1928 and established his own office in Tokyo in 1930. He began his career as an avant-garde designer. His first work, the Hydraulics Laboratory (1932) at Tokyo Institute of Technology, was a radically functionalist building, regarded as one of the first Constructivist works in Japan. He also criticized Le Corbusier in 1930 for élitism and a lack of practical concern. However, the Hydraulics Laboratory and other modernist works of this period such as the Keio Kindergarten (1937), Tokyo, reveal a classical sense of order in their composition, and, during his visit to Germany in 1938, he was most impressed by the Neo-classical works of Karl Friedrich Schinkel and Heinrich Tessenow.

After his return to Japan, he adopted a style quite different from his earlier modernism: buildings designed for Keio University, Tokyo, after World War II, for example the Department of Medicine (...

Article

Angel Kalenberg

(b Montevideo, Jul 28, 1874; d Montevideo, Aug 8, 1949).

Uruguayan painter, teacher, and theorist, active also in Spain and France. His father was a Catalan emigrant from Mataró and his mother was Uruguayan. Financial problems forced the family to return to Catalonia in 1891, and he entered the Escuela de Artes y Oficios in Mataró. In 1892 he went to Barcelona, where he attended the Academia Baixas and became involved in the Cercle Artistic, also working as an illustrator for magazines and participating in various exhibitions. In 1903–1904 he collaborated with Antoni Gaudí on the Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada Familia (begun 1882) in Barcelona and on renovating the stained glass in the cathedral of Palma de Mallorca. In 1905, through the works he exhibited at the Sala Parés, his talent as a muralist was recognized by Eugenio d’Ors. He became involved in teaching and met Manolita Piña, whom he married in 1909. In 1910 he provided decorations for the Uruguayan pavilion at the Exposition Universelle et Internationale in Brussels. In ...