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Article

Gisela Moeller

(b Berlin, April 12, 1871; d Berlin, April 13, 1925).

German architect, designer, writer and teacher. After moving to Munich in 1892, he abandoned his plan to become a teacher, deciding on a career as a freelance scholar. He then studied aesthetics, psychology and philosophy, being particularly influenced by the lectures of the psychologist Theodor Lipps. He also studied German literature, art and music. In 1895 he intended to write a doctorate on the theme of ‘The Construction of Feeling’. In spring 1896 he met Hermann Obrist, who persuaded him to abandon his proposed academic career and become a self-taught artist. As well as book illustrations and decorative pieces for the art magazines Pan and Dekorative Kunst, he produced decorative designs for wall reliefs, carpets, textiles, coverings, window glass and lamps. In 1897 he designed his first furniture for his cousin, the historian Kurt Breysig. His first architectural work, the Elvira photographic studio in Munich (1896–7; destr. 1944), decorated on its street façade by a gigantic, writhing dragon, was a quintessential work of ...

Article

Yehuda Safran

(b Brünn [now Brno], Moravia, Dec 10, 1870; d Kalksburg, Austria, Aug 23, 1933).

Austrian architect, theorist and writer. He was an often satirical critic of the Vienna Secession, an early advocate of the Functionalist aesthetic, a radical polemicist and one of the most important and influential pioneers of the Modern Movement, achieving in his buildings of c. 1910 the style generally adopted elsewhere only a decade later.

His father had studied painting but worked as a sculptor and mason in Brünn, then an important industrial centre of the Austro-Hungarian empire, and early contact with his father’s workshop probably influenced Loos’s choice of career as well as his understanding of and respect for natural materials. In 1887 he obtained a bricklayer’s certificate, in 1887–8 he studied at the Gewerbeschule in Reichenberg and he eventually completed a building engineering course at the Gewerbeschule in Brünn. He then decided to train as an architect and in 1889 attended the Technische Hochschule, Dresden. His course was interrupted by army service and a period at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Vienna; he returned to Dresden (...

Article

Rhys W. Williams

(b Pesitza, Austria–Hungary, June 10, 1867; d Vevey, Switzerland, June 5, 1935).

German art historian. He studied engineering in Munich, Zurich and Liège, before moving to Berlin in 1890, where he attended the university and became involved in artistic circles. In 1894 he co-founded the periodical Pan, becoming its art editor and financial manager, though he was dismissed in April 1895 by wealthy and conservative patrons unhappy with the emphasis given to French art, after publication of the first issue. He moved in 1895 to Paris, where he had already met avant-garde artists, and in 1898 founded the periodical Dekorative Kunst, in which he championed Art Nouveau; he opened an Art Nouveau gallery, La Maison Moderne, in Paris in 1899, which closed in 1903. Returning to Berlin in 1904, he published his most significant contribution to art history, Die Entwicklungsgeschichte der modernen Kunst, in which he was concerned to define the specifically artistic (‘das Bildhafte’) in isolation from socio-economic or historical factors, to trace its development in the 19th century, and to offer a basis for a new aesthetic: 19th-century painting from Delacroix to the Post-Impressionists was presented as a series of solutions to formal problems. In further controversial essays on Arnold Böcklin and Adolf Friedrich Erdmann Menzel, Meier-Graefe questioned prevailing academic and nationalistic judgements. Subsequently he published studies devoted to Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot and Courbet, and to the French Impressionists. His ...

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

Julius Posener

(b Grossneuhaus, April 20, 1861; d Berlin, Oct 26, 1927).

German architect, architectural historian, theorist and critic. He worked with Ende & Böckmann, one of the leading architectural firms in Berlin, who employed him in Tokyo (1887–91), where he designed a Gothic Revival German church. On his return to Germany he joined the Ministry of Public Works and was appointed technical attaché (1896–1903) to the German Embassy in London. In England he studied the work of the English country-house architects from about 1870: the earlier figures, Philip Webb and R. Norman Shaw, and his own contemporaries C. F. A. Voysey, Edwin Lutyens and W. R. Lethaby. He published several accounts of his investigations of English architectural culture, most notably the three-volume Das englische Haus (Berlin, 1904–05). This detailed study, which considers the house, and architecture in general, as an expression of the society of which it is a part, expressed Muthesius’s enthusiasm for England and his belief that the immediate future belonged to this style of building. It was much admired in England, but its effect in Germany was to provoke controversy; even in the 1920s a copy was still kept locked away from students of the Technische Hochschule, Berlin. Although keen to promote an awareness of the functional and practical in architecture, Muthesius did not go so far as to see the form of a house as merely the result of fulfilling functional needs. He never denied that the architect was an artist, motivated by the desire to give a convincing visual expression. Indeed his admiration went to artistically minded architects, such as Lutyens and Charles Rennie Mackintosh, who became a close friend, rather than to the more severely rational, such as Voysey....

Article

Rosemarie Hopfner

[Friedrich] (Wilhelm)

(b Bremen, Nov 4, 1869; d Hamburg, Nov 5, 1947).

German architect, urban planner and writer. He was born into an old-established family of merchants. His childhood and early youth were spent in Bogotá and New York. Although he first studied mathematics and science (1889–96) in Munich and Berlin, he gradually applied himself to studying architecture. His teacher Friedrich von Thiersch placed it in a historicizing style. From 1896 until 1901 he was an architect at the Stadtbauamt in Leipzig under Hugo Licht. He was involved in the construction of the town hall, the St Johanniskirche and the rebuilding of the town library. In this period he went on long study trips to Paris, Rome, London, the Netherlands and Belgium. He was a regular collaborator on the journals Dekorative Kunst and Kunstwart.

In 1901 Schumacher was appointed to the Technische Hochschule in Dresden. He read about interior architecture, the stylistics of arts and crafts, the morphology of Classical architecture and taught freehand and decorative drawing for engineers and architects. In ...

Article

Ludovica Scarpa

(b Königsberg [now Kaliningrad, Russian Federation], Nov 5, 1885; d Cambridge, MA, April 28, 1957).

German architect, urban planner and theorist, active also in the USA. After brief apprenticeships in the studio of Hermann Muthesius in Berlin (1908–9) and with Fritz Schumacher in Hamburg (1911), he was appointed director of urban planning at Rüstringen (now Wilhelmshaven), where he remained until 1914, producing his first examples of municipal architecture. From 1918 to 1920 he was chief planner at Schöneberg, a suburb of Berlin. Here he designed the Siedlung Lindenhof housing estate (1918–19; destr. 1944). Wagner’s principal interest was in producing low-cost housing provided with the social and hygienic requisites lacking in the speculative building typical of large 19th-century cities. This preoccupation led him to assist in the establishment of cooperative building ventures funded by trades unions, such as the Bauhütte Berlin (1919), the Verband Sozialer Baubetriebe (1920–24) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft zur Förderung des Wohnungsbaus (Dewog). As director of the latter’s branch in Berlin, the Gemeinnützige Heimstätten AG (Gehag), Wagner initiated the construction of the Hufeisensiedlung (...