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Article

Anna Rowland

(Lajos)

(b Pécs, May 21, 1902; d New York, July 1, 1981).

American furniture designer and architect of Hungarian birth. In 1920 he took up a scholarship at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Vienna, but he left almost immediately to find a job in an architect’s office. A few weeks later he enrolled at the Bauhaus at Weimar on the recommendation of the Hungarian architect Fred Forbat (1897–1972). Breuer soon became an outstanding student in the carpentry workshop, which he led in its endeavours to find radically innovative forms for modern furniture. In practice, this meant rejecting traditional forms, which were considered symbolic of bourgeois life. The results of these experiments were initially as idiosyncratic as those of other workshops at Weimar, including the adoption of non-Western forms, for example the African chair (1921; see Rowland, 1990, p. 66) and an aggressively castellated style inspired by Constructivism.

Breuer was impressed by De Stijl, whose founder Theo van Doesburg made his presence felt in Weimar in ...

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

Gilbert Herbert

(Adolf Georg)

(b Berlin, May 18, 1883; d Boston, MA, July 5, 1969).

American architect, industrial designer and teacher of German birth. He was one of the most influential figures in the development of the Modern Movement, whose contribution lay as much in his work as theoretician and teacher as it did in his innovative architecture. The important buildings and projects in Gropius’s career—the early factories, the Bauhaus complex at Dessau (1925–6), the Totaltheater project for Berlin, the housing estates and prefabricated dwellings—were all more than immediate answers to specific problems. Rather, they were a series of researches in which he sought prototypical solutions that would offer universal applicability. They were also didactic in purpose—concrete demonstrations, manifestos, of his theories and beliefs. His theories sought to integrate the individual and society, art and industry, form and function and the part with the whole. He left Germany for England in 1934; three years later he emigrated to the USA, where he continued to teach, write and design for the rest of his life....

Article

Olgierd Czerner

Polish architectural partnership formed in 1926 by Bohdan Lachert (b Moscow, 13 June 1900; d Warsaw, 8 Jan 1987) and Józef Szanajca (b Lublin, 17 March 1902; d Płazów, 24 Sept 1939). Lachert studied in the Department of Architecture, Technical University of Warsaw (1919–26). Szanajca graduated from the same institution and worked there as assistant from 1929 until his death. They became friends in 1922 and prepared their first joint project in 1924; in 1926 they became members of the avant-garde Praesens group and were later in contact with CIAM. They were supporters of radical Functionalism and the introduction of new materials like glass and steel. At the same time they designed some small, standardized houses (1926) at Klementynów, near Warsaw, which were cubist in shape and constructed from a combination of prefabricated components and traditional timber. The partnership of Lachert and Szanajca was prolific; between ...

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

(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

(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

Christina Lodder

Russian family of architects and urban planners. The brothers Leonid Aleksandrovich Vesnin (b Nizhny Novgorod, 10 Dec 1880; d Moscow, 8 Oct 1933), Viktor Aleksandrovich Vesnin (b Yur’evets, 9 April 1882; d Moscow, 17 Sept 1950) and Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Vesnin (b Yur’evets, 16 May 1883; d Moscow, 7 Nov 1959) worked independently on occasion but are best known for their collaborative projects. After the Revolution of 1917 they had a central role in formulating and developing Constructivism, which became the dominant form of architectural Modernism in the USSR in the 1920s. Aleksandr Vesnin, the most active and innovative of the brothers, also had a significant early career as a painter and theatre designer.

The Vesnins received their secondary education at the Practical Academy of Commercial Sciences, Moscow, but while Leonid completed his architectural training at the Academy of Fine Arts in St Petersburg, Viktor and Aleksandr attended the Institute of Civil Engineering, St Petersburg, where emphasis was laid on the technical aspects of architecture. Their studies were interrupted due to the authorities closing the Institute, and they did not graduate until ...