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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

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

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

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

(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

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 (...