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Göran Schildt

(Henrik)

(b Kuortane, Feb 3, 1898; d Helsinki, May 11, 1976).

Finnish architect and designer, active also in America. His success as an architect lay in the individual nature of his buildings, which were always designed with their surrounding environment in mind and with great attention to their practical demands. He never used forms that were merely aesthetic or conditioned by technical factors but looked to the more permanent models of nature and natural forms. He was not anti-technology but believed that technology could be humanized to become the servant of human beings and the promoter of cultural values. One of his important maxims was that architects have an absolutely clear mission: to humanize mechanical forms.

His father was a government surveyor working in the lake district of central Finland and became a counterforce to his son’s strong artistic calling. Instead of becoming a painter, which tempted him for a long time, Alvar chose the career of architect as a possible compromise. He never became a planner dominated by technological thinking, however, but always gave his creations an artistic, humanistic character. He studied at the Technical College in Helsinki (...

Article

(b Harplinge, Halland, June 10, 1891; d Stockholm, March 12, 1984).

Swedish architect and writer. He graduated from the Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan (1914) and from the Kungliga Akademien för de fria Konsterna in Stockholm (1918), before working in the office of Ivar Tengbom. From 1921 to 1924 Ahlberg was a writer for and editor of Byggmästaren, the Swedish journal of building and architecture. His architectural production encompassed the traditionalism and neo-classicism of the early 20th century, as well as the International Style, characterized by rational, pragmatic design. His Arts and Crafts Stand at the Göteborg Jubilee Exposition (1923), with its mannered, slender pavilions, was an early contribution to the neo-classical revival of the 1920s. The Freemasons’ Orphanage (1928–31) at Blackeberg outside Stockholm showed his development of this classicism into austere geometrical simplicity, while the buildings of the Trade Union High School (1928–50) at Brünnsvik, Dalecarlia, are based on the national timber-building tradition, with red panelling, white-framed windows and tiled, hipped roofs. The same combination of rational simplicity and romantic traditionalism occurs in Ahlberg’s ecclesiastical buildings, such as Mälarhöjden Chapel (...

Article

Claudia Büttner

(b Hamburg, July 17, 1883; d W. Berlin, Dec 11, 1973).

German painter. He studied in Hamburg under the German painter Arthur Siebelist (1870–1946) in 1900. In 1907 he went to Paris, where he sought contact with French modernism and its protagonists in the Café du Dôme and as a student at the Académie Matisse. His works completed before World War I reflect the colour of Matisse and the fragmented planes of Cézanne (e.g. Girl in Kimono, oil, 1910; priv. col., see exh. cat., pl. 5). In the inter-war years his depictions of landscapes, portraits and still-lifes are characterized by the harmony of the abstract rhythm of their planes and forms and by the use of silhouettes indebted to Cubism (e.g. From Old Letters, 1933; priv. col., see exh. cat., pl. 10). From 1928 until his dismissal by the Nazis in 1933 Ahlers-Hestermann taught at art colleges in Hamburg and Cologne. From 1946 to 1949 he was head of the Landeskunstschule in Hamburg....

Article

(b Stockholm, Aug 6, 1897; d Arvika, Oct 8, 1977).

Swedish architect and writer. While a student at the Kungliga Tekniska Högskola in Stockholm (1915–19), he participated in the Home Exhibition of the Swedish Society of Arts and Crafts at Liljevalchs Konsthall in Stockholm. He worked in the office of Gunnar Asplund (1921–3), and his early works are in the then-prevalent Neo-classical style. However, he soon adopted the Modernism of Le Corbusier’s Pavillon de l’Esprit Nouveau (1925) and the Weissenhofsiedlung at Stuttgart (1927), and he became a protagonist of rational and socially directed planning and architecture. His Students’ Union building at the Kungliga Tekniska Högskola (1928; with Sven Markelius), the Flamman Cinema (1929) and the Ford Motor Co. warehouse (1930), all in Stockholm, represent this new aesthetic. Furniture and industrial design were also an important part of his work during the 1920s and 1930s. As a prolific writer for the press and professional journals, he was an effective propagandist of Modernism, contributing to the Stockholm Exhibition of ...

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Simone Rümmele

In 

Article

José Manuel Fernandes

(b Lisbon, April 28, 1910; d Lisbon, Feb 19, 1975).

Portuguese architect, theorist and writer. He studied with Carlos Ramos in the early 1930s and his first significant work was a Modernist pavilion (1937; destr.) for the Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne, Paris (1937), a commission he won in competition against Raul Lino. Influenced by contemporary Dutch architecture and urban planning, he designed Lisbon’s airport (1943) at Portela and various works in the capital’s parks. The latter are intimate, modernist and successfully integrated projects, for example restaurants in the Campo Grande park (1948; destr.), in the Florestal de Monsanto park (1940; altered) and in the Eduardo VII park (altered). He also designed for the same parks a municipal swimming-pool (1965), a tennis club building (1952; with Hernâni Gandra and Alberto Pessoa) and the remodelled Estufa Fria (cold house for plants) respectively. A born teacher, researcher and polemicist, Amaral formed a school of theory and practice of architecture in which he fostered the idea of cultural and social awareness as a determining factor in design. In the years following World War II he was active in politics, adhering firmly to left-wing ideas. He was the main instigator of the survey of vernacular architecture in Portugal (...

Article

Kathryn O'Rourke and Ramón Vargas

(b Mexico City, Mar 29, 1915; d Mexico City, May 25, 1959).

Mexican architect, theorist, and writer, of Japanese descent. The son of a Japanese ambassador in Mexico, he studied philosophy, espousing neo-Kantianism and becoming politically a socialist. He became a supporter of Functionalism, with its emphasis on the social applications of architecture, and was a founder, with Enrique Yañez, of the Unión de Arquitectos Socialistas (1938), helping to draw up a socialist theory of architecture. He was one of the most active participants in the Unión and attempted to put his socialist theory into practice on two unexecuted projects in the same year: the building for the Confederación de Trabajadores de México and the Ciudad Obrera de México, both with Enrique Guerrero and Raúl Cacho. Later, when Mexico opted for a developmental policy, Arai became a standard-bearer for nationalism in architecture. He re-evaluated traditional building materials, such as tree trunks, bamboo, palm leaves, and lianas, using them in a plan for a country house that was adapted to the warm, damp climate of the Papaloapan region. The building of the Ciudad Universitaria, Mexico City, gave him his greatest architectural opportunity when he designed the Frontones (...

Article

Iain Boyd Whyte

Association of radical German architects, artists and critics founded in Berlin in December 1918 by Bruno Taut and dissolved on 30 May 1921. The membership grew rapidly and included the architects Otto Bartning, Walter Gropius, Paul Mebes, Erich Mendelsohn, Hans Poelzig, Paul Schmitthenner, Max Taut and Heinrich Tessenow; the painters César Klein, Erich Heckel, Käthe Kollwitz, Ludwig Meidner, Max Pechstein, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and Lyonel Feininger; the sculptors Rudolph Belling, Oswald Herzog and Gerhard Marcks; and such critics and patrons as Adolf Behne (1885–1948), Mechtilde von Lichnowsky (1879–1958), Julius Meier-Graefe, Karl Ernst Osthaus and Wilhelm Worringer.

Bruno Taut initially conceived the group as a political pressure group, the artistic equivalent to the workers’ and soldiers’ councils that held power in November and December 1918. The founding manifesto demanded: ‘Art and the people must form a unity…. From now on the artist alone, as moulder of the sensibilities of the people, will be responsible for the visible fabric of the new state’. The hope of achieving direct political responsibility proved a chimera, however, and an embittered Taut resigned from the leadership of the group at the end of ...

Article

Otakar Máčel

Dutch association of architects, based in Amsterdam from 1927 to 1942. It was founded by six former pupils of the School voor Bouwkunde, Versierende Kunsten en Ambachten in Haarlem: Ben(jamin) Merkelbach, J. H. Groenewegen, Charles Karsten (1904–79), Hans van den Bosch (b 1900), Henri E. van de Pauwert (1895–1981) and Pieter Jan Verschuyl (1902–83). The name, probably coined by van de Pauwert during his military service, derived from the command to attention used in the Dutch army—‘geef acht’, ‘acht’ in Dutch meaning either ‘attention’ or ‘eight’. In the manifesto of De 8, published in the journal I 10 (1927), the young architects presented themselves as pragmatic and international, thus taking a stand against the expressive architectural outlook of the Amsterdam school to which their former teachers belonged. The declaration of intent, stimulated by the ideas of H. P. Berlage, De Stijl and contacts with functionalism in Belgium and Germany, attracted other Dutch architects and engineers connected with the Nieuwe Bouwen (‘new building’) movement of the 1920s. In ...

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(b Stockholm, Sept 22, 1885; d Stockholm, Oct 20, 1940).

Swedish architect and designer. He led the development of Swedish architecture from the classicism characteristic of the period of World War I to the Functionalism of the 1930s. His modern classical style was influential in Nordic countries, but his international reputation was founded on his Modernist work for the Stockholm Exhibition of 1930 and on his posthumous publications.

Asplund studied at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm (1905–9), but he rejected the conventional continuation of training at the Academy of Arts. Instead he joined the Klara School, an alternative studio school which came into existence in 1910–11, where Ivar Tengbom, Carl Bergsten and Ragnar Östberg were among his teachers. Östberg inspired him to travel to Italy in 1913–14, and the lasting impression that Italy made on him was reinforced by the photographs he took there. He was especially interested in vernacular Italian architecture, and the interplay between buildings, landscape and light. He was also stimulated by visits to Denmark, where there was a growing interest in the architecture of the 18th century and early 19th....

Article

Jordi Oliveras

(Maria)

(b Barcelona, Sept 24, 1877; d Barcelona, Nov 4, 1965).

Catalan architect . He completed his architectural studies in the School of Architecture of Barcelona in 1905, at a time when Catalan Modernisme was at its peak, although a reaction against it had also begun to appear in the form of Noucentisme. This is reflected in the first period of Balcells’s career, which was his most brilliant. His early designs, the Calado House (1905) and the Torquella House (1906), both in Cerdanyola, and the Lluch House (1906) in San Cugat del Vallés show an exuberant use of exotic features, inspired by Arabic and Gothic architecture and the strident Eclecticism of the late 19th century. Balcells’s designs subsequently became more moderate, first through his taste for a certain medieval picturesqueness, for example in the Mestres House (1907) and in the Rectoral House (1908), Cerdanyola, and afterwards through his affiliation to Secessionist architecture, for example in the Güal House (...

Article

Libero Andreotti

(b Rovereto, Dec 10, 1896; d Milan, Sept 26, 1982).

Italian architect, stage designer and painter . After studying at the Scuola Reale Elisabettiana, an applied arts school in Rovereto, he joined the Futurist movement, headed locally by Fortunato Depero. After serving in World War I, he enrolled at the Scuola Superiore di Architettura del Politecnico, Milan, graduating in architecture in 1922. He then spent four years (1922–6) in Berlin working as a stage designer and frequenting the avant-garde milieu around Max Reinhardt, Erwin Piscator and Oskar Kokoschka. He returned to Italy in 1926 and set up his own practice. His first important commission, the remodelling of the Bar Craja (1930; with Figini and Pollini) in Milan, with its handsome glass and steel interior, established Baldessari’s reputation as an innovative designer. He collaborated again with Figini and Pollini on the De Angeli-Frua office building (1931–2) in Milan, a fine example of Italian Rationalism at its most restrained. Baldessari’s architectural masterpiece of this period was, however, the Press Pavilion (...

Article

Molly Sorkin

(b Getaria, Jan 21, 1895; d Valencia, March 24, 1972).

Spanish fashion designer, active in Paris. Based in Paris from 1937 to 1968, Balenciaga was a modernist couturier whose designs ranged from the austere to the romantic. His uncompromising vision was defined by his quest for perfection in cut, proportion and construction. Influenced in part by the historical art and culture of his native Spain, Balenciaga’s style was often ahead of its time even as it slowly evolved over more than 40 years. Balenciaga dressed an élite group of women who understood and appreciated how his designs took shape on the body (see fig.). He used minimal understructure, instead relying on the fabric, manipulating it into streamlined suits or voluminous evening dresses. Even the most abstract silhouettes retained a soft quality that was flattering to many figures. Like his friends and fellow couturiers Madeleine Vionnet and Coco Chanel, his work has had a profound influence on 20th and 21st century fashion....

Article

Roberto Pontual

(b Fortaleza, May 26, 1922; d Paris, Oct 6, 1967).

Brazilian painter. In the first half of the 1940s, while still in his native state of Ceará, he was very active in the introduction of modernist ideas. In 1945 he moved to Rio de Janeiro and in 1946 to Paris, where he spent most of the rest of his life. In Paris, where he studied at the Ecole Supérieure de Beaux-Arts and at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, he first painted landscapes and portraits (e.g. Self-portrait, 1947; Rio de Janeiro, Gilberto Chateaubriand priv. col.) that combined elements from Surrealism and Expressionism. He later adopted a gestural abstraction that maintained its links with the outside world through analogies established in poetic titles (e.g. Flowing like a Waterfall, 1964; Rio de Janeiro, Roberto Marinho priv. col.). At the beginning of his stay in France he was briefly part of an informal association with two other artists sharing a similar artistic language, ...

Article

Jean-Louis Cohen

(b Vichy, April 1, 1907; d Vichy, May 30, 1989).

French architect, urban planner and writer . Immediately after his studies at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, he presented designs for a ‘garden city for intellectuals’ at the Salon d’Automne of 1934. He then entered the Institut d’Urbanisme of the University of Paris, where he was much taken with the teaching of the architectural historian Marcel Poëte (1866–1951). He established a reputation in 1937 with La Rome de Mussolini, in which he unreservedly celebrated il Duce’s urban development policy. He worked with Jacques Gréber, the chief architect of the Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne of 1937, and in 1941 he published Problèmes d’urbanisme, in which he set out for the first time a global manifesto linking both spatial and social factors. He was particularly opposed to the planning principles on which Le Corbusier based the sunburst layout of his Ville radieuse, but he commended the functionalist designs of Alexander Klein to a French audience in ...

Article

Blanca García Vega

(b Minas de Ríotinto, Huelva, Jan 12, 1871; d Vera de Bidasoa, Navarra, 1953).

Spanish printmaker, painter and writer . He was self-taught. He belonged to the Generación del 98 and the modernist literary movement. He began engraving in 1901 and won second prize at the Exposición Nacional, Madrid (1906), going on to win first prize in 1908. He also began etching c. 1908, and it became his favourite technique, although he also made lithographs. Both his prints and paintings have a literary content and focus thematically on life’s human aspects in a way reminiscent of the work of Toulouse-Lautrec. He illustrated Rubén Darío’s Coloquio de los centauros. Despite their lack of fine detail, his prints are realistic, for example Bar Types (etching and aquatint, c. 1906–9; Madrid, Bib. N.) and Beggars (etching and aquatint, c. 1910; Madrid, Bib. N.). His impressionistic painting style of the 1920s became more roughly worked later, possibly due to the loss of an eye in 1931. In ...

Article

(b Guadalajara, Mar 9, 1902; d Mexico City, Nov 22, 1988).

Mexican architect. Recipient of the Pritzker Prize, he was the most celebrated of Mexico’s modern architects, known for his regionally inflected designs. Born to a wealthy, devoutly Catholic family, he earned his degree in civil engineering from Guadalajara’s Escuela Libre de Ingenieros in 1923, and soon after completed his course in architecture (though the school closed before his degree could be awarded). On trips to Europe and the USA in 1924–1925, 1930, and 1931 he was impressed by the Alhambra and by the work of Le Corbusier; he also made important contacts with muralist José Clemente Orozco, Architectural Record editor Lawrence Kocher, French author, artist, and architect Ferdinand Bac (1859–1952), and Le Corbusier himself, whose lectures he attended in Paris in 1931. Barragán is best known for a small group of gardens, houses, and subdivisions built around Mexico City between 1945 and 1976 that blend Modernist minimalism with brilliant colors and elements drawn from Mexican colonial and vernacular buildings. Called ...

Article

Kathleen James-Chakraborty

(b Karlsruhe, April 12, 1883; d Darmstadt, Feb 20, 1959).

German architect and writer. Bartning studied at the Technische Hochschule in Karlsruhe and at the Technische Hochschule and the University in Berlin. In 1905 he established a practice in Berlin. By 1918 he had received c. 50 commissions, but he only began to publish his work after World War I. The upheavals of the period prompted him to propose the spatial and stylistic reorganization of German Protestant church building as a means of restoring social harmony. His book, On New Church Buildings, appeared in 1919 and spurred a revolution in German sacred architecture. During the 1920s Bartning joined the Novembergruppe, the Arbeitsrat für Kunst, and Der Ring, the principal German avant-garde artistic and architectural groups. His most interesting contribution to the brief period of German Expressionism was the Sternkirche project (1922). The centralized church is surmounted by a roof of layered concrete shells that are supported by a thicket of columns, intended as a reinterpretation of Gothic construction....

Article

Bauhaus  

Rainer K. Wick

[Bauhaus Berlin; Bauhaus Dessau, Hochschule für Gestaltung; Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar]

German school of art, design and architecture, founded by Walter Gropius. It was active in Weimar from 1919 to 1925, in Dessau from 1925 to 1932 and in Berlin from 1932 to 1933, when it was closed down by the Nazi authorities. The Bauhaus’s name referred to the medieval Bauhütten or masons’ lodges. The school re-established workshop training, as opposed to impractical academic studio education. Its contribution to the development of Functionalism in architecture was widely influential. It exemplified the contemporary desire to form unified academies incorporating art colleges, colleges of arts and crafts and schools of architecture, thus promoting a closer cooperation between the practice of ‘fine’ and ‘applied’ art and architecture. The origins of the school lay in attempts in the 19th and early 20th centuries to re-establish the bond between artistic creativity and manufacturing that had been broken by the Industrial Revolution. According to Walter Gropius in ...

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Kathleen James-Chakraborty

After the closure in 1933 of the Bauhaus in Berlin, its staff and students dispersed. Many found their way to the USA, where they became highly influential teachers as well as artists and architects. The pedagogical methods developed at the school, particularly in the preliminary course, became commonplace in all levels of art education, as the former centrality in America of life drawing to instruction in the visual arts was now challenged by experimentation with abstract principles of composition and the qualities of individual materials.

Josef and Anni Albers family were the first Bauhäusler to immigrate to the USA. They arrived in 1933 and quickly took up positions at Black Mountain College, NC. In 1950 Josef became chair of the department of design at Yale University, New Haven, CT, from which he retired in 1958. His increasingly rigorous investigations into geometry and colour culminated in a series of paintings entitled ...