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Alberti, Leon Battista  

Paul Davies and David Hemsoll

(b Genoa, Feb 14, 1404; d Rome, April 1472).

Italian architect, sculptor, painter, theorist and writer. The arts of painting, sculpture and architecture were, for Alberti, only three of an exceptionally broad range of interests, for he made his mark in fields as diverse as family ethics, philology and cryptography. It is for his contribution to the visual arts, however, that he is chiefly remembered. Alberti single-handedly established a theoretical foundation for the whole of Renaissance art with three revolutionary treatises, on painting, sculpture and architecture, which were the first works of their kind since Classical antiquity. Moreover, as a practitioner of the arts, he was no less innovative. In sculpture he seems to have been instrumental in popularizing, if not inventing, the portrait medal, but it was in architecture that he found his métier. Building on the achievements of his immediate predecessors, Filippo Brunelleschi and Michelozzo di Bartolomeo, he reinterpreted anew the architecture of antiquity and introduced compositional formulae that have remained central to classical design ever since....

Article

Bötticher, Karl  

Michael J. Lewis

(Gottlieb Wilhelm)

(b Nordhausen, May 29, 1806; d Berlin, June 19, 1889).

German architect, theorist, teacher and writer. He entered the Berlin Bauakademie in 1827 and soon became a leading figure in the new Architekten-Verein zu Berlin (see Berlin §II 3.). Like many of his generation, he was much influenced by Karl Friedrich Schinkel and had a youthful fascination with the Gothic. His first book was a study of medieval timber architecture. He was particularly concerned with the relationship between style and construction and he soon began to apply this analysis to Greek architecture. The result was his monumental Die Tektonik der Hellenen (1843–51). The Rundbogenstil architect Heinrich Hübsch had already suggested that the forms of ancient Greek architecture were based on stone construction and not derived from timber antecedents. Bötticher expanded this insight into a vast system that explained all of Greek architecture in structural terms. For him, Greek architecture was rational building, its forms corresponding absolutely to the requirements of the stone used in its post and lintel construction. This constituted a major upheaval in the interpretation of Classical architecture, insisting that its elements were sanctioned neither by their historical pedigree nor by Platonic perfection of form, but rather by immutable physical and material laws. Bötticher briefly considered synthesizing Greek and Gothic structural principles to form a new style, but he quickly abandoned the idea, arguing that it would be superficial. In a prophetic ...

Article

Durand, Jean-Nicolas-Louis  

Werner Szambien

(b Paris, Sept 18, 1760; d Thiais, Dec 31, 1834).

French architect, teacher and writer. He was one of the most influential teachers of his time, and his radically rationalist approach, which emphasized priority of function and economy of means, was expressed in analytical writings that remained popular into the 20th century. He studied under Pierre Panseron (fl 1736) and from 1776 in the office of Etienne-Louis Boullée. He also took courses with Julien-David Le Roy at the Académie d’Architecture and participated in competitions under the guidance of Jean-Rodolphe Perronet. He twice came second in the Prix de Rome: in 1779 for a museum and in 1780 for a school. During the 1780s he worked as a draughtsman for Boullée and for the engraver Jean-François Janinet. In 1788 construction began in the Rue du Faubourg-Poissonnière, Paris, of his Maison Lathuille, a building with Néo-Grec decoration but with a layout characterized by its extreme simplicity. About 1790 he executed a series of drawings entitled ...

Article

Endell, August  

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

Hübsch, (Gottlieb) Heinrich  

Claudia Bölling

(Christian)

(b Weinheim an der Bergstrasse, Feb 9, 1795; d Karlsruhe, April 3, 1863).

German architect, architectural historian, theorist, writer and teacher. He was the son of a local postmaster and was educated in Darmstadt. In 1813 he entered the University of Heidelberg to read philosophy and mathematics. There he came under the influence of Friedrich Creuzer (1771–1858), a pioneer in the field of historiography and the empirical study of history; Hübsch later used Creuzer’s theories in his approach to architectural history. After only two years Hübsch decided to study architecture under Friedrich Weinbrenner in Karlsruhe, perhaps influenced to change direction by Georg Moller, whom he had met in Darmstadt. Hübsch stayed in Karlsruhe for two years and then between 1817 and 1820 made study trips to Italy, Greece and Constantinople. Throughout his life he continued to make similar journeys all over Europe, particularly to Italy, France and England. During 1823 and 1824 he again stayed in Rome, where he mixed with the German expatriate circles and particularly with the Nazarenes. In ...

Article

Le Corbusier  

Tim Benton

[Jeanneret, Charles-Edouard]

(b La Chaux de Fonds, Oct 6, 1887; d Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, Alps-Maritimes, France, Aug 27, 1965).

Swiss architect, urban planner, painter, writer, designer and theorist, active mostly in France. In the range of his work and in his ability to enrage the establishment and surprise his followers, he was matched in the field of modern architecture perhaps only by Frank Lloyd Wright. He adopted the pseudonym Le Corbusier for his architectural work c. 1920 and for his paintings c. 1930. His visionary books, startling white houses and terrifying urban plans set him at the head of the Modern Movement in the 1920s, while in the 1930s he became more of a complex and sceptical explorer of cultural and architectural possibilities. After World War II he frequently shifted position, serving as ‘Old Master’ of the establishment of modern architecture and as unpredictable and charismatic leader for the young. Most of his great ambitions (urban and housing projects) were never fulfilled. However, the power of his designs to stimulate thought is the hallmark of his career. Before he died, he established the Fondation Le Corbusier in Paris to look after and make available to scholars his library, architectural drawings, sketches and paintings....

Article

Relational aesthetics  

Nadja Rottner

French critic and philosopher Nicolas Bourriaud adopted the term ‘relational aesthetics’ in the mid-1990s to refer to the work of a selected group of artists, and what he considers their novel approach to a socially conscious art of participation: an art that takes as its content the human relations elicited by the artwork. Its key practitioners, most of them emerging in the 1990s, include Rirkrit Tiravanija , Philippe Parreno (b 1964), Liam Gillick, Pierre Huyghe, Maurizio Cattelan, Carsten Höller , and Vanessa Beecroft . For example, Carsten Höller installed Test Site (2006) at the Tate Modern in London so that visitors could enjoy the amusement park thrill of large playground slides in the museum’s Turbine Hall, and bond with fellow viewers over their experience. Bourriaud’s collected writings in Relational Aesthetics (1998, Eng. edn 2002) helped to spark a new wave of interest in participatory art.

While Bourriaud omits acknowledging the historical roots of relational art, Marxist-influenced critiques of the changing conditions of modern life, and arguments for art’s ability to improve man’s relationship with reality have a long history in 20th-century art. Critics Walter Benjamin and Siegfried Kracauer were among the first to developed new models for an art of politicized participation in the 1920s. The relational art of the 1990s and early 2000s is a continuation and an extension of traditions of participatory art throughout the 20th century (such as ...

Article

Semper, Gottfried  

Wolfgang Herrmann

(b Hamburg, Nov 29, 1803; d Rome, May 15, 1879).

German architect, teacher and writer. He was one of the best-known and authoritative exponents of the historicist approach to architecture that dominated mid-19th-century Europe, as expressed particularly in his public buildings for Dresden and for Vienna’s Ringstrasse. He was also an influential teacher and theorist, and his ideas inspired many important architects of the next generation who were involved in new developments that ultimately led to the advent of modern architecture.

He entered the University of Göttingen in 1823 to study mathematics, an interest he retained throughout his life, as shown by his subsequent investigation of ancient Greek geometry: his pamphlet Über die bleieren Schleudergeschosse der Alten was written in 1853 to prove that trajectories calculated by the Greeks coincided with curves of optimal efficiency. In 1825, pressed by his parents to follow a more rewarding career, he applied for a post in hydraulic engineering. While awaiting the outcome of his application, he went to Munich and registered for the architectural course at the Akademie, where Friedrich von Gärtner was Professor of Architecture; Semper cannot be called a pupil of Gärtner’s, however, as he soon left Munich to stay for some time in Heidelberg and Regensburg, before departing in ...

Article

Venturi, Robert  

Mark Alan Hewitt

(b Philadelphia, PA, June 25, 1925).

American architect. The only child of an Italian–American greengrocer, he was raised in Philadelphia and attended the élite Episcopal Academy in Merion, PA. Entering Princeton University in 1944, he graduated summa cum laude in architecture in 1947, and earned a MFA degree in 1950. Venturi served his apprenticeship in the offices of Oskar Stonorov, Eero Saarinen, and Louis I. Kahn, before winning the Rome Prize in 1954. Upon his return from Rome he began teaching at the University of Pennsylvania, and opened his own architectural office in 1957.

Venturi immediately began to separate himself from the predominant functionalist philosophy associated with the Harvard Bauhaus and the sterile steel and glass aesthetic of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe ’s Chicago school. His first book, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (1966), argued that the “messy vitality” of the contemporary environment demanded buildings that embraced complexity and ambiguity, and embodied “the difficult whole.” This book, and two controversial early buildings—the Vanna Venturi (Mother’s) House (...

Article

Viollet-le-Duc, Eugène-Emmanuel  

Françoise Bercé

(b Paris, Jan 27, 1814; d Lausanne, Sept 17, 1879).

French architect, restorer, designer and writer. He is one of the few architects whose name is known to the general public in France, although his fame as a restorer of medieval buildings is often accompanied by a somewhat unflattering critical judgement: a restoration ‘à la Viollet-le-Duc’ is usually understood to be abusive in terms of the original work and is often confused with the type of eclectic architecture that he himself particularly disliked. Through his published writings, particularly his Dictionnaire raisonné de l’architecture française du XIe au XVIe siècle (1854–68), he made a substantial contribution to contemporary knowledge of medieval buildings. In addition, his writings and theories had an enormous impact on attitudes to restoration (see Architectural conservation and restoration) and on contemporary design, not only for the Gothic Revival movement but also in the development of rationalism, providing an important stimulus to new movements in architecture both in France and abroad (...

Article

Wittgenstein, Ludwig  

Malcolm Budd

(Josef Johann)

(b Vienna, April 26, 1889; d Cambridge, April 29, 1951).

Austrian philosopher and architect, son of Karl Wittgenstein. Although initially interested in engineering, he went to Cambridge in 1911 to study philosophy with Bertrand Russell (1872–1970). Wittgenstein fought with distinction as a volunteer for the Austrian Army in World War I, during which he completed the ‘Logisch-philosophische Abhandlung’, the definitive expression of his early philosophy, after which he abandoned the subject, believing he had solved all its problems. After a revival of his interest, however, he returned to Cambridge in 1929, where he became Professor of Mental Philosophy and Logic in 1939, resigning in 1947. He adopted British citizenship in 1938. His second major work, Philosophical Investigations, which overturns the results of his early thought, was published posthumously in 1953; also significant is the extensive Nachlass.

Wittgenstein had a deep interest in the arts, and he confessed that only aesthetic questions gripped him as deeply as the conceptual questions of philosophy. He modelled a bust in the workshop of the sculptor ...