Never realized before just how plugged-in Walter Benjamin was with the avant-garde architectural scene in Germany, France, and Austria during his day. Seriously, even just skimming through the convolutes of his unfinished Arcades Project, the text is teeming with references to Le Corbusier’s Urbanisme (1925), Adolf Behne’s Neues Wohnen — Neues Bauen (1927), Sigfried Giedion’s Bauen in Frankreich, Bauen in Eisen, Bauen in Eisenbeton (1928), and Emil Kaufmann’s Von Ledoux bis Le Corbusier, Ursprung und Entwicklung der Autonomen Architektur (1933). An acquaintance pointed out to me that he corresponded with Erich Auerbach, later author of Mimesis, as well.
Surprisingly prescient, too. Corbu was already an established figure by then, but Giedion and Kaufmann were relatively unknown. Auerbach wasn’t even on the radar.
Over the next few posts will be spread out some of Benjamin’s notes quoting and discussing some of these figures.