Typology and ideology: Moisei Ginzburg revisited



Ig­or Dukhan
Be­lor­usian State
University, 2013

Vic­tor Car­pov be­longs to that rare breed of con­tem­por­ary schol­ars who have pre­served the “pure prin­ciples” of such Rus­si­an art the­or­ists as Al­ex­an­der Gab­richevskii, Vassilii Zubov, and Aleksandr Rap­pa­port and linked them with the West­ern meth­od­o­logy of ar­chi­tec­tur­al ty­po­logy, drawn from the work of Joseph Ryk­wert, Gi­ulio Carlo Ar­gan and oth­ers. He is a seni­or fel­low of the In­sti­tute for the The­ory and His­tory of Ar­chi­tec­ture and Urb­an Plan­ning in Mo­scow and one of the lead­ing ar­chi­tec­tur­al thinkers in Rus­sia today.

The pa­per “Ty­po­logy and Ideo­logy: Moi­sei Gin­zburg Re­vis­ited” was pub­lished in 2013 in the magazine Aka­demia: Arkhitek­tura i Stroitel­stvo [Aca­demia: Ar­chi­tec­ture, and Con­struc­tion] and was based on a lec­ture, first presen­ted at the con­fer­ence “Style and Epoch,” which was or­gan­ized by the Aleksei Shchu­sev State Mu­seum of Ar­chi­tec­ture in co­oper­a­tion with the In­sti­tute for the The­ory and His­tory of Ar­chi­tec­ture and Urb­an Plan­ning, and ded­ic­ated to the cen­ten­ary of Moi­sei Gin­zburg’s birth. This pa­per is closely con­nec­ted with Vic­tor Car­pov’s en­tire re­search in­to the evol­u­tion of ar­chi­tec­tur­al ty­po­logy, which cel­eb­rated an im­port­ant step in con­tem­por­ary post-Heide­g­geri­an ar­chi­tec­tur­al the­ory.

Already in his dis­ser­ta­tion of 1992, the au­thor con­sidered the his­tory of ty­po­lo­gic­al think­ing in ar­chi­tec­ture from Vit­ruvi­us to the late twen­ti­eth-cen­tury ar­chi­tects and the­or­ists (Saverio Mur­atori, Gi­ulio Carlo Ar­gan, Aldo Rossi, Joseph Ryk­wert, Rob and Léon Kri­er and oth­ers). Later, an in­terest in ty­po­lo­gic­al (that is, on­to­lo­gic­al and pre-lin­guist­ic) think­ing in ar­chi­tec­ture — which might be called ar­chi­tec­ton­ic think­ing per se — led him to Al­berti and oth­er her­oes of ty­po­lo­gic­al think­ing in ar­chi­tec­ture in es­says in­clud­ing “Tip-an­ti­tip: k arkhitek­turnoi ger­me­nevtike” [Type-An­ti­type: To­wards Ar­chi­tec­tur­al Her­men­eut­ics] of 1991 (re­vised in 2012).

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Jan Tschichold and the new typography

Like many of his con­tem­por­ar­ies, Jan Tschich­old ad­hered to a kind of “apolit­ic­al so­cial­ism” dur­ing the 1920s. Wal­ter Gropi­us, Lud­wig Mies van der Rohe, and nu­mer­ous oth­ers shared this out­look. He helped design books for the left-wing “Book Circle” series from 1924 to 1926. Tschich­old quoted Trot­sky’s Lit­er­at­ure and Re­volu­tion (1924) with ap­prov­al in the in­aug­ur­al is­sue of Ty­po­graph­is­che Mit­teilun­gen, pub­lished that same year:

The wall di­vid­ing art and in­dustry will come down. The great style of the fu­ture will not dec­or­ate, it will or­gan­ize. It would be wrong to think this means the de­struc­tion of art, as giv­ing way to tech­no­logy.

Dav­id Crow­ley and Paul Job­ling sug­gest that “Tschich­old had been so en­am­ored of the So­viet Uni­on that he had signed his works ‘Iwan [Ivan] Tschich­old’ for a peri­od in the 1920s, and worked for Ger­man trade uni­ons.” Some of this en­thu­si­asm was doubt­less the res­ult of his con­tact with El Lis­sitzky and his Hun­gari­an dis­ciple László Mo­holy-Nagy, a le­gend in his own right.

In 1927, a pen man­u­fac­turer ac­cused Tschich­old of be­ing a com­mun­ist, which promp­ted fel­low ty­po­graph­er Stan­ley Mor­is­on to rise to his de­fense. From that point for­ward, his work be­came even less overtly polit­ic­al.


Yet he re­mained cog­niz­ant of the re­volu­tion­ary ori­gins of mod­ern or­tho­graphy. “At the same time that he was pro­mul­gat­ing the de­pol­it­i­cized func­tion­al­ism of the New Ty­po­graphy,” writes Steph­en Eskilson. “Tschich­old still re­cog­nized his debt to Con­struct­iv­ism’s Rus­si­an, com­mun­ist roots.” Chris­toph­er Burke thus also writes in his study of Act­ive Lit­er­at­ure: Jan Tschich­old and the New Ty­po­graphy that

Tschich­old’s com­pil­a­tion con­tains the Con­struct­iv­ists’ Pro­gram in an ed­ited and abridged — one might even say adul­ter­ated — Ger­man ver­sion ad­ap­ted by Tschich­old him­self. The Marx­ist-Len­in­ist rhet­or­ic of the ori­gin­al is sig­ni­fic­antly toned down: for ex­ample, the pro­clam­a­tion in the ori­gin­al that reads “Our sole ideo­logy is sci­entif­ic com­mun­ism based on the the­ory of his­tor­ic­al ma­ter­i­al­ism: loses its ref­er­ence to sci­entif­ic com­mun­ism in Tschich­old’s ver­sion. He was ob­vi­ously tail­or­ing the text for his read­er­ship in Ger­many, where the Novem­ber Re­volu­tion im­me­di­ately after the First World War had been ruth­lessly sup­pressed. The Ger­man Com­mun­ist Party lead­ers, Karl Lieb­knecht and Rosa Lux­em­burg, were murdered in cold blood on 15 Janu­ary 1919 by right-wing, coun­ter­re­volu­tion­ary troops with the ta­cit ac­cept­ance of the So­cial Demo­crat gov­ern­ment of the Wei­mar Re­pub­lic it­self.

Tschich­old him­self called for an ob­ject­ive, im­per­son­al, col­lect­ive work destined for all, es­pous­ing a vaguely left-wing but not overtly com­mun­ist point of view com­mon to many state­ments from this peri­od of In­ter­na­tion­al Con­struct­iv­ism in Ger­many. Des­pite quot­ing Trot­sky in Ele­ment­are Ty­po­graph­ie, Tschich­old did not be­long to the Ger­man Com­mun­ist Party, nor was he as­so­ci­ated with any par­tic­u­lar “-ism” or group, apart from the Ring neue Wer­begestal­ter later in the 1920s and 1930s, which had no polit­ic­al di­men­sion.

Re­gard­less, the Nazis sus­pec­ted Tschich­old of har­bor­ing com­mun­ist sym­path­ies. Continue reading

Walter Gropius’ International Architecture (1925)

The following translation of Walter Gropius’ International Architecture (1925) is adapted from Kenneth W. Kaiser’s 1964 translation for his thesis at MIT. It is, to date, the only translation of the brief text which accompanies the photos and plans featured in the volume. All the images and pages reproduced here come from scans uploaded over at the excellent Monoskop archive. Here’s the full-text PDF of Gropius’ groundbreaking Internationale Architektur.

Further on, directly after the translation, there’s the original German text. Quite short,though not quite Miesian in its brevity. Of course, Gropius openly admits that the book’s primary function was intended to be visual. Enjoy!

Bauhausbücher 1, Walter Gropius (ed.), Internationale Architektur, 1925, 111 p, 23 cm_Page_101 Bauhausbücher 1, Walter Gropius (ed.), Internationale Architektur, 1925, 111 p, 23 cm_Page_038

International Architecture

Walter Gropius
Bauhaus Books 1
Weimar, 1925


International Architecture
is a picture book of the modern art of building. It will in concise form give a survey of the works of the leading modern architects of the cultured countries of the world and make the developments of today’s architectural design familiar.1

The works pictured on the following pages carry beside their differing individual and national characteristics, common features that are the same for all countries. This relationship, which every layman can observe, is a sign of great significance for the future, foretelling a general will-to-form of a fundamentally new kind represented in all the cultured countries.

In the recent past the art of building sank into sentimental decorative conceptions of the aesthete,, whose goal was the outward display of motives, ornaments, and profiles taken mostly from past cultures, which were without essential importance to the body of the building. The building became depreciated as a carrier of superficial, dead decoration, instead of being a living organism. The indispensable connection with advancing technology (and its new materials and construction methods) was lost in this are many for each building problem — the creative artist, within the boundaries his time sets upon him, chooses according to his personal sensibilities. The work therefore carries the signature of its creator. But it is wrong to infer from this the necessity for emphasis on the individual at any cost. On the contrary, the will to develop a unified world picture, the will which characterizes our age, presupposes the longing to liberate spiritual values from their confinement to the individual and to elevate them to objective importance. Then the unity of the arts, which leads to culture, will follow by itself. Continue reading

Van Nelle factory in Rotterdam (1926-1930)

Manfredo Tafuri
Francesco Dal Co
Modern Architecture

Between 1926 and 1930, Johannes Andreas Brinkman and Leendert van der Vlugt realized their most prestigious work, the van Nelle factory in Rotterdam, which has aroused much enthusiasm and certainly has its place among the architectural achievements of our century. The long parallelepiped with alternate courses of cement and glass, interrupted in modular manner by tense vertical blocks counterposed dialectically by the curving office block, is a tribute to the potentialities of modern labor. Its architecture is the product of a clearly thought-out program linking construction to the needs of production: inside, the rooms, with elegant mushroom pillars seen through the windows, were laid out strictly on the basis of the organization of the work. It was adaptable to eventual extensions, in every sense an open structure, and its quality stems from the process of functional simplification; the rational organization of the work done in it is further emphasized by the excellent natural lighting in an interior for the best possible working conditions. This realistic approach to production is based on an enlightened relationship between man and machine. [Pg. 225]

Click the images in the gallery below to see them enlarged.

Scary architecture: The early works of Hans Poelzig

Expressionism was an odd style, architecturally speaking. Mendelsohn’s stuff in the early 1920s was amoebic, stretching, undulating; by the end of the decade, he was committed to Sachlichkeit. Some of the dynamism of his expressionist pieces carried over into his more functionalist designs, as in the Red Banner factory in Leningrad (1926). Taut’s work in glass was marvelous, of course — and his ideas concerning the dissolution of the city were interesting as well. Hans Scharoun’s curvaceous forms were closer to the International Style from the start, but rounded or gently beveled off along the edges. A ripple runs along the façade of certain of his structures, such as Siemensstadt (1929-1931), almost reminiscent of the Vesnins’ contemporaneous ZIL Palace of Culture in Moscow.

But the architecture of Hans Poelzig was from another planet entirely. Poelzig’s buildings were not merely idiosyncratic; they were positively psychotic. What Alfred Kubin’s The Other Side (1909) achieved in literary form, running alongside and counter to Secessionism and Jugendstil in the arts, Poelzig rendered into solid masses. The architecture journal San Rocco recently ran a call for papers on the theme of “scary architects,” with Poelzig as the cover-boy. It was no accident, that’s for sure. His buildings might never have been as formally modern as those of his peers, but they tower over the German industrial townscape with semi-traditional elements manifested at a terrifying scale. His renovations to the Großes Schauspielhaus in Berlin of his might even be described as a “stalactite” architecture. Nightmarish, but stunning.

Poelzig even looked demented: the circular glasses, the Moe Howard haircut, the slightly crossed eyes. Plus, in the 1934 Unversal Studios movie The Black Cat, the character Hjalmar Poelzig — an Austrian architect clearly modeled on Hans — is played by Boris Karloff. This was right after Frankenstein, too, when Karloff was at the height of his fame. Meanwhile, the costar was Bela Lugosi, right after Dracula. Below is a popular translation of his 1906 essay on “Fermentation in Architecture.” Also check out Fosco Lucarelli’s more expansive examination of Poelzig’s sulphuric acid factory in Luban over at SOCKS-Studio.

Fermentation in architecture

Hans Poelzig
Die Dritte Deutsche
Ausstellung (1906)

Essentially, the buildings at the Dresden Exhibition of Applied Art of 1906 mirror the process of fermentation which our architecture is today passing through, whose end cannot yet be foreseen and whose products are as yet scarcely to be recognized.

The main tasks of modern architecture do not lie in the ecclesiastical sphere, nor do monumental constructions of a secular character exercise a decisive influence. Life in the modem era is dominated by economic questions; thus the participation of the people and of artists in architectural problems of this kind — from the private dwelling to town planning — is constantly growing.

This is the starting point for most of the movements towards formalistic constructions, in so far as we can speak of a movement at a time marked by the multiplicity of vacillating trends — trends which for nearly a hundred years have been changing in quick succession the fundamental principles upon which they were based.

Attempts, mostly based on the art of Schinkel, to transpose elements of the Greek language of forms onto our buildings, were followed by an unselective use of forms taken from the most varied styles of the past — from Gothic via the Renaissance in both its Italian and its German manifestation to Baroque and Empire — generally with no regard for the inner spirit of the forms, with no regard for the material from which these forms originally sprang.

And isolated attempts by outstanding teachers of architecture in South and North Germany to attain by detailed study a knowledge of the artistic language of the ancients and its true meaning were soon crossed with energetic attempts to invent a new world language of architecture, whose rules and roots would not parallel or resemble any of the styles of the past.


And once again there is beginning a shamefaced revival of foreign words from architectural idioms belonging to many stylistic epochs, even primitive ones, and these foreign words are frequently grafted onto stems of fundamentally different character.

In almost all the subdivisions of art that serve decoration, with its simpler basic requirements, the modern age has attained a genuine style of its own and has splendid achievements to show. After initial vacillation there was a wholesome return — influenced by a study of the art of early times and especially of that of an Asian people — to techniques adapted to the material in question and an artistic elaboration of the motif based on a detailed study of nature. Continue reading

Zuev workers’ club in Moscow (1928-1931), by Il’ia Golosov

The famed glass cylinder encasing the stairs, bisected by a right angle as its belt.

Theodor Adorno’s “Functionalism Today” (1965)

AFE Tower at the University of Frankfurt

I would first like to express my gratitude for the confidence shown me by Adolf Arndt in his invitation to speak here today.  At the same time, I must also express my serious doubts as to whether I really have the right to speak before you.  Métier, expertise in both matters of handicraft and of technique, counts in your circle for a great deal.  And rightly so.  If there is one idea of lasting influence which has developed out of the Werkbund movement, it is precisely this emphasis on concrete competence as opposed to an aesthetics removed and isolated from material questions.  I am familiar with this dictum from my own métier, music.  There it became a fundamental theorem, thanks to a school which cultivated close personal relationships with both Adolf Loos and (the Bauhaus, and which was therefore fully aware of its intellectual tics to objectivity [Sachlichkeit][1]in the arts.  Nevertheless, I can make no claim to competence in matters of architecture.  And yet. I do not resist the temptation, and knowingly face the danger that you may briefly tolerate me as a dilettante and then cast me aside.  I do this firstly because of my pleasure in presenting some of my reflections in public, and to you in particular: and secondly, because of Adolf Loos’ comment that while an artwork need not appeal to anyone, a house is responsible to each and everyone.[2]  I am not yet sure whether this statement is in fact valid, but in the meantime.  I need not be holier than the pope.

I find that the style of German reconstruction fills me with a disturbing discontent, one which many of you may certainly share.  Since I no less than the specialists must constantly face this feeling.  I feel justified in examining its foundations.  Common elements between music and architecture have been discussed repeatedly, almost to the point of ennui.  In uniting that which I see in architecture with that which I understand about the difficulties in music, I may not be transgressing the law of the division of labor as much as it may seem.  But to accomplish this union, I must stand at a greater distance from these subjects than you may justifiably expect.  It seems to me, however, not unrealistic that at times — in latent crisis situations — it may help to remove oneself farther from phenomena than the spirit of technical competence would usually allow.  The principle of “fittingness to the material” [Material-gerechtigkeit][3] rests on the foundation of the division of labor.  Nevertheless, it is advisable even for experts to occasionally take into account the extent to which their expertise may suffer from just that division of labor, as the artistic naïveté underlying it can impose its own limitations.

Let me begin with the fact that the anti-ornamental movement has affected the “purpose-free” arts [zweckfreie Künste][4]as well.  It lies in the nature of artworks to inquire after the essential and necessary in them and to react against all superfluous elements.  After the critical tradition declined to offer the arts a canon of right and wrong, the responsibility to take such considerations into account was placed on each individual work; each had to test itself against its own immanent logic, regardless of whether or not it was motivated by some external purpose.  This was by no means a new position. Mozart, though clearly still standard-bearer and critical representative of the great tradition, responded in the following way to the minor objection of a member of the royal family  — “But so many notes, my dear Mozart” — after the premier of his “Abduction” with “Not one note more, Your Majesty, than was necessary.”  In his Critique of [6] Judgment, Kant grounded this norm philosophically in the formula of “purposiveness without a purpose” [Zweckmässigkeit ohne Zweck]The formula reflects an essential impulse in the judgment of taste.  And yet it does not account for the historical dynamic.  Based on a language stemming from the realm of materials, what this language defines as necessary can later become superfluous, even terribly ornamental, as soon as it can no longer be legitimated in a second kind of language, which is commonly called style.  What was functional yesterday can therefore become the opposite tomorrow.  Loos was thoroughly aware of this historical dynamic contained in the concept of ornament.  Even representative, luxurious, pompous and, in a certain sense, burlesque elements may appear in certain forms of art as necessary, and not at all burlesque.  To criticize the Baroque for this reason would be philistine.  Criticism of ornament means no more than criticism of that which has lost its functional and symbolic signification.  Ornament becomes then a mere decaying and poisonous organic vestige.  The new art is opposed to this, for it represents the fictitiousness of a depraved romanticism, an ornamentation embarrassingly trapped in its own impotence.  Modern music and architecture, by concentrating strictly on expression and construction, both strive together with equal rigor to efface all such ornament.  Schonberg’s compositional innovations, Karl Kraus’ literary struggle against journalistic clichés and Loos’ denunciation of ornament are not vague analogies in intellectual history; they reflect precisely the same intention.  This insight necessitates a correction of Loos’ thesis, which he, in his open-mindedness. would probably not have rejected: the question of functionalism does not coincide with the question of practical function.  The purpose-free [zweckfrei]and the purposeful [zweckgebunden]arts do not form the radical opposition which he imputed.  The difference between the necessary and the superfluous is inherent in a work, and is not defined by the work’s relationship — or the lack of it — to something outside itself.

In Loos’ thought and in the early period of functionalism, purposeful and aesthetically autonomous products were separated from one another by absolute fact. This separation, which is in fact the object of our reflection, arose from the contemporary polemic against the applied arts and crafts (Kunstgewerbe).[5]  Although they determined the period of Loos’ development, he soon escaped from them.  Loos was thus situated historically between Peter Altenberg and Le Corbusier.  The movement of applied art had its beginnings in Ruskin and Morris.  Revolting against the shapelessness of mass-produced, pseudo-individualized forms, it rallied around such new concepts as “will to style,” “stylization,” and ‘shaping,” and around the idea that one should apply art. reintroduce it into life in order to restore life to it.  Their slogans were numerous and had a powerful effect.  Nevertheless.  Loos noticed quite early the implausibility of such endeavors: articles for use lose meaning as soon as they are displaced or disengaged in such a way that their use is no longer required.  Art, with its definitive protest against the dominance of purpose over human life, suffers once it is reduced to that practical level to which it objects, in Hölderlin’s words: “For never from now on/Shall the sacred serve mere use.”  Loos found the artificial art of practical objects repulsive.  Similarly, he felt that the practical reorientation of purpose-free art would eventually subordinate it to the destructive autocracy of profit, which even arts and crafts, at least in their beginnings, had once opposed.  Contrary to these efforts.  Loos preached for the return to an honest handicraft[6] which would place itself in the service of technical innovations without having to borrow forms from art.  His claims suffer from too simple an antithesis.  Their [7] restorative clement, not unlike that of the individualization of crafts, has since become equally clear.  To this day, they are still bound to discussions of objectivity.

In any given product, freedom from purpose and purposefulness can never be absolutely separated from one another.  The two notions are historically interconnected.  The ornaments, after all, which Loos expulsed with a vehemence quite out of character, are often actually vestiges of outmoded means of production.  And conversely, numerous purposes, like sociability, dance and entertainment, have filtered into purpose-free art; they have been generally incorporated into its formal and generic laws.  Purposefulness without purpose is thus really the sublimation of purpose.  Nothing exists as an aesthetic object in itself but only within the field of tension of such sublimation.  Therefore there is no chemically pure purposefulness set up as the opposite of the purpose-free aesthetic.  Even the most pure forms of purpose are nourished by ideas — like formal transparency and graspability — which in fact are derived from artistic experience.  No form can be said to be determined exhaustively by its purpose.  This can be seen even in one of Schönberg’s revolutionary works, the First Chamber Symphony, about which Loos wrote some of his most insightful words, ironically, an ornamental theme appears, with a double beat recalling at once a central motif from Wagner’s “Götterdämmerung” and the theme from the First Movement of Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony.  The ornament is the sustaining invention, if you will, objective in its own right.  Precisely this transitional theme becomes the model of a canonical exposition in the fourfold counterpoint, and thereby the model of the first extreme constructivist complex in modern music.  Schönberg’s belief in such material was appropriated from the Kunstgewerbe religion, which worshipped the supposed nobility of matter: it still continues to provide inspiration even in autonomous art.  He combined with this belief the ideas of a construction fitting to the material.  To it corresponds an undialectical concept of beauty, which encompasses autonomous art like a nature preserve.  That art aspires to autonomy does not mean that it unconditionally purges itself of ornamental elements: the very existence of art, judged by the criteria of the practical, is ornamental.  If Loos’ aversion to ornament had been rigidly consistent, he would have had to extend it to all of art.  To his credit he stopped before reaching this conclusion.  In this circumspection, by the way, he is similar to the positivists.  On the one hand, they would expunge from the realm of philosophy anything which they deem poetic.  On the other, they sense no infringement by poetry itself on their kind of positivism.  Thus, they tolerate poetry if it remains in a special realm, neutralized and unchallenged, since they have already relaxed the notion of objective truth.

The belief that a substance bears within itself its own adequate form presumes that it is already invested with meaning.  Such a doctrine made the symbolist aesthetic possible.  The resistance to the excesses of the applied arts pertained not just to hidden forms, but also to the cult of materials.  It created an aura of essentiality about them.  Loos expressed precisely this notion in his critique of batik.  Meanwhile, the invention of artificial products — materials originating in industry — no longer permitted the archaic faith in an innate beauty, the foundation of a magic connected with precious elements.  Furthermore, the crisis arising from the latest developments of autonomous art demonstrated how little meaningful organization could depend on the material itself.  Whenever organizational principles rely too heavily on material, the result approaches mere patchwork.  The idea of fittingness to the materials in purposeful art cannot remain indifferent to such criticisms.  Indeed, the illusion of purposefulness as its own purpose cannot stand up to the simplest [8] social reality.  Something would be purposeful here and now only if it were so in terms of the present society.  Yet, certain irrationalities — Marx’s term for them was faux frais — are essential to society: the social process always proceeds, in spite of all particular planning, by its own inner nature, aimlessly and irrationally.  Such irrationality leaves its mark on all ends and purposes, and thereby also on the rationality of the means devised to achieve those ends.  Thus, a self-mocking contradiction emerges in the omnipresence of advertisements: they are intended to be purposeful for profit.  And yet all purposefulness is technically defined by its measure of material appropriateness.  If an advertisement were strictly functional, without ornamental surplus, it would no longer fulfill its purpose as advertisement.  Of course, the fear of technology is largely stuffy and old-fashioned, even reactionary.  And yet it does have its validity, for it reflects the anxiety felt in the face of the violence which an irrational society can impose on its members, indeed on everything which is forced to exist within its confines.  This anxiety reflects a common childhood experience, with which Loos seems unfamiliar, even though he is otherwise strongly influenced by the circumstances of his youth: the longing for castles with long chambers and silk tapestries, the utopia of escapism.  Something of this utopia lives on in the modern aversion to the escalator, to Loos’ celebrated kitchen, to the factory smokestack, to the shabby side of an antagonistic society.  It is heightened by outward appearances.  Deconstruction of these appearances, however, has little power over the completely denigrated sphere, where praxis continues as always.  One might attack the pinnacles of the bogus castles of the moderns (which Thorstein Veblen despised), the ornaments, for example, pasted onto shoes: but where this is possible, it merely aggravates an already horrifying situation The process has implications for the world of pictures as well.  Positivist art, a culture of the existing, has been exchanged for aesthetic truth.  One envisions the prospect of a new Ackerstraße.[7]

The limits of functionalism to date have been the limits of the bourgeoisie in its practical sense.  Even in Loos, the sworn enemy of Viennese kitsch, one finds some remarkably bourgeois traces.  Since the bourgeois structure had already permeated so many feudalistic and absolutist forms in his city, Loos believed he could use its rigorous principles to free himself from traditional formulas.  His writings, for example, contain attacks on awkward Viennese formality.  Furthermore, his polemics are colored by a unique strain of puritanism, which nears obsession.  Loos’ thought, like so much bourgeois criticism of culture, is an intersection of two fundamental directions.  On the one hand, he realized that this culture was actually not at all cultural.  This informed above all his relationship to his native environment.  On the other, he felt a deep animosity toward culture in general, which called for the prohibition not only of superficial veneer, but also of all soft and smooth touches.  In this he disregarded the fact that culture is not the place for untamed nature, nor for a merciless domination over nature.  The future of Sachlichkeit could be a liberating one only if it shed its barbarous traits.  It could no longer inflict on men — whom it supposedly upheld as its only measure — the sadistic blows of sharp edges, bare calculated rooms, stairways, and the like.  Virtually every consumer had probably felt all too painfully the impracticability of the mercilessly practical.  Hence our bitter suspicion is formulated: the absolute rejection of style becomes style.  Loos traces ornament back to erotic symbols.  In turn, his rigid rejection of ornamentation is coupled with his disgust with erotic symbolism.  He finds uncurbed nature both regressive and embarrassing.  The tone of his condemnations of [9] ornament echoes an often openly expressed rage against moral delinquency: “But the man of our time who, out of inner compulsion, smears walls with erotic symbols is a criminal and a degenerate.”[8]  The insult “degenerate” connects Loos to movements of which he certainly would not have approved [i.e., Nazism].  “One can,” he says, “measure the culture of a country by the amount of graffiti on the bathroom walls.”[9]  But in southern countries, in Mediterranean countries in general, one finds a great deal.  In fact, the Surrealists made much use of such unreflected expressions.  Loos would certainly have hesitated before imputing a lack of culture to these areas.  His hatred of ornament can best be understood by examining a psychological argument.[10]  He seems to see in ornament the mimetic impulse, which runs contrary to rational objectification: he sees in it an expression which, even in sadness and lament, is related to the pleasure principle.  Arguing from tins principle, one must accept that there is a factor of expression in even, object.  Any special relegation of this factor to art alone would be an oversimplification.  It cannot be separated from objects of use.  Thus, even when these objects lack expression, they must pay tribute to it by attempting to avoid it.  Hence all obsolete objects of use eventually become an expression, a collective picture of the epoch.  There is barely a practical form which, along with its appropriateness for use, would not therefore also be a symbol.  Psychoanalysis too has demonstrated this principle on the basis of unconscious images, among which the house figures prominently.  According to Freud, symbolic intention quickly allies itself to technical forms, like the airplane, and according to contemporary American research in mass psychology, often to the car.  Thus, purposeful forms are the language of their own purposes.  By means of the mimetic impulse, the living being equates himself with objects in his surroundings.  This occurs long before artists initiate conscious imitation.  What begins as symbol becomes ornament, and finally appears superfluous; it had its origins, nevertheless, in natural shapes, to which men adapted themselves though their artifacts.  The inner image which is expressed in that impulse was once something external, something coercively objective.  This argument explains the fact, known since Loos, that ornament, indeed artistic form in general, cannot be invented.  The achievement of all artists, and not just those interested in specific ends, is reduced to something incomparably more modest than the art-religion of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries would have been willing to accept.  The psychological basis of ornament hence undercuts aesthetic principles and aims.  However the question is by no means settled how art would be possible in any form if ornamentation were no longer a substantial element, if art itself could no longer invent any true ornaments.

This last difficulty, which Sachlichkeit unavoidably encounters, is not a mere error.  It cannot be arbitrarily corrected.  It follows directly from the historical character of the subject.  Use — or consumption — is much more closely related to the pleasure principle than an object of artistic representation responsible only to its own formal laws: it means the “using up of,” the denial of the object, that it ought not to be.  Pleasure appears, according to the bourgeois work ethic, as wasted energy.  Loos’ formulation makes clear how much as an early cultural critic he was fundamentally attached to that order whose manifestations he chastised wherever they failed to follow their own principles: “Ornament is wasted work energy and thereby wasted health.  It has always been so.  But today it also means wasted material, and both mean wasted capital.”[11] Two irreconcilable motifs coincide in this statement: economy, for where else, if not in the norms of profitability, is it stated that nothing should be wasted: and the dream of the totally [10] technological world, free from the shame of work.  The second motif points beyond the commercial world.  For Loos it lakes the form of the realization that the widely lamented impotency to create ornament and the so-called extinction of stylizing energy (which he exposed as an invention of art historians) imply an advance in the arts.  He realized in addition that those aspects of an industrialized society, which by bourgeois standards are negative, actually represent its positive side:

Style used to mean ornament.  So I said: don’t lament! Don’t you see? Precisely this makes our age great, that it is incapable of producing new ornament.  We have conquered ornament, we have struggled to the stage of non-ornamentation.  Watch, the time is near.  Fulfillment awaits us.  Soon the streets of the cities will shine like while walls.  Like Zion, the sacred city, heaven’s capital.  Then salvation will be ours.[12]

In this conception, the state free of ornament would be a utopia of concretely fulfilled presence, no longer in need of symbols.  Objective truth, all the belief in things, would cling to this utopia.  This utopia remains hidden for Loos by his crucial experience with Jugendstil:

Individual man is incapable of creating form: therefore, so is the architect.  The architect, however, attempts the impossible again and again — and always in vain.  Form, or ornament, is the result of the unconscious cooperation of men belonging to a whole cultural sphere.  Everything else is art.  Art is the self-imposed will of the genius.  God gave him his mission.[13]

This axiom, that the artist fulfils a divine mission, no longer holds.  A general demystification, which began in the commercial realm, has encroached upon art.  With it, the absolute difference between inflexible purposefulness and autonomous freedom has been reduced as well.  But here we face another contradiction.  On the one hand, the purely purpose-oriented forms have been revealed as insufficient, monotonous, deficient, and narrow-mindedly practical.  At times, of course, individual masterpieces do stand out: until then, one tends to attribute the success to the creator’s “genius,” and not to something objective within the achievement itself.  On the other, the attempt to bring into the work the external clement of imagination as a corrective, to help the mailer out with this element which stems from outside of if is equally pointless: if serves only to mistakenly resurrect decoration, which has been justifiably criticized by modern architecture.  The results are extremely disheartening.  A critical analysis of the mediocre modernity of the style of German reconstruction by a true expert would be extremely relevant.  My suspicion in the Minima Moralia that the world is no longer habitable has already been confirmed, the heavy shadow of instability bears upon built form, the shadow of mass migrations, which had their preludes in the years of Hitler and his war.  This contradiction must be consciously grasped in all its necessity.  But we cannot stop there.  If we do, we give in to a continually threatening catastrophe.  The most recent catastrophe, the air raids, have already led architecture into a condition from winch it cannot escape.


The poles of the contradiction are revealed in two concepts, which seem mutually exclusive: handicraft and imagination.  Loos expressly rejected the latter in the context of the world of use:

Pure and clean construction has had to replace the imaginative forms of past centuries and the flourishing ornamentation of past ages.  Straight lines: sharp, straight edges: the craftsman works only with these.  He has nothing but a purpose in mind and nothing but materials and tools in front of him.[14]

Le Corbusier, however, sanctioned imagination in his theoretical writings, at least in a somewhat general sense: “The task of the architect: knowledge of men, creative imagination, beauty.  Freedom of choice (spiritual man).”[15]  We may safely assume that in general the more advanced architects tend to prefer handicraft, while more backward and unimaginative architects all too gladly praise imagination.  We must be wary, however, of simply accepting the concepts of handicraft and imagination in the loose sense in which they have been tossed back and forth in the ongoing polemic.  Only then can we hope to reach an alternative.  The word “handicraft,” which immediately gains consent, covers something qualitatively different.  Only unreasonable dilettantism and blatant idealism would attempt to deny that each authentic and, in the broadest sense, artistic activity requires a precise understanding of the materials and techniques at the artists disposal, and to be sure, at the most advanced level.

Only the artist who has never subjected himself to the discipline of creating a picture, who believes in the intuitive origins of painting, fears that closeness to materials and technical understanding will destroy his originality.  He has never learned what is historically available, and can never make use of it.  And so he conjures up out of the supposed depths of his own interiority that which is merely the residue of outmoded forms.  The word “handicraft” appeals to such a simple truth.  But quite different chords resonate unavoidably along with it.  The syllable “hand” exposes a past means of production: it recalls a simple economy of wares.  These means of production have since disappeared.  Ever since the proposals of the English precursors of “modern style” they have been reduced to a masquerade.  One associates the notion of handicraft with the apron of a Hans Sachs, or possibly the great world chronicle.  At times, I cannot suppress the suspicion that such an archaic “shirt sleeves” ethos survives even among the younger proponents of “handcraftiness”: they are despisers of art.  If some feel themselves superior to art, then it is only because they have never experienced it as Loos did.  For Loos, appreciation of both art and its applied form led to a bitter emotional conflict.  In the area of music, I know of one advocate of handicraft who spoke with plainly romantic anti-romanticism of the “hut mentality.”  I once caught him thinking of handicrafts as stereotypical formulas, practices as he called them, which were supposed to spare the energies of the composer: it never dawned on him that nowadays the uniqueness of each concrete task excludes such formalization.  Thanks to attitudes such as his, handicraft is transformed into that which it wants to repudiate: the same lifeless, reified repetition which ornament had propagated.  I dare not judge whether a similar kind of perversity is at work in the concept of form-making when viewed as a detached operation, independent from the immanent demands and laws of the object to be formed.  In any [12] case, I would imagine that the retrospective infatuation with the aura of the socially doomed craftsman is quite compatible with the disdainfully trumped-up attitude of his successor, the expert.  Proud of his expertise and as unpolished as his tables and chairs, the expert disregards those reflections needed in this age which no longer possesses anything to grasp on to.  It is impossible to do without the expert; it is impossible in this age of commercial means of production to recreate that state before the division of labour which society has irretrievably obliterated.  But likewise, it is impossible to raise the expert to the measure of all things.  His disillusioned modernity, which claims to have shed all ideologies, is easily appropriated into the mask of the petty bourgeois routine.  Handicraft becomes handcraftiness.  Good handicraft means the fittingness of means to an end.  The ends are certainly not independent of the means.  The means have their own logic, a logic which points beyond them.  If the fittingness of the means becomes an end in itself, it becomes fetishized.  The handworker mentality begins to produce the opposite effect from its original intention, when it was used to fight the silk smoking jacket and the beret.  It hinders the objective reason behind productive forces instead of allowing it to unfold.  Whenever handicraft is established as a norm today, one must closely examine the intention.  The concept of handicraft stands in close relationship to function.  Its functions, however, are by no means necessarily enlightened or advanced.

The concept of imagination, like that of handicraft, must not be adopted without critical analysis.  Psychological triviality — imagination as nothing but the image of something not yet present — is clearly insufficient.  As an interpretation, it explains merely what is determined by imagination in artistic processes, and, I presume, also in the purposeful arts.  Walter Benjamin once defined imagination as the ability to interpolate in minutest detail.  Undeniably, such a definition accomplishes much more than current views which tend cither to elevate the concept into an immaterial heaven or to condemn it on objective grounds.  Imagination in the production of a work of representational art is not pleasure in free invention, in creation ex nihilo.  There is no such thing in any ail, even in autonomous art, the realm to which Loos restricted imagination.  Any penetrating analysis of the autonomous work of art concludes that die additions invented by the artist above and beyond the given state of materials and forms are miniscule and of limited value.  On the other hand, the reduction of imagination to an anticipatory adaptation to material ends is equally inadequate; it transforms imagination into an eternal sameness.  It is impossible to ascribe Le Corbusier’s powerful imaginative feats completely to the relationship between architecture and the human body, as he does in his own writings.  Clearly there exists, perhaps imperceptible in the materials and forms which the artist acquires and develops something more than material and forms.  Imagination means to innervate this something.  This is not as absurd a notion as it may sound.  For the forms, even the materials, are by no means merely given by nature, as an unreflective artist might easily presume.  History has accumulated in them, and spirit permeates them.  What they contain is not a positive law; and yet, their content emerges as a sharply outlined figure of the problem.  Artistic imagination awakens these accumulated elements by becoming aware of the innate problematic of the material.  The minimal progress of imagination responds to the wordless question posed to it by the materials and forms in their quiet and elemental language.  Separate impulses, even purpose and immanent formal laws, are thereby fused together.  An interaction takes place between purpose, space, and material.  None of these facets makes up any one Ur-phenomenon to which all [13] the others can be reduced.  It is here that the insight furnished by philosophy that no thought can lead to an absolute beginning — that such absolutes are the products of abstraction — exerts its influence on aesthetics.  Hence music, which had so long emphasized die supposed primacy of the individual tone, had to discover finally the more complex relationships of its components.  The tone receives meaning only within the functional structure of the system, without which it would be a merely physical entity. Superstition alone can hope to extract from it a latent aesthetic structure.  One speaks, with good reason, of a sense of space [Raumgefühl]in architecture.  But this sense of space is not a pure, abstract essence, not a sense of spatiality itself, since space is only conceivable as concrete space, within specific dimensions.  A sense of space is closely connected with purposes.  Even when architecture attempts to elevate this sense beyond the realm of purposefulness, it is still simultaneously immanent in the purpose.  The success of such a synthesis is the principal criterion for great architecture.  Architecture inquires: how can a certain purpose become space; through which forms, which materials? All factors relate reciprocally to one another.  Architectonic imagination is, according to this conception of it, the ability to articulate space purposefully.  It permits purposes to become space.  It constructs forms according to purposes.  Conversely, space and the sense of space can become more than impoverished purpose only when imagination impregnates them with purposefulness.  Imagination breaks out of the immanent connections of purpose, to which it owes its very existence.

I am fully conscious of the ease with which concepts like a sense of space can degenerate into clichés, in the end even be applied to arts and crafts.  Here I feel the limits of the non-expert who is unable to render these concepts sufficiently precise although they have been so enlightening in modern architecture.  And yet, I permit myself a certain degree of speculation: the sense of space, in contradistinction to the abstract idea of space, corresponds in the visual realm to musicality in the acoustical.  Musicality cannot be reduced to an abstract conception of time — for example.  The ability, however beneficial, to conceive of the time units of a metronome without having to listen to one.  Similarly, the sense of space is not limited to spatial images, even though these are probably a prerequisite for even architect if he is to read his outlines and blueprints the way a musician reads his score.  A sense of space seems to demand more, namely that something can occur to the artist out of space itself; this cannot be something arbitrary in space and indifferent toward space.  Analogously, the musician invents his melodies, indeed all his musical structures, out of time itself, out of the need to organize time.  Mere time relationships do not suffice, since they are indifferent toward the concrete musical event: nor does the invention of individual musical passages or complexes, since their time structures and time relationships are not conceived along with them.  In the productive sense of space, purpose takes over to a large extent the role of content, as opposed to the formal constituents which the architect creates out of space.  The tension between form and content which makes all artistic creation possible communicates itself through purpose especially in the purpose-oriented arts.  The new “objective” asceticism does contain therefore an element of truth: unmediated subjective expression would indeed be inadequate for architecture.  Where only such expression is striven for, the result is not architecture, but filmsets, at times, as in the old Golem film, even good ones.  The position of subjective expression, then, is occupied in architecture by the function for [14] the subject.  Architecture would thus attain a higher standard the more intensely it reciprocally mediated the two extremes — formal construction and function.

The subject’s function, however, is not determined by some generalized person of an unchanging physical nature but by concrete social norms.  Functional architecture represents the rational character as opposed to the suppressed instincts of empirical subjects, who, in the present society, still seek their fortunes in all conceivable nooks and crannies.  It calls upon a human potential which is grasped in principle by our advanced consciousness, but which is suffocated in most men, who have been kept spiritually impotent.  Architecture worthy of human beings thinks better of men than they actually are.  It views them in the way they could be according to the status of their own productive energies as embodied in technology.  Architecture contradicts the needs of the here and now as soon as it proceeds to serve those needs — without simultaneously representing any absolute or lasting ideology.  Architecture still remains, as Loos’ book title complained seventy years ago, a cry into emptiness.  The fact that the great architects from Loos to Le Corbusier and [Hans] Scharoun were able to realize only a small portion of their work in stone and concrete cannot be explained solely by the reactions of unreasonable contractors and administrators (although that explanation must not be underestimated).  This fact is conditioned by a social antagonism over which the greatest architecture has no power: the same society which developed human productive energies to unimaginable proportions has chained them to conditions of production imposed upon them: thus the people who in reality constitute the productive energies become deformed according to the measure of their working conditions.  This fundamental contradiction is most clearly visible in architecture.  It is just as difficult for architecture to rid itself of the tensions which this contradiction produces as it is for the consumer.  Things are not universally correct in architecture and universally incorrect in men.  Men suffer enough injustice, for their consciousness and unconsciousness are trapped in a state of minority; they have not, so to speak, come of age.  This nonage hinders their identification with their own concerns.  Because architecture is in fact both autonomous and purpose-oriented, it cannot simply negate men as they are.  And yet it must do precisely that if it is to remain autonomous.  If it would bypass mankind tel quel,then it would be accommodating itself to what would be a questionable anthropology and even ontology.  It was not merely by chance that Le Corbusier envisioned human prototypes.  Living men, even the most backward and conventionally naive, have the right to the fulfillment of their needs, even though those needs may be false ones.  Once thought supersedes without consideration the subjective desires for the sake of truly objective needs, it is transformed into brutal oppression.  So it is with the volonté generale against the volonté de tous.  Even in the false needs of a human being there lives a bit of freedom.  It is expressed in what economic theory once called the “use value” as opposed to the “exchange value.”  Hence there are those to whom legitimate architecture appears as an enemy; it withholds from them that which they, by their very nature, want and even need.

Beyond the phenomenon of the “cultural lag,” this antinomy may have its origin in the development of the concept of art.  Art, in order to be art according to its own formal laws, must be crystallized in autonomous form.  This constitutes its truth content; otherwise, it would he subservient to that which it negates by its very existence.  And yet, as a human product, it is never completely removed from humanity.  It contains as a constitutive clement something of that which it necessarily resists.  Where art obliterates [15] its own memory, forgetting that it is only there for others, it becomes a fetish, a self-conscious and thereby relativized absolute.  Such was the dream of Jugendstil beauty.  But art is also compelled to strive for pure self-immanence if it is not to become sacrificed to fraudulence.  The result is a quid pro quo.  An activity which envisions as its subject a liberated, emancipated humanity, possible only in a transformed society, appears in the present stale as an adaptation to a technology which has degenerated into an end in itself, into a self-purpose.  Such an apotheosis of objectification is the irreconcilable opponent of art.  The result, moreover, is not mere appearance.  The more consistently both autonomous and so-called applied art reject their own magical and mythical origins and follow their own formal laws, the greater the danger of such an adaptation becomes.  Art possesses no sure means to counter such a danger.  Thorstein Veblen’s aporia is thus repeated: before 1900, he demanded that men think purely technologically, causally, mechanistically in order to overcome the living deceit of their world of images.  He thereby sanctioned the objective categories of that economy which he criticized: in a free state, men would no longer be subservient to a technology which, in fact, existed only for them; it would be there to serve them.  However in the present epoch men have been absorbed into technology and have left only their empty shells behind, as if they had passed into it their better half.  Their own consciousness has been objectified in the face of technology, as if objective technology had in some sense the right to criticize consciousness.  Technology is there for men: this is a plausible proposition, but it has been degraded to the vulgar ideology of regressionism.  This is evident in the fact that one need only invoke it to be rewarded from all sides with enthusiastic understanding.  The whole situation is somehow false; nothing in it can smooth over the contradiction.  On the one hand, an imagined utopia, free from the binding purposes of the existing order, would become powerless, a detached ornament, since it must take its elements and structure from that very order.  On the other, any attempt to ban the utopian factor, like a prohibition of images, immediately falls victim to the spell of the prevailing order.

The concern of functionalism is a subordination to usefulness.  What is not useful is assailed without question because developments in the arts have brought its inherent aesthetic insufficiency into the open.  The merely useful, however, is interwoven with relationships of guilt, the means to the devastation of the world, a hopelessness which denies all but deceptive consolations to mankind.  But even if this contradiction can never be ultimately eliminated, one must take a first step in trying to grasp it; in bourgeois society, usefulness has its own dialectic.  The useful object would be the highest achievement, an anthropomorphized “thing,” the reconciliation with objects which are no longer closed off from humanity and which no longer suffer humiliation at the hands of men.  Childhood perception of technical things promises such a stale; they appear as images of a near and helpful spirit, cleansed of profit motivation.  Such a conception was not unfamiliar to the theorists of social utopias.  It provides a pleasant refuge from true development, and allows a vision of useful things which have lost their coldness.  Mankind would no longer suffer from the “thingly” character of the world,[16] and likewise “things” would come into their own.  Once redeemed from their own “thingliness,” “things” would find their purpose.  But in present society all usefulness is displaced, bewitched.  Society deceives us when it says that it allows things to appear as if they are there by mankind’s will.  In fact, they are produced for profits sake; they satisfy human needs only incidentally.  They call forth new needs and maintain them according to the profit [16] motive.  Since what is useful and beneficial to man, cleansed of human domination and exploitation, would be correct, nothing is more aesthetically unbearable than the present shape of things, subjugated and internally deformed into their opposite.  The raison d’être of all autonomous art since the dawning of the bourgeois era is that only useless objects testify to that which may have at one point been useful: it represents correct and fortunate use, a contact with things beyond the antithesis between use and uselessness.  This conception implies that men who desire betterment must rise up against practicability.  If they overvalue it and react to it, they join the camp of the enemy.  It is said that work does not defile.  Like most proverbial expressions, this covers up the converse truth: exchange defiles useful work.  The curse of exchange has overtaken autonomous art as well.  In autonomous art, the useless is contained within its limited and particular form: it is thus helplessly exposed to the criticism waged by its opposite, the useful.  Conversely in the useful, that which is now the case is closed off to its possibilities.  The obscure secret of art is the fetishistic character of goods and wares.  Functionalism would like to break out of this entanglement: and yet, it can only rattle its chains in vain as long as it remains trapped in an entangled society.

I have tried to make you aware of certain contradictions whose solution cannot be delineated by a non-expert.  It is indeed doubtful whether they can be solved today at all.  To this extent, I could expect you to criticize me for the uselessness of my argumentation.  My defense is implicit in my thesis that the concepts of useful and useless cannot be accepted without due consideration.  The time is over when we can isolate ourselves in our respective tasks.  The object at hand demands the kind of reflection which objectivity [Sachlichkeit]generally rebuked in a clearly non-objective manner.  By demanding immediate legitimation of a thought, by demanding to know what good that thought is now, tire thought is usually brought to a standstill at a point where it can offer insights which one day might even improve praxis in an unpredictable way.  Thought has its own coercive impulse, like the one you are familiar with in your work with your material.  The work of an artist, whether or not it is directed toward a particular purpose, can no longer proceed naïvely on a prescribed path.  It manifests a crisis which demands that the expert — regardless of his prideful craftsmanship — go beyond his craft in order to satisfy it.  He must do this in two ways.  First, with regard to social things: he must account for the position of his work in society and for the social limits which he encounters on all sides.  This consideration becomes crucial in problems concerning city planning, even beyond the tasks of reconstruction, where architectonic questions collide with social questions such as the existence or non-existence of a collective social subject.  It hardly needs mentioning that city planning is insufficient so long as it centers on particular instead of collective social ends.  The merely immediate, practical principles of city planning do not coincide with those of a truly rational conception free from social irrationalities, they lack that collective social subject which must be the prime concern of city planning.  Herein lies one reason why city planning threatens cither to degenerate into chaos or to hinder the productive architectonic achievement of individuals.

Second, and I would like to emphasize this aspect to you, architecture, indeed every purposeful art, demands constant aesthetic reflection.  I know how suspect the word “aesthetic” must sound to you.  You think perhaps of professors who, with their eyes raised to heaven, spew forth formalistic laws of eternal and everlasting beauty, which are no more than recipes for the production of ephemeral, classicist kitsch.  In fact, the [17] opposite must be the case in true aesthetics.  It must absorb precisely those objections which it once raised in principle against all artists.  Aesthetics would condemn itself if it continued unreflectively, speculatively, without relentless self-criticism.  Aesthetics as an integral facet of philosophy awaits a new impulse which must come from reflective efforts.  Hence recent artistic praxis has tinned to aesthetics.  Aesthetics becomes a practical necessity once it becomes clear that concepts like usefulness and uselessness in art, like the separation of autonomous and purpose-oriented art, imagination and ornament, must once again be discussed before the artist can act positively or negatively according to such categories.  Whether you like it or not you are being pushed daily to considerations, aesthetic considerations, which transcend your immediate tasks.  Your experience calls Molière’s Monsieur Jourdain to mind, who discovers to his amazement in studying rhetoric that he has been speaking prose for his entire life.  Once your activity compels you to aesthetic considerations, yon deliver yourself up to its power.  You can no longer break off and conjure up ideas arbitrarily in the name of pure and thorough expertise.  The artist who does not pursue aesthetic thought energetically tends to lapse into dilettantish hypothesis and groping justifications for the sake of defending his own intellectual construct.  In music, Pierre Boulez, one of the most technically competent contemporary composers, extended constructivism to its extreme in some of his compositions: subsequently, however, he emphatically announced the necessity of aesthetics.  Such an aesthetics would not presume to herald principles which establish the key to beauty or ugliness itself.  This discretion alone would place the problem of ornament in a new light.  Beauty today can have no other measure except the depth to which a work resolves contradictions.  A work must cut through the contradictions and overcome them, not by covering them up, but by pursuing them.  Mere formal beauty, whatever that might be, is empty and meaningless; the beauty of its content is lost in the preartistic sensual pleasure of the observer.  Beauty is cither the resultant of force vectors or it is nothing at all.  A modified aesthetics would outline its own object with increasing clarity as it would begin to feel more intensely the need to investigate it.  Unlike traditional aesthetics, it would not necessarily view the concept of art as its given correlate.  Aesthetic thought today must surpass art by thinking art.  It would thereby surpass the current opposition of purposeful and purpose-free, under which the producer must suffer as much as the observer.


[1] The Neue Sachlichkeit movement, one of the main post-expressionist trends in German art.  Is commonly translated as “New Objectivity.”  The word sachlich, however, carries a series of connotations.  Along with its emphasis on the “thing” [Sache] it implies a frame of mind of being “matter of feet,” “down to earth.”

[2] See Adolf Loos, Sämtliche Schriften, I, Franz Gluck (ed.), Vienna/Munich, 1962, pg. 314 ff.

[3] Gerechtigkeit implies not just “fittingness” or “appropriateness,” but even a stronger legal or moral “justice.”

[4] The word Zweck appears throughout Adorno’s speech, both alone and in various combinations It permeates the tradition of German aesthetics since Kant.  While it basically means “purpose,” it must sometimes be rendered in English as “goal” or “end” (as in “means and end,” Mittel und Zweck)Hence there is a certain consistency in Adorno’s use of the word which cannot always be maintained in English.


[5] Kunstgewerbe carries perhaps more seriousness than “arts and crafts.”  It covers the range of the applied arts.

[6] The word Handwerk in German means both “handwork” and “craftsmanship” or “skill.”  Because Adorno later emphasizes the “hand” aspect, we have decided on “handicraft.”

[7] The reference here is unclear.  It means literally “Field (or Acre) Street.”  Perhaps he is referring to a real street, a movement, or a historical place or event.  We have not been able to trace it.

[8] Adolf Loos, op cit., pg. 277.

[9] Ibid.

[10] It is unclear in the original text to what extent the following argument is Adorno’s or Loos’.  We have tried, to some extent, to maintain the ambiguity.

[11] Adolf Loos, op. cit., pg. 282 ff.

[12] Ibid., pg. 278.

[13] Ibid., pg. 393.

[14] Ibid., pg. 345.

[15] Le Corbusier.  Mein Werk, Stuttgart.  1960, pg. 306.

[16] The word Ding (“thing”) is also attached to numerous traditions in German thought and therefore has a certain philosophical or poetical importance (hence “the thingliness of things”).  Heidegger and Rilke, for example, both tried to elevate the notion of Ding to a new essential and existential status.

Moisei Ginzburg, “New Methods of Architectural Thought”/Моисей Гинзбург, «Новые методы архитектурного мышления» (1926)

[From Modern Architecture, 1926 (no. 1, pgs. 1-4)]

[Pg. 1]

One decade separates us from the architectural “affluence” of the pre-Revolutionary era, when in Petersburg, Moscow, and other great centers the best Russian architects lightheartedly cultivated every possible “style.”

Is a decade so much?

It is a small fissure in time.  But the Revolution, in sweeping away the stagnant prejudices and outlived canons, has turned the fissure into an abyss.  On the far side of that abyss remain the last witherings of the already decrepit system of European thinking, of that unprincipled eclecticism which always has a thousand aesthetic recipes at the ready, all of them approved by our grandfathers and great-grandfathers.  Such thinking was ready to ladle out truth from wherever suited — provided it was from a source in the past.

On this side of the abyss is opening up a new path which still has to be paved, and great new expanses of space which still have to be developed and populated.  The outlook and worldview of the contemporary architect is being forged in the circumstances of today and new methods of architectural thinking are being created.

Instead of the old system in architectural designing, where the plan, construction, and external treatment of the building were in a state of constant antagonism, and where the architect had to use his powers to the full as peacemaker in irreconcilable conflicts of interest, the new architectural work is characterized above all by its single indivisible aim and aspiration.  It is a process in which the task is hammered out logically and which represents a consciously creative [sozidatel’ny] process from beginning to end.

In place of the abstracted and extremely individualistic inspiration of the old-style architect, the contemporary architect is firmly convinced that the architectural task, like any other, can only be solved through a precise elucidation of the factors involved [the “unknowns”] and by pursuing the correct method of solution.

The architect sees around him the fearless creativity of inventors in various fields of contemporary technology, as with gigantic steps it conquers the earth, the ocean depths, and the air, winning new bridgeheads by the hour.  It is not difficult to see that these astonishing successes of human genius are explained, in general, by the fact that the right method was pursued in tackling the task.  The inventor knows full well that however energetic the upsurge of his creative enthusiasm may be, it wil be useless without a sober consideration of all the minutiae in the circumstances surrounding his activity.  He is fully armed with contemporary knowledge.  He takes account of all the conditions of today.  He conquers the future.

Certainly it would be naïve to replace the complex art of architecture by an imitation of even the [Pg. 2] most sparkling forms of contemporary technology.  This period of naïve “machine symbolism” is already outdated.  In this field it is only the inventor’s creative method that the contemporary architect must master.  Any mould or model from the past must be categorically repudiated, however beautiful it may be, for the pursuits of the architect are in their essence precisely such invention, just like all other invention.  His is a work of invention which has set itself the aim of organizing and constructing a concrete practical task not just in response to the dictates of today but as something that will serve the needs of tomorrow.

Original model of the Vesnin brothers’ proposal for the Leningrad Pravda building

Thus first and foremost we face the question of clearly exposing all the unknowns of the problem.  First among these are the unknowns of a general charcter, dictated by our epoch as a whole.  Here we are identifying those particular features of the problem which derive from the emergence of a new social consumer of architecture — the class of workers, who are organizing not only their own contemporary way of life but also the complex forms of new economic life of the State.  It is not a question of adapting to the individual tastes of this new consumer.  Unfortunately, in posing the problem it is often reduced to precisely this, and people hastily try to attribute to worker tastes and preferences which are essentially echoes of old pre-revolutionary attitudes.

Least of all is it a matter of tastes here at all.  What we are concerned with is elucidating the characteristics of the new consumer, as a powerful collective which is building a socialist state.

It is a question, above all, of the principle of plannedness.  This must not just be a feature of the way leading state organs operate, but must become part of the work of every architect.  It is how the solving of individual problems becomes part of the larger productive network of the country as a whole.

The character of a contemporary architect’s work is radically altered by the fact that he recognizes his activity to be the establishing of architectural standards for the organization of new dwellings and towns, rather than the fulfillment of individual commissions.  He sees it as his task to be continually advancing and improving those standards, in connection with the larger characteristics of production and with the advancing technological levels both here and internationally.  In the conditions through which we are living as we develop socialism, each new solution by the architect, be it a dwelling block, a workers’ club, or a factory, is conceived by us as the invention of a more advanced model or type, which answers the demands of its brief and is suitable for multiple production in whatever quantities the needs of the state require.  From the very start, this situation diverts the architect’s energy away from the pursuit of a solution answering individual tastes, and redirects it towards further improvement of the standard type which he has devised, and a fuller, more sophisticated standardization of its details.  But in order that these type-solutions may undergo a genuinely radical renewal, they must derive from the new principles of a rational urbanism which will satisfy tomorrow’s needs as well as today’s. It is thus obvious that the conditions of our State will authoritatively throw us from the single architectural unit, through a complicated manufacturing process, to the whole complex, the village, the township, and the city.

Sketch of the Vesnins’ Leningrad Pravda Building (1924)

Unfortunately, the specialists at the head of those state organs in charge of our building are the ones least concerned about this important issue, who are least of all inclined to keenly look ahead. They [Pg. 3] are quite satisfied, for example, that construction in the largest center of the USSR — Moscow — is limited to four-or six-storey buildings.

It is needless to say that for smaller cities or housing estates these are nothing better than garden cities [goroda-sada], with their small mansions, courtyards, and flower-gardens, and yet no one seems to have this on his mind. But meanwhile this Howardian [Ebenezer Howard — RW] ideal has lagged behind modernity for no less than ten years (and also behind our Soviet modernity for an even more substantial period of time)?

In order for a modern architect to deal with such anachronisms, the greater is his need to fight on two fronts: [1] the elaboration of new, rational principles for the planning of architecture for the aggregate population [naselennykh mest] and [2] the creation of standards that would serve as a prerequisite for the foundation of a new, more prudent image of the city.

The social conditions of our modern world are such that questions of individual aesthetic developments in architecture arise only secondarily.  Today’s conditions focus our attention first and foremost onto the problem of rational new types in architecture, and by including the architect within the overall production chain of the country, they abolish the isolation which previously existed between various forms of architectural and engineering activity.  Certainly the complex development of our life is such that more than at any other time, it compels the architect to specialize in a specific field, but at the same time the firm conviction that has arisen amongst all contemporary architects that their different specialties — housing, community buildings, factories — are merely subsections of a homogeneous territory [ubezhdenie v odno-znachnosti ikh tvorchekoi deiate’nosti].  So some are busy creating a new type of housing, others with the development of new public facilities, and still others with the building of a new factory or plant.  And precisely because construction possessing a factory/industrial or engineering character was never firmly linked to the stagnant traditional art of the past, [the engineers] found that the principles underlying their mode of creation were much more responsive to the needs the time, and better suited to the serving of a new life.  As a result, not only has the boundary between engineering structures and public architecture been wiped out of our thinking, but those very engineering structures themselves have come to be seen as front-line pioneers in the shaping of a genuinely contemporary architecture.

Sober calculation of all these circumstances, which have been created and intensified by our present social conditions, is not just the first condition for a correct solution of our architectural tasks.  It is also the source of all those purely architectural possibilities which lie concealed within the changes which have taken place in our mode of life.

But alongside these, there is a series of other “unknowns” facing the architect, which derive quite separately from the particularities of each factor of the given piece of work, from the particular features of the task in hand, from its functional requirements and from the productive and locational conditions obtaining in that situation.

The solving of these ‘unknowns’ leads to an entirely new method of architectural thinking: to the method of functional design.

Free from the handed-down models of the past, from prejudices and biases, the new architect analyzes all sides of his task, all its special features.  He dismembers it into its component elements, groups them according to functions and organizes his solution on the basis of these factors.  The result is a spatial solution which can be likened to any other kind of rationally conceived [razumnyi] organism, which is divided into individual organs that have been developed in response to the functional roles which each fulfills.

As a result of this we are seeing in the works of contemporary architects the emergence of entirely new types of plan.  These are generally asymmetrical, since it is extremely rare for functional parts of a building to be absolutely identical.  They are predominantly open and free in their configurations, because this not only better bathes each part of the building in fresh air and sunlight, but makes its functional elements more clearly readable and makes it easier to perceive the dynamic life that is unfolding within the building’s spaces.

That same method of functional creativity leads not only to clear calculation of the ‘unknowns’ of the task, but to an equally clear calculation of the elements of its solution.

The architect then arranges [ustanavlivaet] the main path to the secondary in his work, from the core to the outer shell.  Only functional architectural thinking establishes [ustanavlivaet] the spatial organization firmly as the starting point of the work, indicating the place at which the bulk of the impact should be directed.  Thus, the determination [ustanovlenie] of the specific conditions of the job — the number of individual spatial variables, their dimensions and mutual connection — emerges as the primary function. From this first point alone does the modern architect proceed; it is this that compels him to unfold his plan from the inside out, rather than vice versa, as was done during the period of eclecticism.   This directs his entire future path.

The second moment for the architect becomes the framing from within of the spatial problem or from a particular material and one or another methods of construction.  It is clear that this is an inevitable function of the baseline spatial resolution.

The next stage in the work of the new architect is the ratio of the spatial volume of the outside, a grouping of architectural masses.  Their rhythm and proportions follow naturally from the first half of the architect’s activity — they stand as a function of the constructive material of the exterior and its hidden spaces.

[Pg. 4]

And finally, there is the interpretation of some wall surfaces and the design of individual — elements, holes, poles, etc. — all the functions of some of these, or any other extraneous data.

Thus the very method of functional creativity leads us to a unified organic creative process where one task leads from another with all the logic of a natural development, instead of the old-style chopping up into separate independent tasks which are usually in conflict with each other.  There is no one element, no one part of the architect’s thinking which would be arbitrary.  Everything would find its explanation and functional justification in its suitability for a purpose.  The whole unifies everything, establishes equilibrium between everything, creates images of the highest expressiveness, legibility, and clarity, where nothing can be arbitrarily changed.

In place of the ready-made models of the past which have been chewed over endlessly, the new method radically re-equips the architect.  It gives him a healthy direction to his thiking, inevitably leading him from the main factors to the secondary ones.  It forces him to throw out what is unnecessary and to seek artistic expressiveness in that which is most important and necessary.

There is absolutely no danger in the asceticism of the new architecture which emerges from this method.  It is the asceticism of youth and health.  It is the robust asceticism of the builders and organizers of a new life.

[Из Современной архитектуры 1926 (No. 1, pgs. 1-4)]

Одно десятилетие отделяет нас от архитектурного «благополучия» довоенного времени, когда в Ленинграде, Москве и других крупных центрах лучшие русские зодчие беззаботно насаждали всевозможные «стили».

Много ли десятилетие?

Маленькая трещинка времени. Но революция, уничтожив косные предрассудки и отжившие каноны, превратила трещинку в пропасть. По ту сторону пропасти остался последний этап увядания одряхлевшей системы европейского мышления, беспринципный эклектизм, имеющий наготове тысячу художественных рецептов, апробованных нашими дедами и прадедами, готовый черпать истину откуда угодно, — но только в прошлом.

По эту сторону открывается новый путь, который еще надо прокладывать, новые просторы, которые нужно еще заселить. В обстановке сегодняшнего дня куется миросозерцание современного зодчего, создаются новые методы архитектурного мышления.

Вместо старой системы архитектурного творчества, где план, конструкция и внешнее оформление задания постоянно находились во взаимной вражде и где архитектор был по мере сил своих примирителем всех этих неразрешимых конфликтов, — новое архитектурное творчество, прежде всего, характеризуется своим единым нераздельным целевым устремлением, в котором органически выковывается задача и к которому сводится созидательный процесс от начала до конца.

Вместо отвлеченного и крайне индивидуалистического вдохновения старого архитектора — современный зодчий твердо убежден в том, что архитектурная задача решается, как и всякая иная, лишь в результате точного выясненияне известных и отыскания правильного метода решения.

Зодчий видит вокруг себя смелое творчество изобретателя в разных областях современной техники, гигантскими шагами побеждающей землю, недра и воздух, с каждым часом отвоевывающей все новые и новые позиции. Не трудно понять, что этот изумительным успех человеческого гения объясняется, главным образом, правильным методом творчества. Изобретатель твердо знает, что как бы ни был ярок подъем его творческого энтузиазма — он будет бесцелен без трезвого учета мельчайших обстоятельств, окружающих его деятельность.  Он во всеоружии современного знания, он учитывает все условия сегодняшнего дня, он смотрит вперед завоевывает будущее.

Конечно, наивно было бы подменить сложное искусство архитектуры подражанием тем или иным, хотя бы [Pg. 2] самым блестящим формам современной техники. Этот период наивного «машинного символизма» уже изжит. Лишь творческий метод изобретателя должен быть завоеван современным архитектором. Должно быть категорически отвергнуто наличие каких-либо штампов прошлого, как бы прекрасно оно ни было, ибо искания зодчего по существу своему такое же изобретение, как и всякое другое, изобретение, ставящее себе целью организовать и сконструировать конкретную практическую задачу, не только диктуемую сегодняшним днем, но и пригодную для завтрашнего.

Итак, прежде всего, ясное раскрытие всех неизвестных. И, в первую очередь, неизвестных общего характера, диктуемых нашей эпохой в целом, раскрытие особенностей, связанных с появлением нового социального потребителя архитектуры — класса трудящихся, организующего не только свой современный быт, но и сложные формы новой хозяйственной жизни государства. Тут, конечно, речь идет не о подлаживании к индивидуальным вкусам нового потребителя. К сожалению, часто именно к этому сводят постановку вопроса, при чем еще стараются поспешно приписать рабочему вкусы и вкусики, являющиеся по существу отголоском старых дореволюционных взглядов.

Но тут дело меньше всего заключается во вкусах. Речь идет о выяснении особенностей нового потребителя, как мощного коллектива, строящего социалистическое государство.

Речь идет, прежде всего, о принципе плановости, который должен войти в работу не только тех или иных руководящих государственных органов, но и в работу каждого зодчего, о включении отдельных замыслов в общую производственную сеть всей страны.

Коренным образом меняет характер работы современного архитектора то, что он сознает свою деятельность не как выполнение отдельных заказов, а как установку стандартов архитектуры, организующих новые жилища и города, как непрерывное совершенствование этих стандартов, в связи с общими производственными особенностями, с уровнем нашей и международной строительной техники. В условиях переживаемого нами строительства социализма, каждое новое решение архитектора — жилой дом, клуб, фабрика — мыслится нам, как изобретение совершенного типа, отвечающего своей задаче и пригодного к размножению в любом количестве, сообразно с потребностями государства. Это обстоятельство заранее отводит энергию архитектора от поисков индивидуально-вкусового решения — к совершенствованию своего стандарта, к уточнению и максимальной типизации всех его деталей. Но для того, чтобы эти стандарты были действительно радикально обновлены, для того, чтобы они стали подлинно новыми архитектурными произведениями, конечно, они должны быть задуманы не на индивидуальном участке, не произвольной прихотью, не в тесных рамках скученного и случайно планированного города, а обратно, исходить из общего целого, из новых принципов рационального урбанизма, пригодного и для завтрашнего дня. Таким образом, очевидно, что условия нашей государственности властно отбрасывают нас от архитектурной единицы через сложный производственный процесс к целому комплексу, селению, поселку, городу.

К сожалению, специалисты, стоящие во главе государственных органов, ведающих нашим строительством, меньше всего озабочены этим важным вопросом, меньше всего расположены пытливо смотреть вперед. Они [Pg. 3] вполне удовлетворены тем, что ограничили, например, застройку крупнейшего центра СССР — Москвы — четырех-или шестиэтажными домами.

Нечего говорить о том, что для меньших городов или рабочих поселков ничего лучше города-сада, со своими маленькими особнячками, двориками и цветничками, и в мыслях не имеется. А между тем этот Говардовский идеал не отстал ли от современности не меньше чем на десяток лет, а от нашей советской современности и на более значительный срок?

Тем острее необходимость современного зодчего бороться с подобными анахронизмами, бороться с двух стороп: разработкой новых рациональных принципов планировки архитектуры населенных мест и созданием стандартов, которые послужили бы предпосылкой к созданию нового разумного облика города.

Социальные условия современности таковы, что они ставят лишь во вторую очередь вопросы индивидуально художественного развития архитектуры, они обращают наше внимание прежде всего на проблему новых рациональных типов архитектуры и, включая архитектора в общую производственную цепь страны, уничтожают обособленность, которая существовала раньше между различными видами архитектурной и инженерной деятельности. Конечно, сложное развитие нашей жизни таково, что более чем когда-либо заставляет зодчего специализироваться в той или иной области, но в то же время у всех современных зодчих выросло твердое убеждение в однозначности их творческой деятельности: одни заняты созданием типа нового жилья, другие нового общественного сооружения, а третьи — новой фабрики или завода. И именно потому, что сооружения фабрично-заводского и инженерного характера никогда не были крепко связаны с косными традициями художественного прошлого, они оказались, по принципам, лежащим в их созидании, на много более отвечающими потребностям момента, более пригодными к обслуживанию новой жизни. Таким образом, не только стерлась в нашем представлении грань между гражданским или инженерным сооружением, но даже это последнее оказалось передовым застрельщиком в формации подлинно современной архитектуры.

Трезвый учет всех этих? обстоятельств, выдвинутых и обостренных новыми социальными условиями, не только первое условие правильного решения архитектурной задачи, но и источник тех чисто архитектурных возможностей, которые таятся в изменившихся условиях нашей жизни.

Но на ряду с ними, перед архитектором стоят и другие «неизвестные», вытекающие из особенностей каждого момента работы в отдельности, из особенностей самого задания, его функций, условий и места производства.

Решение этих «неизвестных» приводит к совершенно новому методу архитектурного мышления — к методу функционального творчества.

Свободный от всяких штампов прошлого, от предрассудков и предубеждений, новый зодчий анализирует все стороны задания, его особенности, он расчленяет его на составные элементы, группирует по их функциям и организует свое решение по этим предпосылкам. Получается пространственное решение, уподобленное всякому разумному организму, расчлененное на отдельные органы, получающие то или иное развитие, в зависимости от функций, ими выполняемых.

В силу этого, мы видим в работах современных архитекторов появление совершенно нового плана, большей частью асимметричного, — так как редко функции частей эданин бывают абсолютно одинаковыми — предпочтительно открытого и свободного в своей конфигурации, потому что тогда не только лучше омываются все части сооружения воздухом и светом, но и четче читается его функциональная члененность, легче угадывается развертывающаяся в них динамическая жизнь.

Тот же метод функционального творчества приводит не только к ясному учету «неизвестных» задачи, но к такому же учету элементов ее решения.

Зодчий устанавливает тогда в своем творчестве путь от главного к второстепенному, от костяка к оболочке. Только функциональное архитектурное мышление жестко устанавливает пространственную организацию, как исходную точку работы, указывает то место, куда должен быть направлен основной удар. Таким образом, выясняется как первая функция конкретных условий задания — установление количества отдельных пространственных величин, их размеров и взаимной связи. Из этого, прежде всего, исходит современный архитектор, это заставляет его развертывать свой замысел изнутри наружу, а не обратно, как это делалось в периоды эклектизма, это направляет весь его дальнейший путь.

Вторым моментом становится конструирование изнутри развертывающейся пространственной задачи из того или иного материала и теми или иными конструктивными методами. Ясно, что оно является неизбежной функцией основного пространственного решения.

Дальнейший этап работы нового архитектора: — соотношение пространственных объемов извне, группировка архитектурных масс, их ритм и пропорции вытекают естественно из первой половины его деятельности, — становятся функцией сконструированной материальной оболочки и скрытого за ней пространства.

[Pg. 4]

И, наконец, трактовка той или иной стенной поверхности, оформление отдельных элементов, отверстий, опор и т. д., все это функции тех или иных перечисленных, или каких-либо других привходящих данных.

Таким образом, самый метод функционального творчества вместо старого дробления на отдельные независимые и обычно враждебные друг другу задачи — приводит к единому органическому творческому процессу, где одна из задач вытекает из другой со всей логикой естественного развития. Нет ни одного элемента, ни одной части замысла архитектора, который был бы стихиен. Все находит себе объяснение и функциональное оправдание в своей целесообразности. Целое все объединяет, все уравновешивает, создает образцы высочайшей выразительности, четкости, ясности, где ничто не может быть изменено.

Вместо готовых, бесчисленное множество раз пережеванных образцов прошлого, новый метод коренным образом перевооружает зодчего. Он дает здоровое направление его мыслям, неизбежно устремляя их от главного к второстепенному, заставляет его отбрасывать ненужное и искать художественную выразительность в самом важном и необходимом.

Нет никакой опасности в вытекающем из этого метода аскетизме новой архитектуры, который отпугивает близоруких. Это — аскетизм молодости и здоровья, бодрый аскетизм строителей и организаторов новой жизни.

Recommended Architectural Blogs and Articles, along with My Gratitude

Leonidov's Proposed "Ministry of Heavy Industry" (1934)

I should like to thank the following architecture-related websites and point to some of their best articles:

  1. dpr-barcelona: I would like to thank Ethel Baraona not only for her enthusiastic promotion of my site on Twitter and so on, but for her friendship.  After I posted some links to a few of the journals I’d uploaded, she immediately e-mailed me personally expressing her thanks.  That said, she and her co-contributor have produced some excellent content of their own, in articles both in English and in Spanish.  To point to just a couple of them: “Ivan Leonidov and the Russian Utopias” and “Construction of Architectural and Machine Forms | Iakov Chernikhov.”
  2. Critical Grounds: Thanks to the author of this blog for pointing his students to the English-language modernist architectural archive I created.  And if you have the time, please read the following excellent articles: “In the Name of Being: Critical Regionalist Landscape Urbanism, a Critique,” his reference to another critique of environmentalism in “Ross Adams on the ‘eco-city’,” and finally his own “Parallel Lines: formal expression as publicity in the architecture of Hadid’s Central Building for BMW Leipzig.”
  3. sit down man, you’re a bloody tragedy: As always, the Bolshevist and “interdistrictite” Owen Hatherley must make the list.  Not only for his incredibly helpful promotion of my own blog, but for his numerous good articles.  Some of his older articles from his previous blog are more immediately related to what I’ve been working on: “No Rococo Palace for Buster Keaton: Americanism (and Technology, Advertising, Socialism) in Weimar Architecture,” “The Functionalist Deviation Politics of building, aesthetics of anti-architecture,” and especially “A Pod of One’s Own — Architecture or Revolution: the Congres International d’Architecture Moderne, 1928-33.”
  4. Kosmograd: There’s too much good, cosmopolitan material at this site, which is mostly dedicated to early Bolshevik architecture and the Soviet space program.  He has linked to my site on several occasions, for which I am very thankful.  Interesting articles on this site include “Communal House of the Textile Institute,” the hilarious “Eco-town of Tomorrow and Its Planning,” and his interesting piece on “Decaying Orbiters.”

Free PDFs of the German Avant-Garde Architectural Journal Wasmuths Monatshefte für Baukunst und Städtebau (1926-1931)

Wasmuths Monatshefte für Baukunst und Städtebau's Coverage of Ivan Leonidov's Proposal for the Lenin Institute

 The modernist movement was alive and well in interwar Germany.  Not only at the Bauhaus, which stood at the forefront of the avant-garde, under the leadership of Walter Gropius, Hannes Meyer, and Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe, but all over the country.  László Moholy-Nagy and Gropius published their famous Bauhausbücher series, El Lissitzky established his journal ABC: Beitrage zum Bauen, and Theo van Doesburg transplanted his Dutch De Stijl magazine to Germany. Continue reading