Thursday, December 10, 2015

Architecture in the Early 20th Century, Modernism, Bauhaus, DeStijl and International Style

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Walter Gropius, "Program of the Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar," 1919: "Artists, sculptors, painters, we must all return to the crafts! Let us then create a new guild 
of craftsmen without the class distinctions that raise an arrogant barrier between craftsman and artist! Let us desire, conceive, and create the new structure of the 
future, which will embrace architecture and sculpture and painting in one unity and which will one day rise toward heaven from the hands of a million workers like the 
crystal symbol of a new faith."

Walter Gropius and Adolph Meyer. Fagus Factory,
Alfed-an-der-Leine, Germany. 1911-16
Form: This three-story factory uses a steel frame, allowing the facade to be made almost entirely of glass.Iconography: The client's wish for an attractive façade was solved by Gropius in a special way: by means of a projected steel skeleton, which pulled the function of support to the inside, thereby making possible a broad dissolution of the exterior envelope into glass walls; the idea of the 'curtain wall' was at this point first expressed in a consistent manner."The Fagus shoe factory in Alfred, Germany is a seminal building in the history of modern architecture. Designed by Walter Gropius and Adolf Meyer in 1911,  This revolutionary technique set new standards for industrial construction and is still used in the building of every skyscraper. Fagus traces the history of the building from 1911, when it was designed and built, through the late 1920s, the period of final collaboration between Gropius/Meyer and factory management. It also emphasizes the Bauhaus idea of industrial culture, in which architecture, interior design, graphic design, and photography were interrelated with the business philosophy of the company."
© 2000 Princeton Architectural Press, Inc. (
Context: "Walter Gropius, German-American architect, one of the leaders of  modern functional architecture. In Germany his Fagus factory buildings (1910–11) at Alfeld, with their glass walls, metal spandrels, and discerning use of purely industrial features, were among the most advanced works in Europe. After World War I, Gropius became (1918) director of the Weimar School of Art, reorganizing it as the Bauhaus. It was moved in 1925 to Dessau. The complete set of new buildings for it, which Gropius designed (1926), remains one of his finest achievements. He built the Staattheater at Jena (1923), some experimental houses at Stuttgart (1927), and designed residences, workers’ dwellings, and industrial buildings. Driven out by the Nazis, he practiced (1934–37) in London with Maxwell Fry and in 1937 emigrated to America, where he headed the school of architecture at Harvard until 1952. His influence on the dissemination of functional architectural theory and the rise of the International style was immense. Practicing his principles of cooperative design, Gropius worked with a group of young architects on the design of the Harvard graduate center. He continued his architectural activity with this group, the Architects Collaborative (TAC), in such works as the U.S. embassy at Athens, the Univ. of Baghdad (1961), and the Grand Central City building, New York City (1963). His writings include The New Architecture and the Bauhaus (tr.1935) and Scope of World Architecture (1955).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition.  2001.
"Gropius's first large building, the Fagus Shoe-Last Factory in Alfred on the Leine in 1911... was materialized due to his connection with Peter Behrens—and in cooperation with Adolf Meyer... as had been the case with most of his early structures. The starting point for the young architect was the already existing site plan, the ground plan, and construction plans of the architect Eduard Werner, as well as the foundation, which had already been laid. A loan from the American United Shoe Machinery Corporation made the continuation of the construction possible in 1911, and continued until 1912 step by step under the new concept of Walter Gropius. The whole operational procedure was newly thought through, according to the inner functions, and then articulated in a three-dimensional form. The client's wish for an attractive façade was solved by Gropius in a special way: by means of a projected steel skeleton, which pulled the function of support to the inside, thereby making possible a broad dissolution of the exterior envelope into glass walls; the idea of the 'curtain wall' was at this point first expressed in a consistent manner."
— from Udo Kultermann. Architecture in the 20th Century. p32-33.
taken from

Walter Gropius. Bauhaus, Dessau, 1925-26

Bauhaus, Dessau, 1925-26
Form: This is a view of the BauHaus school of design in Germany. A skeleton of reinforced concrete with brickwork, mushroom-shaped ceilings on the lower level, and roofs covered with asphalt tile that can be walked upon.Iconography: The Creator's Words "One of the outstanding achievements of the new constructional technique has been the abolition of the separating function of the wall. Instead of making the walls the element of support, as in a brick-built house, our new space-saving construction transfers the whole load of the structure to a steel or concrete framework. Thus the role of the walls becomes restricted to that of mere screens stretched between the upright columns of this framework to keep out rain, cold, and noise. ...Systematic technical improvement in steel and concrete, and nicer and nicer calculation of their tensile and compressive strength, are steadily reducing the area occupied by supporting members. This, in turn, naturally leads to a progressively bolder (i.e.wider) opening up of the wall surfaces, which allows rooms to be much better lit. It is, therefore, only logical that the old type of window—a hole that had to be hollowed out of the full thickness of a supporting wall—should be giving place more and more to the continuous horizontal casement, subdivided by thin steel mullions, characteristic of the New Architecture. And as a direct result of the growing preponderance of voids over solids, glass is assuming an ever greater structural importance....In the same way the flat roof is superseding the old penthouse roof with its tiled or slated gables. For its advantages are obvious: (1) light normally shaped top-floor rooms instead of poky attics, darkened by dormers and sloping ceilings, with their almost unutilizable corners; (2) the avoidance of timber rafters, so often the cause of fires; (3) the possibility of turning the top of the house to practical account as a sun loggia, open-air gymnasium, or children's playground; (4) simpler structural provision for subsequent additions, whether as extra stories or new wings; (5) elimination of unnecessary surfaces presented to the action of wind and weather, and therefore less need for repairs; (6) suppression of hanging gutters, external rain-pipes, etc., that often erode rapidly. With the development of air transport the architect will have to pay as much attention to the bird's-eye perspective of his houses as to their elevations. The utilization of flat roofs as 'grounds' offers us a means of re-acclimatizing nature amidst the stony deserts of our great towns;...Seen from the skies, the leafy house-tops of the cities of the future will look like endless chains of hanging gardens."
—Walter Gropius. from Walter Gropius. The New Architecture and the Bauhaus. p25-30. (
Context: Gropius' extensive facilities for the Bauhaus at Dessau combine teaching, student and faculty members' housing, an auditorium, and office spaces. The pinwheel configuration when viewed from the air represents in form the propellers of the airplanes manufactured in the Dessau area. This complex embodies various technological and design oriented advancements including a petchance for glazing, the creation of an architecture of transparency with the supporting structure rising behind the facing skin. It was a radical structure populated by progressive minds touting a unique group-oriented approach to learning.
—Darlene Levy. drawn from S. Giedion. Walter Gropius: Work and Teamwork. p54-56.
"The Bauhaus building provides an important landmark of architectural history, even though it was dependent on earlier projects of the well as on the basic outlines and concepts of Frank Lloyd Wright. "It consists of three connected wings or bridges...School and workshop are connected through a two-story bridge, which spans the approach road from Dessau. The administration was located on the lower level of the bridge, and on the upper level was the private office of the two architects, Walter Gropius and Adolf Meyer, which could be compared to the ship captain's 'command bridge' due to its location. The dormitories and the school building are connected through a wing where the assembly hall and the dining room are located, with a stage between."The basic structure of the Bauhaus consists of a clear and carefully thought-out system of connecting wings, which correspond to the internal operating system of the school. The technical construction of the building... is demonstrated by the latest technological development of the time: a skeleton of reinforced concrete with brickwork, mushroom-shaped ceilings on the lower level, and roofs covered with asphalt tile that can be walked upon. The construction area consisted of 42,445 [cubic yards] (32,450 [cubic meters]) and the total cost amounted to 902,500 marks. Such an economical achievement was possible only due to the assistance of the Bauhaus teachers and students, which at the  same time, of course, could be viewed as an ideal means of education."
 —from Udo Kultermann. Architecture in the 20th Century. p37-38.

Iwao Yamawaki, collage, 1932
Form: Collage of Hitler walking on the BauIconography:  Iwao Yamawaki was a Japanese adherent to the Bauhaus style, and a photographer. This collage shows the nazi's trampling over the Bauhaus.
Context: "In 1932, the Nazis seized the power in Saxony-Anhalt and Bauhaus de Dessau was going to be established in Berlin in an empty factory that Mies van der Rohe made repaint in white. Hitler chancellor of Reich, Mies had an interview with one of the "cultural experts" Nazis, Alfred Rosenberg, with the autumn of 1933; it obtained the authorization to continue; but, considering that Bauhaus could not continue its?uvre in "this atmosphere", it made the decision to close the institution. "
(translated from German)  "Iwao Yamawaki (1898-1987) studied architecture (at) the Tokyo School OF kind,(Tokyo Bijutsu Gakko) in order to become active in architecture later. At the same time (he) began to photograph with (his) 35mm camera. In 1930 he gave his employment up in Japan, in order to apply at the BauHaus in Germany. He was trained from 1930 to 1932 there in both architecture and photography. After his return to Japan he began to further-obtain contents of the BauHaus. Yamawaki gave up, after some time, his photography in favor of working as an architect and a member of the art faculty at the university of Tokyo. Up to his death he had different exhibitions of his architectural photography and contributed writings for Japanese photo magazines."

Marcel Breuer, metall-chair, 1925

Marcel Breuer
Form: Polished, bent, nickelled tubular steel frame, and leather or fabric.Iconography: "Breuer was inspired by the shape and form of a bicycle handlebars when he created one of his most famous pieces, theWassily Chair No B3 in 1925. It was designed and made for Wassily Kandinsky'. The frame of the chair was made from polished, bent, nickelled tubular steel, which later became chrome plated. The seat came in canvas, fabric or leather in black section. This chair has been widely copied."
Context: "Marcel Lajos Breuer was born in Pécs, Hungary in 1902, and became on of the greatest architects and furniture designers of the 20th century. Breuer used new technologies and new materials in order to develop his 'International Style' of work. Breuer first studied art in Vienna after winning a scholarship. Marcel was unhappy with the institution and found work instead at a Vienese architecture office. From 1920 to 1928 he was a student and teacher at Germany's Bauhaus, a school of design where modern principles, technologies and the application of new materials were encouraged in both the industrial and fine arts.  During his time spent there Marcel completed the carpentry apprenticeship. While there he designed and made the  African chair and the Slatted chair.After completing his studies at the Bauhaus Marcel traveled to Paris, where he worked in an architects office. After a year he was appointed as head of the carpentry workshop at the Bauhaus. Breuer was given the title of 'young master'. Breuer helped to develop modular or unit construction. This is the combination of standardised units to form a technically simple but functional complete unit."

Marianne Brandt, tea set, 1924

Marianne Brandt
Form: Metal teapot set, with geometricized featuresIconography: The Bauhaus, as an art school, was not just nterested in function, though that was the most important aspect of their designs, but also that what was made had to please the eye. When Marianne Brandt came up with this teapot, her interpretation was, "...This she interpreted as a reaction to the over-ornate kitsch they had grown-up with before the war. The geometric effect is more measured in her tea service of and teapot of 1924 also pictured below. The basic form of the pot is very similiar to the modular teapot developed by Theodor Bogler in the Bauhaus Ceramic Workshop.The semi-circular ebony handles are charactistic of the Bauhaus metal workshop."
Context: " Marianne Brandt was born in Chemnitz Germany and studied painting and sculpture at the Grand-ducal College of Fine Arts in Weimar. After spending some time in Norway and Paris, she returned to Weimar in 1924 to enroll at the Bauhaus, where she entered the metal workshop. When László Moholy-Nagy, assisted by the silversmith Christian Dell, took over as the metal workshop's Form Master from Johannes Itten in 1923, function was invoked as the source of form, Brandt who was one of the workshop's most talented apprentices later admitted that while they were very concerned about function (that vessels should pour properly and be easy to clean), geometric, elemental forms were in themselves something of an obsession."

Karl J. Jucker and Wilhelm Wagenfeld, table lamp, 1923-24
Form: Table lamp fashioned in the Bauhaus style out of glass and silver.Iconography: The student's production clearly stood under the influence of Itten's teachings: the main concern in the production of vessels and appliances was the free study of form together with the experimentally acquired knowledge of metallic materials and their possible treatment.When, in 1923, László Moholy-Nagy became head of the workshop, the focus was directed towards more functional aspects. Straightforward vessels reduced to elementary forms in brass, nickel-plated brass or silver were produced. These were indeed conceived for industrial serial production, but realized only as single pieces or in handcrafted series.
This was the period in which the first lamp models were produced, namely the "Bauhaus lamp" by Carl Jakob Jucker and Wilhelm Wagenfeld. In Dessau, the more professional and extensive workshop's equipment was capable of accomodating a  more rational serial production of vessels and appliances.
Context: "In line with the overall guidelines of the early Bauhaus, the metal workshop in Weimar, which at first ran under the name of gold, silver, and copper forge, taught traditional metal working techniques. Johannes Itten was the artistic director during the first years, and then in 1922, the experienced silversmith Christian Dell took on the position of master craftsman until 1925.
Already in 1926, the metal workshop mastered the design and production of all the lighting requirements for the new Bauhaus building. In the following years, it became more and more a "design laboratory" for new lighting equipment and, finally, when several industrial lighting manufacturers took the models into serial production, it achieved the status of one of the most effective and successful workshops at the Bauhaus.  The production of some of the types, such as the Kandem lamps by Marianne Brandt and Hin Bredendieck, was continued for many years after the closure of the Bauhaus."
"The Bauhuas set the standards for a number of different types of light fixture. Its range of hanging and ceiling lights were very successful. In 1926 Marianne Brandt and Hans Przyrembel collaborated on the design of a counter-weighted hanging light that was used extensively in the Bauhaus workshops and was mass-produced by Schwintzer and Gräff from 1928 onward. In some models, a small shade was placed beneath the light source to prevent dazzle. As many people objected to naked aluminium, the shades were often spray-painted in colour. Brandt also designed in 1926 a ceiling light based around a simple, spherical milk glass shade, a component borrowed directly from industrial lighting and transposed into the domestic context. In order to change the bulb, the shade can be removed from the aluminium fixture by unhooking it. It was produced for a short while (1928-30) by Schwintzer and Gräff in berlin. Brandt also designed ceiling lights using concentric rings of milk glass, which did not throw strong shadows or collect dust. The picture right is of the Bauhaus Drafting Room in the then newly established Architecture Department taken in 1928. Note the gleaming linoleum floor, one of a number of new materials of the time. Brandt's and Przyrembel's counter-weighted hanging lights were put to good use above each of the drafting tables. Task lighting was another range developed. Marianne Brandt working with Hin Bredenieck, in1927 created the definitive form for small adjustable bedside and desk lights, with bell-shaped lacquered steel shades (intended to give a directional focused and evenly distributed source of light), gently curved necks and wedge-shaped feet from which the cord disappears neatly out of at the rear, manufactured by Kandem (Körting & Matthieson), Leipzig. Brandt's "Wandarm" (wall-arm) of 1927 was a typical piece of Bauhaus ingenuity. Designed for hospital use, it is an adjustable reading light mounted on a white reflective board (black was also available for a softer effect) which allows indirect lighting, with a push-button switch mounted on the wall-plate easily found by a drowzy patient. It was designed for ease of manufacture and was mass-produced by a Stuttgart firm. The design minimized the amount of soldering needed. All the elements could be cast, pressed and riveted, this reducing labour costs and speeding up production. The very success of the metal workshop's lighting fixtures made finding manufacturers for its tableware difficult as it was tended to be pigeon-holed as a lighting department."

Otto Rittweger and Wolfgang
Tuempel, strainer set, 1924
Form: Metal tea strainers.Iconography: These are metal tea strainers, used in the time before we had tea bags and instant tea. A person would place the loose tea leaves into the 'ball' at the end of the rod, clasp it shut, and set it into the hot water in order to diffuse the tea. However, it would be rare for someone to have such a beautifully handcrafted set of four, as seen to the left, with a small dish as stand to catch the drips from the tea leaves as they are set up to cool off before cleaning.
Context:Once again, these two designers are following the BauHaus edicts of form, function, and design. While simple in nature, their very simplicity and clean lines make them attractive as well as functional.

  Theo van Doesburg and Piet Mondrian: "De Stijl" Magazine 
Theo van Doesburg tried from 1915 to 1917 to bring in new members for an alliance of Dutch artists. The purpose of the alliance was to stand up as a group instead of standing up as individual artists. In 1917 the first number of the magazine 'The Style' was launched. The idea for this magazine came from Theo van Doesburg. It was meant for explaining his own work as well as the work of the other members of the alliance. For them the magazine was an instrument to discuss new modern art and to spread their own ideas. Still there are several points of view about the origin of The Style.  If we look at the date of foundation, the first World War, we can point out the endeavor of the society as base of the origin. At that time it was very chaotic in Holland. The people wanted peace, rest and harmony again. The members of The Style tried to reflect in their work what in the entire social development could not be achieved, The Ideal Harmony If we look at the former art periods, The Style seems a logical outcome of the Cubist period (1907- 1914).  The Cubist artists tried to order the reality. The result of ordering the reality often looks like a harmonious totality. The cubists however, still used identifiable figures and elements in their paintings; their paintings were still telling something. The Style carried the principal of ordering the reality through, by ordering the reality even further. The paintings made by members of The Style do not show identifiable figures at all. These paintings have a non-telling character, but are still understandable and reflecting something. The Style did not restrict itself to the art of painting. The members wanted to realize the principals of The Style in many different artistic areas, such as architecture, sculpture, design, etc.  Theo van Doesburg actually wanted to call the magazine 'The Straight Line', but influenced by the other members the name became 'The Style' after all. The members thought that the word 'Style', preceded by the the word 'The' , suggests that it is the best, possibly even the only style, usable in the modern art and society.
The principals of The Style;
The Style is a variation of the abstract art, witch is characteristic for the
opinions about art of the modern times. This modern art had to be
 non-illustrative and non-telling in contrast to the former art movements and
 it's opinions. The modern art had to be able to stand on its own and had to be
 understandable without referring to the concrete world. So it did not have to
 reflect something identifiable to be understandable. 
 The Style is recognizable by the use of straight horizontal and vertical lines
as well as the use of the primary colors red, yellow and blue. They also used
 the colors black, white and gray. The result of it all seems an almost
 technically constructured totality. It was not the intention to tell something
 concrete, but to show the world the ideal harmony.
 The Style went back to the fundamental elements of the art: color and form, level and line. With these elements the artist developed new sculptural language and with that the placed the ideal world opposite the reality. Most of the artist used closed and open forms, density and space, color and form. By using these elements within one painting, the ideal harmony could be reached. All elements have their own function in the totality.
 The lines are the borders and make the open or closed forms. The lines are also used to create a certain space. The border of the painting is not the end of the painting. We can use our fantasy to fill in the rest; to let it grow as big  as we want, as big as we can imagine.  By using only the primary colors, the artist could create a 3-dimensional effect. The colors attract immediate attention. Therefor the rest of the painting seems to go to the background. It  looks like the white forms are further back than the colored forms. That is how the artists created a front and a back in their paintings, witch is held in harmony because of the  use of
different sized forms. So the ideal harmony could only be reached by using the perfect proportion between: the size of the colored forms ; the colored and uncolored forms the closed and open forms. By the use of ideal proportions, the artists were able to create peace and balance in their work, witch reflects the ideal harmony in the most perfect way.  The members of the alliance saw art as the bridge between reality and harmony. If harmony was reached in reality, art would lose its function." (culled directly from,


Piet Mondrian. Composition with Color Planes and Gray Lines 1, 1918
Oil on canvas 49 x 60.5 cm (19 1/4 x 23 7/8 in) Private collection
Abstract Formalism or International Style or de Stijl
Piet Mondrian. Broadway Boogie-Woogie. 1942–43.
Oil on canvas, 50 x 50" (127 x 127 cm).
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. 
Given anonymously.
Photograph ©1997 The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Abstract Formalism or International Style or de Stijl
Form: Oil on canvas, geometric forms and shades of mostly the primary colorsIconography: Eliminating the real and visible from his paintings, he extracted pure form and color from the objective world. His aesthetic philosophy is, unsurprisingly, as distilled as his paintings: "What do I want to express with my work? Nothing else than that which every other artist seeks: to achieve harmony through the balance of the relationships between lines, colors, and planes. But only in the clearest and strongest way." Mondrian never viewed the black lines as edges: they weren't meant to contain the colors, since doing so would create foreground and background and thus interfere with the total unity of the work. Instead, the lines moved through the rectangles of color while remaining independent of them. Overtly basic compositions of color and line, these paintings emphasize the dynamic interaction of the essential elements of form and color.

Context:  According to,"The members of the De Stijl movement were pious, self-effacing artists bent on creating pure and accessible art. Although the Dutch painter Piet Mondrian did not himself organize the groups with which he is associated -- De Stijl, Cercle et Carré (Circle and Square), and Abstraction-Création -- his participation was essential to the growth of abstraction.
Early in his career Mondrian worked in the naturalist style, but moved slowly toward innovations in color and abstraction. From the Impressionist and Pointillist-style landscapes and still lifes, composed around 1906, Mondrian’s aesthetic quickly evolved into free, Fauvist-style landscapes. A 1909 Amsterdam exhibition of these raw landscapes was fiercely criticized, but Mondrian continued to develop his style with an eye toward innovation. By 1911, he had moved to Paris and launched himself into Cubism. 
Mondrian's shift toward greater abstraction was inspired by a desire to express universals. 
Van Doesburg and Mondrian were the theoretical engines behind De Stijl, whose artists strove for anonymity and envisioned a collective art.  For Mondrian, the tensions between modern technology and individuality were more a matter of perception than reality, and he believed that the move from the particular to the abstract was the way to bring together these two apparent opposites. Mondrian composed his first plus-minus compositions -- paintings with rhythmic horizontal and vertical lines -- in 1917, and by 1918 he had created his first geometric grid works. But it was not until 1920, after the publication of his treatise "Le Neo Plasticisme" (Neo-Plasticism), that he composed the first heavily black-outlined colored rectangles.  In 1921, Mondrian further reduced his palette to three pure primary colors plus black, white, and gray. After his 1940 emigration to New York, the painter made his final stylistic refinement, changing to a framework of black lines replaced by colored lines and rows of small colorful rectangles. "Broadway Boogie Woogie," painted just prior to Mondrian’s death in 1944, created a splash, serving as a catalyst for the American abstractionists of the ‘50s and ‘60s."
- From David Sylvester, "About Modern Art: Critical Essays, 1948-1997"
- Taken from 


Theo van Doesburg. 
Simultaneous Countercomposition 1929
Abstract Formalism or International Style or de Stijl
Theo van Doesburg 
[Color contruction in the 4th dimension of space-time] 1924
Abstract Formalism or International Style or de Stijl
Form: Oil on canvas. geometrical forms, solid, straight black lines with a couple blocks of color, the rest is off white and grey. Iconography: This is an example of a work done in the form of the group of artists who ascribed to the 'De Stijl". It is using the elements of horizontal and vertical, black and white, and primary colors. It is abstraction distilled down to its' most basic. Note, however, that it is intentionally not perfect. What the artist wants the viewer to realize is that the longer it is looked at, the more one can see. The lines are of varying widths, and in some cases do not follow all the way to the edge of the canvas. The colors are not consistent all the way through, if one looks closely, they begin to pick up the differences in shade and values. It can be seen as well in the lower work that the color values shift constantly, and though it may, at first glance, seem to be more complicated than the top composition, it is just as basic and abstract. The only difference being the creation of a three-dimensional illusion made by overlapping objects.
Context: "Christian Emil Marie Küpper, who adopted the pseudonym Theo van Doesburg, was born in Utrecht, the Netherlands, on August 30, 1883. His first exhibition of paintings was held in 1908 in the Hague. In the early 1910s he wrote poetry and established himself as an art critic. From 1914 to 1916 van Doesburg served in the Dutch army, after which time he settled in Leiden and began his collaboration with the architects J. J. P. Oud and Jan Wils. In 1917 they founded the group De Stijl [more] and the periodical of the same name; other original members were Vilmos Huszár, Piet Mondrian, Bart van der Leck, and Georges Vantongerloo. Van Doesburg executed decorations for Oud’s De Vonk project in Noordwijkerhout in 1917.  In 1920 he resumed his writing, using the pen name I. K. Bonset and later Aldo Camini. Van Doesburg visited Berlin and Weimar in 1921 and the following year taught at the Weimar Bauhaus [more], where he associated with Raoul Hausmann, Le Corbusier, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Hans Richter. He was interested in Dada [more] at this time and worked with Kurt Schwitters as well as Jean Arp, Tristan Tzara, and others on the review Mécano in 1922. Exhibitions of the architectural designs of Gerrit Rietveld, van Doesburg, and Cor van Eesteren were held in Paris in 1923 at Léonce Rosenberg’s Galerie l’Effort Moderne and in 1924 at the Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture.The Landesmuseum of Weimar presented a solo show of van Doesburg’s work in 1924. That same year he lectured on modern literature in Prague, Vienna, and Hannover, and the Bauhaus published his Grundbegriffe der neuen gestaltenden Kunst (Principles of Neo-Plastic Art). A new phase of De Stijl was declared by van Doesburg in his manifesto of “Elementarism,” published in 1926. During that year he collaborated with Arp and Sophie Taeuber-Arp on the decoration of the restaurant-cabaret L’Aubette in Strasbourg. Van Doesburg returned to Paris in 1929 and began working on a house at Meudon-Val-Fleury with van Eesteren. Also in that year he published the first  issue of Art concret, the organ of the Paris-based group of the same name. Van Doesburg was the moving force behind the formation of the group Abstraction-Création in Paris. The artist died on March 7, 1931, in Davos, Switzerland." (


Gerrit Rietveld. Schroder House 1924
Utrecht, Netherlands
Weightless Floating Walls
Abstract Formalism or International Style or de Stijl
Form: Study painting for Schroder house construction. everything is geometricized and with primary colors plus white and black. Iconography: It can be seen from this study how the essence of DeStijl was at work. Many right angles and cube forms, black and white and primary colors, and simplicity.
Context: Rietveld was a part of the movement, in the form of architecture. Whlie Mondrian and vanDoesburg were traditionally painters, Rietveld was a cabinet maker and a carpenter. He brought the conceptual ideas of DeStijl to life in three dimensional form.


Gerrit Rietveld. Schroder House 1924
Utrecht, Netherlands
Weightless Floating Walls
Abstract Formalism or International Style or de Stijl


Form: a house with geometricized architecture, overlapping rectangles, mainly white with black and some primary colored rectangles to give it some life. Iconography: "Gerrit Rietveld worked closely in collaboration with the client for this house.  More than any other, this is either—in Banham's words—'a cardboard Mondrian' or an enormous piece of furniture masquerading as a house. All windows could only be opened up completely, at right angles to frames, repeating the devices by which the upper floor could be transformed from one single space into a series of smaller ones—the point being that in either positioning of windows or moveable walls, the house retained its neoplastic hypothesis."
 —David Dunster. Key Buildings of the Twentieth Century Volume 1: Houses 1900-1944. p24.
"Reaction to the house is best described as polar, either people loved or hated the house. In many senses this is what Truss Schröder wanted, to challenge peoples traditional views. Most of the neighbours didn't like the house as many would stand waiting for the house to fall over, due to its radical construction. Even today many people find its direct modernity alarming. Sometimes the children were subjected to mocking because they lived in a "looney house". (Overy, 1988, p78)  Rietveld's peers (especially Van Doesburg) praised the house in terms of its achievement of De Stijl plastic principles of architecture. Other professional peers such as
Oud publicly denounced the building as harmful to modern architecture; stating that it was lacking solidity; was prone to wear and tear and would age badly . (Overy,1988, p79) Privately Oud held the house in high regard as an achievement ahead of its time. By the 1950's the Schröder house became entrenched as one the greatest developments of modernism as it was the first open-plan house. Up until the Schröder house Western architecture had been "enclosed". Rietveld however considered architecture as giving rhythm to a corporeal experience of space which is connected to "total space". Rietveld stated that the aim of his architecture was to "preserve a free, light and unbroken space, that gives clarity to our lives and contributes a new sense of life". (Kuper, 1992, p39)  As a spatial theory Rietveld considered architecture as manifestation of a specific visual form transcending the particular human activity it housed. Rietveld's reinterpretation of design was forged in the context of practical, pre-aesthetic requirements - that the building must provide functional and economic delineation of space. (Buffinga, 1971, p5) This Functionalism was enunciated by Rietveld as "eliminating everything that is superfluous. This is also what the word means in a social sense: it is a sort of spatial hygiene." (Kuper, 1992, p36) The expression of this Functional architecture is related to the idea of "befreites wohnen" meaning free or independent living.Rietveld's background in furniture design served as the main basis from which the conceptual functional and aesthetic issues and his attitude to design were to shape the design of the house. In many ways the furniture (such as the red blue chair, 1922) and the Schröder house were parallel. Rietveld once said :... when I got a chance to make a house based on the same principles as that (Red Blue - ed) chair, I seized it eagerly." (Overy, 1988, p61) The Schröder house was also the first truly open plan house (with the movable partitions on the first floor). It was from this manifestation of continuous space that the house gave modernism the greatest freedom from the previously enclosed nature of a house. The concept was more than just a liberation of the plan from structure (such as Le Corbusier's plan libre) it was conscious effort to elevate architecture to a realm where space and function were integral components. Many of Rietveld's
spatial devices and organisational methods can be traced throughout the canons of modernism, such as Mies Van der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright. The project was a manifestation of Rietveld's ideas about housing and living. He perceived traditional housing as a neutral space in which inhabitants conformed to the passive environment. (Kuper, 1992, p100). Rietveld considered that architects had a shallow conception of the specific requirements of housing and lifestyle. all too often Architects reproduced generic housing types without considering the relationship between house owner and lifestyle, instead developing housing that had degenerated into automatism. According to Rietveld inhabiting a house must be conscious act, carefully tailored to the needs of the inhabitants. (Kuper, 1992, p100) Truus Schröder's conceived new life-style was celebrated as a work of art (reinforced through the environment) with the house providing a setting for a masque celebrating the act of living. (Overy, 1988, p22) Daily routines were emphasised by creating specially designed fittings and built-in furniture, connecting the activities conclusively to the principles of the architecture.Adaptability became the key link within the whole house. During the day, walls are rolled away so that bedrooms merge into one living space. Also room size related to time spent in them and the activity, and activity spaces were merged such as the dining room with the kitchen, and the corridor with the staircase. Just as Rietveld's Red Blue chair is a proclamation of sitting down ("sitting is a verb" is Rietveld's famous remark), similarly the Schröder house is a manifestation of an enlightened and active living. (Kuper, 1992, p100) 
Rietveld instead of imitating nature with ornamentation sought to establish an interaction between house and nature. Space and material were conceived in relation to
revealing reality; as nature and culture are fused by achieving a symbiosis between outside and inside spatial realms. (Overy, 1988, p27) The perception of nature
through the open transition zones provide a discernible contrasting link; between the primary colours of the house and the assemblage of colours of the adjacent park; the
plain smooth geometric and proportioned planes and the unstructured organic forms. (Overy, 1988, p27)" (Full text at,

Context:  "No one had ever looked at this little lane before this house was built here. There was a dirty crumbling wall with weeds growing in front of it. Over there was a small farm. It was a very rural spot, and this sort of fitted in. It was a deserted place, where anyone who wanted to pee just did it against this wall. It was a real piece of no-man's-land. And we said, 'Yes, this is just right, let's build it here.' And we took this plot of ground and made it into a place with a reality of its own. It didn't matter what it was, so long as something was there, something clear. And that's what it became. And that's always been my main aim: to give to a yet unformed space, a certain meaning."
 —Gerrit Rietveld. from Paul Overy, Lenneke Büller, Frank den Oudsten, Bertus Mulder. The Rietveld Schroder House. p52.
 "...We didn't avoid older styles because they were ugly, or because we couldn't reproduce them, but because our own times demanded their own form, I mean, their own manifestation. It was of course extremely difficult to achieve all this in spite of the building regulations and that's why the interior of the downstairs part of the house is somewhat traditional, I mean with fixed walls. But upstairs we simply called it and 'attic' and that's where we actually made the house we wanted."
 —Gerrit Rietveld. from Paul Overy, Lenneke Büller, Frank den Oudsten, Bertus Mulder. The Rietveld Schroder House. p73.

Form  Wooden chair, laquer."The famous Red & Blue chair was designed in 1917. Nothing has existed like that before. It marked the transition between the organic, curving Art Noveau Style and the crisp, chic Art Deco. The Red & Blue chair is composed out of a dramatic interplay of straight lines to form patterns. The lines produce form by enclosing space, the structure has very simple components and the striking colors are a reminder of paintings by the artist Mondrian. Although there is no upholstery, the chair is amazingly comfortable."
Context: This chair, or rather the duplicates of it, are still being sold today. It has become increasingly popular as a symbol of DeStijl, perhaps a testament to the thought that this movement may never truly die out. As said on, "With the Red-and-Blue Chair, Rietveld reduced the armchair to its most elementary form. In 1918, he strove to create a chair without volume or mass, one that left surrounding space unbroken. Rietveld also wanted to make furniture that could be machine-produced. The famous colour scheme probably only dated from around 1923, the colours adding to the strength of the spatial character of the work. The superficial similarity to the work of Mondrian made the Red-and-Blue Chair an icon of De Stijl design. Rietveld himself attached no absolute value whatever to the primary colours, making the same chair for Charley Toorop in pink and sea-green, as well as a version for Paul Citroen in black with white trim on the crosscuts."


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