The history of architectural historiography
Guest edited by Branko Mitrović
Branko Mitrovic (Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway), ‘Introduction’ 14/BM1
Caterina Cardamone (UCLouvain-la-Neuve), ‘Josef Frank and the history of architecture: Gothic and the Renaissance, Leon Battista Alberti and Albrecht Dürer in the architectural discourse on Neues Bauen at the beginning of the 1930s’ 14/CC1
Abstract: The paper focuses on Josef Frank’s convinced use of historiographical arguments in his sharp critique of German modernist architecture. Frank’s attention to architectural history dates back to his education at the Technische Hochschule in Vienna, with Carl König, and the writing of a doctoral thesis on Leon Battista Alberti’s religious buildings in 1910. If a profound knowledge of Alberti’s writings informs Frank’s entire theoretical work, the point discussed here is the parallel between Neues Bauen and Gothic traced by Frank to exclude Neues Bauen from a true modernity, based, on the opposite, on a classical tradition of thought. An attempt is made to reconstruct Frank’s historiographical references and to insert his work in the broader historiographical context, thus highlighting a close link between architectural theory and critique on the one hand and contemporary historiographical constructions on the other.
Keywords: Josef Frank, Walter Sobotka, Viennese Architecture, Reception of classical Architecture, Historiography
Miriam Cera (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid), ‘The Noticias de los arquitectos: towards a ‘National’ definition of Spanish architecture’ 14/MC1
Abstract: The book Noticias de los arquitectos y arquitectura de España desde su Restauración is the first ever history of Spanish architecture published in Spain. The book´s writing was undertaken by scholar and politician Eugenio Llaguno, around 1769, with the aim of defending Spanish arts against harsh contemporary criticisms. However, it was not published until 1829, and was finished by a completely different scholar, Juan Agustín Ceán Bermúdez. Thus, it is chiefly important because it reflects the evolution of Spanish thought over this 60 year period, including the impact of the French invasion in 1808, which led to a search of a National identity in the architectural past.
Keywords: History of architecture, Spain, Enlightenment, Gothic, Escorial
Braden Engel (Academy of Art University, San Francisco), ‘Ambichronous historiography: Colin Rowe and the teaching of architectural history’ 14/BE1
Abstract: Ianus Architectus is the Latin combination of the Architect with the ancient Roman god of beginnings and ends, pasts and futures, Janus. It represents the dual act of both seeing past-and-future (Janus’ two faces), and producing (architecture), simultaneously. Twentieth century American schools of architecture received an influx of European art historians who transformed the way students viewed buildings of the past and their own design work. Trained in architectural design and art history, Colin Rowe was the most active participant in the interface between histories and practices of architecture. Rowe’s practice was ambichronous, as he attempted to engage with history while liberating innovation in design.
Key words: architecture, history, Colin Rowe, teaching, Janus, ambichronous
Johanna Gullberg (Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, Norway), ‘Voids and bodies: August Schmarsow, Bruno Zevi and space as a historiographical theme’ 14/JG1
Abstract: August Schmarsow and Bruno Zevi worked in contexts separated by language and time. They stand out among other architectural historians because they both recognized the notion of space as the essence of architecture and because in different ways they intended to bring architecture closer to the public by presenting dynamic worldviews organized around the individual human being and her perception and creation of space. This paper aims, primarily by discussing works by Schmarsow and Zevi while also introducing the contexts in which their works were made, to consider the possibilities and dangers that may arise when the notion of space is used to explain architectural history to architects and students of architecture. Although tendentious at times, Schmarsow’s and Zevi’s historiographies provide intriguing perspectives towards architecture as a diverse process where concepts and matter are related through continuous acts of experiencing, analyzing and making space.
Keywords: Schmarsow, Zevi, space, historiography, architectural education
Nadejda Podzemskaia (CNRS/CRAL, Paris)), ‘ Publication of Renaissance architectural treatises in the Soviet Union in the 1930s: Alexander Gabrichevsky’s contribution to the theory and history of architecture’ 14/NP1
Abstract : In just a couple of years in the second half of the 1930s, a considerable corpus of architectural treatises, mostly written in the Renaissance, was translated and published with detailed commentaries in the USSR. This great publishing program was conceived of as part of a new system of architectural training. This article formulates the question of the historical and cultural significance of this publishing project in the wider artistic and political context of the 1920s and 1930s. In discussions about the destiny of classical heritage, two majors tendencies, constructivism, represented by Moisei Ginzburg, and classicism, advocated by Ivan Zholtovsky, show not only their differences, but also their shared positions, such as the criticism of eclecticism. The paper concentrates on the collaboration between Zholtovsky and the art historian and theorist Aleksandr Gabrichevsky. This was a true meeting of minds based on profound mutual understanding and common basic notions of art (such as the ambiguous concept of ‘classical art’). Because of the language barrier, Gabrichevsky and his works have remained little known to scholars who work in West-European languages. A disciple of Paul Frankl, during the 1920s he researched the problems of space and time in a broader theoretical and philosophical context at the GAKhN. His main work of the time, The Morphology of Art, demonstrates influences of Friedrich Schelling, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Henri Bergson and, above all, Georg Simmel. This work could not have been completed nor published at the time. Its recent publication revealed the profound philosophical foundations of Gabrichevsky’s studies of architecture as well as of the project of publishing Renaissance architectural treatises that he organized.
Keywords : architectural theory, philosophy of art, constructivism, classical art, Renaissance treatises, eclectism, classical heritage, architectural education and training
Abstract: It has often been remarked that modern architecture in Britain began late and that its emergence largely depended on the contribution of a massive influx of European exiles seeking refuge from the political and racial persecution of totalitarian regimes. In the attempt to discard the tired narrative of Britain’s insular modernism as a mere echo of continental European achievements, an alternative historiography has recently directed attention to Britain’s own distinctive and original version of modern architecture in the 1930s. Through the examination of a small group of articles, books and pamphlets on English modern architecture written by English authors and published in the mid-1930s, this paper argues that the emergence of a distinctive version of architectural modernism in Britain was paralleled by the development of an equally original brand of architectural criticism and historiography.
Key words: English architecture, architectural history, architectural historiography, architectural cartoons, architectural journalism, architectural criticism, architectural publications, architectural writings
Matthew Wells (Royal College of Art), ‘The practice of history: the Smithsons, Colin St John Wilson, and the writing of architectural history’ 14/MW1
Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to explore the type, form, and methodology of history written by practicing architects following the arrival of kunstgeschichte in Britain. Through an analysis of historical writings by Alison and Peter Smithson, and Colin St John Wilson a series of topics are explored including the relationship between history and practice, the use of different narrative structures, and the qualities that a practicing architect can bring to the study of the past. The paper concludes by emphasising that whilst all history is contemporary history, the association between history and its architect-author was not simplistic but a complex interrelationship of position and intention.
Key words: historiography, Alison and Peter Smithson, Colin St John Wilson, architect, Kunstgeschichte
Olga Yakushenko (European University Institute in Florence), ‘Anatole Kopp’s Town and Revolution as history and a manifesto: a reactualization of Russian Constructivism in the West in the 1960s’ 14/OY1
Abstract: This text suggests a new perspective on the French architectural historian Anatole Kopp’s writings on Soviet architecture. His seminal work, Town and Revolution (1967), is one of the first Western books on Soviet architecture after the Second World War. This article analyses Town and Revolution through the optics of Kopp’s political and professional convictions, his experience of visiting the Soviet Union, and his attitudes towards the crisis of French architecture in the late 1960s. From this perspective, Town and Revolution is more a manifesto than a historical book, because Anatole Kopp considered the social and ethical approach of the Soviet architecture of the 1920s as a working method, a possible solution for the crisis of French architecture.
Keywords: Soviet architecture, Soviet modernism, architectural history, history of modernism, Anatole Kopp, Soviet avant-garde architecture
Ian Verstegen (University of Pennsylvania), ‘Sedlmayr’s Borromini’ 14/IV1
Abstract: Hans Sedlmayr exhibited his new theory and methodology of Strukturforschung in his monograph on Francesco Borromini, Die Architektur Borrominis (1930). The book has hardly been read and most attention is placed on its controversial ‘schizothymic’ reading of Borromini’s personality. This study contextualizes the whole book within the larger project of the New Vienna School and clarifies its intent. Noting Sedlmayr’s movement from structure to chains of influence, the architectural historians arrival on personality is clarified as begged by the idiosyncrasies of Borromini’s forms. Sedlmayr rounded out this complete analysis of the architect into a too-neat and abbreviated interpretive package, yet a fresh reading shows its distance from quick characterizations normally found in Anglo-American texts.
Key words: Hans Sedlmayr, Francesco Borromini, Vienna School of Art History, gestalt psychology, Ernst Kretschmer
Abstract: Hans Sedlmayr published two editions of Die Architektur Borrominis in 1930 and 1939 with the second edition reprinted 1973 and 1986. We have followed the first edition but included the preface and essay written for the second edition (in 1939 replacing the original introduction) as an appendix at the end. In what was somewhat unusual for him, he invested his theoretical ideas with the substance of example in what turned out to certainly be quite a multi-facetted career. His most well meaning critics called for him to provide more concrete examples, and among other things, this book stands out for that reason. Among the art historians in the University of Vienna at that time monographic studies were also out of the ordinary.
Key Words: Hans Sedlmayr, structural analysis, Francesco Borromini, Guarino Guarini, Baroque Architecture in Rome
Andrew Hopkins (University of L’Aquila), ‘Reprinting and republishing Wölfflin in the 1920s’ 14/AH1
Abstract: A surprising number of art historical texts written before, during and just after the first world war were republished in the 1920s. The fourth edition of Renaissance und Barock: eine Untersuchung über Wesen und Entstehung des Barockstils in Italien by Heinrich Wölfflin was published by Bruckmann in Munich in 1926 with an additional hundred and fifty pages of new text added to it by Hans Rose. This article explores why Rose had been chosen by Wölfflin to undertake the task and why Rose’s approach to the new edition differed quite markedly from the majority of reprints that appeared in this decade.
Keywords: Renaissance, Baroque, Wölfflin, Riegl, Hans Rose, Munich, Bruckmann
Arnold Witte (University of Amsterdam and Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome), ‘”An appendix of manageable proportions”: Heinrich Wölfflin and Hans Rose between Baroque Studies and National-Socialism’ 14/AW1
Abstract: The 1926 re-edition of Heinrich Wölfflin’s Renaissance und Barock was curated by one of Wölfflin’s pupils, Hans Rose. On the request of either Wölfflin or his publisher, Bruckmann, Rose added a long essay to original book, a Commentary, which discussed on recent developments in Baroque Studies. On a methodological level, this Commentary shows how Wölfflin’s formalistic method was combined with contextual approaches, but this essay specifically discusses Hans Rose’s relations with the right-wing ‘Conservative Revolution’ in 1920s Munich taking place in the Bruckmann salon, how this had an impact on his career, and how the approach and contents of the Commentary fits into the political circumstances of pre-Nazi Germany.
Key words: Hans Rose, Heinrich Wölfflin, Bruckmann publishing house, Conservative Revolution, National Socialism, homosexuality, baroque studies
Hans Rose, Commentary to Heinrich Wölfflin, Renaissance and Baroque, fourth edition, Munich: Bruckmann, 1926, 181-328, translation by Arnold Witte and Andrew Hopkins 14/WHR1
Abstract: The Commentary by Hans Rose was published as an appendix to the fourth edition of Heinrich Wölfflin’s Renaissance und Barock – eine Untersuchung über Wesen und Entstehung des Barockstils in Italien, published in 1926. It was almost as long as the original text by Wölfflin and intended to discuss the new approaches on the Italian Baroque developed in German academia in the 1920s. It was divided up into four sections of unequal length, which discuss Subjectivism, Material and Colour, Urban Planning, and St Peter’s respectively.
Key words: Wölfflin, Renaissance und Barock, Hans Rose, commentary
Branko Mitrović (Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway), ‘Visuality, intentionality and architecture’: John Searle: Seeing things as they are. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015 14/BM2
Abstract: In his latest book Seeing Things as They Are (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2015) John Searle presents a comprehensive theory of human visuality that is aligned with and further develops his theory of human intentionality. Searle advocates direct realism, the view that we perceive objects themselves and not their images or representations created by the brain. The book discusses a series of positions and problems about human visuality that have been attracting the attention of art historians ever since Ernst Gombrich’s Art and Illusion, including the role of conceptualization and recognition in visual perception, perspective, constancies and the perception of colours. The review pays particular attention to the implications of Searle’s positions for the theory and history of architecture.
Key words: John Searle, Seeing things as they are, philosophy of perception, constancies, intentionality, architectural theory