Dictionary of Art and Artists



History of

Architecture and Sculpture



















Part I. ARCHITECTURE - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,
Part II. ARCHITECTURE - 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20,
Part III. ARCHITECTURE - 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29




The garden courtyard lies directly on the street and is fully visible to passers by, while the view from the balcony was never impressive. It was perhaps precisely these handicaps which made the house a programmatic statement in itself. Here the prairie was effectively built into the house as part of the architectural philosophy. The interior directly reflects the horizontality of the roof. Particularly flat Roman bricks were laid so that in the vertical joints the mortar was flush, while in the horizontal joints it was recessed, creating long shadow joints. The living room and dining room, separated by the stairs and the fireplace, are reconnected through the wide window band which optically enlarges both rooms. In 1909, Wright left Chicago and his family and went to Europe,- it was during this time that he produced his German-published book "Ausgefuhrte Bauten und Entwurfe". This was the conclusion of a personal epoch and at the same time a stimulant for the many young European architects who saw in his work healthy alternatives to the vainglorious excesses of their own countries. The Dutch architect Berlage travelled to the USA shortly afterwards, and subsequently reported his still fresh impressions to the Zurich Association of Engineers and Architects: "I could hardly tear myself away from these rooms, whose great originality is probably best described by the word 'plastic', in comparison to European interiors, which tend to be more flat."

For their part, the Americans were also familiar with the European avant-garde. The English magazine "Studio" was published in the USA under the name "International Studio", and Irving Gill was among its subscribers. He was a great admirer of Adolf Loos, as can be detected in his works. In his office in San Diego, which at that time had only 25,000 inhabitants, he nevertheless employed six draftsmen and a clerk of works. His houses were simple, plastered boxes in the beginning, but later he grew increasingly interested in concrete construction methods, even experimenting in his own workshop. He went from hollow bricks to reinforced concrete. Wall segments were prefabricated in shallow moulds and erected after hardening. Gill preferred cubic masses and flat surfaces whose severity was softened by round arches in the traditional local Spanish mission style. "The simple cube-shaped house with cream-coloured walls, clean and smooth, rising powerfully towards the sky, undisturbed by cornices or a projecting roof, has something calming and satisfying about it." Constructive components were not emphasized; the facade geometry asserted itself in the equilibrium of often irregular window openings. Gill preferred concrete composition floors painted ochre or tan which curved upwards at the walls. His concept of a hygienic house included a small waste incinerator and a built-in vacuum system. He employed frameless doors in as early as 1902 and also tried to reduce the number of individual components in windows. Gill fully rejected ornamentation.




Irving John Gill

Irving John Gill, (born 1870, Syracuse, New York, U.S.—died October 7, 1936, Carlsbad, California), American architect important for introducing a severe, geometric style of architecture in California and for his pioneering work in developing new construction technology.

Gill received no formal training in architecture, but in 1890 he became a draftsman in the office of the Chicago architectural firm of Adler and Sullivan, where he learned simplicity of form and unity of design. Two years later he moved to San Diego, California, and subsequently his designs were greatly influenced by the Spanish Mission style. Gill evolved an architectural style based on simple geometric volumes of whitewashed reinforced concrete. He was among the first American architects to eliminate ornamentation from his structures, and the buildings of his mature style, such as the Wilson Acton Hotel (1908; later the Hotel Cabrillo) in La Jolla, California, and the Dodge House (1916) in Los Angeles, have such severity of design that even moldings are omitted. These and other structures display a play of cubic masses complemented by sharply incised windows and simplified interior details. Gill was an innovator in the construction and structural refinement of buildings using reinforced concrete. He was among the first to construct tilt-slab walls (concrete walls poured into horizontal molds and, when dry, raised into position, completely finished), seen in such projects as the Woman’s Club (1914) in La Jolla.

Encyclopædia Britannica



Irving J. Gill. "Horatio West Court",
row of terraced housing in Santa Monica, California,

Irving J. Gill. F. C. O'Kelly Residence, San Diego, California, 1912

Irving J. Gill. Barker House, San Diego, California, 1911-1912

Irving J. Gill. House for Walter Luther Dodge in Los Angeles, California, 1914-1916

House for Walter Luther Dodge in Los Angeles, California, Plan

Irving J. Gill.
House for Walter Luther Dodge in Los Angeles, California,
Garden front


In his book "Line and Form" published in 1902, Walter Crane - a master of book graphics and a pioneer of the English reform movement - traced the vast family of ornaments back to its geometric forbears of circle and square, whose union was achieved in the description of the circle by the square, dissected by diagonals. Dutchman Jan Hessel de Groot rediscovered and employed a reated diagram, the "qucdrature", in his design work in about 1900. Instead of the diagonals, he placed a second square inside the circle in such a way that the ratio of the lengths of its outer and inner edges was 1:1,414. For De Groot, as for J. L. Mathieu Lauweriks whom he inspired, it was a question of more than just decoration. The figure was nothing less than the key to the underlying order of the cosmos, which could only be expressed in geometric terms. From the point of view of architecture, they believed they had found a "starting-point" from which all styles, preferences and individual tendencies originated and which could serve as a rule for modern architecture - as Lauweriks explained in the journal "Architecture".

Peter Behrens, very interested in the Nieuwe Kunst of the Dutch architects, not only used the circle-and-square motif for many of his two-dimensional designs, but also brought Lauweriks to the Dusseldorf School of Art in 1904 to teach architectural theory. Their discussions on the significance of geometry in "proportional" designs strengthened Behrens in his relinquishing of Art Nouveau and his search for the substantial principles of "monumental art", which he celebrated in 1908 in a speech to the Hamburg Kunstgewerbeverein as the "highest and true expression of the culture of an age ... It naturally finds expression at the point most suitable for a people, which most deeply affects it, from which it may be moved." He also made it clear that there was no correlation between spatial size and monumentally. "Monumental size cannot be expressed materially,- it works through mediums which touch us more deeply. Its medium is proportionality, the regularity which expresses itself in architectural relationships." Behrens' path eventually led him to a purified form of neo-Classicism. The plan of the Obenauer House in Saarbrucken features a relatively large number of components developed from two intersecting squares. The plan of the Cuno House in Hagen is simpler and - apart from an interruption on one side - strictly symmetrical in its axes. Its rigid severity is disturbed only by the clear-cut lines of the cylinder inserted in its front.

The Viennese Adolf Loos also published a work in 1908, entitled "Ornament und Verbrechen" (Ornament and Crime), in which he declared war on all superfluous decoration irrelevant to its age. "Ornamentation is wasted manpower and therefore wasted health. It always has been. Today it also means wasted materials, and both together mean wasted capital ... Modern man, the man with modern nerves, does not need ornamentation,- it disgusts him." Loos had already rejected the Secessionist sweeps and flourishes of his colleagues in his starkly elegant design for the interior of the Cafe Museum - derided in its own day as the "Cafe Nihilism" - of 1899. In the new Goldman & Salatsch building on Vienna's Michaelerplatz he had his first opportunity to declare his faith in formal purity in a large building exposed to the public eye. Owners Leopold Goldman and Emanuel Aufricht had originally held a competition for the building's design, but were dissatisfied with the results and thus commissioned Loos to execute the project.

 "Comparative assessment" led to agreement being quickly reached on Loos' proposed plans, and after some manoeuvring his facade design too received his clients' approval, although it went on to provoke an unsuspected outcry. Following the partial removal of the scaffolding, clusters of curious onlookers gathered round the new building whose "more than outsize plainness" would, according to the press, strike passers-by from afar. In the words of a Viennese council member, it was nothing short of a "horror of a house". The relevant authorities called a halt to its construction, Goldman and Aufricht, their confidence shaken by the uproar, held another contest for the facade. Unnerved, Loos eventually proposed an "appeasement design" featuring bronze flower boxes,- this appeared to calm tempers, and after a few more skirmishes, the - still pending - permission for use was granted. Plain facades were in themselves nothing new, and were familiar from cheap tenements and factories. But its location in such a prominent area - right next to the Hofburg - together with its use as the business premises of an exclusive tailor's studio, made the Michaeler House an eyesore. Its street fronts were divided not into three, as classical models demanded, but into two visually distinct zones: the business establishment below, clad in costly marble, and the smooth-stuccoed living floors above. Only a fine caesura below the roof overhang marks a thin concluding frieze. At the flatter corners of the building the plaster is somewhat pointed, thereby "sharpening" and emphasizing the edges. Within the surface of the facade, columns which truly function as such - rather than acting as the usual decoration - bear the weight of the upper floors. Their corporeality and stone cladding, the finely-crafted detail of the mezzanine windows and the inviting entrance recess provide a conscious contrast to the taut and sober surface above.

During the heated debate over the Michaeler House Loos built a private house for Lilly and Hugo Steiner in Vienna which, possibly due to an article in the magazine "Der Architekt" towards the end of 1910, was also caught up in the controversy and at the beginning was repeatedly hailed with stones. Leaving aside the disproportion of the street and garden sides, the complex reflects a problem which occurs again and again in Loos' later houses. Tiered interiors of complex organization are packed almost violently into rigidly stereometrical and symmetrically-arranged building blocks, leading to "left-over space" and often to noticeably forced access to the rooms.

The general use of asymmetrical and decorated facades in Historicism and Art Nouveau lost favour. The search for clarity and coherent order once again looked towards classical rules of proportion by which constructive elements of modern building could be brought into harmony. This is illustrated particularly well in the works of Frenchman Auguste Perret, who translated the regularity of ferroconcrete construction logically and consequently into the articulation of his facades. In accordance with his principle that "Not to show a support is a mistake,- to feign a support is a crime", the classical tripartite facade of a large garage in the Rue Ponthieu in Paris is structured by the plain concrete skeleton with recessed fields of glazing. Since it was only a secular, functional building, Perret escaped the bitter suffering which Loos underwent in Vienna. But he, too, met with scepticism and reservations. Loans were not granted for the house in the Rue Franklin which hid its concrete supports under flowery slabs. The extensive glazing planned for the ground floor, so absolutely incompatible with the traditional appearance of solid statics, unnerved his financial backers.

Otto Wagner, the great teacher and doyen of Viennese Modernism, also found his way from historical designs to a functional form of architecture which emphasized its constructive elements. He developed ornamental forms from technical components. Thus the slim, cylindrical heating vents in the central hall of the Austrian Post Office Savings Bank stand like sculptures against the walls. The mounting pins in the glass and marble cladding have shiny aluminium heads which - inside as well as on the facade - add a fine plastic touch to the smooth surfaces. A spectacular solution was found for the glazed vault of the banking hall: the columns pierce the transparent skin and end - invisible to the observer - in poles from which the ceiling is hung.

Otto Wagner defined responsible architectural culture in his acceptance speech at the Vienna Academy in 1894: "You may have heard it said, or seen for yourself, that I am a proponent of a certain practical direction ... Almost all modern buildings aim to achieve in their outward appearance, more or less happily, as exact a copy as possible of a stylistic trend. Such successful replicas, for which much is usually sacrificed, are then described as stylistic purity and usually serve as standards by which other buildings are judged ... The starting-point of any artistic creation must, however, be the needs, the abilities, the means and the characteristics of 'our' time. 'Artis sola domina necessitas'. You should therefore ask, when considering the solution to a problem, how appropriate is it to its contemporaries, the task, the genius loci, climatic conditions, the available materials and pecuniary means? Only in this way can we hope to gain general acclaim. The works of architecture, today regarded with incomprehension or a measure of fear, will become generally accepted, even popular. The realism of our time must permeate the work of art."



In Europe modern architecture developed more slowly and unevenly, and came to a head only on the eve of World War I, which effectively halted its further growth for nearly a decade. One of the first priests of modernism, Adolf Loos (1870-1933), spent several years working in Chicago during the 1890s and returned to Vienna a convert to functionalism. The garden side of his Steiner House of
1910 (fig. 1172), one of the first private houses built of ferroconcrete (concrete reinforced with steel), is free of decoration, and retains its striking modern appearance to this very day. (The front represents an awkward compromise with local building authorities.)

1172. ADOLF LOOS. House for Lilly and Hugo Steiner in Vienna, 1910


Adolf Loos

Adolf Loos, (born Dec. 10, 1870, Brno, Moravia, Austria-Hungary [now in Czech Republic]—died Aug. 23, 1933, Kalksburg, near Vienna, Austria), Austrian architect whose planning of private residences strongly influenced European Modernist architects after World War I. Frank Lloyd Wright credited Loos with doing for European architecture what Wright was doing in the United States.

Educated in Dresden, Ger., Loos practiced in Vienna, although he spent extended periods in the United States (1893–97) and in Paris (1924–28). Loos was opposed to both Art Nouveau and Beaux-Arts historicism, and as early as 1898 he announced his intention to avoid the use of unnecessary ornament. His first building, the Villa Karma, Clarens, near Montreux, Switz. (1904–06), was notable for its geometric simplicity. It was followed by the Steiner House, Vienna (1910), which has been referred to by some architectural historians as the first completely modern dwelling; the main (rear) facade is a symmetrical, skillfully balanced composition of rectangles. His essays from this period, denouncing ornament and decoration, were equally influential. Loos’s best-known large structure is the Goldman and Salatsch Building, Vienna (1910), in which a little classical exterior detail is offset by large areas of blank, polished marble. A resident of France from 1922, he built a house in Paris for the Dada writer Tristan Tzara in 1926.

Encyclopædia Britannica


Adolf Loos. House for Helene Harner in Vienna, 1912-1913

Adolf Loos. Street front

Adolf Loos. Goldmann & Salatsch Building in Vienna, 1909-1911

Floor plan of entrance level.

Detail of the facade.

Adolf Loos. House for Tristan Tzara in Montmarte, Paris,


Adolf Loos. Villa for Hans and Anny Moller in Vienna,

Raised seating area in the bay window overlooking the street.





Otto Wagner

Otto Wagner, (born July 13, 1841, Penzing, near Vienna—died April 11, 1918, Vienna), Austrian architect and teacher, generally held to be a founder and leader of the modern movement in European architecture.

Wagner’s early work was in the already-established Neo-Renaissance style. In 1893 his general plan (never executed) for Vienna won a major competition, and in 1894 he was appointed academy professor.

As a teacher, Wagner soon broke with tradition by insisting on function, material, and structure as the bases of architectural design. Among his notable works in the Art Nouveau style are a number of stations for the elevated and underground City Railway of Vienna (1894–97) and the Postal Savings Bank (1904–06). The latter, which had little decoration, is recognized as a milestone in the history of modern architecture, particularly for the curving glass roof of its central hall.

Though much attacked at first, Wagner became widely influential. His lectures were published in 1895 as Moderne Architektur. An English translation appeared in The Brickbuilder in 1901.

Encyclopædia Britannica



Otto Wagner
"Majolika House", Vienna, 1898-1899

Otto Wagner
"Majolika House"


Max Fabiani
Portois & Fix Furniture Store in Vienna,

Linke Wienzeile 40, a six-storey apartment house, merged with Wagner's recertly-completed Linke Wienzeiie 38 corner house to form a single block. Glazed earthenware slabs covered the entire facade. The blossoms of the climbing decoration were pointed a delicate red, the buds turquoise and the lush foliage of the balcony niches a rich green. Contemporary critics described the results of this ambitious design as "wildly Secessionist". Loos sarcastically termed it "tattooed architecture".

The entrance on the right led directly to the sales rooms, while the passage on the left led to the rear courtyard and the furniture storeroom in the back building. Since the passageway cut through the ground floor, this latter was reached via the mezzanine level. The shop facade was clad in polished Swedish granite, the three following storeys with an orthogonal mosaic of light green and brownish "pyrogranite" tiles. The top floor containing the workshops was given a Parisian-style sheet metal roofing.


Otto Wagner. Villa Wagner in Vienna, 1912-1913

Otto Wagner. Austrian Post Office Savings Bank in Vienna, 1903-1912

Austrian Post Office Savings Bank in Vienna.
Sectioonal view of the banking hall

Otto Wagner. Austrian Post Office Savings Bank in Vienna.
Banking hall


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