Tuesday, November 16, 2010

iar 222. reading comprehension 6.

1) Art Nouveau was a groundbreaking style at the turn of the century that looked forward rather than borrowing from the past. Most Art Nouveau interiors emphasize organic, curving lines that suggest energy and movement. These whiplash curves can be seen in the work of Art Nouveau designers such as Victor Horta, Hector Guimard, and August Endell.

Tassel House by Victor Horta : Brussels, Belgium


Entrance hall for the Castel Beranger apartments by Hector Guimard : Paris, France


Atelier Elvira by August Endell : Munich, Germany


A similar sense of energy and movement can be found in paintings of the early 20th century, particularly those of the art movements fauvism, cubism, expressionism, and futurism. Like Art Nouveau, these art movements were groundbreaking and controversial. Restless lines, organic curves, and a sense of emotion are present in works such as the following:


The Joy of Life by Henri Matisse



Les Demoiselles by Pablo Picasso



Yellow-Red-Blue by Wassily Kandinsky



Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash by Giacomo Balla



Nude Descending a Staircase by Marcel Duchamp


These interiors and paintings are evidence that designers and artists were seeking a new and fresh style to characterize the 20th century and set it apart from everything that had come before. The feelings provoked by these works were considered just as important as the works themselves.

2) Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye (1929-31) is a superb example of a "machine for living."



According to Roth, "The house is a square, lifted up on what Le Corbusier called pilotis … An elaborate retreat, it incorporated all of the five points that Le Corbusier had stipulated in an article published in 1926" (Roth, 532). The house's open plan is made possible by a structural frame of concrete rather than supporting walls. Roth explains that "the turning radius of an automobile determined the curvature of the glass wall of the ground floor, for there, under the shelter provided by the raised living level, is a covered driveway, a three-car garage, a reception area, and other auxiliary spaces" (Roth, 532). Like a machine, there is nothing superfluous about the building; there are no unnecessary elements, only whatever is functional and purposeful. Le Corbusier believed that because ornamentation served no true functional purpose, it had no place in design.

International modernism was controversial from its beginning. Not surprisingly, a common complaint was that it lacked warmth and feeling. Massey explains that, in response to Wells Coates's "Minimum Flat" at the 1933 Exhibition of the British Industrial Arts in Relation to the Home, "The response of critics and public alike was that the Flat showed that Modernism could be successful in the design of a kitchen or bathroom where efficiency was important, as well as for new types of interior such as Underground stations and broadcasting studios, but that it was not appropriate for the sanctuary of the British living room" (Massey, 90). But despite being viewed as "cold" by many throughout the 20th century, the International Style has continued to influence design to this present day. Many today seek clean, sleek, open, and sparse interiors such as this one by WHIM Architecture:

(absolutely beautiful, by the way)


3) Rendering of a modern interior:

Director's office, Bauhaus, Dessau, 1926.

Massey, Anne. Interior Design Since 1900, third edition, page 72. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd., 2008.

When I first saw this interior in Judith's IAR 221 class, I was surprised by the colors and patterns used for a "cold" and "lifeless" interior. Despite being virtually free of ornamentation, the International Style uses form and color to create beauty.

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