Saturday, 9 October 2010

Marcel Breuer

Writing for the Architectural Review in 1935 Marcel Breuer attempted to set the record straight in his article, “Where do we Stand?”.
He discusses his admiration for ‘peasant’ and ‘vernacular’ culture, the associations connected to the word, ‘revolution’ and rebuffed claims that Modern Architecture is “cold, hard, empty-looking, ultra-logical, unimaginative and mechanistic in every detail” with, “whoever thinks so has either only seen the worst examples of modern architecture, or else has had no opportunity to live in or make closer inspection of the best”[1]. Whilst in later times he may have been accused of being a ‘formalist’, he goes on to describe some key principles of what modern meant to him,
“we have no use for beauty in the form of a foreign body, of ornament, or of a titivating of undesigned structural elements; nor even as an arbitrary magnification of certain dimensions, a purely transient vogue. We have no use for architecture that is labelled symbolist, cubist, neoplastic or ‘constructivist’. We know that the essential and determining elements of a building can be wholly rational without this rationalisation in any way affecting the question of whether it is beautiful or ugly”[2].

If only Marcel. We cannot help ourselves when it comes to judging architecture.

[1] Breuer, M. (1935). Where do we Stand? The Architectural Review. 77: 133-136, p135           
[2] Breuer, M. (1935). Where do we Stand? The Architectural Review. 77: 133-136, p136

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