Monday, January 12, 2015

What Are You Looking At? Timisoara 2

This building, with its nautical motifs, has a ship coming out of its pediment.

At some point in my early wanderings around Timisoara, I realized that many of the most interesting parts of the building were at the top--beneath the pediment or on the frieze.  At several points, people asked me "what are you looking at?"  Or I think that is what they said, as they pointed up; I don't understand Romanian.

The tops of Timisoara buildings are inhabited  by faces
This face, or some version, appears on Secession buildings all over Romania and Hungary.
Perhaps they are lares.



and various mythological and decorative figures

But BIG PS:  The kind of extraordinary figures and details that decorate Timisoara's buildings was soon to become a source of debate.  Hungarian architects used decoration in the quest to find a "national style."  But since the national origins of Hungarians was not completely known, architects often borrowed freely in an attempt to make the buildings look vaguely foreign or used motifs from Hungarian folklore or decorative arts.  This kind of decoration however--like Arts and Crafts Movement or Art Nouveau or German Jungendsti--became increasingly under attack.  In 1910, the Austrian architect Adolf Loos gave a lecture entitled "Ornament and Crime," in which he attacked ornament as not only unnecessary and anachronistic, but also immoral and degenerate.  It's a complicated argument that I don't really understand.  But the lush detail of Secession architecture was to be replaced by rational and clear forms of Bauhaus and other types of modernist of architecture.

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