Monday, February 1, 2016

Hungarian Architecture Book. Chapter 2. Art Nouveau. updated

I have started Chapter 2 of my book about Hungarian Architecture (the one I plan to self publish: insert smiley face).  Thinking a lot about Budapest and its beautiful Art Nouveau buildings. Here's the first part of the Introduction and a few pictures.

Art Nouveau was, in many ways, a rejection of the past: of  Historicism and its pluralistic mish-mash of styles that was no longer seen as capable of expressing the forces of industrialization, political and social  turbulence, and technological innovation that characterized modernity.  And in rejecting Historicism, it also rejected the traditions of the Academy.  Art Nouveau, especially of Central Europe, offered instead the desire to express true and authentic experience. This is made manifest in the Vienna Secession co-founded by the architects Joseph Maria Olbrich and Josef Hoffman and the painters Gustav Klimt and Koloman Moser.  The Secession building hails the new organic style and expresses as its motto FILL IN.  PIC S

Unlike Historicism, though, Art Nouveau was not a carefully theorized movement.  It was instead highly individualistic.  Rather than looking to historical precedents, Art Nouveau looked to nature and to the ways it can inspire  the creative imagination of the individual.  In this sense, it is similar to 19th century Romanticism.  It differs from Romanticism, though, because it is primarily concerned with style.  The rejection of Historicism meant the rejection of Historicist decorations, rather than existing spatial organization  (e.g., symmetries, hierarchies) of buildings.  Thus Art Nouveau is characterized most significantly as the search for new ornaments, most often drawn from nature.  These new forms of ornamentation are not limited to architecture, but extend to plastic arts such as painting and sculpture, as well as commercial objects and design. 

Anthony Alofsin argues that “nature’s metaphor led in several directions.”  On the one hand, nature could be imitated (mimesis) and transformed.  Alofsin identifies this response to nature as “biomorphic organism, in which empathy between sensuous curvilinear and flowing forms, created an association between natural forms and human emotion.”  On the other hand, nature could lead towards what Alofsin calls structural organicism: seeing a deeper rational structure that could produce new forms without the literal use of floral and vegetal references” (55).  

Art Nouveau is a catch-all term for a number of movements in the last years of the 19th century through the first years of the 20th.  What holds these movements together, to the degree that they can all be understood as members of this category, is their shared revolt against Historicism and the academy and their quest for a new style based on the creative use of nature.  Various forms of Art Nouveau appear in France as Art Nouveau; England as Liberty Style or Arts and Crafts; Germany, as Jugendstil; and Vienna as Secession.  As Alos Moravanszky explains, “in many Central and Eastern European countries, “secession” became the term that characterized art nouveau generally including its nongeometrical versions: secese in Bohemia, secesja in Poland, secesija in Croatia, and sszecesszio in Hungary.  The resulting imprecision makes it hard to distinguish between various architectural languages of fin-de siècle.   In contrast, Historicism is basically a supranational style (despite attempts to assign national forms, p. x).  In this chapter, I examine various early attempts in Hungarian architecture that borrow most explicitly from other European Art Nouveau (writ large) traditions.  In the next chapter, I will focus on the most important Hungarian architect of the period whose early work begins in fin-de siècle Hungarian Art Nouveau but who develops Art Nouveau into a truly Hungarian style:  Odon Lechner.  Lechner and his followers embody the central sustained Hungarian Secession, particularly manifest in their intense emphasis on the stylistic elements they saw as uniquely Hungarian.

The Bedo House.  Emil Vidor.  1903.:
 Detail of facade.

Detail of facade.

The Philanthia Flower Shop.  Albert Kálmán  Kőrössy.  1906.

Detail of Facade. Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út 63 (1897). Frigyes Spiegel with Fulop Weinreb.  1897.


1 comment :

Susan said...

Chapter Two! You are really moving along!