Thursday, March 14, 2019

International Architecture

International Architecture: Bauhausbücher 1
Walter Gropius (Editor)
Lars Müller Publishers, March 2019

Hardcover | 7 x 9 inches | 108 pages | 100 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-3037785843 | $45.00

Publisher Description:
When the Bauhaus moved to Dessau in 1924, it was finally possible to publish the first of the Bauhausbücher that Walter Gropius (1883–1969) and Làszlò Moholy-Nagy (1895–1946) had first conceived of in Weimar. The series was intended to give insight into the teachings of the Bauhaus and the possibilities it offered for incorporating modern design into everyday aspects of an ever-more-modern world. First in the series was Gropius’ International Architecture, an overview of the modern architecture of the mid-1920s and an early attempt to articulate what would come to be known as International Style architecture. In a brief preface, Gropius summarized the guiding principles he identified uniting the avant-garde around the world. But the real thrust of the book is visual, with an extensive illustrated section showing buildings in Europe and the Americas. According to Gropius, these illustrations show the “development of a consistent worldview” that dispensed with the prior decorative role of architecture and expressed itself in a new language of exactitude, functionality and geometry.

Published for the first time in English, this new edition of the first of the Bauhausbücher is accompanied by a brief scholarly commentary. Presented in a design true to Moholy-Nagy’s original,
International Architecture offers readers the opportunity to explore the Bauhaus’ aesthetic and its place in the world as Gropius himself was trying to define them.
dDAB Commentary:
Between 1925 and 1930, the Bauhaus put out 14 of a planned 54 titles in the Bauhausbücher series edited by Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius and photographer László Moholy-Nagy. Derailed by the turmoil in Europe leading up to WWII, the books that were printed were snapped up quickly and are now difficult to find. Swiss publisher Lars Müller is gradually making the fourteen titles available again "in a form true to the originals," but in English. First in the original series was Gropius's International Architecture, whose reprint comes out next week, a couple weeks before the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus Weimar. Centennial celebrations are rampant in Germany, and reprints like International Architecture and Bauhaus Journal 1926-1931 extend the reach of those celebrations all over the world – a world transformed by the principles developed at the short-lived school (1919-1933).

International Architecture is a short book, with a four-page introduction by Gropius and 100 pages of photographs and drawings of "ever more daring design[s]" by the likes of Peter Behrens, Erich Mendelsohn, Bruno Taut, Frank Lloyd Wright, and of course Gropius himself. Given that it's nearly a century since original publication, most of the projects are well known. So, not surprisingly, the handsome hardcover reprint is most valuable as a historical artifact. Nevertheless it's a treat to flip through. With two images per spread – sometimes showing the same project but often two different projects – it's easy to make comparisons; and it's clear that Gropius considered the juxtaposition of images, be it in terms of visual composition, typology, materials, or other traits. (This tactic is still in use today, with such books as Modern Spaces.) Five of the 100 illustrations present designs for the Chicago Tribune in 1922, highlighting Gropius's famous scheme and three other modern designs that were passed over for the neo-Gothic winner. What may have seemed like the failure of modern design versus traditional design turned out to be a slight hiccup in Modernism's ascension courtesy of the Bauhaus.

Author Bio:
Walter Gropius (1883-1969) was a German architect and founder of the Bauhaus School, who ... is widely regarded as one of the pioneering masters of modernist architecture. Gropius was also a leading architect of the International Style.
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