Peter Behrens and a New Architecture for the Twentieth Century
444 pp., 8 x 9 in,
- Published: August 23, 2002
- Published: May 22, 2000
Stanford Anderson's long-awaited study of the great architect and designer Peter Behrens' contribution to the visual culture of the twentieth century.
Most histories of twentieth-century architecture cite Peter Behrens' influence on three of his protégés—Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Le Corbusier—and mention the turbine factory and arc lamp he designed for the German electrical firm AEG. Now Behrens' full contribution to the history of twentieth-century architecture is finally told, in Stanford Anderson's indispensable guide to one of the great designers of our century.
The author was first attracted to Behrens as one of the emblematic figures in the development of architectural modernism. Over the years, he has reflected critically on the growing body of Behrens scholarship that has appeared on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as on the views of such tastemakers as Philip Johnson, who rejected Behrens' AEG Turbine Factory, the signature icon of his early experiments in modernism, in favor of his later conservatively classical work. Anderson now assimilates decades of research into a definitive work that considers Behrens from the most nuanced perspective yet and that clarifies many problematic issues such as Behrens' endorsement of historical determinism and his work on Hitler's proposed monumental axis in Berlin.
The book looks at the cultural and architectural context in which Behrens worked, his early career, and the relation of his own house in Darmstadt to his ideal of a society where life is formed as art. It also looks at his directorship of the School of Arts and Crafts in Düsseldorf, where he drew on the work of such brilliant historiographers of art and architecture as Alois Riegl and August Schmarsow. In his conclusion, Anderson considers Behrens' melancholy in the face of modern industrial society and his avoidance of a direct address of life, despite, or rather because of, his professed commitment to express life as art.
A first-rate study, unlikely to be surpassed.
An important source, rich in information and analysis of the period.
Peter Blundell Jones
This book reflects a nuanced, carefully reasoned, and braodly contructed understanding of the beginnings of the last century, as viewed through the works of a widely influential and much-heralded pioneer in architecture. Anderson's astute, critical approach reveals a complexity of intention and attitude that undermines the simplicities of modernism.
Donlyn Lyndon, Chair, Department of Architecture, University of California, Berkeley
Peter Behrens redefined the graphic art, industrial design, and architecture of the early Modern Movement. Stanford Anderson's long awaited monograph presents Behrens' work in unprecedented depth and detail.
Dietrich Neumann, Department of History of Art and Architecture, Brown University
The publication of Standford Anderson's groundbreaking study, which has existed as a fragmentary 'underground' text since the 1960s, is itself an important historical event. Peter Brehrens and a New Architecture for the twentieth Century constructs a critical history of Brehrens's continuously evolving concept of modern architecture. The result is an absorbing history of intellectual and artistic formation that not only uncovers the theoretical and philisophical roots of modernism itself in a century of German thought, but provides a penetrating analysis of the way in which one of the great 'form-givers' of early twentieth century architecture- and of architects generally- thought and designed.
Eve Blau, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University
Reveals a profound understanding of the social and cultural context in which Behrens operated and of the crucial issues of artistic theory in early twentieth-century Germany.
This clear and critical book...is a welcome addition to the still rather small literature on Behrens in English.