Skip navigation
Hardcover | $68.00 Trade | £46.95 | ISBN: 9780262133340 | 524 pp. | 9.3 x 10.5 in | January 1998

Competing Visions

Aesthetic Invention and Social Imagination in Central European Architecture, 1867-1918


The Habsburg monarchy and its successor states played a significant role in the development of modern culture. Although scholars have recognized the contributions of Viennese intellectuals, they have all but ignored those of other centers such as Budapest, Prague, Brno, Cracow, Zagreb, and Ljubljana. Historical research in Central Europe still emphasizes national and regional differences rather than common issues and developments.

In this book Ákos Moravánszky presents the first comparative study of the architecture of the countries that defined the Austro-Hungarian monarchy from 1867 to 1918. He discusses the aesthetic innovations of Central European architects by analyzing key buildings and by studying the crucial debates about modernity, national identity, tectonic form, and the social role of the architect. As a reflection of this complexity, the issue-centered chapters explore architectural history in clusters, rather than through a linear development toward a monolithic modern form.

Central European intellectuals recognized that real change cannot be introduced merely by changing the political and economic system; human consciousness itself must be transformed. Artists and architects played a leading role in this transformation as they explored the limits of their freedom. Although their social environment contained many feudal elements, their cultural heritage offered more artistic freedom than did other historical regions of Europe. This book unfolds the wide spectrum of problems that Central European artists and architects faced in the first decades of the century. It also examines the changing interpretation of architecture by the critics of the time.

Published with the assistance of the Getty Grant Program.


"Moravnszky has broken new ground in this study devoted to thearchitecture and city planning of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Rather thanfocusing on one region or country within the empire, Moravanszky takes abroader view and sees a plurality of modernistic expressions that, whiledistinct on their own, testify to a universalist vision of a nation—anation that incorporates many cultures and languages but shares a commonhistory."
Wim de Wit, The Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and theHumanities