Cubism - Architecture

Architecture

The notion that Cubism formed an important link between early-twentieth-century art and architecture is widely accepted. The historical, theoretical, and socio-political relationships between avant-garde practices in painting, sculpture and architecture had early ramifications in France, Germany, the Netherlands and Czechoslovakia. Though there are many points of intersection between Cubism and architecture, only a few direct links between them can be drawn. Most often the connections are made by reference to shared formal characteristics: faceting of form, spatial ambiguity, transparency, and multiplicity.

Architectural interest in Cubism centered on the dissolution and reconstitution of three-dimensional form, using simple geometric shapes, juxtaposed without the illusions of classical perspective. Diverse elements could be superimposed, made transparent or penetrate one another, while retaining their spatial relationships. Cubism had become an influential factor in the development of modern architecture from 1912 onwards, developing in parallel with architects such as Peter Behrens and Walter Gropius, with the simplification of building design, the use of materials appropriate to industrial production, and the increased use of glass.

Cubism was relevant to an architecture seeking a style that needed not refer to the past. Thus, what had become a revolution in both painting and sculpture was applied as part of ‘a profound reorientation towards a changed world’. The Cubo-Futurist ideas of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti influenced attitudes in avant-garde architecture. The influential De Stijl movement embraced the aesthetic principles of Neo-plasticism developed by Piet Mondrian under the influence of Cubism in Paris. De Stijl was also linked by Gino Severini to Cubist theory through the writings of Albert Gleizes. However, the linking of basic geometric forms with inherent beauty and ease of industrial application—which had been prefigured by Marcel Duchamp from 1914—was left to the founders of Purism, Amédée Ozenfant and Charles-Édouard Jeanneret (better known as Le Corbusier,) who exhibited paintings together in Paris and published Après le cubisme in 1918. Le Corbusier's ambition had been to translate the properties of his own style of Cubism to architecture. Between 1918 and 1922, Le Corbusier concentrated his efforts on Purist theory and painting. In 1922, Le Corbusier and his cousin Jeanneret opened a studio in Paris at 35 rue de Sèvres. His theoretical studies soon advanced into many different architectural projects.

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