Adolf Loos – Learning to Dwell

Adolf Loos – Learning to Dwell

Place:
Villa Müller, Austrian Cultural Forum

Date:
23. 5. 2013 – 19. 9. 2013

Austrian Cultural Forum, Jungmannovo náměstí 18, Prague 1

The Austrian Cultural Forum and the City of Prague Museum have prepared an exhibition entitled Adolf Loos – Learning to Dwell to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the death of the architect Adolf Loos (1870–1933).

The exhibition shall present this outstanding architect, his work, and his legacy, which remain topical and inspiring.

Adolf Loos is one of the most remarkable representatives of modern architecture. He was born and grew up in Brno during the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He picked up his handicraft skills in childhood at the sculptural and stonemason workshop of his father. He studied construction technology at a technical school in Liberec and later studied architecture in Dresden. Yet, he learned most by observation during his three-year stay in the USA. Those were the most important years to shape his education. He started his career in Vienna, where he expressed his critical approaches to the out-dated standards of Viennese historicism, which he published in newspaper articles. He showed his displeasure with ornaments, and his article “Ornament and Crime” is regarded as the most important 20th-century essay on architecture. He declared that ornaments are symbols of primitive culture and that “cultural development is as important as the removal of ornaments”.

 

Loos’ article “Architecture” expresses the main thoughts of his learning about dwellings: “A house must be favoured by all. Compared to a work of art that nobody may like, the work of art is borne without any specific need. A house fulfills a certain need. A work of art tries to appeal to people and push them out of their comfort zone. A house must provide comfort to people. Man likes everything that provides him comfort. Man hates everything that tries to push him out of his acquired and secured position and that he finds annoying. Thus, man likes a house and hates art”. Loos considers the ethical and moral demands placed on architecture to be more important than the aesthetic aspects.

 

The Goldmann & Salatsch department store on Michaelerplatz in Vienna (1910−1911), the house for Tristan Tzara in Paris (1926), the house project (not built) for Josephine Baker, and the villa for František Müller in Prague are the most significant buildings of Adolf Loos.  The new (when conceived) “Raumplan” concept is common to all these buildings; it is based on the spatial and vertical differentiations of incorporated rooms.

 

The “Raumplan” and an ornament-free facade are the fundamental ideas which were typical of Loos’ work throughout his life. These became synonymous with the new culture of living that led towards the new modern architecture.

 

The exhibition focuses on the architectural legacy of Adolf Loos, which is based on a unique gamble with space, material, equipment, and light. Loos’ “living space programs” respecting everyday rites of his rich middle-class clients are best visible in the examples of the interiors in Plzeň, Prague, and Brno. In each case, Loos created brand new programs, e.g. the linking of the rooms by an enfilade, or a complex Raumplan based on the individual needs of his clients. He created an optimum space for each activity (dining room, living room, bedroom, etc.). For instance, the drawing room was always sumptuous, the largest one in the house, while the library or boudoir had to maintain an intimate impression.

 

The next part of the exhibition deals with Loos’ life and briefly commemorates the key points of his career. It focuses more on the Czech environment where Loos found many pupils, friends, and promoters.

Curator: Maria Szadkowska

 



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