Friday, March 7, 2008

Adolf Loos and Art in Architecture

Did Adolf Loos truly believe in completely separating art from functionality? Despite his opposition to thinking of Architecture as art, can his buildings be seen as works of artistic expression? I believe Loos was actually incapable of separating his architecture from art. His buildings may not have fit contemporary standards for beauty and art; but into each building Loos imparted an aspect of his expression and creativity, creating art.
Many of his building designs, especially his house on Michaelerplatz, while simple and without much odornment are elegant and beautiful works of art despite his claim otherwise. Adolf Loos once claimed that architecture above all else did not belong in the category of art because, "The house has to please everyone, in contrast to art, which does not please anyone." This is ironic because his works often stirred members of the public into a frenzy. While his buildings may not have been considered art by the cultural standards of other buildings of his time, that does not mean his buildings did not have other aspects of expression.

I believe his most controversial work, the house on Michaelerplatz, qualifies as a piece of art because it is not a PURE functional design. Whether purposely, or subconsciously his building includes some aesthetic design choices. Unlike his contemporaries and their ornamentation, his idea of aesthetic design did not intrude on the function. An example of this is his use of the special green cipollino marble. This seems at odds with his beliefs because if he wanted to strip the building of all decoration he would have made the entire facade of white stucco. Instead he personally travels to Greece to hand select a unique building material, unused since ancient times, that adds both color and contrast to an otherwise plain white facade. Furthermore the Swirling pattern of the marble reminds me greatly of the Tile printing on Wagner's Majolica House. In this way his building is still a unique, beautiful work of art, and yet the beauty does not impede the function, or even intrude on its usage.

In many ways Loos reminds me of Ulrich. Ulrich sees himself as a man without qualities, but this has been interpreted by many people to simple mean he does not have the qualities which society values. In a similar fashion Loos believes in separating art from architecture because he does not agree with the interpretation of beauty that his society values. This does not mean his designs were not art. As I hope I have proved, his buildings had a unique style of their own which the world came to recognize as exceptional.

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