Wager(1)The Architect - THE ARCHITECT MODERN ARCHITECTURE...

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Unformatted text preview: THE ARCHITECT MODERN ARCHITECTURE ; OTTO WAGNER A GUIDEBOOK FOR HIS STUDENTS TO THLS HELD Ol‘ ART publiSth'» SCI/Mi moniCL, C A \ Crag“? Wu. w We may? of we ”mafia A, rm Mb 13 0 0 IC- Sm (rick The architect with his happy combination of idealism and realism has been praised as the crown- N A (0 Li ‘2 ' R) 3b] I 3 I q 88 ; " ing glory of modern man. Unfortunately he alone feels the truth of these words. while his contemporaries stand off to the side. little interested. I too. at the risk of being accused of a delusion of grandeur. must join in the song of can praise. E! The lifelong training of the architect, the responsrbility connected with his creative work, the great difficulties opposing the realization of his buildings. the indolence and peculiar Views of the masses concerning architecture. rs; unfortunately all too frequent envy, and the diversity of views among his col- leagues invariably cover his path of life with thorns. and far too often he looks wistfully at the disciples of the sister arts. who as a rule are carried aloft by mankind aiong a path strewn with roses.7 The praise and criticism that should enrich the career of the artist. as the sun and rain enrich the earth. seldom appear in the architectural sky; the eternal gray of practice and eerie darkness of public indifference veil every free and cheerful prospect. EGG E1 The architect can never count on instant success or immediate ideal remu- neration. The hoped-for recognition will perhaps be allotted him after many years when under a load of tribulations he has completed a building, yet the (n _:' {'31 .F't‘ 7434;. m- b2 .. 4 . . Among the fine arts (as difficult as it is for me to speak of arts. for there is only one art) “ climax of his artistic ecstasy and joy of creation is at that moment when he sketches what seems to him to be a happy baSic idea, however inVisible and unintelligible to others. no . i [I The architect therefore has to seek his reward for the most part in an inner contentment. Nevertheless. he must always keep his work in view With the same love and perseverance, and neither go astray nor tire. even if his finan» cial remuneration. as Is unfortunately the rule. amounts to a mere pittance. and the world—as hitherto. so henceforthkshould be pleased to pay a female vocalist, for example. as much for an hour of song as Gottfried Semper With all his thriftiness saved during his entire life. i'i’i architecture alone is truly creative and productive: in fact. it alone is able to make forms that have no model in nature yet appear beautiful to man. Even if these forms have their source in natural structures and their origin in the material, the result is so far removed from the starting pomt that it must be considered a completely new creation. BEE E It therefore cannot be surprising to hear [THAT WE SHOULD SEE IN ARCHITECTURE THE HIGHEST EXPRESSION OF MAN'S ABILITY. BORDERING ON THE DIVINEfI GEE E] And rightly so! Proof of this lies in the mysterious and overwhelming power that architectural works have on man. practically forcing him to contemplate. Architecture must therefore be described as the most powerful [expression of 7.777] EEG Every artistic talent conSists of two personal qualities: innate ability [(predisposnion)‘l acquired conceptual knowledge. The more these two qualities appear and balance ongilother, the greater will be the value of the work of art they produce. [It is scarcely necessary to cite an example for this. yet for the sake of easier understanding it may be noted that Hans Makart, for instance, pos- sessed more innate ability than acquired knowledge, while with Gottfried Semper the reverse was obviously true. Because of the enormous amount of study material that the architect needs to absorb. the Semperian relation in most cases prevails. out: [I With painters and sculptors success is conceivable without any acquired knowledge—whereas with the architect this is clearly impossible.12 BEG I l and It is appropriate here to speak of the state‘s protection of architecture. ii Innate ability conSists mainly of imagination. taste. and manual ‘skilll‘l and just these qualities that count so heavily in choosmg the career of archi- tect are so much smned against by those adVISing students on a career, EEG a The student may put his heart and soul into his work. but if imagination, taste. and manual skill are wanting, or if even one of these qualities is missing, then all the effort of training will be in vain. |For this reason. one too often finds among architects changes of profession. despondent artists. and the dreary type who has misspent his life.” am] a; The system that wants to train a man to be an architect only because he wants to become one. Without persons in authority haying determined whether he is born for it and has or has not the aptitude for itesuch a system must finally be broken,15 BEE E] It is unnecessary to emphaSize that peace of mind and freedom from care, encouragement, and experience must work together to preserve in their en‘ tirety the personal qualities mentioned. Whether the creative power of the architect remains active or slackens during the course of his life Will also depend on this. EEG a On the other hand. it must again be said that the wealth of knowledge to be acquired. the experience, and the successive growth and maturation of young, fresh ideas into their embodiment postpone the age at which the architect fully matures far beyond that at which other artists attain the height of their powers. EBB [I Surely it is no exaggeration to place the successful practice of the architect beyond the fortieth year. BBB D To these difficulties intrinsic to the profession itself is joined yet another set of circumstances that contribute to making his life less rosy. One of the most serious and harmful is the frequent appearance of hermaphrodites of art and vampires of practice. IItisfitherefore incumbent on the architect not only to fight these individuals, but:lso_l°i) to recapture and maintain the position that belongs to him absolutely because of his ability and knowledge. EBB E1 Certainly the state receives the greatest advantages from the cultivation of art. In Italy we see today a country in which the artistic achievements of past generations surely form its most important life-nerve. and France likewise owes its wealth in no small part to art. GEL] THE ARCHITECT EGGGEEGB VACNER «,4 :1 This protection can be given in different ways. out] El F[‘hus the creation of a Bureau of Art (Ministry for Art) is urgently needed. When appointing the art faculty, great importance must be given to the opin- ion of distinguished artists.'7 All public buildings of the Empire should be carried out only by true architects. Particular attention should be given to the buildings in the provinces, because in this way art would be “carried into the country" and have an educational effect on the people. EBB E1 All commissions and committees that are charged with the task of judging artistic works or that deal with questions of art should have at least half Of their membership composed of noted artists. ‘5, [BED E1 The purchase and use of old apartment? houses for public offices has to cease; the viewpoint of mere utility must yield to the artistic-practical; we must avail ourselves of every opportunity for open architectural competitions. El I wish to take this opportunity to draw attention also to the great results of the Vienna Municipal Improvement Fund.” It alone has made it possible to adorn Vienna with a number of monumental buildings that otherwise would certainly not have been built. Yet surely the sums of money at its disposal for such purposes are exceedingly small when compared to what foreign coun- tries allocate for monumental art. A comparison with Paris is out of the ques- tion, but even with respect to the situation in Berlin we remain far behind. The fact that for nineteen years in Berlin, between 1871 and 1890, monu- mental buildings Costing around the sum of 250 million marks were put up solely by the state speaks volumes. 1313i: B Our state administration has already taken a step forward in this regard with the creation of the Council of Art. Yet at present its work is still rather illusory because it lacks the most important conditions for life—power and money. Thus its activity has been confined up to now to announcemenfl The architect himself cannot be spared the blame for having done much to lower his own position and social standing. The attempt to keep up with dishonest competitors by noncompliance with the strict terms of the commission or by a sanguine excess of promises to the client has greatly harmed him. 13cm a A further source of harm can be seen in the inartistic, tasteless, and there- fore incorrect way (popular until now) of presenting drawings of his work. A plain and insipid drawing, devoid of any artistic charm, makes less than an attractive impression on professionals and laymen. Later, in the chapter “The Practice of Art," we shall have the opportunity to come back to this problem in greater detail. Bill] :1 Yet the crux of the problem lies deeper. ‘Tfi' MAIN REASON THAT THE IMPORTANCE OF THE ARCHITECT HAS NOT BEEN FULLY APPRECIATED LIES IN THE STORE OF FORMS EMPLOYED BY HIM UP TO NOW; THAT IS, IN THE LANGUAGE HE HAS DIRECTED To THE PUBLIC, WHICH IN MOST CASES IS COM. PLETELY UNINTELLIGIBLE.“, out: a 1To explain this problem in detail 15 the most important purpose of this book“, BEE Architects cannot be condemned enough for not willingly and courageously taking up the ‘aritistic struggle thrust upon them by mankind, for not knowmg how to ward off the indifference of the masses toward architecture, and for Simply throwing up their hands.“] EEG D An active, untiring participation in exhibitions. relentless sedulity, and unflagging energy would certainly help to promote a gradual improvement. Participation in competitions, notwithstanding all their inherent deficiencies, cannot be recommended enough, because they are extraordinarily instructive. at] a El Although colleagues generally maintain complete silence on exhibited works, everyone knows that one can impress artists only by works, and in the face of them any baseless claim vanishes or even achieves the opposite effect. Through his works the artist shows his ability, his thoughts and feelings-his soul, truth—and the last is always of interest when it is beautiful. All artists are equally receptive to such a truth, and exhibitions and competitions are just the opportunity for showing it. BEE And now let me say a few words about the title “Architect" [Architekr]. It is clear that this desig- nation belongs to the architect [Baukiinstlerl alone, and that it will not do to create architects of different grades, as, for example, architect-entrepreneur, architect-draftsman, 2“ etc. BBB E) The designations conferred by the state, such as ”state-examined archi- tect," “graduate architect," “civil architect,"25 etc.. often constitute as great a misuse of the title as when it is usurped by people who have not the shadow of a claim to it. not] THE ARCHITECT .53] WAGNER El As already mentioned. it is unfortunately the custom everywhere for par- ents or guardians to decide the future vocation of their children without tak- ing into account their personal attributes. Yet nowhere is this more inappro- priate than in choosing the vocation of architect. Giza E1 The factors influencing the youth counselors in this regard all culminate in the shortsighted View that this or that occupation will be the most lucrative rorwill provide the best “advancement."zf’l Taking the youth's talents into consideration is already precluded, because the necessary qualities of imagi- nation. taste. and keen thinking only appear later. after the occupational choice has long become a fact and the dice of fortune have thus fallen. A rather early facility in drawing does not by itselfjustify stamping the youth as a future architect. EBB E1 The normal and proper course of action here would be to refer technically trained candidates, twenty-two to twenty-Six years of age, to Ithe master's studio at27 the Academy of Fine Arts, whose instructors have the authority to decideAwhether the candidates can or cannot successfully pursue an artistic career. [EBB a For the instructors this is an easy task. Not only do certificates, drawings, and sketchbooks lie before them for judgment. but they can also let the can- didates pursue a trial year of academic studies, and if during this period the required aptitude does not manifest itself, they are then able to make the right decision with absolute certainty and can even correct an earlier judgment. arm E If this were done consistently over many years, it alone would bring about a return to healthy conditions and produce a halfway natural relation between the number of architectural commissions available—and the number of architects.28 EGG El It is impossible to leave this subject without giving some thought to our schools in general and to the schools of art in particular. BEG D All our schools suffer from the misfortune that the method of instruction is based almost entirely on a single human faculty, namely, memory. The catch- phrase “above all, no lowering of educational standards" contributes further to the problem by preventing relevant subjects from being accepted into schools, so as not to disturb the status quo. Awakening the appreciation of art, exercising spatial thinking, considering the personal skills of the individual, and directing the pupils to the proper course of education are never discussed. The fact that every architect must al The almost universal indolence of the "educated” public with respect to art, the indifferent and foolish judgment that greets even the greatest works of art, our completely inadequate schools of art, the small value that almost all state agenCies attach to art, an economically so deplorable drain of the na- tion's energyethese and so many other things are the sad results that grow out of our present system of artistic education}9 am] I] If the lower and higher schools of art are clearly in need of reorganization. then. in light of our present Views on art. such is also surely the case With the art faculty. £31: i: This need prompted me several years ago to submit to the proper authori~ ties a proposal. which should also be discussed here. BEG u The proposal stated that the school administration should appomt art fac- ulty members for the term of five to ten years only. and at the end of this period they should be free to announce a new appomtment of any duration. 8 The reasons for my proposal were as follows: the artist attains the zenith of his ability slowly or quickly, but always striding forward. Many fall by the wayside. many topple into the abyss, many get up again to move toward the goal, a few attain the summit. This is the period of development. Whoever reaches the summit seldom stays on top for long; in most cases he does so briefly, then goes downhill again. Since the state, as far as the art faculty is concerned, must surely employ the very best, naturally the question arises: in which period should the state acquire its faculty? During the developmental period, it is uncertain what height the artist will attain, yet if he has already gone beyond his peak then the state will have to deal With a waning force. In all cases there is a certain risk for the state: it runs this risk With every appointment. Another factor to consider is that in most cases the physical health of the artist stands in a very unfavorable relation to the zenith of his ability. The purpose of my proposal. which was chiefly motivated by today’s very different artistic viewpoint as well as the endeavor to prevent the faculty from becoming outdated, was to lessen this risk and to make it possible for the state administration always to have the best faculty.3#u BBB and yet it is clear that one can be a distinguished engineer without having to claim the title “artist." and a The examinations introduced by the state are at best suited to determine THE ARCHITECT so be an engineer has led to a proliferation of official terms, 68 So far we have talked about the architect’s first years and the development of his aptitude. Yet the The art student, upon completing his studies and leaving the academy, usually sets out on a tour WAGNER whether the candidate seems capable of doing the structural calculations, and whether he is able to produce buildings that are [usEful for dwelling and other purpos’esib Yet whether these buildings are also works of art can only be decided by artists.-‘2 EDI] Q There is something unhealthy in all of these conditions and therefore we must rejoice that artists themselves have begun to tackle the work of reorganization. 3m: El ITheifinion of Austrian Artists has intervened qu1te energetically in this regard. The Architects Club, an outgrowth of the Vienna Society of Artists. also has pursued the cause of reform and corresponds to an architectural higher court. The members of these unions are therefore approved as ar- chitects by an areopagus of artists. This explains the O.M. (ordinary member) for members of the union, and the C.M. for members of the Club. It can only be most warmly recommended that those in authority recognize the value of such approbation. and that the question of title also finds its resolution in this 33 natural way. "J [ma graduating architect, upon leaving school, must also have a number of intel- lectual qualities that will enable him to practice his profession fully. One of the most important among these I might call the ability to perceive needs. It is well known that contemporary society sets the tasks, and that it is incum- bent on the artist to solve these tasks and to find the form for them. BEG El There are a thousand things that influence this form, all of which the archi- tect must know if the form created by him is also to be the right one. BBQ [1 'SEE of living, fashion. etiquette, climate, place, material, the various technologifg‘: tools, and finally financial means—all have an important say in the creation of the work of art. To these factors are added every day a score of innovations and inventions, to which the architect must pay attention and of whose value he must be quickly and fully informed. Obviously the study of books and journals, practice, [exhibitions,35 and travel play a major role in this. Boo El Regarding travel in particular, permit me to say a few words. BEG of Italy for a period of one to two years before he turns to practice. one . ”hue. E] I conSider this way of doing things inappropriate. and n It might be said. first of all, that this tour is very traditional and that mod— ern conditions have also substantially altered our Viewpoint here. Apart from the fact that today the travel time required for such a trip is much shorter than it once was. modern publications have also prepared us in the best way for everything worth seeing there. These facts alone speak against the hith- erto customary two-year stay in Italy, which frequently only leads to idling on the part of the young artist. Eat] a But quite apart from this, I am of the opinion that after a three- or four- year course of studies at the academy. the young architect still does not pos— sess sufficient maturity for a successful tour of Italy—through the treasury of anctent art. Therefore. this kind of tour is always undertaken too early. EBB F1 Painterly and lighting effects. well conSIdered proportions. the preparation ot‘VIews. preasely defined visual distances. Silhouettes in correct perspective. the geneSis of forms and their justification. and characteristic features [deter mining the indiViduality of the masters")I can only be perceived by a prac- ticed, experienced eye. The maturity necessary for this does not yet exis...
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