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The attempt to build a new nation out of old cultures, in an old land, specifically looked at architecture as an important political toolGERMAN ARCHITECTS: STYLE = PART OF NATION-BUILDINGUnit 3 Lesson 4 – p.22
German speaking architects thought very seriously about what role style and symbolism might play in helping unite separate states into one nationA task that wasn’t so very different from what the Americans had just been going throughPantheon on the DanubeSo the ideas we heard from like architects Botticher, Hubsch, and Semper, who were asking about where style comes from, and how they should reflect technology and modernity, geography, all these were developed within the context of a larger more pressing questionUnit 3 Lesson 4 – p.23
What is German architecture and what should it be?A very important influence on this question was WinckelmannWINCKELMANN: GREEK CLASSICISM = “BEST EVER”, BEST POSSIBLE CHOICEHis early writings in the 18thcentury said that Greek art was the best ever, so it suggested an obvious answerGerman art should follow Greek classicismIf it’s the best, why follow anything else?Hubuschargued that it was wrong to lift styles from one place in time to anotherOthers believed that classicism though was in fact a universal design language, so it belonged to Germans as much as anybodyBavarian architect Leo Von Klenzeaccepted this position wholeheartedlyVON KLENZE: “THERE WAS, IS AND WILL ONLY EVER BE ONE ARCHITECTURE”He said, there was, is, and will only ever be one architecture – that of ancient GreeceHe built basically a copy of the Parthenon overlooking the Danube (see image, right)This was a temple to the heroes of German cultureHe also built a Propylaea, or a grand gateway, to the city of Munich (see image, left)But as early as the 18thcentury, not long after Winckelmannproposed the idea, there also beganto be a reaction to the idea of looking beyond ones own borders for a national styleOne essayist, Johann Herder, had asked a basic question:JOHANN HERDER (1787): “WHY SHOULD WE ALWAYS IMITATE FOREIGNERS, AS IF WE WEREGREEKS OR ROMANS?”He is appealing to ethnic pride, and urging Germans to think about looking closer to home if they are searching for their own architectural styleUnit 3 Lesson 4 – p.24
German GothicJW GOETHE’s ESSAY ON GERMAN ARCHITECTURE (1772)STRASBURG: “INTENSIVE FEELINGS OF THE GERMAN PEOPLE”The Germans actually did have their own centuries old regional tradition – the GothicThe famous 18thcentury poet, Goethe, wrote an early essay called ‘On German Architecture’ about the Gothic cathedral in StrasbourgHe thought that this building embodied the intensive feelings of the German people, and he especially praised the brilliance of one of its master builders, Erwin Von SteinbachBut there is a small problemStrasbourg is a city that’s part of France, today anywayIt is a region that’s gone back and forth several times over the centuries