Historien bag historierne om moderne arkitektur

Anders V. Munch


The History Behind the Histories of Modern Architecture
This paper is written as an introduction to the theme of the conference, To see Modernism in the Rear-View Mirror, Oslo 1113th of February 2005 on the present rewriting of the history of modern architecture and design, the understanding of Modernism and the historiographical challenges in this very complex field. It is necessary to state the scope of the notions Modernism and Historiography because of the extra layer of the very explicit and dominant historical consciousness of modernist architects and their first historiographers, Nikolaus Pevsner, Emil Kaufmann and Sigfried Giedion. This topic has been addressed by Panayotis Tournikiotis The Historiography of Modern Architecture, MIT Press 2000, and I reflect on his thesis. A severe hindrance of our understanding is that historical speculations became anathema after Second World War producing a blindness of the very basic frame of modernist ideology. I have touched on that problem in my Der stillose Stil. Adolf Loos, Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2005. The different scientific traditons of art history, represented by Heinrich Wölfflin, Alois Riegl and Erwin Panofsky, are recognizable behind the later approaches to the writing of the histories of modern architecture, and through them the German Historismus has played its role in forming the very logic of Modernism. But also among architects we can find these reflections on historical development and architectural tradions forming a line from Karl Friedrich Schinkel and Gottfried Semper to Adolf Loos.

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