Den norske iscenesettelsen av modernismen som historie

Mari Lending


Modernism as History: Some Norwegian Interpretations.
The concepts of historicism and modernism figure as paradig-matic marks of periodization in the historiography of modern archi-tecture, orchestrated through the idea of modernism as a fundamental break with history and tradition. This essay explores the discrepancies between, on the one hand, the historicization of the breakthrough of modernism in leading Norwegian historiography, and on the other, the mainstream textual architectural discourse from the late 19th century until the 1920s. Emphasising key texts like those of Harald Aars (1927) and Christian Norberg-Schulz (1983), the essay shows how a style- and building-based history of architecture is repeated throughout the 20th century as a form of doxa (in terms of Roland Barthes critique of the naturalisation of history through tautological tropes). The modernist insistence on newness produced a caricature still viable of 19th century architecture as exclusively preoccupied with style, in contrast to the sound and honest architectural approach of modernism itself. Through an extraordinarily selective reading of texts, Norwegian architectural history established a consistent teleology which left the newness of modernism unquestioned. This essay argues that a closer study of architectural texts may nuance as well as blur the neatness of the history of the new as a specific modernist idiom, identifying moder-nist attitudes in mid 19th century writings and uncovering historicist tendencies in the rhetorics of modernism.

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