Bruno Taut and the First World War

Publisher:
ATINER
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Athens Journal of History, 2015, 1 (2), pp. 97 - 113
Issue Date:
2015-04
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It is commonly held that the experience of the First World War altered the course of avant-garde art and architecture in the Weimar period. Yet there were different experiences of the war; and the avant-garde was not a monolithic group either before 1914 or afterwards. Few histories discuss specific connections between the events of 1914-1918 and the explosion of creative activity that began as early as 1917 then continued through the 1920s. Yet by all accounts the war was a formative experience with a strong effect on all who lived through it whether seen from the vantage point of trenches along the Western Front, the Prisoner of War camps in East Prussia, or the increasingly pressured cities and towns at home. This essay traces the war experience and postwar response of the important German architect, Bruno Taut, who called the war “an epidemic of mental disorder.” Taut was a leading anti-war activist/agitator who experienced the war on the home front in Magdeburg and was a founding member of many postwar avant- garde groups. The 1914 Cologne pavilion, done with Paul Scheerbart, might prefigure what was to come. However, Taut’s work took a radical turn during the war. From the uninspired pragmatism of Falkenberg (1913) he turned to the fantasy and speculation of Alpine Architecture (1919).
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