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Luxury and Modernism: Architecture and the Object in Germany 1900-1933

Luxury and Modernism: Architecture and the Object in Germany 1900-1933

By Robin Schuldenfrei

"In Luxury and Modernism, Robin Schuldenfrei punctures the idealistic, lofty, socialist rhetoric of the Bauhaus’s artist-craftsmen. The Bauhaus, she reveals, imposed an elitist, aristocratic notion of taste on the masses, who largely didn’t want it."—Christopher Turner, Apollo

"In Luxury and Modernism, Schuldenfrei confronts the longstanding issue of modern architecture’s elitism, going to the heart of the canon and building up evidence in varied case studies."—Ani Kodzhabasheva, Architectural Histories

"Robin Schuldenfrei revisits the inconsistencies between modernism’s rhetoric and its accomplishments, offering a generous reassessment of its proponents’ proclivity for luxury . . . . Luxury and Modernism presents eloquent, well-researched, and courageous scholarship . . . . With her major contribution, Robin Schuldenfrei has given us much to reconsider."—Leslie Van Duzer, Journal of Architectural Education

This beautifully illustrated book provides a new interpretation of modern architecture and design in Germany during the heyday of the Bauhaus and the Werkbund, tracing modernism's lasting allure to its many manifestations of luxury. Robin Schuldenfrei casts the work of legendary figures such as Peter Behrens, Walter Gropius, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in an entirely different light, revealing the complexities and contradictions inherent to modernism's promotion and consumption.

Luxury and Modernism shows how luxury was present in bold, literal forms in modern designs–– from lavish materials and costly technologies to deluxe buildings and household objects—and in subtler ways as well, such as social milieus and modes of living. While modernism was publicized as a fusion of technology, new materials, and rational aesthetics to improve the lives of ordinary people, it was often out of reach to the very masses it purportedly served. Schuldenfrei exposes the disconnect between modernism's utopian discourse and its luxury objects and elite architectural commissions. Despite the movement's egalitarian rhetoric, many modern designs addressed the desires of the privileged individual. Yet as Schuldenfrei demonstrates, luxury was integral not only to how modern buildings and objects were designed, manufactured, and sold, but has contributed to modernism's appeal to this day.

Hardcover
336 Pages
74 color & 126 b/w illustrations
Princeton University Press, 2018
7.5 x 10 x 1.5 Inches
ISBN 9780691175126
Architecture, Design, Movement 

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