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The Private Adolf Loos: Portrait of an Eccentric Genius

The Private Adolf Loos: Portrait of an Eccentric Genius

By Claire Beck Loos
Translated by Constance C. Pontasch and Nicholas Saunders 

"The theatrical nature of Claire Beck Loos’ narrative, her ultimately tragic journey and her artist’s way of encapsulating the essential about Loos in a mixture of camera-sharp observations is mitigated by an affectionate regard for the brilliant, but deeply flawed man that he was. The book is hugely perceptive and beautifully written."—Dr. Irena Murray, Director of the British Architectural Library at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)

"Claire wrote the book—first published in 1936—to raise money for the tombstone Loos designed for himself. The book is so very alive with his presence, however, that surely it was a means to keep him close to her. […] In razor-sharp anecdotes, some a paragraph, some several pages, Claire writes in the present tense. The result is altogether Loosian: timeless, with as little ornament, but as much empathy, as any protégé could deliver. Here, theory in the flesh walks in."—Barbara Lamprecht, book review for the Society of Architectural Historians

Written by Loos’ third wife, the photographer Claire Beck (1904–1942), these often humorous, short episodes reveal Loos’ temperament and philosophy during the last years of his life (1928–1933). His irreverent personality and attitudes about post-Imperial Viennese society, the role of the craftsman, and the organic beauty of raw materials are brought to light. Included in The Private Adolf Loos are Claire's photographs of Loos, collected in museums, as well as informal snapshots of the two of them showing the whimsy and theatricality of this relationship between two artistic personalities—one as infamous as he was well-regarded, and one, a youthful accomplice and budding photographer who would also become Loos' intermediary, secretary and proxy. With this bricolage of short tales and its dark conclusion at the brink of death’s door, Claire shows herself to be one of Loos’ great champions and memorialists, despite his shortcoming and debilitations. This is not a book about architecture, but rather a love story about the Modern revolution that provides a woman’s insight into one of its most radical personalities, set amid the fascinating cultural backdrop of 1920s and 1930s interwar Europe.

176 pages
DoppelHouse Press, 2020
8.63 x 1.63 x 10 inches
ISBN 9780997003482 
Biography, Architecture

$14.95 $14.95