The Early Modernists

The tract writers, especially Antonio Sant'Elia, reacted sharply to the history consciousness that attended the speculations of nineteenth-century theorists. Their passionate embrace of the technological progress that was anticipated in the early twentieth century encouraged them to reject all aspects of past architecture (fig. 3-10). In its place they

Figure 3-10

Antonio Sant'Elia's vision of a rail terminal for a futurist city (courtesy Musei Civici, Como).

Figure 3-10

Antonio Sant'Elia's vision of a rail terminal for a futurist city (courtesy Musei Civici, Como).

espoused an ahistorical approach to architectural design that could be applied anywhere at any time, never representing any particular era or place. If they succeeded in creating a truly universal architecture, transcending period and locale, it was also one that belonged nowhere in particular. And although it often conveyed the spirit of optimism that accompanied the advent of modernism, the effect was also one of an alienated and alienating presence. This downside was not foreseen by the pioneers of modernity, although it was recognized as such by philistine detractors almost from the beginning. Only several decades following its adoption, when its resistance to assimilation in the urban environment was abundantly clear, did its ahistorical nature become fully apparent. Even so, some of the greatest figures of the modern movement recognized the indispensability of historical architecture to their own creative enterprise. Among those who did were Le Corbusier and Wright.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment