Introduction and translation by Harry Francis Mallgrave
In 1896 Otto Wagner broke ranks with the European academic tradition and many of his colleagues when he published his concise, impassioned plea for an end to eclecticism and for a more rational approach to design suited to contemporary needs, materials, and technologies. Modern Architecture was the first manifesto to exalt and attempt to define the principles of Modernism, that is Modernism as an ideological movement radically different from the historicism of the past.
Wagner's manifesto is presented here in a new English translation—the first in almost ninety years. In his introduction, Harry Francis Mallgrave examines Wagner's tract against the backdrop of nineteenth-century theory: the affinities of Wagner's élan with the German debate of the 1840s; the realist movement of the 1870s, 1880s, and 1890s; and the emerging cultural ethos of modernity that would soon transform the face of architectural practice.
Harry Francis Mallgrave is the editor of architecture and aesthetics for the Getty Research Institute's Texts & Documents series and the Willard K. Martin Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Oregon. He is the author of Gottfried Semper: Architect of the Nineteenth Century, published by Yale University Press.
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