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Style in the Technical and Tectonic Arts; or, Practical Aesthetics

  • Gottfried Semper
    Introduction by Harry Francis Mallgrave
    Translation by Harry Francis Mallgrave and Michael Robinson

    The enduring influence of the architect Gottfried Semper (1803–1879) derives primarily from his monumental theoretical foray Der Stil in der technischen und tektonischen Künsten(1860–1862), here translated into English for the first time. A richly illustrated survey of the technical arts (textiles, ceramics, carpentry, masonry), Semper's analysis of the preconditions of style forever changed the interpretative context for aesthetics, architecture, and art history.

    Style, Semper believed, should be governed by historical function, cultural affinities, creative free will, and the innate properties of each medium. Thus, in an ambitious attempt to turn nineteenth-century artistic discussion away from historicism, aestheticism, and materialism, Semper developed in Der Stila complex picture of stylistic change based on scrutiny of specific objects and a remarkable grasp of cultural variety. The introductory essay offers an account of Semper's life and work, a survey of Der Stil, and a fresh consideration of Semper's landmark study and its lasting significance.

    Harry Francis Mallgrave is the author of Gottfried Semper: Architect of the Nineteenth Century. Michael Robinson's published translations include Adolph Behne's The Modern Functional Building.


  • 992 pages
    7 x 10 inches
    19 color and 359 b/w illustrations
    ISBN 978-0-89236-597-8

    Getty Publications
    Imprint: Getty Research Institute
    Series: Texts & Documents


    "An accurate, fluent, and eminently readable translation."

    "The present translation shows a readability and literary smoothness that will permit a larger readership to study this important source for the understanding of 19th-century architecture."