Edward Robert de Zurko: Origins of Functionalist Theory (1957)

12 October 2014, dusan

“The main purpose of this book is to study the idea of functionalism from a historical point of view. The research media are the literary sources of functionalism. Early functionalist trends in writings on architecture shall be analyzed and compared with each other and with modern interpretations of the concept. By means of this es­sentially semantic study I hope to demonstrate (1) the antiquity of functionalist ideas, especially the tendency to connect ideas of use with ideas of beauty; (2) the variety of guises assumed by this type of theory; and (3) the recurrent ideas which have generally charac­terized functionalist theory.” (from the Introduction)

Publisher Columbia University Press, 1957
265 pages
via Charles

PDF (9 MB)

Maria Gough: The Artist as Producer: Russian Constructivism in Revolution (2005)

29 July 2014, dusan

The Artist as Producer reshapes our understanding of the fundamental contribution of the Russian avant-garde to the development of modernism. Focusing on the single most important hotbed of Constructivist activity in the early 1920s—the Institute of Artistic Culture (INKhUK) in Moscow—Maria Gough offers a powerful reinterpretation of the work of the first group of artists to call themselves Constructivists. Her lively narrative ranges from famous figures such as Aleksandr Rodchenko to others who are much less well known, such as Karl Ioganson, a key member of the state-funded INKhUK whose work paved the way for an eventual dematerialization of the integral art object.

Through the mining of untapped archives and collections in Russia and Latvia and a close reading of key Constructivist works, Gough highlights fundamental differences among the Moscow group in their handling of the experimental new sculptural form—the spatial construction—and of their subsequent shift to industrial production. The Artist as Producer upends the standard view that the Moscow group’s formalism and abstraction were incompatible with the sociopolitical imperatives of the new Communist state. It challenges the common equation of Constructivism with functionalism and utilitarianism by delineating a contrary tendency toward non-determinism and an alternate orientation to process rather than product. Finally, the book counters the popular perception that Constructivism failed in its ambition to enter production by presenting the first-ever case study of how a Constructivist could, and in fact did, operate within an industrial environment. The Artist as Producer offers provocative new perspectives on three critical issues—formalism, functionalism, and failure—that are of central importance to our understanding not only of the Soviet phenomenon but also of the European vanguards more generally.”

Publisher University of California Press, 2005
ISBN 9780520226180
xi+257 pages

Reviews: Paul Wood (Art Journal, 2006), Charlotte Douglas (Modernism/modernity, 2006), Elizabeth Kridl Valkenier (Russian Review, 2006), Patricia Railing (Slavic Review, 2007), Douglas Greenfield (Slavic and East European Journal, 2007), Roann Barris (SECAC Review, 2007).


PDF (21 MB, no OCR)

Reyner Banham: Theory and Design in the First Machine Age, 2nd ed. (1960/1967)

23 April 2014, dusan

First published in 1960, Theory and Design in the First Machine Age has become required reading in numerous courses on the history of modern architecture and is widely regarded as one of the definitive books on the modern movement. It has influenced a generation of students and critics interested in the formation of attitudes, themes, and forms which were characteristic of artists and architects working primarily in Europe between 1900 and 1930 under the compulsion of new technological developments in the first machine age.

Publisher Praeger, New York and Washington, 1960
Second edition, 1967; Second printing, 1970
338 pages

Review (Robert Gardner-Medwin, The Town Planning Review, 1961)
Review (Dennis Young)
Review (Caroline S. Lebar, 2012)
Review (of the 2009 French edition, Hugues Fontenas, Critique d’art, 2010, in French)
Commentary (Gillian Naylor, Journal of Design History, 1997)
Commentary (Nigel Whiteley, 2005)

PDF (50 MB, no OCR)