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Adolf Behne, "Bruno Taut" (1914)

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I said earlier that for his facades Bruno Taut has returned to the earliest elements [Urelemente] of all construction. These elements are the wall and the opening!

Where in today’s buildings does one actually see something of a wall?! They are covered up by caryatids, columns, cartouches, busts, and reliefs—although compared to earlier practices this situation has improved somewhat. Taut reveals the wall, which is after all the prime focus of all building, in all its unbroken amplitude – and beauty. And he relieves the window of its accidental, inextricable character, which it has almost everywhere, employs it as the second grand prime mover, and gives it its full justification! He is not afraid that large windows might somehow spoil the façade; he makes them as large as possible, does away with cross beams and window lattices, and gains from the window something full of expression that is capable of proportioning the wall! Wall and opening—now each has a definite role, they mean something, they have an effect!

What has been accomplished here is once again finally something complete, something personal, something enduring. It is a liberation of architecture from convention, a contemplation of what is genuine.

Among the earliest elements of construction there is of course a third: the pleasure from adornment. The work of Bruno Taut is characterized by this pleasure in a very pronounced and lively fashion. When required, he builds as simply and unaffectedly as no other architect can (his urban garden architecture in Falkenberg is proof of this), but when the essence of the task at hand calls for a certain representation, he is not timid! The fact that a contract for an expensive apartment house on the elegant Hardenberg Street entails the need for adornment is self-evident. Taut did justice to this need and here again has created something daring and unusual by blending his architecture with sculpture in an open and completely free combination! Once more the wish to create something authentic instead of a mixture is the guiding principle. The genre of so-called decorative architectural sculpture is after all still a mixture in which the sculpture disturbs the architecture and vice versa. Taut commissioned Georg Kolbe to collaborate on the project as a free agent. Following Taut’s sketches only very generally, Kolbe created under the roof a series of hovering female nudes, in a nearly complete circle, conveying a sense of lightness and free movement, and endowing the house with something lively and pulsing. In the case of these figures it would again be wrong, as with the golden globe in the Leipzig pavilion, to ask about their “function”! They have none, other than an innate artistic function! If they were not there, something would definitely be missing! That is precisely the beauty of it; that Bruno Taut builds not from his intellect, nor from his sense of “taste,” but rather from his imagination!

Source: Adolf Behne, “Bruno Taut,” Der Sturm, no. 198/199 (February 1914), p. 182 f.

Original German text reprinted in Jürgen Schutte and Peter Sprengel, Die Berliner Moderne 1885-1914 [Berlin Modernity, 1885-1914]. Stuttgart, 1987, pp. 592-96.

Translation: Richard Pettit

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