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Paul Schultze-Naumburg and the Domestic Appreciation of Art (1900)

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Water, electricity, and heat are all at the disposal of the inhabitants through a flick of the switch or a turn of the knob. And an excellent plumbing and sewer system renders harmless the concentration of many people into a relatively limited living space. But heavier demands are also being placed on the individual inhabitant of these new homes; he would be worn down more quickly if conveniences and facilities unimaginable in earlier times were not provided for him, for they now create balance to some extent. This – if I may use the expression – altered soul of all material objects also requires a different aesthetic design for its physical form, and it is here that aesthetic elements have not kept pace with technical progress. It may be that it was simply impossible to adapt so quickly, that the technical innovations were so overwhelming that they allowed mankind to concentrate only on the purely practical goals. They affected us, to be sure, not just in a technical sense, but also in economic and social relations. In earlier times it was the single-family home that represented the standard of the well-to-do classes who aspired to higher status in the society; now this standard has become the rented flat, whereas the single-family home is only the privilege of a very wealthy few.

Source: Paul Schultze-Naumburg, Häusliche Kunstpflege [Domestic Appreciation of Art]. Leipzig, 1900, pp. 1-5.

Translation: Richard Pettit

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