• Mies’s representations as Zeitwille: Grosstadt between impersonality and autonomous individual

    Marianna Charitonidou (see profile)
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    Book chapter
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    The paper focuses on the relationship between Zeitwille and impersonality in Mies van der Rohe’s “Baukunst und Zeitwille” (1924). “Zeitwille” expresses simultaneously a Schopenhauerian “will of the age” and a “will of time”. In “The Preconditions of Architectural Work” (1928), Mies claimed that “[t]he act of the autonomous individual becomes ever more important”. My objective is to shed light on the phenomenon of the inhabitants distancing from the chaos of the city, which was a particular effect of Mies’s interiors, associating this aspect of Mies’s way of representing interiors with his belief in the autonomous individual and his conviction that in “town and city living […] privacy is a very important requirement”. The ambiguity of his simultaneous interest in impersonality and the autonomous individual is pivotal for understanding the tension between the universality and individuality in his thought. Mies, on the one hand, he gives credence to the acts of the autonomous individual, but, on the other hand, rejects the endeavour to “express individuality in architecture”, as it becomes evident when he affirms that “[t]o try to express individuality in architecture is a complete misunderstanding of the problem”. In order to explain this contradiction, the paper shows how Mies drew a distinction between individuality and the autonomous individual, which crucial for understanding how he related Grosstadt to Zeitwille. The strategies he employed in his representations will serve for demonstrating how Mies understood the relationship between Grosstadt and Zeitwille. Mies believed in the existence of a universal and generally understandable visual language. His interiors function as fields within which the subjects are autonomous individuals, and as mechanisms permitting to overcome the tension characterising modern metropolis between the frenetic city and the private bourgeois dwelling.
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    12 months ago


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