Thursday, April 7, 2011

Marcel Breuer

Marcel Lajos Breuer was born in Pécs, Hungary in 1902, and became on of the greatest architects and furniture designers of the 20th century .

Breuer used new technologies and new materials in order to develop his 'International Style' of work.

Architectural style, an early and influential phase of the Modern Movement, originating in Western Europe in the 1920s but finding its fullest expression in the 1930s, notably in the USA. It is characterized by a dominance of geometric, especially rectilinear, forms; emphasis on asymmetrical composition; large expanses of glazing; and white rendered walls. Breuer was one of the founders of this movement, dominant in 20th-century architecture, which grew out of the technological innovations of 19th-century Industrial architecture. ‘Truth to materials’ and ‘form follows function’ are its two most representative principles.

The Modern Movement gained momentum after World War II when its theories were influential in the planning and rebuilding of European cities. The work of Le Corbusier is perhaps most representative of the underlying principles of the movement; other notable early modernists include Adolf Loos, Peter Behrens, Walter Gropius, and Mies van der Rohe.Breuer first studied art in Vienna after winning a scholarship. Marcel was unhappy with the institution and found work instead at a Vienese architecture office. From 1920 to 1928 he was a student and teacher at Germany's Bauhaus, a school of design where modern principles, technologies and the application of new materials were encouraged in both the industrial and fine arts.

The Bauhaus was a school that combined crafts and the fine arts, founded by Walter Gropius in Weimar in 1919. It was built on the idea of creating a 'total' work of art in which all arts, to unify art, craft, and technology. The Bauhaus style became one of the most influential currents in Modernist architecture and modern design. The school existed in three German cities (Weimer from 1919 to 1925, Dessay from 1925 to 1932 and Berlin from 1932 to 1933), under three different architect-directors : Walter Gropius from 1919 to 1928, Hannes Meyer from 1928 to 1930 and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe from 1930 until 1933, when the school was closed by its own leadership under pressure from the Nazi regime.

After completing his studies at the Bauhaus Marcel traveled to Paris, where he worked in an architects office. After a year he was appointed as head of the carpentry workshop at the Bauhaus. Breuer was given the title of 'young master'.

Breuer designed a whole range of tubular metal furniture including chairs, tables, stools and cupboards. Tubular steel has lots of qualities; it is affordable for the masses, hygienic and provides comfort without the need for springs to be introduced. Breuer considered all of his designs to be essential for modern living.

Breuer also designed the interiors and furnishings for the master's houses at the Bauhaus, which by then had moved to Dessau.

Not only did Breuer design furniture, he also designed a standardised metal house and later on designed his Bamboos house. Breuer continued to teach at the Bauhaus until 1928 and for the next three years directed his own architectural practice in Berlin. During this time he designed interiors, furniture and department stores. The buildings he designed still remained unbuilt.

In 1935 Breuer was forced to emigrate to London to escape the nazis, and joined Gropius there. In London he worked in partnership with the architect, F.R.S Yorke and together they they completed several houses in Sussex, Hampshire, Berkshire and Bristol. In 1936 they designed the Gane pavilion in Bristol, which combined wood and local stone. This was very different from the type of work produced at the Bauhaus, combining steel, glass and modern materials.

After 1937 Breuer moved to America. He was offered a professorship at Harvard University' s School of Design in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He set up an architectural studio with Walter Gropius in Massachusetts and together they designed the Pennsylvania Pavilion at the 1939 New York's World Fair.

In 1947 the Museum of Modern Art in New York ran a touring exhibition of Breuer's work.

In 1953 Breuer worked as part of a team designing the UNESCO building in Paris.

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