Widely regarded as one of the most significant prophets of modern architecture, Adolf Loos was a star in his own time. His work was emblematic of the turn-of-the-century generation that was torn between the traditional culture of the nineteenth century and the innovative modernism of the twentieth. His essay 'Ornament and Crime' equated superfluous ornament and 'decorative arts' with underclass tattooing in an attempt to tell modern Europeans that they should know better. But the negation of ornament was supposed to reveal, not negate, good style; and an incorrigible ironist has been taken too literally in denying architecture as a fine art. Without normalizing his edgy radicality, Masheck argues that Loos's masterful "astylistic architecture" was an appreciation of tradition and utility and not, as most architectural historians have argued, a mere repudiation of the florid style of the Vienna Secession. Masheck has reads Loos as a witty, ironic rhetorician who has all too often been taken at face value. Far from being the anti-architect of the modern era, Masheck's Loos is 'an unruly yet integrally canonical artist-architect'.
He believed in culture, comfort, intimacy and privacy and advocated the evolution of artful architecture. This is a brilliantly written revisionist reading of a perennially popular architect.
'A monumental contribution to the Loos literature - ambitiously conceived,thoroughly provocative, and deeply insightful.' Joan Ockman, Distinguished Senior Fellow, School of Design, University of Pennsylvania 'Masheck - also - demonstrates - how [Loos's] abstract approach to form anticipated in a specific way the discourse of American minimalist art.' Kenneth Frampton, Ware Professor of Architecture, Columbia University 'A provocative take on Adolf Loos at a time when criticism has exhausted its theoretical resources, and the near past seems almost out of reach.' Gevork Hartoonian, Professor of Architecture, University of Canberra 'This penetrating book - guide[s] us round the paradoxes of this dandified enemy of ornamental invention whose most prominent masterpiece is a bronze and-marble colonnaded gentlemen's outfitter!' Joseph Rykwert, Cret Professor of Architecture Emeritus, University of Pennsylvania
List of Illustrations Preface Acknowledgements Abbreviations 1. Loos and Fine Art 2. Loosian Vernacular: An American Case 3. Loos and Imperial New York 4. Critique of Ornament 5. Architecture and Ornament in Fact 6. Everybody's Doric 7. Architecturelessness and Sustainable Art 8. The Wittgenstein House as Loosian 9. Loos and Minimalism Notes Works cited Index