May 15: Cologne, 1914
2016/05/15 § 2 Comments
On this day in 1914 the Deutscher Werkbund exhibition opened in Cologne.
Founded in 1907 in Munich, the Werkbund was a collaborative of designers, architects and industrialists committed to improving and revolutionizing German design. They pursued this goal through a series of exhibitions; the one in 1914 is legendary. The Glass Pavilion by Bruno Taut, the Administration Building by Walter Gropius and Adolf Meyer, the Theatre by Henry van de Velde, the nearly forgotten Festival Hall by Peter Behrens: these buildings reveal the diversity possible in these early years of capital-M Modernism, from latter-day Nouveau and Stripped Classicism to Expressionism and the Factory Style. It’s a fascinating portrait of the great variety possible and pursued in this early movement; a far cry from the white-rendered monotony of the Werkbund’s next outing, the 1927 exhibition in Stuttgart. By then the image (although not the reality) of high-tech mechanized industry had won the day among Werkbunders, nearly obliterating the memory of Cologne and its fascinating possibilities, all of which disappeared in the rubble as the exhibition closed in August 1914, two months early, due to the outbreak of war.
Image: exhibition advertisement designed by Behrens (from this source)