טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
M.Sc Thesis
M.Sc StudentAtalia Karni
SubjectAn Analysis of Selected Critigues of the Modern Movement
DepartmentDepartment of Architecture and Town Planning
Supervisor Professor Emeritus Herbert Gilbert (Deceased)


Abstract

This thesis examines the changing perceptions of the modern movement in architectural criticism according to the writings of three historian-critics: NIKOLAUS PEVSNER, BRUNO ZEVI and CHARLES JENCKS - who represent three generations of historical-critical writing.

The research objectives are to characterize what is the modern movement for the three historian-critics; to identity the critical subjects (critical themes); and to clarify the basic terms of the modern movement and its criticism as derived from their writings.

NIKOLAUS PEVSNER represents the generation of historians of the modern movement. Analysis of his writing shows a perception of one unitary modern movement whose main expression is the universal style (or the international style). The origin of his approach is derived from a rational doctrine that emphasizes the perception of “zeitgeist” and the values of the machine, functionalism, rationalism etc.

BRUNO ZEVI represents an intermediate generation of historian-critics. His initial point of view originates from the organic doctrine which emphasizes human, social and spatial values. BRUNO ZEVI had already been among the major critics of the rational-functional doctrine, at the end of the Second World War. He criticized the emphasis on the exterior of buildings (‘style’) in early modern architecture (1919-1933), as well as functionalism, rationalism, machine architecture, the international style etc. In spite of his sharp criticism, ZEVI is also a faithful follower of the modern movement according to his own terms. The modern codes for architecture which ZEVI formulates, are aimed at the preservation of a ‘modern language”; He sharply attacks the critiques on the “death of the modern movement” (by post-modernists etc.).

CHARLES JENCKS represents the young generation of critics of the modern movement, and also represents current approaches (post-modernism) which are in sharp confrontation with the modern movement. JENCKS accuses the historians of the modern movement of establishing a concept of one unitary movement, while according to his claims (in his 1973 book) it was pluralistic. He accuses the historians of omitting such currents as expressionism from their historical writing. JENCKS also forcefully criticizes the major representatives of the modern movement, of loss of values, retreat to formalism, neglect of functionalism, etc.

The main conclusions of the research are: Characterizations of the modern movement by the three historian-critics differ from one to the other. Their concepts concerning the modern movement vary. Critical themes of ZEVI and JENCKS criticizing the modern movement overlap. However for the first they represent the criticism of one current of the modern movement; and for the other, the criticism of the modern movement as a whole. These differences reflect their different conceptual framework about the modern movement and its criticism and they are an outcome of their different outlooks or world-views.