chapter  3
21 Pages

On style

WithGevork Hartoonian

Viollet-le-Duc's anxiety, expressed upon noting how wisely engineers of his time, compared to architects, were using the technical and scientific methods available to them, exemplified the compulsion to change architectural style. Industrialization, and the surge to conquer markets for industrially produced consumer goods, as well as a fresh turn to the idea of identity and national pride, these all provided additional ammunition for launching the debate on style. Historicism was successful in disseminating a vision of the history of art and architecture that was popularized through the concept of period style, the index of which was limited to form and perception. The diachronic historical picture, the hypothetical arching of 1861 (the publication year of Semper's Der Stil) with 1932 (and the International Style exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York), and the 1960s respectively, provides a useful strategy for locating the beginning of the end of the idea of style in Semper's discourse.