chapter  1
8 Pages

Critical and Theoretical Introduction

ByS.A. Mansbach

For decades, sensitive readers of modernism have recognized its variability, contingency, and specificity. Although there are general stylistic affinities within modernism, the specific sources of these formal characteristics often refer to indigenous traditions or forms, to shared historical references such as a stripped-down classicism or neo-classicism or even to religious or quasi-religious doctrine ranging from Calvinism to anthroposophy. This chapter offers the essential multiplicity of a historical modernizing art and architecture and recognizes how it was elaborated to advance a less well-acknowledged set of social aspirations. In much of Europe, nationalism was invoked with equal passion on a more narrowly focused engagement with a cultural, ethnic, or "racial" sub-nationalism, which did, frequently mirror the ideological contentiousness of large-scale, nation-state nationalism. It is important to acknowledge that Jože Plecnik and Lluís Domènech may offer the historian the ideal exemplars of an alternative modernism that has rarely been incorporated in studies of the history of modern – progressive – art and architecture.