Function versus Form in Czech Cubism: Architecture and Furniture Design
Mansbach, Steven A
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This thesis seeks to negate the idea, prevalent among scholars in the field, that form became more important than function in the works of Cubist applied artists and architects. Cubist theory flourished in these sectors of the arts among young Czech artists who rejected the rationalism of their teachers, Otto Wagner and Jan Kotera. The work of Pavel Janák, Vlastislav Hofman and Josef Gocár provides the case study by which I argue that Czech architects during the Cubist movement from 1911 to 1925 were not only concerned with the utility of their works, but they also applied new functions to architecture and the applied arts--functions entirely different from mere practical concerns. These included the expression of the artists' own inner visions and spirituality through formal design, the conveyance of the possibilities of dynamic movement of mass through the creation of space and its outer shell, and, after World War I, the articulation of nationalism through the synthesis of Rondocubist form and decorative folk elements.