Fashioning Vienna: Adolf Loos's Cultural Criticism by Janet Stewart

By Janet Stewart

This ebook seeks, via an exam of the shape and content material of his texts, to increase our knowing of Adolf bogs and his function within the fight to outline the character of modernity in Vienna on the flip of the 19th century. It makes large use of fundamental assets together with archive fabric and newspaper reviews, which serve to shed new mild at the means within which Loos's writings are embedded of their socio-cultural context. Drawing on insights from German and Austrian experiences, sociology and cultural background, this ebook deals a really interdisciplinary method of a determine who himself operated in an interdisciplinary style.

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Although it may at first appear that there is little chance of imposing order on this rather eclectic collection, these signifiers can in fact be assigned to one of three categories. The first, ‘America’, ‘England’ (and on one occasion, ‘Scotland’) and ‘Classical Antiquity’, connotes progressive ‘Western’ culture, while the second, ‘the Balkans’, ‘China’, ‘Turkey’ and ‘Papua New Guinea’, connotes its diametrical opposite. 2 The complexity of ‘Germany’ and ‘Japan’ in Loos’s texts lies in the fact that they signify both hope for cultural renewal and the threat of destruction, providing a striking echo of those nineteenth-century analyses of modernity (Marx, Simmel and others) that grasp both its potential for change and the threat of destruction it contains (Berman 1983:14).

From contemporary correspondence, it becomes clear that Loos took the process of preparing his audiences seriously. 28 At the same time, a favourable article entitled ‘Adolf Loos—Geistige Landschaft mit vereinzelter Figur im Vordergrund’ written by Richard Schaukal (1910) was also reprinted in Der Sturm. N. 701). 29 Loos’s concern with issues of self-representation paid off; through his accumulation of ‘cultural capital’, it became possible for him to gain entry to avant-garde circles not just in Vienna and Berlin, but also in other European cities including Paris, where he gave a series of lectures at the Sorbonne in 1926 under the title ‘The man with the modern nerves’.

In the remaining chapters, the focus shirts to the interior; tracing the manner in which a variety of signifiers interact and combine in Loos’s texts, the study goes in search of further instances of paradox. A double perspective informs the analysis throughout. As well as carrying out a semiotic analysis of Loos’s texts, there is also an awareness of Loos’s own role as semiotician as he employs strategies for INVESTIGATING AND EXCAVATING 43 reading the artefacts of his culture and reconstructing his own modes of signification.

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