I’d hardly call myself an art expert or fanatic, but regardless, Chapter 5 of Weitz’s book really interested me. The types of art and architecture of the Weimar period were representative of what I feel is the most important overarching cultural theme of Weimar – revolution and a new beginning. The finer techniques of their architecture may have somewhat escaped me, but the ability of German artists to use their work to imagine a better future was evocative of the era as a whole.
Artists such as Bruno Taut and Erich Mendelsohn both attempted to realize a sort of utopia through their architecture. Taut’s project Alpine Architecture is known for its striking and vivid depictions of glass and crystal buildings in the Swiss Alps, blending modern and futuristic designs with organic landscapes and backgrounds. The idea of building these great structures in the mountains, which are so evocative of power, seems to represent this idea of a perfect world, as does Taut’s Hufsein apartment complex, which imagines mankind as one great community with its interior sightlines into other apartments. Mendelsohn “spoke in terms of revolution, of new beginnings, of great possibilities”, and through his architecture attempted to create a more inclusive society that brought people together, using modern ideas of aesthetic beauty.
In the aftermath of World War I, German politics were greatly concerned with the creation of the idea of a blank slate – an attempt to start over and construct a society anew. With the implementation of democracy, society became more liberal, and ideas once (and sometimes still) seen as dangerous and radical became possibilities. German architecture attempted to bring these ideas into buildings themselves as an artistic manifestation of these ideas.