Ars: časopis Ústavu Dejín Umenia Slovenskej Akadémie Vied — 1989

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Le Corbusier and Czech Architectural Avantgarde

The author deals with the impact of Le Corbusier’s
work in prewar Czechoslovakia in three particular as-
pects, viz. : the polemics with Karel Teige, the activity
of Czech architects in Le Corbusier’s studio in Paris,
and his influence on Czech architecture.
Czech Professional literatuře began to inform its
readers with Le Corbusier’s work very early, — in
1921—1922 already. In the eyes of Czech architectural
public Le Corbusier took up very soon a privileged
position, comparable solely with that of Adolf Loos.
When Le Corbusier’s Project for the building of the
Society of Nations in Geneva was rejected, Czech ar-
tistic community took up his defense — precisely Tei-
ge, who did so very radically. Soon, however, — in
1928 — a controversy took place between the two. In
it, Teige raised the criterion of purposefulness to be
the only one of quality in architecture, refusing aes-
thetic demands and reproached Le Corbusier his de-
signing for the wealthy strata. He propagated efforts
for the so-called smallest dwelling for the socially
weak strata. Le Corbusier’s defense and this polemic
between the two meant a cooling off of interhuman
relations. At that time several left-oriented Czech ar-
chitects, such as V. Obrtel, K. Honzík and J. Havlíček
took Le Corbusier’s side.
In the years 1925—1949, several Czech architects

were working in Le Corbusier’s Paris studio — K.
Stráník, V. Karfík, J. Sokol, F. Sammer, M. Jansová,
E. Rosenberg, V. Beneš, I. Vaculík. The author takes
note of their life destinies and quotes especially Strâ-
nik’s recollections of the atmosphère in Le Corbusier’s
studio.
Le Corbusier’s influence on Czech architecture during
the interwar period was very strong thanks particu-
larly to the fact that his style was accepted by the
francophile middle class. It could hardly be possible to
enumerate ail the buildings that he had influenced.
The first to hâve accepted his aesthetics were architects
of the group Devétsil, then J. Krejcar and B. Feuer-
stein. Subsequently his work was propagated by the
theoreticians V. Dvořák and M. Novák, and in practice
especially by the architects J. Krejcar, E. Linhart, J.
Havlíček, L. Žák and B. Rozehnal.
In the conclusion, the author follows up the appli-
cation of Le Corbusier’s various formai and spatial
ideas in Czech architecture of the twenties and thirties.
He documents their take-over by numerous Czech ar-
chitects and states that following the period of Gothic
under Charles IV, and the radical baroque, Czech ar-
chitecture attained its third peak in the period of Le
Corbusier’s functionalism.
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