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Table of contents :
Cover
Contents
Illustrations
Acknowledgments
1 Color in German Architecture of the 1920s
2 Color and Mysticism
3 Color and Fourth-Dimensional Space
4 Color and Spatial Perception
5 Color and Optical Pleasure
6 Color Healing, Color Psychology, and Emotion
7 The Problem with Color
Selected Bibliography
Index
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The Color of Modernism

ii

The Color of Modernism Paints, Pigments, and the Transformation of Modern Architecture in 1920s Germany

DEBORAH ASCHER BARNSTONE

BLOOMSBURY VISUAL ARTS Bloomsbury Publishing Plc 50 Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3DP, UK 1385 Broadway, New York, NY 10018, USA 29 Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2, Ireland BLOOMSBURY, BLOOMSBURY VISUAL ARTS and the Diana logo are trademarks of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc First published in Great Britain 2021 Copyright © Deborah Ascher Barnstone, 2021 Deborah Ascher Barnstone has asserted her right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as Author of this work. For legal purposes the Acknowledgments on pp. xxi–xxii constitute an extension of this copyright page. Cover design by Eleanor Rose Cover image: © Wenzel-Hablik-Foundation, ltzehoe All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publishers. Bloomsbury Publishing Plc does not have any control over, or responsibility for, any third-party websites referred to or in this book. All internet addresses given in this book were correct at the time of going to press. The author and publisher regret any inconvenience caused if addresses have changed or sites have ceased to exist, but can accept no responsibility for any such changes. A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Barnstone, Deborah Ascher, author. Title: The color of modernism : paints, pigments, and the transformation of modern architecture in 1920s Germany / Deborah Ascher Barnstone. Identifiers: LCCN 2021018053 (print) | LCCN 2021018054 (ebook) | ISBN 9781350251335 (paperback) | ISBN 9781350251342 (hardback) | ISBN 9781350251359 (pdf) | ISBN 9781350251366 (epub) | ISBN 9781350251373 Subjects: LCSH: Color in architecture–Germany–History–20th century. | Color (Philosophy)–Germany–History–20th century. | Modern movement (Architecture)–Germany. Classification: LCC NA2795 .B37 2022 (print) | LCC NA2795 (ebook) | DDC 720.943/0904–dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2021018053 LC ebook record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2021018054 ISBN: HB: 978-1-3502-5134-2 PB: 978-1-3502-5133-5 ePDF: 978-1-3502-5135-9 eBook: 978-1-3502-5136-6 Typeset by Integra Software Services Pvt. Ltd. To find out more about our authors and books visit www.bloomsbury.com and sign up for our newsletters.

To my beloved daughter, Maya, who is a genius with color.

vi

CONTENTS

Illustrations Acknowledgments

1 Color in German Architecture of the 1920s

viii xxi 1

2 Color and Mysticism

29

3 Color and Fourth-Dimensional Space

63

4 Color and Spatial Perception

103

5 Color and Optical Pleasure

139

6 Color Healing, Color Psychology, and Emotion

175

7 The Problem with Color

209

Selected Bibliography Index

217 225

ILLUSTRATIONS

Plates 1

The stair in Alvar Aalto’s Paimio Sanatorium showing the primary colors: red window mullions, blue banister, and yellow floor. © Ben Gilbert/Welcome Collection CC BY-NC 4.0

2

Illustration from Bruno Taut’s Alpine Architecture (1920) showing the use of primary colors in his imaginary renderings. © Bruno Taut Archive, Akademie der Künste, Berlin

3

Title page from Man Visible and Invisible together with the chart showing which colors correspond to which emotions

4

Model from 1913/1914 of the interior space of the First Goetheanum showing the small and large cupolas and a partial idea about the cupola painting. © Rudolf Steiner Archive, Dornach, Switzerland

5

Detail of the cupola painting in the first Goetheanum showing the transparent colors that Steiner favored and the use of swirling color (1922). © Rudolf Steiner Archive, Dornach, Switzerland

6

The palette of colors that Steiner favored, and the translucent application of them, are evident in this

ILLUSTRATIONS

ix

watercolor painting by Steiner called New Life (1924). © Rudolf Steiner Archive, Dornach, Switzerland 7

Hinton’s color renderings of the tesseract

8

Theo van Doesburg’s “Contra-Construction” (1923), one of several experimentations van Doesburg conducted into new spatial models. © Collection Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, the Netherlands, van Moorsel donation to the Dutch State 1981. Photo: Rik Klein Gotink

9

Sketches by Hermann Finsterlin of his architectural ideas. His use of primary colors is apparent in the drawings. “Wolkenkuckucksheim”. © Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Gift of the Finsterlin Family 1978. Inventory: C 1978/2766-2767

10

Paul Goesch’s “Festsaal” (1921)—the painting represents an immersive space that is colored and patterned on all six sides. © Berlinische Galerie. Photo: Kai-Annett Becker (BGG-G-1516/78)

11

Wenzel Hablik’s “Starry Sky” (1909) is typical of his cosmic visions with its swirling stars and planets, rendered in rich hues. © Wenzel-Hablik-Foundation, Itzehoe

12

Wenzel Hablik’s drawing for the first interior design of the Soetje Wallpaper Company showroom. © WenzelHablik-Foundation, Itzehoe

13

View of the restored dining room in Hablik’s house in Itzehoe as it is today. © Wenzel-Hablik-Foundation, Itzehoe

14

Wenzel Hablik design for an interior with custom built-in furniture, upholstery, and integrated colored

x

ILLUSTRATIONS

surfaces throughout the room. © Wenzel-HablikFoundation, Itzehoe 15

Robert Delaunay “Windows” (1912). An early abstract painting of Delaunay’s that shows his complex use of primary, secondary, and tertiary colors in geometric forms. © Tateimages Photo © Tate CC-BY-ND 3.0

16

Walter Gropius and Adolf Arndt “Auerbach House” (1924). View of the stairwell, with its combination of primary colors used to accent architectural details © SG Koezle – [email protected]

17

Walter Gropius and Adolf Arndt “Auerbach House” (1924). View of the Music Room showing the band of yellow that wraps around the space to frame the entry wall. © SG Koezle – [email protected]

18

Hinnerk Scheper’s orientation diagram for the interior of the Bauhaus, with his ideas for how and where to use color. (1926) © Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin, Photo: Hermann Kiessling

19

Hinnerk Scheper’s color rendering of his color scheme for the Bauhaus exterior, which was not realized © Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin, Photo: Reinhard Friedrich

20

View of the Bauhaus interior showing Scheper’s use of the primary colors to highlight architectural details

21

Walter Gropius’ office in the Bauhaus. The way that color affects perception of the space is evident

22

Living room in the Dr. Rabe House, looking at Oskar Schlemmer’s metal installation and ways in which Rading employed color. © Photo: Jörg Glaescher/laif

ILLUSTRATIONS

xi

23

The master bedroom with its vivid red, white, and gray zones. © Photo: Jörg Glaescher/laif

24

The upstairs corridor looking at Oskar Schlemmer’s figurative murals. The image shows how Rading worked with the primary colors throughout. © Photo: Jörg Glaescher/laif

25

A page from Wilhelm Ostwald’s “Farbenfibel” illustrating how black and white should be mixed with color

26

Bruno Taut and Carl Krayl, Otto-Richter-Strasse in Magdeburg. The kilometer-long stretch of colored buildings. The photograph shows the vibrant colors with which they worked. © Creative Commons

27

Carl Karyl’s abstract façade design on Otto-RichterStrasse. © Creative Commons

28

Looking down the main street at Otto Haesler’s “Italian Garden” development in Celle. The image shows the way that Haesler arranged red and blue blocks. © Celle Tourism

29

The front façade of one block in Otto Haesler’s “Italian Garden.” Haesler’s use of primary colors on different aspects of the architecture is visible. © Celle Tourism

30

A view down the block at Haesler’s “Italian Garden” showing the intense contrast between blocks painted with vivid primary colors. © Celle Tourism

31

Benita Koch-Otte’s colored axonometric study for the “Haus am Horn.” (1923) © Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin

xii

ILLUSTRATIONS

32

The music room in Bruno Taut’s house in Dahlewitz. Not only are the rich primary colors on view but Taut’s use of them to create an immersive space is apparent. © Getty Images

33

The living room in Bruno Taut’s house in Dahlewitz. Here, Taut has made a red room in contrast to the blue music room. © Getty Images

34

Axonometric drawing of a unit at the Fuldastrasse apartments with the color scheme for each room.

35

Tautes Heim in the Hufeisensiedlung, Berlin (1933). The outside is a simple white box; the bright-blue window frames are the only indication of the interior color scheme. © www.tautshome.com, photos: Ben Buschfeld

36

The kitchen in Tautes Heim combines sky blue ceiling, deep-red floor, and beige with a yellow tint. © www. tautshome.com, photos: Ben Buschfeld

37

The living room in Tautes Heim with its green walls, deep-red floor, and white ceiling. © www.tautshome. com, photos: Ben Buschfeld

38

The bedroom in Tautes Heim, which uses a vivid blue complemented by the deep red. © www.tautshome. com, photos: Ben Buschfeld

39

The corner of the child’s bedroom at Tautes Heim where all three primary colors interact. © www. tautshome.com, photos: Ben Buschfeld

40

MVRDV’s design for the multicolored Wego Hotel in Eindhoven (2017) is just one contemporary example of the prevalence of color in architecture, Photo: Zhang Chao

ILLUSTRATIONS

xiii

Figures 1.1

1.2

1.3

2.1

The stair in Alvar Aalto’s Paimio Sanatorium showing the primary colors: red window mullions, blue banister, and yellow floor. © Ben Gilbert/ Welcome Collection CC BY-NC 4.0

2

A view of the Weisenhofsiedlung housing estate showing the whiteness of the architecture. © Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Wurttemberg

6

Illustration from Bruno Taut’s Alpine Architecture (1920) showing the use of primary colors in his imaginary renderings. © Bruno Taut Archive, Akademie der Künste, Berlin

9

Diagram illustrating Jacob Boehme’s mystical philosophy

32

Photograph of the human soul taken by Hippolyte Baraduc

36

Title page from Man Visible and Invisible together with the chart showing which colors correspond to which emotions

38

2.4

Illustration of a thought-form

40

2.5

Model from 1913/1914 of the interior space of the First Goetheanum showing the small and large cupolas and a partial idea about the cupola painting © Rudolf Steiner Archive, Dornach, Switzerland

52

Photograph of the first Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland (1921). © Rudolf Steiner Archive, Dornach, Switzerland

54

2.2 2.3

2.6

xiv

2.7

2.8

2.9

ILLUSTRATIONS

Detail of the cupola painting in the first Goetheanum showing the transparent colors that Steiner favored and the use of swirling color (1922). © Rudolf Steiner Archive, Dornach, Switzerland

56

The palette of colors that Steiner favored, and the translucent application of them, are evident in this watercolor painting by Steiner called New Life (1924). © Rudolf Steiner Archive, Dornach, Switzerland

57

The side view of the second Goetheanum. The irregular, organic forms that Steiner favored for the reinforced concrete structure are apparent here. © Creative Commons

59

2.10 The main theater space inside the Goetheanum. © General Anthroposophical Society. Photo: Taxiarchos228 3.1

60

Nineteenth-century séance similar to the one that Zoellner and Slade hosted

64

Theo van Doesburg’s “Tesseract in cube with cutting lines and color indications” (1924) is one of many drawings in which he explored how to picture the Tesseract and Fourth Dimensional space. © Collection Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, the Netherlands, van Moorsel donation to the Dutch State 1981

67

3.3

Hinton’s color renderings of the tesseract

69

3.4

One plate from Bragdon’s book showing the development of two-, three-, and four- dimensional space

71

3.2

ILLUSTRATIONS

3.5

3.6

3.7

3.8

3.9

xv

The eighteenth plate in Bragdon’s book illustrates the relationship between two- and three-dimensional space as an analogy for clairvoyance

72

Theo van Doesburg’s “Contra-Construction” (1923), one of several experimentations van Doesburg conducted into new spatial models. © Collection Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, the Netherlands, van Moorsel donation to the Dutch State 1981. Photo: Rik Klein Gotink

79

Sketches by Hermann Finsterlin of his architectural ideas. His use of primary colors is apparent in the drawings. “Wolkenkuckucksheim.” © Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Gift of the Finsterlin Family 1978. Inventory: C 1978/2766-2767

86

Paul Goesch’s “Festsaal” (1921)—the painting represents an immersive space that is colored and patterned on all six sides. © Berlinische Galerie. Photo: Kai-Annett Becker (BGG-G-1516/78)

90

Interior of the Lindenhof restaurant showing the elaborate wall painting by Paul Goesch and Franz Mutzenbecher

93

3.10 Wenzel Hablik’s “Starry Sky” (1909) is typical of his cosmic visions with its swirling stars and planets, rendered in rich hues. © Wenzel-HablikFoundation, Itzehoe

95

3.11 Wenzel Hablik’s drawing for the first interior design of the Soetje Wallpaper Company showroom. © Wenzel-Hablik-Foundation, Itzehoe

99

xvi

ILLUSTRATIONS

3.12 View of the restored dining room in Hablik’s house in Itzehoe as it is today. © Wenzel-HablikFoundation, Itzehoe

100

3.13 Wenzel Hablik design for an interior with custom built-in furniture, upholstery, and integrated colored surfaces throughout the room. © Wenzel-Hablik-Foundation, Itzehoe

101

4.1

4.2

4.3

4.4 4.5

4.6

Robert Delaunay “Windows” (1912). An early abstract painting of Delaunay’s that shows his complex use of primary, secondary and tertiary colors in geometric forms. © Tateimages Photo © Tate CC-BY-ND 3.0

112

Walter Gropius and Adolf Arndt “Auerbach House” (1924). View of the stairwell, with its combination of primary colors used to accent architectural details. © SG Koezle - [email protected]

120

Walter Gropius and Adolf Arndt “Auerbach House” (1924). View of the Music Room showing the band of yellow that wraps around the space to frame the entry wall. © SG Koezle - [email protected]

121

Kandinsky’s survey of the correlation between color and form

124

Hinnerk Scheper’s orientation diagram for the interior of the Bauhaus, with his ideas for how and where to use color. (1926) © Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin, Photo: Hermann Kiessling

125

Hinnerk Scheper’s color rendering of his color scheme for the Bauhaus exterior, which

ILLUSTRATIONS

4.7

4.8

4.9

xvii

was not realized © Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin, Photo: Reinhard Friedrich

126

View of the Bauhaus interior showing Scheper’s use of the primary colors to highlight architectural details

128

View down the Bauhaus corridor that connects the two main buildings together; red lines direct the eye along the space, frame the windows, and views to the outside

129

Walter Gropius’ office in the Bauhaus. The way that color affects perception of the space is evident

130

4.10 Adolf Rading’s Dr. Rabe House in Zwenkau (1930). The exterior is a simple white box with dark green window mullions and an unusual black and white pattern on the underside of the awning. © Creative Commons

133

4.11 Living room in the Dr. Rabe House, looking at Oskar Schlemmer’s metal installation and ways in which Rading employed color. © Photo: Jörg Glaescher/laif

135

4.12 Historic photograph of the house showing the oozing red with the black and white forms. © Canadian Centre for Architecture

136

4.13 The master bedroom with its vivid red, white, and gray zones. © Photo: Jörg Glaescher/laif

137

4.14 The upstairs corridor looking at Oskar Schlemmer’s figurative murals. The image shows how Rading worked with the primary colors throughout. © Photo: Jörg Glaescher/laif

138

xviii

5.1

ILLUSTRATIONS

A page from Wilhelm Ostwald’s “Farbenfibel” illustrating how black and white should be mixed with color

143

Eugene Michel Chevreul’s illustration of color contrast. The dots demonstrate the optical effect that two adjacent colors have on one another

145

5.3

August Endell’s Atelier Elvira in Munich

150

5.4

Bruno Taut and Carl Krayl, Otto-Richter-Strasse in Magdeburg. The kilometer-long stretch of colored buildings. The photograph shows the vibrant colors with which they worked. © Creative Commons

155

Oskar Fischer’s “Barasch House” with its unusual multicolored façade. © Stadtarchiv Magdeburg

161

Carl Krayl’s house in the Reform housing development. The colored squares are visible on the front façade as is the multicolored window surround on the side of the building. © Nachlass Carl Krayl, Stadtarchiv Magdeburg

164

5.2

5.5 5.6

5.7

Carl Krayl’s designs for the interior of his bedroom in Magdeburg. The text visible on the right-hand side of the image is a series of excerpts from Revelations. © Nachlass Carl Krayl, Stadtarchiv Magdeburg 165

5.8

Carl Krayl’s façade treatment at Brauschweigerstrasse—the vertical stripes on the side wall. © Nachlass Carl Krayl, Stadtarchiv Magdeburg

166

The multi-colored painting on the main façade of Carl Krayl’s project on Braunschweigerstrasse. © Nachlass Carl Krayl, Stadtarchiv Magdeburg

167

5.9

ILLUSTRATIONS

xix

5.10 Carl Karyl’s abstract façade design on Otto-Richter-Strasse. © Creative Commons

167

5.11 Looking down the main street at Otto Haesler’s “Italian Garden” development in Celle. The image shows the way that Völker and Haesler arranged red and blue blocks. © Celle Tourism

170

5.12 The front façade of one block in Otto Haesler’s “Italian Garden.” Völker’s and Haesler’s use of primary colors on different aspects of the architecture is visible. © Celle Tourism

170

5.13 A view down the block at Haesler’s “Italian Garden” showing the intense contrast between blocks painted with vivid primary colors. © Celle Tourism 172 6.1

An American cartoon from the nineteenth century about the Blue Glass Craze

176

A photograph of a patient receiving alpine light treatment at the turn of the 20th century

179

Benita Koch-Otte’s colored axonometric study for the “Haus am Horn.” (1923) © Bauhaus Archive Berlin

191

6.4

Children’s colored blocks in the Haus am Horn

193

6.5

The music room in Bruno Taut’s house in Dahlewitz. Not only are the rich primary colors on view but Taut’s use of them to create an immersive space © Getty Images

196

The living room in Bruno Taut’s house in Dahlewitz. Here, Taut has made a red room in contrast to the blue music room © Getty Images

199

6.2 6.3

6.6

xx

6.7

6.8 6.9

ILLUSTRATIONS

Color sketch of the study for Bruno Taut’s house showing the interplay of primary colors on walls, furniture, and architectural details

200

Axonometric drawing of a unit at the Fuldastrasse apartments with the color scheme for each room

201

Tautes Heim in the Hufeisensiedlung, Berlin (1933). The outside is a simple white box; the bright blue window frames are the only indication of the interior color scheme. © www.tautshome.com, photos: Ben Buschfeld

203

6.10 The kitchen in Tautes Heim combines sky-blue ceiling, deep-red floor, and beige with a yellow tint. © www.tautshome.com, photos: Ben Buschfeld

205

6.11 The living room in Tautes Heim with its green walls, deep-red floor, and white ceiling. © www.tautshome.com, photos: Ben Buschfeld

206

6.12 The bedroom in Tautes Heim, which uses a vivid blue complemented by the deep red. © www.tautshome.com, photos: Ben Buschfeld

206

6.13 The corner of the child’s bedroom at Tautes Heim where all three primary colors interact. © www.tautshome.com, photos: Ben Buschfeld

207

7.1

MVRDV’s design for the multicolored Wego Hotel in Eindhoven (2017) is just one contemporary example of the prevalence of color in architecture, Photo: Zhang Chao 216

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Every book project has its own unique genesis; this one is no different. While in Berlin on sabbatical early in 2016, I noticed a call for papers for a conference at the Technion in Haifa, Israel. Iris Aravot and Dana Margalith, together with a larger international scientific team, had organized the conference to examine the relationship between art and architecture. To tell the truth, I considered the call for submissions more because I wanted to return to the country in which I had lived as a young graduate from Barnard College than because I had a burning desire to write on some aspect of art and architecture but, as I reflected on the call and my expertise as an art historian, I realized that the topic intersected beautifully with the work of German avant-garde architect Bruno Taut, who was a subject of the book I was completing at the time. Much to my delight, I was accepted to the conference and wrote the paper. That piece, titled “The Color of Innovation: Bruno Taut’s Fantasy Drawings and Painted Architecture,” became the foundation for this volume. As I probed further and further into the topic of color in Taut’s architecture, I was surprised to learn how important color was to German and international modernism in the 1920s. I had been educated to see the architecture of the period as primarily white, not colored, and had viewed Taut as an anomaly. But as I delved more deeply into the topic, I learned how widespread interest and use of color was among this first generation of modernists. I also soon realized that there was tremendous unexplored territory related to color theory and color applications during the period. And so, the project was born. It was invaluable to start this project by delivering an academic paper to a group of my peers on one aspect of color practice since they posed several questions that, at the time, I could not answer. Indeed, their questions helped me develop a deeper and broader set of issues to explore in the book. I was equally fortunate to be able to present other pieces of research during the four years of work to colleagues at the Art Association of Australia and New Zealand and the German Studies Association, who patiently listened to my theories about color practice and who offered invaluable criticism and feedback. I owe many people thanks for their help and support during the research and writing. To begin with, I must thank Kristin Feireiss, Hans-Jürgen Commerell, Miriam Mlecek, Aine Ryan, Dunya Bouchi, Ramona Kleinfeldt, and the rest of the staff at AEDES and AEDES Network Campus Berlin

xxii

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

who allow me to stay in their lovely guest rooms whenever I am in Berlin for research. Without their support, I could not have afforded to come to Germany to work in the libraries and archives as often I did, which was critical to the project. In spite of the wonders opened up by the digitization of archival collections, there are still things one only discovers on site. My parent university, University of Technology Sydney, gave me invaluable research and publication support, making it possible for me to return to Berlin from Sydney as often as necessary. Any number of librarians and archivists provided invaluable assistance in my search for primary source material and much-needed images. I need to thank the teams at the Bauhaus Archiv Berlin; Bauhaus Archiv Dessau; Baukunst Archiv of the Berlin Akademie der Künste; Berlinische Galerie; Deutsche Werkbund Archiv; Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg: Stadtarchiv Magdeburg; Katharina and Janina at the Wenzel Hablik Museum; Caren Puchert at the Stadtarchiv Celle; Tourism Celle; Ben Buschfeld of Tautes-Heim, Berlin; Ben Gilbert of the Welcome Museum, London; and Jörg Glaescher of laif. Thanks too to Margot Crawford from Getty Images and Sigi Koezle of Oster + Koezle. Barbara Happe and Martin Fischer, who own the Auerbach House, in Jena have helped me obtain gorgeous photographs of their house and generously invited me to visit them. Other material comes from the Canadian Centre for Architecture collection in Montreal and the Kröller-Müller Museum in Arnhem, the Netherlands. My editor, Jonathan Smit, did an amazing job making my words sound even better, for which I am very grateful. I would also like to acknowledge the ongoing encouragement of my community of art historian friends, especially Elizabeth Otto, Maria Makela, Tom Haakenson, and Nina Luebbren whose intellectual support is beyond compare; the personal support of friends Katja Butzke, Isabel Wünsche, and Bea Gründler in Berlin, who made the city truly feel like home away from home in every possible way; and the unfailing emotional support from my husband, Robert, who cheerfully accepts the fact that his wife will absent herself for weeks on end. As always, I owe so much of what is good in this book to the support of these special people. And for what is lacking, the blame is entirely mine.

CHAPTER ONE

Color in German Architecture of the 1920s

Color Blindness About halfway through a lecture on early modernism, a distinguished architectural historian gestured toward the screen as a slide showing the stairwell in Alvar Aalto’s Paimio sanatorium flashed behind the dais; the slide showed walls of stark white, floors of bright yellow, a banister in electric blue, and window mullions in a vibrant red. Yet, inexplicably, the speaker said, “As you are all aware, first generation modernism was white.” This historian’s momentary color blindness was not an aberration but is symptomatic of the way that color in early modern architecture has been treated by architectural historians, and many architects, since the beginning; the whiteness of parts of the building, or some buildings, overshadows the use of color1 (Figure 1.1). One of the most enduring and pervasive myths about early modernism is that it was white. This was true nowhere in Europe, least of all in Germany, where Bruno Taut published his famous “Ruf zum farbigen Bauen” (Call to Colored Architecture) in 1919 before leading a motley effort to invent new ways of using color in architecture and urban design. The myth of whiteness survives in spite of the fact that the first visions for a postwar utopian world as drawn by members of the German Gläserne Kette (Crystal Chain) group and exhibitors at the Unbekannte Architekten (Unknown Architects) exhibition in 1919–20 proposed multicolored buildings or that much of the architecture in the early modern period used color in a variety of ways. Architects and designers as diverse as Taut, Richard Döcker, Paul 1

This is the true story of an experience that I had in 2019.

2

THE COLOR OF MODERNISM

FIGURE 1.1  The stair in Alvar Aalto’s Paimio Sanatorium showing the primary colors: red window mullions, blue banister and yellow floor. © Ben Gilbert/Welcome Collection CC BY-NC 4.0. Goesch, Walter Gropius, Wenzel Hablik, Carl Krayl, Adolf Rading, and Hans Scharoun developed new approaches to color application on the exterior and interior of buildings based on the latest color theories in art and science. They surveyed the state of color theory from Goethe’s 1810 Farbenlehre (Theory of Colors) and Michel Eugène Chevreul’s 1836 The Laws of Contrast in Color to more contemporary treatises like Albert H. Munsell’s Color System of 1905 and Wilhelm Ostwald’s Farbenfibel (Color Primer) of 1917, and synthesized these theories to develop new ways of using color. In 1912, the Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky wrote his influential theory of color, On the Spiritual in Art, which reverberated in the art and architecture circles of the day.2 Kandinsky’s ideas were particularly important to architects since he tied color to both form and space. Often working closely with contemporary artists, architects developed an astonishing breadth of approaches that ranged from using color as surface ornament, to using color as space-making element, color as the agent of emotional charge, and color as the quality that could illusionistically dissolve the surface of a wall to

2

Wassily Kandinsky, On the Spiritual in Art, ed. Hilla Rebay (New York: Guggenheim, 1946).

COLOR IN GERMAN ARCHITECTURE OF THE 1920S

3

transform physical enclosure and architecture into dematerialized abstract entities. Thus, color was integral to the spatial quality of design, not applied as an afterthought, and it was a key aspect of the work of many architects developing new aesthetic systems. In 1901, the famous German art critic Karl Scheffler perceptively wrote, “the joy of color phenomena is so spirited that we have often thought about it: art history gives us no scale with which we can measure or consider the feelings for color and therefore this subject has only had a very marginal position.”3 Scheffler emphasizes the pervasive lack of consideration for color in theories and histories of art and architecture, despite the critical importance of color to both art forms. “Then you search to find a work in which, without the help of architectonic-poetic means, color is also vigorously stylized like form and line in architecture.”4 And, Scheffler concludes, there is none. He does not mean that color is not an integral part of architectural design or art—only that it has not been systematically examined and theorized. Considering that he was writing toward the end of the period in which bold color was used on and in buildings in Jugendstil art and designs, his assertions are even more surprising. He stresses that color meaning is a “cultural product,” constructed by society, and that it is constantly changing. Scheffler appears to foresee the developments in color application that will occur only a few years later when he writes, “Contemporary people exist in a strange relationship to color. Our time, that is dependent on forms of the past, like no other [time], invented a way of painting that is color-wise independent.”5 By this Scheffler means that painters of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, impressionists and postimpressionists, had begun to use color independent of nature and natural representation, based on new sets of laws and ordering systems. They used color to convey emotion, impressions, and psychological states of mind; and the corollary in architecture was about to emerge. Scheffler was particularly emphatic about the lack of color sense in architectural design, writing, “but [if] one seeks to find a work in which, without the help of architectonic-poetic-means, color is stylized as energetically as form and line in architecture, one will not encounter one.”6 According to art historian and museum curator Alfred Lichtwark, who wrote just four years after Scheffler, Germans were not known for their color sense.7 On the contrary, they were generally regarded as lacking in any color sensibility whatsoever, whether in painting or fashion or architecture. Lichtwark believed that this lack of color sense had roots in German culture Karl Scheffler, “Notizen über die Farbe,” in Dekorative Kunst: Illustrierte Zeitschrift für Angewandte Kunst, Band VII, ed. H. Bruckmann (Munich: Bruckmann, 1901), 183. 4 Schleffler, “Notizen,” 186. 5 Ibid., 187. 6 Ibid., 186. 7 Alfred Lichtwark, Die Erziehung des Farbensinnes (Berlin: Bruno Cassirer, 1905), 6. 3

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and language. He points to a common German problem with properly identifying colors by name, and the lack of adequate words in the German language to differentiate colors from one another to explain this situation.8 While Scheffler’s now well-known essay is usually held up as an affirmation of the newfound primacy of color in visual art, the essay was prescient on many levels. The transformation in attitudes toward color that occurred in the arts during the second half of the nineteenth century marked a critical shift in the centuries-old debates regarding the dominance of line, or disegno, versus color, or colorito.9 At the same time, Scheffler noted the wide-ranging experimentation with color across artistic disciplines: he is one of the first commentators to discuss architecture and interior applications of color use in concert with developments in the visual arts. Scheffler outlined the principal ways in which architects and painters were experimenting with color at the time: probing visual and optical effects together with perceptual responses, experimenting with psychological and affective impressions, creating symbolic meaning by the choice of particular colors, and even exploring the synesthetic relationships between sound, form, and color. The divisions in artistic treatment that Scheffler identified in 1901 were still among the governing differences in approaches to color during the 1920s, when architects in Germany were experimenting with color applications in architecture, although in practice most architects were testing multiple color effects simultaneously. To Scheffler’s list should be added the use of color to create a model of fourth-dimensional space or to fashion a way into that fourth dimension. Many architects in the period were fascinated by the idea that there was another, invisible spatial dimension beyond the three with which we measure the physical world, and experimented with ways of making it visible or even accessible. It should also be mentioned that synesthesia was not a major interest for architects and therefore will not be treated in this book. The list of architects who tried different palettes and ways of using color is lengthy and therefore beyond the scope of a single volume. This book will therefore trace the theoretical underpinnings of 1920s color practice and proceed to outline some of the more interesting and representative examples. Rudolf Steiner used color to create a portal to a mystical otherworld; Adolf Rading, Walter Gropius, and Hinnerk Scheper adopted a practice akin to the French painting tradition, using color to enhance visual effects in, and perceptions of, space; while Bruno Taut and Otto Haesler experimented with the affective power of color in spatial applications, as asserted by painters like Kandinsky. Taut, Haesler, and Krayl all experimented with Lichtwark, Erziehung, 11. John Gage summarizes these well-known historic debates in Color and Culture: Practice and Meaning from Antiquity to Abstraction (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), 117–39; see also Sylvia Lavin, “What Color Is It Now?” Perspecta, 35 (2004), 98–111, from Sylvia Lavin, “The Temporary Contemporary,” Perspecta, 34 (2004), 128–38.

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vibrant colors on the exterior of buildings in a bid to invigorate the visual dimension of the city; their work was one of the only modern examples that had antecedents in traditional German architecture from the Middle Ages through the Baroque. The work of Rading, and to a great degree Finsterlin, Goesch, Hablik, Krayl, and Taut, can also be seen as an attempted foray into fourth-dimensional space, achieved by using optical effects of color, dissolution of spatial boundaries, and the abstraction of architectural confines to suggest entry into another, metaphysical spatial dimension. The importance of color in architecture during the 1910s and 1920s has been largely overlooked for several reasons: the theoretical positioning of early modernism in the beginning of the twentieth century; the ways in which early modernism’s history as initially written was coupled with unease and doubt about color; and the lack of any systematic study of color theory in the arts before John Gage’s groundbreaking books, Color and Meaning: Art, Science and Symbolism and Color and Culture: Practice and Meaning from Antiquity to Abstraction in 1999 and 2000—many years after the early modern period.10 Early historians of the German Neues Bauen, the German name for early modernism, often emphasized the supposed formal and aesthetic purity of the new, rational approach to design over a more complex and nuanced interpretation. Siegfried Giedion’s monograph, Space, Time and Architecture, epitomizes this approach, focusing on buildings composed of simple, orthogonal volumes that were often predominantly white stucco, rather than addressing the wide variety of formal strategies employed at the time. The well-publicized Deutsche Werkbund housing exhibitions in Stuttgart (1927), Breslau (1929), and Vienna (1932) contributed to the impression that the new architecture was largely colorless, since most of the buildings were covered in white stucco and had white walls on the interior, especially in Stuttgart where Mies van der Rohe had mandated a uniform appearance to the designs11 (Figure 1.2). Yet even in Stuttgart, color was critical to projects such as Le Corbusier’s and Hans Scharoun’s buildings. Exhibitions like Philip Johnson and Henry Russell Hitchcock’s 1932 International Style at the Museum of Modern Art in New York perpetuated a particular image for the new architecture of the 1910s, 1920s, and 1930s, similar to Giedion’s approach, that was only partly accurate. Hitchcock and Johnson intentionally omitted work by important architects, like Willem Marinus Dudok in the Netherlands, who mixed functionalist spatial planning and new materials like reinforced concrete with traditional materials like brick and thatch, and Gunnar Asplund in Sweden, who used a similar approach to Dudok but with a Swedish inflection, because Dudok’s and Asplund’s work did not conform to the image that Hitchcock and John Gage, Color and Meaning: Art, Science and Symbolism (London: Thames & Hudson, 2000) and Gage, Color and Culture. 11 Christian F. Otto and Richard Pommer, Weissenhof 1927 and the Modern Movement in Architecture (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991). 10

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FIGURE 1.2  A view of the Weisenhofsiedlung housing estate showing the whiteness of the architecture. © Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Wurttemberg. Johnson wished to project through the exhibition. They also omitted Bruno Taut’s work, much of which was wildly colored, and the work of Hermann Finsterlin, whose designs fused unusual form with color. Of course, many of the iconic projects from the 1920s were indeed largely white, at least on the exterior, like Walter Gropius’s Dessau Bauhaus and Adolf Rading’s Dr. Rabe House. Paradoxically, although Gropius and Rading used color in inventive ways together with whiteness, this aspect of their work is often marginalized, downplayed, or ignored. Numerous scholars have perpetuated the misconception that modern architecture is colorless. Countless architectural historians since the 1920s, and since Giedion, into the present, have focused on whiteness as a hallmark quality of modernism, to the extent that opening almost any text on modernism will reveal a predominance of illustrations of buildings dressed in white stucco. Mark Wigley famously argued that white be recognized as a color, which elides consideration of other colors in early modernism.12 Wigley also constructs a series of dichotomous relationships between whiteness and color to explain the popularity of white: color is sexual, but white is intellectual; color is feminine, but white is masculine; color is changeable, but white is immutable; color is ornamental, but white is sterile. While Wigley presents a fascinating and original argument, his analysis only Mark Wigley, White Walls, Designer Dresses: The Fashioning of Modern Architecture (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1995).

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pertains to a very limited range of architecture; it ignores the nuanced and differing deployments of color by many early modernists, as well as those who used unadorned natural materials on the exterior of their projects.13 In his Light, Air and Openness: Modern Architecture Between the Wars, Paul Overy explored the relationship between whiteness and hygiene, making “white” a central facet of his presentation of early modern architecture.14 While Overy is correct about the correlation between whiteness and designs for healthy buildings, he presents only one aspect of the architecture of the period. As mentioned above, even in the realm of designs for hospitals and sanatoria, color often played a part. The fact that much early photography was only in black and white and that many architectural masterpieces of the 1910s and 1920s were destroyed during the Second World War enabled scholars who came afterward to overlook the colored portions of buildings. And while recent histories have worked assiduously to recover the qualities of early modernism that were suppressed or disregarded by the first generation of historians in order to provide a more accurate and balanced view of the period, color has still not received much attention. The exceptional cases have been limited to the Dutch De Stijl and the work of Le Corbusier, aspects of the Bauhaus production, or, in a limited fashion, individual architects like Bruno Taut. But there is as yet no comprehensive, comparative study of German uses of color in the 1920s, even though Taut’s influence as the most vocal proselytizer for color in Europe at the time precipitated a much more pervasive use of color in Germany than elsewhere, and his writings and work influenced colleagues around the world.15 Furthermore, there is still no study that compares and contrasts theories, attitudes, and applications of color; the differing spatial ideas behind color use; or the intersection between architectural and artistic applications of color.16 As John Gage points out in his groundbreaking art historical studies, color is a complex subject that demands further scrutiny, even more so in architecture than in art, since several scholars have begun to investigate this subject in art history, with correspondingly few in architectural history.

Reviews of the book when it came out also pointed to these shortcomings. Paul Overy, Light, Air and Openness: Modern Architecture between the Wars (London: Thames & Hudson, 2008). 15 Hajo Düchting’s Farbe am Bauhaus: Synthese und Synästhesie (Berlin: Gebr. Mann, 1996) is the most comprehensive and recent work on color at the Bauhaus. Other research includes Clark V. Poling’s 1973 Columbia University dissertation, Color Theories of the Bauhaus Artists and a brief chapter on color at the Bauhaus in John Gage’s, Color and Culture. 16 Examples include Allan Doig, Theo van Doesburg: Painting into Architecture, Theory into Practice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986); Emmanuel Guigon, De Aubette of de kleur in de architektuur (Rotterdam: 010, 2006); William W. Braham, Modern Color/ Modern Architecture: Amedee Ozenfant and the Geneology of Color in Modern Architecture (London: Ashgate, 2002); and Jan de Heer, The Architecture of Colour: Polychromy in the Purist Architecture of Le Corbusier (Rotterdam: 010, 2009). 13 14

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Temporal proximity to the polychrome debates of the nineteenth century was another important factor in color’s suspect status in the eyes of many artists and architects searching for new ways of expression during the 1910s and 1920s.17 Until archeologists uncovered traces of polychrome on ancient sculpture and architecture in the early nineteenth century, the white stone surfaces of ancient sculpture and architecture were thought to be seminal and intentional. The new discovery was not uncontroversial, however; many art historians were appalled by the idea of color on these treasured monuments. The leading German art historian of the day Jakob Burckhardt dismissed the findings, arguing that color destroyed the purity of the work. In Burckhardt’s view, color made sculpture excessively realistic and therefore crass. At best, many architects saw polychrome as pertaining to ancient architecture but without relevance to contemporary practice, and at worst, viewed it as a dangerous correlative to all kinds of ornament. Adolf Loos’s famous comparison between ornament and tattoos problematized color not because Loos universally deplored it but because architects interpreting Loos often did not understand the subtleties of his argument.18 Loos was reacting, in part, against the adoption of invented and applied ornamental language by architects like Otto Eckmann, Henry van de Velde, Joseph Maria Olbrich, and Josef Hoffmann.19 In his famous essay “Ornament and Crime,” Loos demonstrated what he held to be the wrongheaded notion that architects could invent a new aesthetic language in this way. Ironically, these manifestations of a new approach to design rooted in natural themes rather than classical ornament signaled an important break with historicist design, albeit an ornamental one. Loos’s bias, in fact, indicted tattoos and ornament, but not color per se; in his architecture as at the Villa Müller in Prague, Loos used color freely, which suggests that he viewed color not as applied ornament but as something intrinsic to architectural expression. In Germany, the cause for color was not helped by the fact that the chief advocate for it during the 1920s was Bruno Taut, an eccentric and somewhat marginalized architect in spite of his genius. His well-known experiments with brightly colored façades in the city of Magdeburg just after the First World War were despised and ridiculed by locals in the 1920s, although they are a source of civic pride today. Historians in Germany did not pay much attention to Taut until recently; if he is known outside of Germany, it is for his visionary projects like the Cologne Glass Pavilion (1914), and the book Alpine Architecture (1920), but not for his general writings on color or his color advocacy (Figure 1.3). Yet, in 1919, he published the most important 17 Jakob Burckhardt, Die Kultur der Renaissance in Italien: ein Versuch (Basel: Schweighauser, 1860). 18 Christopher Long, “The Origins and Context of Adolf Loos’s Ornament and Crime,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, 68/2 (June 2009). Long uncovers the many misinterpretations of Loos that have been perpetuated over the decades. 19 Long, “Loos,” 206.

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FIGURE 1.3  Illustration from Bruno Taut’s Alpine Architecture (1920) showing the use of primary colors in his imaginary renderings. © Bruno Taut Archive, Akademie der Künste, Berlin. German manifesto on color, the short piece titled, “Ruf zum farbigen Bauen” (Call to Colored Architecture), which received the support of many of his colleagues. Crucially, this essay promoted and supported architects and artists who conducted experiments with color like Carl Krayl, Paul Goesch, and Franz Mutzenbecher; lobbied vocally for increased use of color; and led to experiments with color application both on the exterior and interior of buildings throughout the 1920s.20 Equally problematic for comprehending the place of color in early modernism is the tendency in histories that do address color to not differentiate between the various color systems; the diversity of interpretation as to what constitutes the primary colors; or the subtle but meaningful distinctions that differentiate the relationships between color and emotion, color and perception, or color and space. Another important consideration is the tension that arose between proponents of artistic and scientific theories of color, a tension that played out in the early modern period at institutions

Bruno Taut, “Ruf zum farbigen Bauen,” Bauwelt (1919); reprinted in Frühlicht (1921 Herbst); reprint (Berlin: Gebr. Mann, 2000), 28.

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like the Bauhaus, but also in the realm of individual color practice. Bauhaus teachers like Gertrud Grunow explored the synesthetic relationships of color, form, and sound, in contrast to Johannes Itten’s more traditional color instruction.21 In fact, this tension in approaches surfaced in a very public way at the 1919 Deutsche Werkbund’s First Color Day in Stuttgart, when controversy erupted between the painter Adolf Hölzel and the chemist Wilhelm Ostwald. Hölzel was a passionate adherent of Goethe’s Farbenlehre and the emotional power of color, while Ostwald advocated a rational approach to color order and harmony. Their positions, one based in artistic color theory and empirical experience, the other based in scientific measure and rational problem-solving, represented two distinct approaches to color. Many artists and architects who worked with color were less absolute than either Hölzel or Ostwald and therefore studied both art theory and scientific theory and then synthesized the two. Perhaps it is the architectural historian Sylvia Lavin who makes the most persuasive argument for color history when she writes that color is “a key producer of… contemporaneity, today-ness, or the now.”22 In other words, the study of color opens a door into the singular characteristics of the moment. Lavin argues for the relationship between specific colors and contemporary identity. Each period has a unique color palette. The ubiquitous cathode-ray blue of the computer screen, in her view, is the color of the current moment because of the computer screen’s pervasiveness in contemporary society. The same can be said of the subtractive and additive primary colors together with black, white, and gray in the 1920s, when this palette permeated art and architecture practice as well as print advertising and other graphic design. If the color of today is indeed “cathode-ray blue,” then the colors of early modernism were the myriad versions of the shades, the primaries, and their complements.

The Essentials of Color Color is a physical, physiological, and perceptual phenomenon. For this reason, as John Gage has shown, color has been the subject of philosophical, scientific, and artistic study; it is scrutinized as a physical trait, the product of a physiological response to external stimuli, and the result of perceptual experience.23 All three modes of understanding color are relevant to architectural design. 21 For more on Gertrud Grunow, see Elizabeth Otto, Haunted Bauhaus: Occult Spirituality, Gender Fluidity, Queer Identities, and Radical Politics (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2019), 32–6 and Elizabeth Otto and Patrick Rössler, Bauhaus Women: A Global Perspective (London: Bloomsbury, 2019), 20–2. 22 Lavin, “What Is Color Now?” 100. 23 See Gage, Color and Meaning and Gage, Color and Culture.

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In order to begin to understand the complexities of color, it is necessary to become familiar with the basic terminology that pertains to it. There are two essential ways of referring to color: hue and value. Hue refers to the spectral location—it names the color, red, yellow, or blue, and locates it on the spectrum of colors—while value refers to a color’s placement in the range from lightness to darkness. Munsell added chroma, to signify the purity of a color, to his lexicon. Other contemporary theorists also include saturation, which is the concentration of the hue that makes it appear to be brighter, and texture, which describes the intensity and distribution of hue in areas of the color. A central question for color theorists for centuries has been what constitutes the basic, or primary, colors. This is particularly interesting for artists who work with color to create visual effects by mixing. They need to know which colors can be used to create other colors. A related and equally longstanding strand of color theory is the color system, a logical sequence in which to arrange color hues. Philosophers and scientists have grappled with the question of sequence since at least the ancient Greeks, and propositions for the order of colors have shifted and changed ever since. From the time of Isaac Newton’s groundbreaking work on the composition of light in the seventeenth century, the spectral order of the rainbow has been the most common starting point for such systems, but there is no consensus on what the colors are, how many there are (Newton himself vacillated on this question), or even in what order they should appear.24 Before the hues can be arranged, they have to be identified. It turns out that this is extremely difficult to do. Human language does not have an adequate vocabulary for color; compared with the millions of colors that most people can visually recognize, language provides a paltry number of names.25 The problems become apparent when considering something as seemingly straightforward as the primary subtractive colors: red, yellow, and blue. No two artists use the same hues of red, yellow, and blue as primary. An examination of a canvas by the famous Dutch De Stijl painter Theo van Doesburg such as Counter Composition xiv (1925), placed next to a work by his friend and contemporary, Piet Mondrian, such as Composition in Red, Blue, and Yellow (1930), demonstrates the point. Both painters used the primary colors, red, yellow, and blue, with the tones black and white, but the hues in the two paintings are strikingly different. Even the blacks and whites are not the same. It is not only artists who struggle with finding adequate language to describe color: the experts do as well. Because of the linguistic limitations, 24 See Gage, Colour and Meaning, for a thorough discussion of the challenges of color systems, 24–8. 25 Bevil R. Conway, “Color Consilience: Color through the Lens of Art Practice, History, Philosophy, and Neuroscience,” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1251/1 (2012), 79.

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many modern color systems like Munsell’s and Pantone’s rely on numbers rather than words, or formulas, to distinguish hue. The mixing of color is just as complicated, particularly because the terminology for color is counterintuitive. There are two different ways of making colors—the subtractive system used by painters to mix pigments and the additive system used to make colors from light. The subtractive system takes its name from the way physical color responds to light by reflecting some parts of the spectrum and absorbing others, rather than how painters mix pigment, even though this is the principal system that painters work with. The light that is reflected is what is visible; the wavelength colors that are absorbed are not, hence the term, “subtractive.” In the 1920s, red, yellow, and blue were the standard set of subtractive primaries; they formed the basis for theories of color vision and painters’ palettes and many architects worked with this triad. There existed through the 1920s some theories of color that posited four primaries in the subtractive system: red, yellow, blue, and green. Some architects used this group of colors in their work rather than the usual triad. The additive system also comprises three primaries, but a slightly different set: red, green, and blue. Additive color mixing describes the process of mixing colored light. When red, green, and blue light are combined, they yield white. This occurs because white light is an even distribution of all of the color wavelengths present in light; when three primaries are combined, they contain the full spectrum and therefore make white light. While the subtractive technique is the one most often employed by architects, since they tend to apply color to surfaces in a painterly manner, additive color mixing can also play a part in architectural design when light conditions are a design consideration. In the work of the 1910s and 1920s, however, it is the subtractive method that architects most frequently employed.

Color Theory in 1920s Germany Color theory dates to at least as far back as the ancient Greek philosophers who attempted to understand the visible world and the ways in which human beings perceived it.26 These thinkers laid the groundwork for modern color There is an excellent range of literature covering the history of color theory from John Gage’s books mentioned above, Color and Meaning, Colour and Culture, and Gage, Colour in Art (London: Thames & Hudson, 2006) to Charles A. Riley II, Color Codes: Modern Theories of Color in Philosophy, Painting and Architecture, Literature, Music, and Psychology (Hanover: University Press of New England, 1995); John Hyman, The Objective Eye: Color, Form and Reality in the Theory of Art (Chicago: University Chicago Press, 2006); Roy Burns, Color Science and the Visual Arts: A Guide for Conservators, Curators and the Curious (Los Angeles: Getty, 2016); Victoria Finlay, The Brilliant History of Color in Art (Los Angeles: Getty, 2014); and Kenneth E. Burchett, A Biographical History of the Study and Use of Color (Queenstown: Edwin Mellen, 2005). 26

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theory by sketching the outlines of many future concerns related to color, so that, by the nineteenth century, color theory addressed a wide range of issues, including the physical nature of color, how color is perceived, how to systematically arrange and mix color, and how color affects the psyche and emotions. The entire history of color theory is a subject too vast for this volume; a more useful overview can be provided with a brief sketch of the theories pertinent to its subject—those that were popular in Germany in the 1920s, and especially those that influenced architects. Several of these theories will be unpacked in greater detail in individual chapters. The foundational text for most modern color theory, whether philosophical, scientific, or artistic, was written by the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in 1810. Called Zur Farbenlehre in German and The Theory of Colors in English, it is a lengthy repudiation of Sir Isaac Newton’s proposition that color is purely a property of light. Goethe believed that color must be understood as a perceptual phenomenon, since it is apprehended via human sight. In his view, Newton erred by ignoring vision—the optical responses to stimuli that allow color perception—in his studies to focus only on the mechanics of color, the way color acts as an attribute of light. “Color is an elementary phenomenon in nature adapted to the sense of vision: a phenomenon which, like all the others, exhibits itself by separation and contrast, by commixture and union, by augmentation and neutralization, by communication and dissolution; under these general terms its nature may be apprehended.”27 In contrast to Newton, Goethe worked assiduously to understand how human beings perceive color. Goethe realized that perception could only be properly understood if the nature of color was clear; he ultimately identified three different types of color, which he called “physiological,” “physical,” and “chemical.” He explains, “Thus we considered colors, as far as they may be said to belong to the eye itself, and to depend on an action and reaction of the organ; next, they attracted our attention as perceived in, or by means of, colorless mediums; and lastly, where we could consider them as belonging to particular substances.”28 Then, Goethe embarked on a series of experiments to determine the origins and attributes of color in all three classes, which he carefully chronicled. This, he writes, is the basis for a “future theory of color.” In other words, Goethe himself does not develop a theory as such but rather lays out an extensive body of observations on which a theory could be founded. In a fifth section of the research, he suggests how his work should be viewed in relationship to other disciplines such as music, philosophy, and mathematics. Goethe’s identification of pairs of color contrasts, illustrated in his sixpart color wheel, is one aspect of his work that is important to visual artists.

27 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, The Theory of Color, trans. Charles Eastlake (London: John Murray, 1840), xl. 28 Ibid., xli.

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In Part Six of Theory of Colors, Goethe outlines the way that color relates to “moral associations,” by which he means how color is associated with what he terms “emotions of the mind.”29 He divides the color wheel into two sides, one positive and one negative. Colors on the positive, yellow side are “quick, lively, aspiring.”30 He goes on to characterize yellow as “agreeable and gladdening… serene and noble.” In contrast, colors on the minus, blue side give a “restless, susceptible, anxious impression,” and objects seen through a blue glass appear “gloomy and melancholy.”31 Around the wheel, Goethe lists specific qualities for each color: melancholy, choleric, sanguine, and phlegmatic. In this last section, Goethe anticipates future psychological color studies and the concerns of many early twentieth-century artists, like Wassily Kandinsky, who developed a theory of color and emotion, and of architects who were fascinated with the emotional power of colored space. Soon after Goethe completed his work, Arthur Schopenhauer contributed his own treatise titled On Vision and Colors. Inspired by Goethe’s book, and written following extensive discussions on the subject between the two men, Schopenhauer focused on the physiological question of seeing color.32 He came to the conclusion that color was “the specially modified activity of the retina.”33 His views on color conform to his conception of man’s experience of reality as a representation culled from sensory data that are mediated by human understanding. Color, he therefore believed, was subjective, not objective. In his view, color perception was a physiological process in which the retina responds to external stimuli. Parallel to Goethe’s work, scientists and art theorists attempted to understand color by creating physical models to explain color generation and hue and value relationships. In Germany, the first attempt to model three-dimensional color space dates to work by mathematician and professor Tobias Mayer, who, in the mid-eighteenth century, had developed a model comprised of vertically stacked triangles to illustrate color mixing.34 Each triangle features red, yellow, and blue at each corner, with gradations of mix along a scale of 0–12. Georg-Christof Lichtenberg, who published Mayer’s work posthumously in 1775, included an explanation of how to extend the triangle into three dimensions by adding black and white. In 1810, encouraged by Goethe, the painter Philipp Otto Runge

Ibid., 304. Ibid., 306. 31 Ibid., 310. 32 Georg Stahl, “Introduction,” to Arthur Schopenhauer, On Vision and Colors, trans. Georg Stahl (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2010), and Philipp Otto Runge, Color Sphere (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2010), 15. 33 Arthur Schopenhauer, On Vision and Colors, trans. E. F. J. Payne, ed. David E. Cartwright (Berg Publishers, 1994), 1. 34 Barry B. Lee, “The Evolution of Concepts of Color Vision,” Neurociencias, 4/4 (2008), 209–24. 29 30

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introduced his color space—a sphere, which was an attempt to order colors spatially in a perfect solid form. Runge placed the primary colors along the equator, with black and white at the poles.35 (In the 1920s, German artists like Johannes Itten, under the influence of an older generation of German painters who were interested in color, such as Adolf Hölzel, returned to Runge’s sphere, then modified it.) In 1839, the French chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul developed another physical model, a hemisphere. His objective was to use the hemisphere in order to explain phenomena of color perception, namely simultaneous color contrast, successive color contrast, and mixed color contrast. The three categories describe three different optical responses to observed colors: two colors viewed sideby-side, afterimages, and colors viewed successively after one another. Although Runge’s color space was not well-known, Chevreul was widely read by painters from Delacroix to Matisse to Kandinsky, who each used his ideas to inform their art. In 1900, American painter Albert Munsell developed a spherical model of color hues, values, and chroma, and their relationships that built on Runge’s work as well as that of others: Chevreul’s published in 1839, Hermann von Helmholtz’s published in 1860, William Benson’s published in 1868, and August Kirschmann’s published in 1895. Munsell’s aim was to create a color space system that was more precise than the formal models devised by his predecessors. He believed that in order to do this, he needed to base his color formulas on a precise mathematical formula that could be applied to every mixture. In order to arrange them, he divided color qualities into three distinct attributes: hue, value, and chroma. His system used perceptually uniform steps, whose basis was a series of measurements of human visual responses to color. The model has a ten-step axis at its center with pure white at the top and pure black at the bottom. Similarly, Munsell worked with ten hues— what he called principal hues—red, yellow, green, blue, and purple, and five secondary hues. Munsell later revised his model into an asymmetrical form when he realized that if he were to stay true to the relationships between the differing aspects of color, he could not force the results into a perfect geometric form. Besides the addition of chroma to the aspects of color Munsell used in his system, he worked with three independent dimensions, along which he constructed his three-dimensional model: horizontal circles for hue, radial vertical circles for chroma, and vertical axes for value (with black at the base and white at the pinnacle as in Runge’s sphere). In his 1916/17 Farbenfibel (Color Primer), the German chemist Wilhelm Ostwald tackled yet another aspect of color—the ways to achieve harmony between different hues—by developing a mathematical logarithm to govern the color mix. Harmony in painting is produced by the juxtaposition of colors that appear correct and pleasing to the eye. Harmony can be achieved

Philipp Otto Runge, Farbenkugel (Hamburg: Perthes, 1810), np.

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in several ways: using complementary colors, analogous colors, and triadic colors (three colors that are equally spaced on the color wheel). While artists had long been aware of color harmony, there was no mathematical system for prescribing how to achieve it. This is what Ostwald wished to create. Like Munsell, whom he had met in 1905, Ostwald worked with three variables of color, but a slightly different set: hue, saturation, and brightness.36 Artists of the 1920s were well aware of Ostwald’s work (he lectured widely, including at the Bauhaus, and was also well published), although the reception of his ideas was mixed and he had little real influence on artistic output. Kandinsky’s 1912 On the Spiritual in Art was the most influential writing on color read in the 1920s. In his book, Kandinsky develops several arguments for nonobjective art and color that derived from his fascination with psychology as well as with the spiritual.37 His aim was to prove that abstract art was as deeply rooted in essential human experience as realistic art. (His early work often depicted Russian religious motifs such as saints, but also other Christian symbols such as the archangel, John the Baptist, and others. In 1909, he joined the Theosophical Society.) Kandinsky drew on Goethe’s treatise on color and on Madame Blavatsky’s Theosophical color mysticism to support his beliefs.38 His approach is similar to that employed by Goethe and Schiller in their wheel of “color temperaments” of 1799 described above, but Kandinsky extends his theory to align the temperaments—choleric, sanguine, phlegmatic, and melancholic—with several professions. The melancholic, for instance, is paired with the colors violet, magenta, and red and the professions philosopher, pedant, and ruler. Kandinsky also developed his own range of pairs of color and emotion. “Colour is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand which plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul.”39 Kandinsky’s theory is highly personal, based on his native responses to color rather than scientific research or experimental observation, and is often inconsistent. Nevertheless, it was widely read by artists and architects in the 1920s, which meant that it had a profound impact on art practice during the period. Perhaps its Wilhelm Ostwald, Die Farbenfibel (Leipzig: Unesma, 1917); and Philip Ball and Mario Ruben, “Color Theory in Science and Art: Ostwald and the Bauhaus,” History of Science, 43 (2004), 4842–6. 37 Charles Pickstone, “A Theology of Abstraction: Wassily Kandinsky’s ‘Concerning the Spiritual in Art’,” Theology, 114/1 (2011), 32–41. 38 Sixten Ringbom, “Transcending the Visible: The Generation of the Abstract Pioneers,” in The Spiritual in Art: Abstract Painting 1890–1985, ed., Maurice Tuchman (Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1986), 131–53; cited in Pickstone, “A Theology of Abstraction,” 35; and Sixten Ringbom, “Art in ‘The Epoch of the Great Spiritual’ Occult Elements in the Early Theory of Abstract Painting,” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 29 (1966), 386–418. 39 Kandinsky, On the Spiritual in Art, 32. 36

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most important contribution was the idea that color elicited an emotional response in the viewer.

Color, Ornament, and Empathy Theory In order for architects to begin to see color as an independent agent in architecture, two steps were necessary: to uncouple color from ornament, so that it could be seen as an active agent in and of itself, and to understand color as an agent that could affect the viewer. In order to uncouple ornament from color, it was first necessary to reconceive ornament as an autonomous element, rather than one contingent on an object. Gottfried Semper, the architectural theorist, initiated the modern debates on ornament with his 1863 Der Stil in den technischen und tektonischen Künsten oder praktische Äesthetik (Style in the Technical and Tectonic Arts or Practical Aesthetics), in which he argued that ornament was intimately tied to the material and making of an object as well as its use.40 Additionally, Semper asserted that Bekleidung, clothes, dress, cover, or the outer shell, should be considered separately from structure and was the most essential part of architecture, as opposed to the building’s constructive and material components. In 1898, the Austrian architect Adolf Loos weighed in with his Das Prinzip der Bekleidung (The Principle of Dress), taking umbrage with Semper’s notion of Bekleidung. Loos argued that wall hangings are not walls and, because they have no structural integrity, can never constitute walls or form spaces.41 Loos wrote, “The principle of Bekleidung that Semper first spoke of, extends itself to nature as well. Man is dressed with skin, a tree with bark.”42 Loos then developed a rule of his own related to Bekleidung, which he justifies because of the proliferation of imitation in the world: it is possible to paint any color on any material except the color of the material in its natural form—applied color can be used as a dressing, but not to imitate the natural qualities of material. Here, Loos has identified color as an independent agent, different from the material to which it is applied. In his Stilfragen (Questions of Style), the Austrian theorist Alois Riegl located the development of ornament in tradition and convention, as opposed to nature, which he held to be the inspiration for art.43 In contrast to the

Jörg Gleiter, “Ornament: Return of the Repressed,” Zona 4, Supplement to Abitare, 494/8 (2009). 41 Adolf Loos, “Das Prinzip der Bekleidung,” in Sämtliche Schriften (Wien: Franz Glück, 1898), 107. 42 Ibid., 108. 43 Margaret Olin, Forms of Representation in Alois Riegl’s Theory of Art (University Park: Penn. State University Press, 1992), xviii, 4–7, 103–11, 136–7, and Diana Graham Reynolds, “Alois Riegl and the Politics of Art History: Intellectual Traditions and Austrian Identity in Fin-de-Siecle Vienna” (Ph.D. diss., University of California, San Diego, 1997). 40

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Semperian idea that style arises from ornament, from the combination of material, technique, and purpose, Riegl suggested that style emanated from a more abstract notion, which he eventually termed Kunstwollen (literally, will to art). As many art historians have pointed out, Kunstwollen did not have a fixed definition; rather, its meaning evolved over time. Still, it was his way of explaining how to reconcile the details of one work of art with larger cultural trends. Critically, Riegl used his close reading of form, line, and color in individual artworks as the way to determine the Kunstwollen, demonstrating the importance of color as one category of analysis.44 In his late work, Riegl was one of the first theorists to locate art’s power in the ability of its formal components to act on the observer instead of in its representational force.45 This too had consequences for many artists and designers, like Wassily Kandinsky, who became interested in how color and form acted on the viewer. Even before Riegl, Friedrich Theodor Fischer had introduced the idea of empathy in art. He believed that empathy allowed the viewer to relate to abstraction, formal and otherwise.46 He saw empathy as the faculty that helped a viewer relate the abstract qualities of color and line to beauty, which he believed could only be achieved through representational means. Although he was not prepared to concede that color and line might be appreciated as beautiful in and of themselves, his discussions helped open the door to modern notions of abstraction. His contemporary, the experimental psychologist and philosopher Gustav Fechner, similarly noted the “expressive effect of non-representational color and form.”47 But Fechner did not believe such an effect was on the same level as that achieved by the subject matter in a great painting, for instance, because pure form and color did not possess meaning in and of themselves. In other words, he was prepared to concede that abstract elements could elicit a strong response, but he was not prepared to accord those elements the same expressive force when they were devoid of representational content. It was the psychologist and aesthetician Theodor Lipps, who would assert the ability of color, line, and abstraction to be acceptable carriers of beauty in their own right. In his many lectures and publications, Lipps constellated what is today referred to as Empathy Theory. In Lipps’s view, empathy is a fundamental human characteristic that extends far beyond the human capacity to appreciate art: empathy is the psychological ability to respond to art through a perceptual encounter. The perceptual encounter allows the viewer to recognize beauty. Decisively, Lipps believed that this held

44 Jas Elsner, “From Empirical Evidence to the Big Picture: Some Reflections on Riegl’s Concept of the Kunstwollen,” Critical Inquiry, 32/4 (2006), 753. 45 Olin, Forms of Representation in Alois Riegl’s Theory of Art, 197; and Margaret Iversen, Alois Riegl: Art History and Theory (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1993), 128. 46 David Morgan, “The Idea of Abstraction in German Theories of Ornament from Kant to Kandinsky,” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 50/3 (Summer 1992), 234. 47 Ibid., 234.

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true for perceptual encounters of any kind, no matter whether the viewer is encountering representational images or abstractions. Lipps considered color “lively in itself” and “dipped in mood,” ideas that Kandinsky would later adopt.48 Lipps’s account helps explain the force that pure color can have on the beholder. Lipps extended his discourse to include space and spatial constructions; similar to line and color, he argued that architectonic elements, like the column, convey a feeling. Lipps’s ideas had a profound influence on Jugendstil artists and architects, who embraced both abstract ornament and color as critical actors in their work. Their work, in turn, influenced the next generation of architects who followed in the 1920s.

Color and Space The earliest treatise devoted entirely to the importance of color in painting, especially to the construction of space, is Matteo Zaccolini’s “Prospettiva del colore” (Color perspective) of 1622.49 Zaccolini argued for the primacy of colorito over disegno, that is, of the direct application of color to the canvas over the use of an intellectual apparatus and linear drawing to compose the painting before applying color. He described the way he believed that the human eye perceives objects receding in space and argued for four zones of distance in spatial perception that would be articulated with differing degrees of color value. Zaccolini believed that objects closer to the viewer would retain their true color, while those farther from the viewer would “transmute to blue.”50 By simulating this effect on canvas, he believed that the painter would reproduce the true appearance of space. For Zaccolini, line alone could not represent reality as perceived by the human eye since nothing in nature is articulated with line only; therefore color had to be the more important aspect of representation.51 Of course others, like Vasari, would argue exactly the opposite: as, without the contours of line, there is no object for color to fill in, therefore, line must be the more important element of representation. Briefly, while disegno is the Italian word for “drawing” and “design,” its theoretical meaning has historically comprised far more than the mechanical aspect of drawing to include the intellectual component of visual art. According to Vasari’s famous dictum, the drawing is “the animating principle of all creative processes” and “expression and declaration of the resulting concept.”52 Artists working with disegno sketched their Ibid., 235; Theodor Lipps, Aesthetik. Pyschologie des Schönen und der Kunst, part one, Grundlegung der Aesthetik (Hamburg and Leipzig: Leopold Voss, 1903), 441. 49 Janis Bell, “Zaccolini’s Theory of Color Perspective,” The Art Bulletin, 75/1 (March 1993), 91–112. 50 Ibid., 94. 51 Ibid., 91–112. 52 Giorgio Vasari, Le vite de’ piu eccellenti pittori, scultori e architettori nelle redazioni del 1550 und 1568, ed. Rosanna Battarini, Comments from Paola Barocchi (Florenz: 1968), vol. 1, S. Ill, 48

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composition before they painted it, creating an image from the imagination and making the work as much an intellectual exercise as one of copying nature. As a method, it is the foundation for drawing, painting, sculpture, and architecture. In contrast, colorito describes the application of color as the method by which a painting is crafted. Using this technique, the image emerges slowly from the blank canvas as each successive color is applied and filled in the space. Although in reality this technique relies as much on the imagination as disegno, it was thought to rely more on the model. At the heart of the tension between disegno and colorito, of course, is the fundamental contrast between line and surface, contour and modeling, and light and shadow effects. This conceptual opposition was a central factor in the technical approaches of two rival groups: the Florentine and Venetian Schools. The Florentine School saw a picture as the juxtaposition of two distinct elements, shape and color, that worked together but were always distinct, in contrast to the Venetian School, where shape and color were seen as inseparable from one another; members of the Florentine School tended to view painting as an intellectual exercise that required the artist to manipulate the natural world in order to compose art, whereas the painters of the Venetian School usually aspired to create the most naturalistic images possible. Zaccolini was not the first artist to use color in lieu of linear perspective in order to create spatial depth, but he was the first to argue the primacy of color over line.53 He is important to architectural theories of space and color that come centuries later because of his observations about the relationship between color and spatial depth perception, and his documentation of the apparent changes in color value and hue that occur as objects recede in space. He also attempted to explain the reasons such visual degradation occurs. He argued that color was inextricably bound to perspective; without color, he believed, depth of space would not be perceptible.54 For centuries, architects accepted the primacy of disegno and largely ignored color as a relevant issue.55 Of course, color has always been a part of interior design, but more often in combination with elaborate surface ornament and patterns, rather than as a space-making or space-defining element. Since so much of architectural design is concerned with the imaginative conception of work, which is usually then drawn without color in a linear fashion in plan, section, and elevation, the historic primacy of disegno makes sense. The polychrome debates in the nineteenth century marked the beginning of modern debates over color use. Although they cited in Verena Krieger, “Die Farbe als ‘Seele’ der Malerei: Transformation eines Topos vom 16. Jahrhundert zur Moderne,” Marburger Jahrbuch für Kunstwissenschaft, 33 (2006), 91. 53 Bell, “Zaccolini,” 103. 54 Ibid., 95. 55 Raymond Quek, “Drawing Adam’s Navel: The Problem of disegno as Creative Tension between the Visible and Knowledgeable,” Architecture Research Quarterly 9/3/4 (2005), 255–64.

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concerned the architecture of antiquity, not contemporary architecture, they raised questions about the relationship of color to architecture in any era and helped effect a growing awareness of the potential color had for spatial articulation.

Why Color was so Important in the 1920s Following the end of the First World War, the German avant-gardes called for a new art, one that would radically depart from traditional and classical art forms, and that would unite art and life. This impulse, which grew out of the tumultuous aftermath of humankind’s most destructive war and perceived shortcomings of the society that had caused that war, led to the belief that society and culture needed to be reimagined in totally new ways. A raft of different organizations issued proclamations along these lines, including the Arbeitsrat für Kunst and ancillary groups such as the Breslau Gruppe 1919 and Rat Geistiger Arbeit; the Novembergruppe; the Deutsche Werkbund; and others well into the 1920s, and were echoed in declarations by art academies as they reformed and modernized their curricula. Walter Gropius’s Bauhaus manifesto reiterates much of the contemporary language when it calls for arts and crafts to abolish historic divisions and unify in architecture. Early propositions for a new fusion of art and architecture were presented in visionary schemes like Bruno Taut’s Alpine Architektur (Alpine Architecture, 1919); works on paper by diverse practitioners including Wenzel Hablik, Hermann Finsterlin, and Paul Goesch at the 1919 exhibition Unbekannte Architekten (Unknown Architects); and in the musings of the Gläserne Kette (Crystal Chain) letters exchanged by a group of artists and architects including Taut, Gropius, Hans Scharoun, and others. Although different in their formal details, these early utopian schemes shared an interest in saturated, vibrant color as one aspect of the new architecture. Since color is such a fundamental element of painting, it is logical that color would command a central role for architectural design in an environment where buildings were paper fantasies only (there was a dearth of funding for new architecture in the aftermath of the war). Color was appealing for other reasons as well. The physical world appears in color and is understood through that color. It is one of the basic elements of both painting and architecture—line, plane, volume, and color. In any fusion of the arts, therefore, color would logically play an important role. Embracing color over line was another way of asserting independence from more traditional, naturalistic approaches to art. In new approaches to architecture that abandoned traditional ornament, color offered a means with which to enliven buildings. Also, a colored world seemed the very opposite of the gray, depressive state of war—a positive and uplifting environment in contrast to the dark, destructive one that war represented.

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As any visit to ancient sites like Pompeii, Gothic churches like Sainte Chappelle in Paris, or Baroque buildings like Sans Souci in Potsdam, Germany, may reveal, color has always been part of interior design. Modern practice diverged radically from older ones, however, as architects in the 1920s invented entirely new ways of using color on interiors and grounded their practices in contemporary color theories. Color was also integral to the façade decorations on some historic German architecture, a fact that gave strength to the case for modern color use in the urban realm. Color, it could be argued, was not actually a radical new invention, but the reinstatement of a traditional architectural motif.56 While the advent of Jugendstil, with its bold colors, in the latter part of the nineteenth century ushered in the beginnings of modern color awareness in Germany, many critics found Jugendstil applications overly ornamental and lacking in theoretical or aesthetic rigor. “In German architecture, color is treated as a makeshift measure,” bemoaned the wellknown German art historian and curator Alfred Lichtwark already in 1905. “Influential architecture schools are completely unhelpful or hostile to color, and German culture does not currently influence the color use of foreign countries.”57 Lichtwark’s lament related specifically to Jugendstil design but also described a more pervasive attitude to color on which other German artists and critics, like Karl Scheffler, would also remark. Still, Jugendstil prepared the ground for architects like Bruno Taut. Another reason that color was so important to 1920s German architecture was the seemingly tireless promotional efforts made by Bruno Taut, who was the undisputed German king of color. Taut became interested in new possibilities for color applications in architecture early in his career. His prewar projects, like Berlin Garden City Falkenburg, also known as the Box of Watercolors Estate (1913–16), and Magdeburg Garden City Colony Reform (1911–38), experimented with colorful façades, often with elaborately patterned surfaces. For both projects, Taut worked with both subtractive and additive primary colors in deeply saturated hues arranged in unusual juxtapositions that often played with simultaneous contrast. His Glass Pavilion for the 1914 Deutsche Werkbund Exhibition in Cologne was Taut’s first constructed foray into colored light. Taut was acutely aware of the interrelation between light and color, something he often remarked on. “Light and color! The two go together and in a colored space, the color of the ceilings, walls, and floors must merge with the light to form a unity.”58 The ultimate combination of light and color, he wrote, was glass, a theme Around 1935, a new school of neo-formalist art history emerged in Germany interested in the history of color use in painting, called Koloritgeschichte, a unique German phenomenon. See, for instance, Ian Verstegen, “Art History, Gestalt, and Nazism,” Gestalt Theory, 26/2 (2004), 134–50. 57 Lichtwark, Erziehung, 6–7. 58 Bruno Taut, “Farbenwirkungen aus meiner Praxis,” Das hohe Ufer, Heft 11 (November 1919), 1 Jg, 266. 56

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that recurred again and again in his essays with respect to his love for Gothic architecture with its colored glass windows. Taut’s prewar built work served as powerful physical examples of Taut’s ideas about color, which was especially helpful to the emerging color discourse in the first years of the interwar period when almost nothing was constructed. Taut was an extraordinarily well-read man who studied everything— history, sociology, politics and political philosophy, philosophy of aesthetics, psychology, and art. His wide-ranging interests meant that he could synthesize ideas from many sources and inspired him to investigate various approaches to his color practice in his work. Citations in his copious writings indicate that he was well versed in German Catholic mysticism— including the writings of Meister Eckhart, Hildegard von Bingen, and Jakob Boehme—and Theosophy (from the Crystal Chain correspondence) as well as contemporary physics and psychology, based on references to Gustav Fechner and Paul Ewald, to name just two. Taut was an exceptionally knowledgeable and effective advocate for color partly because of his personal history. Unsure of what professional path to pursue when he completed high school, he first studied at the local Baugewerkschule (construction work school) and then attended technical college and completed apprenticeships, first with a construction company in Königsberg, then with the Jugendstil architect Bruno Möhring in Berlin, and lastly with Theodor Fischer in Stuttgart. Fischer was considered to be one of the best architecture teachers in Germany; he taught numerous young talents, including Paul Bonatz, Hugo Häring, Ernst May, Erich Mendelsohn, and Paul Schmitthenner. Taut also trained as a painter, a talent that Fischer exploited in his practice. Early on, Taut was conflicted about which profession he should pursue—fine art or architecture. In 1904, he wrote to his brother Max, “I feel more and more like a painter.”59 He went on, “How extensive is my talent? I can probably best live according to my nature in the field of art, probably better than in architecture.”60 By this last sentence he likely means that as an artist he would have far greater freedom to experiment and innovate, to indulge his mystical and religious inclinations, as well as to use color in unusual ways. After all, painters are not constrained by gravity, structural limitations, functional imperatives, or project budgets. Letters that he sent to his brother Max about the different art exhibitions that he saw in Berlin, and remarks on art he made in his essays, show that Taut’s understanding of contemporary art was sophisticated and highly developed. The Swiss symbolist painter Arnold Böcklin’s use of bold color made a strong impression on the young Taut when he first saw that artist’s work in Berlin in 1904. “Color poetry,” Taut called it. In 1905, Taut wrote Max,

59 60

Bruno Taut Diary, AdK Berlin, reprinted in Bruno Taut 1880–1938, 33. Ibid.

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The idea which I have already carried around with me for two years still occupies me—the combination of my talents with regard to color with my architectural ability. Colors, spatial composition, colorful architecture— these are areas in which I can, perhaps, say something personal. Precisely because painting always brings me together with architecture and vice versa, I don’t have to worry about a cleavage between the two.61 In other words, Taut quickly recognized the special combination of talents that he had and sought to exploit them. Taut made close studies of the ways in which several contemporary painters used color, especially the Delaunays, Kandinsky, Leger, and the Cubists. Again and again he refers to these painters as examples of artists whose work suggests the direction that modern architecture should take. In “Eine Notwendigkeit” (A Necessity), published in Herwarth Walden’s expressionist publication, Der Sturm in 1914, Taut appeals to his contemporaries to adapt lessons from modern painting to architecture: Modern architects will only be as creative and traditional in a higher sense as they recognize the necessity of this association [between painting and architecture]. The interaction should not be that the outer forms of painting are adopted for architectural forms. Architecture is already cubist in nature and it would be wrong to use roughly angular forms exclusively… the architect must be careful not to misunderstand and take the superficial connections. He must draw all possible forms into his creative field, similar to the way that Kandinsky expresses them in a painterly sense in his witty compositions.62 Taut fully understood the differences between painting and architecture, but he was also quick to observe how advances in painterly composition and technique did not yet have their equivalent in architectural practice. Taut believed that by studying Kandinsky, the architect could learn how to develop new compositional techniques as well as how to transform traditional artistic means into abstract expression. He ends the essay saying, “The building must have spaces with characteristic features of the new art: in large glass windows Delaunay’s light compositions, on the walls the cubist rhythms of the painting by Franz Marc and the art of Kandinsky. The pillars outside and inside should expect to have Archipenko’s sculptures built on them, the ornament will be created by Campendonk.”63 The characteristics that architecture can adopt include light and color composition with vibrant primary colors, dynamic abstract rhythms, and animated visuals. All of the Bruno Taut, letter to Max Taut, Taut Archive, AdK Berlin, 1905, 33. Bruno Taut, “Eine Notwendigkeit,” Der Sturm (1914), 175. While Taut was refering to Robert Delaunay’s paintings in this excerpt, Delaunay worked closely with his wife, Sonia Delaunay, on pioneering approaches to color application in painting. 63 Taut, “Eine Notwendigkeit,” 175. 61 62

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painters that Taut admired were well versed in nineteenth- and twentiethcentury color theories—Delaunay and his wife, Sonia, were famous for their pioneering combination of color theory with practice—and they worked with bright, saturated hues. These painters were also among the first to experiment with non-pictorial representation and new ways of showing space on the canvas. Taut expected architects to work with similar palettes and spatial techniques. Taut emphasized the need for interaction between surface treatments and space in the new architecture, two areas in which he would introduce several innovations between 1920 and 1930. In addition to constituting a lesson about the potential color had for contemporary architecture, “Eine Notwendigkeit” was an early call-toarms. In the essay, Taut advocates a synthetic architecture inspired by the concept of the Gothic cathedral, in which all the arts have a role. The cathedral was designed and constructed by the master builder with masons and carpenters, decorated by painters and sculptors, and enriched by musicians during the liturgy. The building therefore symbolized all the arts in one creative effort. This kind of artistic synthesis was a recurrent theme in Taut’s copious writing. Of course, the Gothic cathedral was an early type of architecture that worked with color and colored light, another aspect of its appeal to Taut. In the essay, he explicitly ties synthetic design approaches to modern art, specifically that of Kandinsky. “He [the artist] must similarly pull all possible designs into his creative field, as they express themselves in the spiritual sense in Kandinsky’s witty compositions. This is because the architecture has to put itself on the broadest basis possible (artistic, constructive, social, and fiscal) in order to be able to give its appearances something permanent.”64 Taut implies that architecture can learn from contemporary art practice, a conviction that he would return to again and again in his writing. Color is only one aspect of contemporary art from which architects can learn; Taut asserts that like Kandinsky and other contemporary artists, architects must achieve “freedom from perspective and single vantage points… the buildings of great architectural eras were invented without perspective.”65 Taut blames an overconcern with perspective for trapping architects in a mode of thinking that paradoxically produces flat, “backdrop” buildings rather than spatial experience. In other words, Taut is searching for a way to develop new space and form using color as a constitutive part. Delaunay’s complex canvases were influenced by Cubist compositional techniques along with the color theories of Paul Signac and Michel Eugène Chevreul and the perceptual ideas of Charles Henry, but moved to pure abstraction and used abstract formal structures and color to create emotional sensation. From Chevreul, Delaunay learned the importance of optical mixing of colors and how to juxtapose complementary colors to great visual 64 65

Ibid., 175. Ibid., 174.

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effect—ideas that Taut would explore in his exterior applications of color (see Chapter 5). Taut combined Kandinsky’s and Delaunay’s approaches with his own variations on the primary palette. Taut’s contemporaries understood his ambitions. Writing after seeing Taut’s early project, the pavilion for the Steel Industries at the Leipzig Building Trade Exhibition, Adolf Behne describes Taut as “a genuinely modern and altogether contemporary artist” whose “work in the innermost world is parallel to the aspirations of the young painters.”66 He continues, “Purity! That is perhaps the word that comes closest to the essence of Taut’s architecture.”67 The purity that Behne observed at this stage in Taut’s career was one of form, space, and ornament. Color was not a major factor yet. As his career progressed, however, Taut’s use of color amplified in importance and became simplified, or purified, to use Behne’s word, in application. Although Taut recognized that painting had made advances that suggested some paths forward for the architectural application of color, he was not yet really sure what this new architecture might look like or how to achieve it, at least not in 1919. He began to consolidate his ideas about color in 1919 in the already mentioned “Ruf zum farbigen Bauen.”68 In the nineteenth century there were vibrantly colored buildings, he asserts, but they were either farm buildings or historic structures in the Hanseatic and harbor cities; otherwise, the modern industrial city was largely dull grey stone. He writes, The past decades have killed optical sensory pleasure through their emphasis on pure technology and science. Grey in grey stone boxes took the place of colorful and painted houses…. We don’t want to buy any more colorless houses, or see them built, and want to give the building owner and resident courage to stand up for the joy of color on the inside and outside of the house, through this united confession…. Color is the joy of living, and since we have but small means to provide it, we must insist on it, especially during these times of need today, in all buildings that must be executed…. In place of the dirty, grey house, blue, red, yellow, green, black and white houses must finally appear in an uninterruptedly lustrous tones.69 Signed by an impressive group of important artists, architects, critics, and historians, the proclamation formed a reasoned argument for the reinstatement of color in and on buildings. Not only was color the antidote Adolf Behne, “Bruno Taut,” Der Sturm (1914), 182; reprinted at https://ghdi.ghi-dc.org/sub_ document.cfm?document_id=725; accessed on February 3, 2020; and Adolf Behne, “Bruno Taut,” Pan (1913), 538–40. 67 Op cit. 68 Bruno Taut, “Aufruf zum farbigen Bau,” Die Bauwelt, 10 JG, Heft 38, September 18, 1919. 69 Bruno Taut, “Aufruf zum farbigen Bau,” Frühlicht (1921), 28; reprint (Berlin: Gebr. Mann, 2000). 66

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to the depressing, gray German city, it also had the capacity to create uplifting streetscapes and spaces, thereby bringing happiness back to the German people. As Taut asserts, “color is the joy of living.” Color, then, has the ability to counteract the negative effects of the war by enlivening the built environment and distracting people from their troubles. In his 1919 book Alpine Architektur, Taut had similarly posited colored architecture as a foil for human failings, including war. Also in 1918/1919, the architecture critic Adolf Behne published his Die Wiederkehr der Kunst (The Return of Art), which included a passionate call for color in architecture. In his essay, Behne writes: What characterizes today’s educated art philistine is his fear of color. Color is not fine. Fine is pearl gray or white. Blue is ordinary, red is obtrusive, green is blatant… the lack of color is the hallmark of education, white is the color of European skin. On colored art, colored architecture, the cultural man looks down on our zone as on colored bodies—with a kind of horror. And where does this fear of color come from? The philistine senses in color the elementary, the immediate, the empty. Every pure color tone is a tone from the universe, something lasting, decisive—something that confronts us with clear decisions. It is therefore a mistake if some art philologists believe that the urge for ever increasing the intensity of color in the new art has no value of its own, no inner necessity. It does! Because color is the last cosmic thing.70 Behne’s analysis of the lack of color in architecture applies even today; black, white, and gray are easy to deal with, whereas color is complicated and difficult. If the color is wrong, it can ruin an accessory, an outfit, an object, or a space. In addition, bright and bold color is associated with less sophisticated societies—it is viewed as crass and in bad taste. Behne’s opinion was echoed in other contemporary writings, especially in the many essays written by Bruno Taut. Taut’s essays, in fact, offer tremendous insight into the intersection of color use, color theory, art, psychology, and spatial design—more than any other writings published during the 1920s. This is true not only because Taut was such a prolific voice supporting colorful architecture at the time but also because he was exceptionally well read and informed on the topic—references in his essays include foundational philosophical texts like Goethe’s Farbenlehre as well as contemporary scientific treatises like that of ophthalmologist Edward Raehlmann and physicist Ewald Paul. And his ideas about color, and the ways in which he used it, evolved over time.71 Therefore, Taut’s practice touched on most, if not all, of the various ways that color was used during the period. Adolf Behne, Der Wiederkehr der Kunst (Nendeln: Berlin, 1919), 102. See, for instance, Bruno Taut, “Farbwirkungen aus meiner Praxis,” in Ex Oriente Lux, ed. Manfred Speidel (Berlin: Gebr. Mann, 2007), 264 and “Zur Farbenfrage,” 56. 70 71

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Taut had several platforms that allowed him to voice his ideas and to test them. He was chairman of the Arbeitsrat für Kunst at the start, with its membership of over one hundred artists, architects, and critics, and he produced a journal, Frühlicht, between 1920 and 1922, that had a substantial readership in art and architecture circles. Because of his position as city architect in Magdeburg, he was one of the few architects who had the opportunity to build early in the Weimar Republic. Between 1921 and 1922, he had the main street in Magdeburg, Otto-Richter Street, Magdeburg City Hall, and another sixty-nine local houses painted in bright colors (see Chapter 5). Unfortunately, the quality of the paint was substandard so that by April 1923, the paint was already degrading, but today it has been restored.72 The Color Movement was not derailed by Taut’s technical failures in Magdeburg, however. In 1919 and in 1925, Stuttgart, then Hamburg, hosted what were called German Color Days, large fairs that included exhibitions about color application in architecture together with lectures by architects (including Bruno Taut), historians, color technicians, and critics, and produced publications of the ideas presented at the fairs. A 1925 exhibition in Berlin named Farbe und Raum (Color and Space) explored contemporary and historic approaches to color in architecture. Cities across Germany experienced a color renaissance. As one wag put it, “There are cafes and hallways, with walls and light fixtures whose such orgies of color cried out that dancing or seasickness were the more harmless illnesses that could be taken home. And the house fronts screamed blue, red, green, orange, ocher, chocolate, violet and pink, also gray and even black.”73 In 1926, the city of Hamburg established the Bund zur Förderung der Farbe im Stadtbild (The Association for the Requirement of Color in the Cityscape) together with the journal Die Farbige Stadt (The Colorful City) in order to support color use in the urban realm. Color appealed across the political and aesthetic spectrum; to conservative architects who saw a connection between new ideas about color and traditional German architecture, and to progressive architects for whom color offered a new kind of integrated ornament, the possibility of making space directly engaged with the human psyche and emotions, and a means with which to enhance the perceptual experience of space. As the following chapters will demonstrate, by the end of the 1920s, German architects had experimented with all of these ways of using color.

72 73

Düchting, Farbe am Bauhaus, 114. Cited in Düchting, Farbe am Bauhaus, 114; Deutsche Bauhütte, 8/4 (1922).

CHAPTER TWO

Color and Mysticism

The use of color in 1920s German architecture was intimately tied to mysticism, esotericism, and the occult, especially aspects of Annie Besant’s and C. W. Leadbeater’s interpretation of Theosophy and Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy. The general turn toward mysticism and spiritualism in European society was in part a reaction against a world that at the end of the nineteenth century seemed mired in rationalism and materialism, to the exclusion of higher, nonmaterial concerns. The Industrial Revolution, which accelerated in Germany after unification in 1871, seemed to represent the triumph of science and technology over religion, faith, and spirituality. The new search for spiritual meaning was also spurred by the sense, shared by many German intellectuals, that cultural renewal was both necessary and imminent. Julius Langbehn, for example, made a famous call for cultural reform in his widely read book of 1890, Rembrandt als Erzieher (Rembrandt as Educator), and later, just after the First World War, Oswald Spengler warned of the impending end of Western civilization in his bestselling volume Der Untergang des Abendlandes (The Decline of the West) (1918 and 1922).1 These are just two of many examples of books, articles, and public lectures that bemoaned the perceived degradation of German Kultur (culture), which encompassed the philosophical and metaphysical side of human endeavor, in the face of threatening Zivilisation (civilization), which represented the technocratic, rationalist, and positivist side.2 One Fritz Stern charted the impact of De la Garde, Langbehn, and Moeller van den Bruck’s influence in The Politics of Despair: A Study in the Rise of Germanic Ideology (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1961).

1

The Kultur/Zivilization dichotomy is well documented. See, for instance, Jeffrey Herf, Reactionary Modernism: Technology, Culture and Politics in Weimar and the Third Reich (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), and his article “The Engineer as Ideologue: Reactionary Modernists in Weimar and Nazi Germany,” Journal of Contemporary History,

2

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way of resisting the forces of civilization and renewing culture was through the arts. When infused with what the Germans call “Geist”— roughly translated as spirit, intellect, or psyche—art could serve as an antidote to rampant rationalism by embodying the invisible, ineffable, and noncorporeal dimensions of the cosmos. If mysticism and the occult seem antithetical to scientific study today, at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries, the divisions between the two were blurred. The scientific interest in such questions was not solely the preserve of quacks and mediums—pillars of society and serious intellectuals were equally taken up with them. In England, for example, the Society for Psychical Research, founded in 1882, counted among its members such luminaries as Nobel laureate Charles Richet, author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and former prime minister Arthur Balfour. In Germany, the Munich Psychologische Gesellschaft (Psychological Society, 1886) and the Berlin Gesellschaft für Experimental Psychologie (Society for Experimental Psychology, 1888) were established along similar lines, with equally well-regarded figures, such as Carl du Prel and Albert SchrenckNotzing in Munich and Georg Elias Müller and Hermann Ebbinghaus in Berlin.3 The two organizations merged in 1890 to form the Gesellschaft für Psychologische Forschung (Society for Psychological Research), with Schrenck-Notzing heading the Munich branch and Max Dessoir leading the Berlin one, to study paranormal phenomena while augmenting and challenging the domain of psychology.4 These men hoped to reconcile the scientific and the metaphysical conceptions of the human psyche through their work. Spiritualism and mysticism were each a facet of the impulse that drove the interwar avant-garde to explore the potential of visionary designs. Bruno Taut’s tracts like Alpine Architektur (Alpine Architecture), Die Stadtkrone

19 (1984), 631–48, in which Herf argues that the consequences of the Kultur-Zivilization split have been largely ignored in analyzes of the arts. Matthias Eberle discusses the implications for Weimar painters in his World War I and the Weimar Artists (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985), and Alan Colquhoun began a discussion of the dichotomy in his “Kritik und Selbstkritik in der deutschen Moderne,” in Moderne Architektur in Deutschland 1900 bis 1950: Expressionismus und Neue Sachlichkeit, ed. Vittorio Lampugnani and Romana Schneider (Stuttgart: Gerd Hatje, 1994); Raymond Geuss, “Kultur, Bildung, Geist,” History and Theory, 35/1 (May 1996), 3 also Peter Imbusch, Moderne und Gewalt (Wiesbaden: 2005); E. De Dampierre, “Note sur ‘Culture’ et ‘Civilisation’,” Comparative Studies in Society and History, 3/3 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1961); and Georg Bollenbeck, Bildung und Kultur: Glanz und Elend eines deutschen Deutungmusters (Berlin: Suhrkamp, 1996). 3 Priska Pytlik, Okkultismus und Moderne: Ein kulturhistorisches Phänomen und seine Bedeutung für die Literatur (Munich: Schöningh, 2003), 42. 4 Andreas Sommer, “Normalizing the Supernormal: The Formation of the ‘Gesellschaft für Psychologische Forschung’ (‘The Society for Psychological Research’),” c. 1886–1890, Journal of the Behavioral Sciences, 49/1 (Winter 2013); Heather Wolfram, The Stepchildren of Science: Psychical Research and Parapsychology in Germany, c. 1870–1939 (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2009).

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(The City Crown), and Die Weltbaumeister (The World Architect) are filled with mystical pronouncements, along with explicit references to German Catholic mystics, like Meister Eckhart and Jakob Böhme, to Eastern religions, and to Oriental architecture, as well as to philosophers and social critics like Peter Kropotkin and Gustav Landauer, who imagined blueprints for social utopias. The Crystal Chain Correspondence that Taut initiated in 1919 with a group of architects and artists was equally mystical in its language, inspiration, and aspirations. Taut was also very close to the German mystic and poet Paul Scheerbart, who knew Steiner and was sympathetic to Anthroposophy, although it is unclear how involved either was with the movement. Architects were moved by Theosophical and Anthroposophical ideas because they proposed the marriage of form and color in order to achieve a more spiritual mode of expression. The apprehension of a relationship between color and the divine derives from older pagan and Christian traditions. In early Christian art, for instance, color meaning was closely tied to its context. Red or golden rays signified divine energy, red flames indicated hell, and a red heart connoted love, while the green cross symbolized rebirth and paradise5 (Figure 2.1). German romantic painter Philipp Otto Runge later correlated the primary colors with the holy trinity and the form of the triangle so that blue symbolized the Father, red the Son, and yellow the Holy Ghost.6 Other mystical traditions like the Catholic one, that may not explicitly formulate a direct connection between color and form were persuasive as well; the way Gothic cathedrals use light diffused through stained glass to imbue space with a feeling of the beyond also provided inspiration for architects like Bruno Taut. It was the ability of color to give substance to the intangible and invisible independent of physical form that attracted architects. The appeal of mysticism was a legacy of the Romantic movement in German art, wherein painters like Caspar David Friedrich tried to reconcile reverence for the divine and the divine power as expressed through nature in a secular world as a way to inject spirituality into art without resorting to Christian iconography. Painters like Friedrich treated the natural landscape as the manifestation of the divine; by representing the majesty and magnificence of nature, as well as its immensity in comparison with humankind. His paintings conveyed what Carl Gustav Carus termed “feeling himself to be in God… [and]… the oneness in infinity of the universe,” thus, conflating the natural and the supernatural for the viewer. The juxtaposition of tiny figures in a vast landscape, a configuration

Colour: The Art and Science of Medieval Manuscripts, ed. Stella Panayatova (Turnhout: Harvey Miller, 2016); https://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/colour/explore/14; accessed July 21, 2020. 6 Paul C. Martin, “The Colorful Depictions of God in Mystical Consciousness,” Spiritus, 14/1 (Spring 2014), 37. 5

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FIGURE 2.1  Diagram illustrating Jacob Boehme’s mystical philosophy. typical of Friedrich’s art, is a meditative image that depicts the individual subsumed by nature’s overwhelming beauty and mystery. By portraying figures inspired by nature’s grandeur, Friedrich was able to inspire awe and a sense of the supernatural in the painting’s viewer. The art historian Robert Rosenblum remarked that the type of spirituality artists of the period sought was “a universal symbol, the intrusion of a divine, a shaping force to the presentation of transcendental experience through immaterial images, some kind of universal religious experience without subscribing to a specific faith.”7 The desire for such a “universal experience,” rather than a faith-based one, was a critical driver throughout the nineteenth century, and a catalyst for the rise of nondenominational mysticism and the occult, of Theosophy and Anthroposophy. The importance of the mystical and occult in modern art has been studied and well documented by scholars such as Rosenblum, Linda Dalrymple Henderson, Rose-Carol Washton Long, Sixten Ringbom, and Robert Welsh,

Robert Rosenblum, Modern Painting and the Northern Romantic Tradition (New York: Westview Press, 1973).

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but there is little scholarship on its relationship to modern architecture.8 The main exceptions are studies of Rudolf Steiner’s Goetheanum buildings in Dornach, Switzerland.9 Books on the Goetheanum buildings focus on its form and iconography, but tend to overlook or downplay the importance of the color schemes. It is difficult to reconstruct Steiner’s work on the first Goetheanum since the building was totally destroyed in a fire and it predated color photography. Nevertheless, Steiner left sufficient documentation of his thoughts on color to inform a coherent color theory, and his ideas had an impact on contemporary architects who were interested in Theosophy and Anthroposophy.

The Relationship between Mysticism and Science To many Theosophists and Anthroposophists, scientific discoveries made during the nineteenth century that demonstrated the existence of a world that was invisible to the naked eye, such as disease-causing germs, microscopic organisms, the x-ray beam, electromagnetic waves, and the telegraph, also confirmed the existence of an immaterial spiritual world.10 If there were layers of matter such as subatomic particles and light waves that the unaided eye could not see, why should the invisibility of the human soul be determinative of its existence? As Besant and Leadbeater wrote, As knowledge increases, the attitude of science towards the things of the invisible world is undergoing considerable modification. Its attention is no longer directed solely to the earth with all its variety of objects, or to the physical worlds around it; but it finds itself compelled to look further afield, and to construct hypotheses as to the nature of matter and force which lie in the regions beyond the ken of its instruments.11 There is a long lineage of scholarship on the relationship between sacred architecture throughout human history and notions of the divine, but this is different from the occult. 9 Rose-Carol Washton Long, “Occultism, Anarchism, and Abstraction: Kandinsky’s Art of the Future,” Art Journal, 46/1 (1987), 38–45; Sixten Ringbom, The Sounding Cosmos: A Study in the Spiritualism of Kandinsky and the Genesis of Abstract Painting (Abo: Abo Akademi, 1970); Robert P. Welsh, “Mondrian and Theosophy,” in The Spiritual Image in Modern Art; Ivan Gomez Aviles, Der Baugedanke des Goetheanum: Geometrie und Esoterik (Petersburg: Michael /imhof, 2016); Werner Blaser, Natur im Gebauten: Rudolf Steiner in Dornach (1913– 1925) (Basel: Birkhäuser, 2002); Wolfgang Pehnt, Rudolf Steiner, Goetheanum Dornach (Berlin: Ernst, 1991). Henderson does very briefly mention the architecture of Buckminster Fuller but modern architecture is not a primary focus in her work. 10 In the very first line of Thought-forms, Annie Besant asserts, “As knowledge increases, the attitude of science towards the things of the invisible world is undergoing considerable modification.” 11 Annie Besant and C. W. Leadbeater, Thought-Forms (London: Theosophical Publishing, 1901), 11. 8

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If science could penetrate the mysteries of unseen particles, Besant and Leadbeater believed, then it was only a matter of time before science could explain the etheric and astral realms, those of paranormal and psychic phenomena, that were long held to be fictions. Besant and Leadbeater were particularly enthused with the work of the Frenchman Dr. Hippolyte Baraduc, a physician and parapsychologist who was one of several people who pioneered photographic techniques to capture the invisible energies they thought existed in the human body.12 Already in the eighteenth century, the German physician Franz Anton Mesmer had theorized the existence of an invisible energetic force, a magnetic fluid, in all people that was subject to the same gravitational pull as planets.13 He called the force “animal magnetism,” and later renamed it “mesmerism.” He was convinced that disease was caused by blocked flows of the magnetic fluid; if the fluid could be manipulated to flow again and achieve harmony in the body, then the patient would be healed. He therefore developed a series of treatments to improve fluid flow, using a magnetic wand and other devices, as well as a suggestive therapy that was a precursor to modern-day hypnosis. The German writer Stefan Zweig dubbed Mesmer the inventor of suggestive therapy.14 Other scientists took up Mesmer’s proposition in the nineteenth century, modifying it as they probed its possibilities. In Germany, Freiherr Karl von Reichenbach, an eminent chemist, metallurgist, geologist, and naturalist, was fascinated by Mesmer’s proposition of magnetism in living beings and conducted his own experiments to discover whether such a force existed and, if so, what its properties might be. Later in life, after a successful career in more traditional scientific endeavors, he devoted himself to research on the possible intersection between electricity, heat, and magnetic forces in a single entity, which he called “Odic Force.” Like Mesmer’s “animal magnetism,” Odic Force supposedly emanated from all organisms and matter and transferred between them.15 Von Reichenbach viewed Odic Force as a new discovery similar to other essential natural forces like gravity and electromagnetism. Several aspects of his research prefigured later theosophical ideas such as his belief that Odic Force could be perceived by

Richard Schrenck-Notzing, Phenomena of Materialization. A Contribution to the Investigation of Mediumistic Teleplastic, trans. E. E. Fournier-D’Albe (London: Trubner, 1923 [Orig. 1913]), 82. 13 Arnold M. Ludwig, “An Historical Survey of the Early Roots of Mesmerism,” The International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, XII/4 (1964), 205–17; Douglas J. Lanska and Joseph T. Lanska, “Franz Anton Mesmer and the Rise and Fall of Animal Magnetism: Dramatic Cures, Controversy, and Ultimately a Triumph for the Scientific Method,” in Brain, Mind and Medicine: Essays in Eighteenth-Century Neuroscience, ed. Harry Whitaker, C. M. U. Smith and Stanley Finger (New York: Springer, 2007), 301–20. 14 Ludwig, 206. 15 Nicolas Pethes, “Psychicones: Visual Traces of the Soul in Late Nineteenth Century Fluidic Photography,” Medical History, 60/3 (2016), 325–41; Karl von Reichenbach, Letters on Od and Magnetism, trans. F. D. O’Byrne (Kessinger Reprints, Montana, 1926), 19–21. 12

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sufficiently sensitive people when in a Mesmeric trance, and that it appeared as colored light.16 It is interesting to note that spiritualists and occultists were quick to see the potential in von Reichenbach’s theories, as John Hittell’s introduction to the 1860 English translation of Reichenbach’s book The Odic Letters attests with its opening lines: “Do you believe in ghosts? Did you ever see a ghost? At least some of your familiar acquaintances have seen them.”17 Von Reichenbach’s book began with a brief anecdote on the differing responses that individuals have to the colors yellow and blue, and to objects like mirrors and crystals, differences science had not yet explained. Ultimately, he attributed the responses to the acute sensitivities some individuals possess, which he believed could be explained as a reaction to the Odic Force emitted by each color and object. Von Reichenbach conducted a series of experiments to substantiate his theory that were later discredited—not based on findings of quackery but because of issues with his methods. While Mesmer and Von Reichenbach posited an elemental force common to all human beings but new to both scientific and spiritual inquiry, others who followed, like Baraduc and Louis Darget, believed that the force they sought to identify was, in fact, the human soul and psyche. Both Baraduc and Darget, like other contemporaries, soon recognized the potential offered by the new technology, photography, to capture images of the soul. As its technology improved, the photograph was able to obtain an image on film that was astonishingly close to optical reality. As Ann Thomas points out, it was not long before the camera was seen as a scientific instrument itself.18 To Baraduc and Darget, photography seemed to offer the possibility of scientifically proving the existence of the invisible aspects of the human being, the soul and psyche as well as thought.19 Inspired by the X-ray’s ability to capture an image of invisible parts of the human body, researchers like Baraduc and Darget tried to develop a technique for photographing human thoughts (Figure 2.2). Because the photographic plate is sensitive to elements not visible to the naked eye, it can record images that are invisible within the limits of human perception. Since they believed that thoughts were signals emitted from the brain, it seemed logical that these signals could be captured on a photographic plate, if the plate was properly placed and deployed at the right moment next to the head. Both Baraduc and Darget therefore initiated a series of experiments in which they placed a photographic plate on their subjects’ forehead and then made a print from the plate of what they believed to be the impressions made by the subject’s thoughts. One of

Reichenbach Daniel Merkur, “The Study of Spiritual Alchemy: Mysticism, Gold-making and Esoteric Hermeneutics,” Ambix, 37/1 (1990), 35–45. 17 Reichenbach, 5. 18 Ann Thomas, Beauty of Another Order: Photography in Science (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997), 76, cited in Paul Firenze, “Spirit Photography: How Early Spiritualists Tried to Save Religion by Using Science,” Skeptic, 11/2 (2004), 73. 19 Firenze, 70–8. 16

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FIGURE 2.2  Photograph of the human soul taken by Hippolyte Baraduc. Darget’s best-known images is the “Dream Photograph. The Eagle,” which he captured while his wife slept beneath the photographic plate. Baraduc similarly experimented with photographic plates and human subjects. He called the resulting images psychichones. As he wrote, Iconography, such as I believe to have created and exposed, is based on the direct action of the human soul acting through the hand on the plate. Since 1893 my experiments have taken place without any intermediary lens, reversing the image. Solar light is refracted in inflected foci, whilst the animistic glimmering of man, or the force of universal life… emerges without deviation and traces itself in its very form.20 Baraduc was similarly convinced that he could photograph the human soul, which he believed radiated energy when it departed the body at the moment of death. In a famous photograph, he captured what he believed was his wife’s spirit floating out from her body. The photograph shows his wife abed, head propped on a pillow, with three cloud-like objects floating above her. The photographs that Baraduc and Darget took were, of course, black

20 Cited in Pethes; from Baraduc Hippolyte, The Human Soul. Its Movements, Its Lights, and the Iconography of the Fluidic Invisible (Paris: Libraire internationale de pensée nouvelle, 1913 [Orig. 1897]), 32.

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and white, not color. But by suggesting that through technological means the immaterial in humankind, namely the thoughts, soul, and aura, could be “seen,” they laid the groundwork for Besant’s and Leadbeater’s theories.

Theosophy, Thought-Forms, the Aura and Color Unlike Baraduc and Darget, Besant and Leadbeater endowed clairvoyants, not the camera, with the ability to perceive the invisible, supernatural elements of the cosmos. Color was central to their thinking. They believed that there was a physical manifestation of human thought, emotions, and the aura surrounding every person that was perceptible by clairvoyants as a series of colors. Furthermore, the meaning of aura colors was fixed and therefore could be learned. Besant and Leadbeater laid out their theory of the relationships between thought, emotion, human aura, color, and form in one article and two books: the jointly authored “Thought-Forms” article of 1896 printed in the theosophical journal Lucifer, Leadbeater’s book Man Visible and Invisible of 1900, and the coauthored book Thought-Forms of 1901 (Figure 2.3). As Besant and Leadbeater explain, they based their theory on their interpretation of work by Madame Helena Blavatsky, the founder of Theosophy, who claimed that all human beings are surrounded by a colored aura that emanates from their astral body subject to the emotion they are experiencing at the moment or the governing emotions of their personality. The specific color was thought to be related to the subject’s psyche, or inner life, and to change as the subject’s life conditions altered.21 In addition, Besant and Leadbeater believed that thought itself had color, substance, and shape to it—what they called the “thought-form.” In Thought-Forms they claim, “Every thought gives rise to a set of correlated vibrations in the matter of this body, accompanied with a marvelous play of color, like that in the spray of a waterfall as the sunlight strikes it, raised to the -nth degree of color and vivid delicacy.”22 Every thought gives rise to a “radiating vibration” and a “floating form,” which have distinct shape and color that adds to and therefore alters the color of the astral body.23 It is through vibration of the matter around the thought-form and astral body that color is created and made visible. Besant and Leadbeater describe the organization of the human being in seven parts: the physical, astral, and mental bodies, together with four spiritual bodies. The physical body is the material one common to all things; the astral body is the soul, which both humans and animals possess; and

Annie Besant and C. W. Leadbeater, Thought-Forms (London: Theosophical Society, 1905), 15. Ibid., 17. 23 Ibid., 21. 21

22

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FIGURE 2.3  Title page from Man Visible and Invisible together with the chart showing which colors correspond to which emotions. the mental body is unique to humankind. In Man Visible and Invisible, Leadbeater explains how the mental and physical parts of man communicate through thought that is transmitted from the mind to the body, and which occurs as a kind of “telegraphy between the physical plane and soul.”24 Here, as he often does, Leadbeater uses recent scientific discoveries to elucidate his occult beliefs. Not only does “telegraphy” facilitate communication between mind and body but it is also the vehicle for communication between mind and astral body, and astral body and physical body. However, Leadbeater admits that the consciousness of most people was not sufficiently advanced to enable such a dialogue. According to Leadbeater, depending on the spiritual development of the individual, he or she will radiate different colors from the astral body, which are generated by either the sudden experience of an emotion or the individual’s more constant state of being. In both instances, an emotion, or combination of emotions, causes vibrations in the astral body. This, in turn, creates the color, which Leadbeater says manifests in clouds of mist.25 Although invisible to the naked eye, clairvoyants can perceive these colors. C. W. Leadbeater, Man Visible and Invisible (New York: John Lane, The Bodley Head, 1903), 15. Ibid., 91.

24

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Less sophisticated people are “dull in hue, browns and dirty greens and reds,” while those who are more refined have colors that are “fine and clear in hue.” When man occupies the spiritual bodies, he radiates pure light. Leadbeater continues with a series of chapters in which he describes various typical human types and then illustrates them. The drawings of human types, like the “ordinary man,” feature a field of colors containing the outline of a male body. The colors are a combination of the primary hues from different systems (red, yellow, blue, and green) with browns and secondary colors. In contrast to these images, which combine abstraction with figuration, other images picture so-called sudden emotions, as opposed to emotional states, as colored abstract objects against a colored field. Take, for example, Plate XIII, “Intense Anger.”26 Leadbeater comments, “Plate XIII is perhaps the most striking in appearance of the whole series, and even without any explanation it would of itself be an eloquent warning against the folly and wickedness of yielding to a fit of passion.”27 “Intense Anger” is an ominous image showing a series of staggered, bright-red zigzags, like horizontal lightning bolts, stacked vertically against a dark background comprised of black coils atop a haze of grays, blacks, browns, reds, and yellows. The fuzzy background surely is meant to portray the lack of emotional clarity caused by strongly felt anger, while the red zigzags show the flashes of feeling such anger causes. Thought-Forms elaborates on many of the color concepts presented in Man Visible and Invisible while shifting the discussion from color as a manifestation of the astral body and pure emotion to color’s relationship to human thought. In this treatise, thought is the bridge between the visible and invisible worlds. Color is also the visible expression of specific emotions, so that “violent agitation” will produce a “flush of carmine, of blue, or of scarlet,” for example (Figure 2.4). While Besant and Leadbeater assert that only clairvoyants, that is, people with special vision, are able to see such thought-forms and auras without special instruments to aid them, they also claim that researchers are working on capturing images of the aura using scientific means.28 Besant and Leadbeater outline three general principles that govern the appearance of thought-forms: “Quality of thought determines color; Nature of thought determines form; Definitiveness of thought determines clearness of outline.”29 They then define a specific emotional value for each color: Black means hatred and malice. Red, of all shades from lurid brick-red to brilliant scarlet, indicates anger; brutal anger will show as flashes of lurid red from dark brown clouds, while the anger of “noble indignation” is Ibid., 101. Ibid., 100. 28 Besant and Leadbeater, Thought-Forms, 13. 29 Ibid., 31. 26 27

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FIGURE 2.4  Illustration of a thought-form. a vivid scarlet, by no means unbeautiful, though it gives an unpleasant thrill; a particularly and unpleasant red, almost exactly the color called dragon’s blood, shows animal passion and sensual desire of various kinds. Clear brown (almost burnt sienna) shows avarice; hard dull browngrey is a sign of selfishness—a color which is indeed painfully common; deep heavy grey signifies depression, while a livid pale grey is associated with fear; grey-green is a signal of deceit, while brownish-green (usually flecked with points and flashes of scarlet) betokens jealousy.30 It is interesting to note that some of the values they assign are tied to traditional Western color symbolism, although, as John Gage writes, those values are variable to the extent that the same color can have different symbolic meaning in different cultures but also in the same culture at different points in time. Still, it is possible to enunciate certain associations for individual colors. For instance, red is often associated with anger but also with love, passion, aggression, and danger, while green can mean jealousy, nature, renewal, and fertility. Black is also typically the color of evil, grief, loss, and death. Green seems always to denote adaptability; in the lowest case, when mingled with selfishness, this adaptability becomes deceit; at a later stage, when the colour becomes purer, it means rather the wish to be all things 30

Ibid., 33–5.

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to all men, even though it may be chiefly for the sake of becoming popular and bearing a good reputation with them; in its still higher, more delicate and more luminous aspect, it shows the divine power of sympathy. Affection expresses itself in all shades of crimson and rose; a full clear carmine means a strong healthy affection of normal type; if stained heavily with brown-grey, a selfish and grasping feeling is indicated, while pure pale rose marks that absolutely unselfish love which is possible only to high natures; it passes from the dull crimson of animal love to the most exquisite shades of delicate rose, like the early flushes of the dawning, as the love becomes purified from all selfish elements, and flows out in wider and wider circles of generous impersonal tenderness and compassion to all who are in need.31 In many of their descriptions, Besant and Leadbeater embellish the qualities of the colors with poetic analogies that make powerful visual impressions. With a touch of the blue of devotion in it, this may express a strong realization of the universal brotherhood of humanity. Deep orange imports pride or ambition, and the various shades of yellow denote intellect or intellectual gratification, dull yellow ochre implying the direction of such faculty to selfish purposes, while clear gamboge shows a distinctly higher type, and pale luminous primrose yellow is a sign of the highest and most unselfish use of intellectual power, the pure reason directed to spiritual ends. The different shades of blue all indicate religious feeling, and range through all hues from the dark brown-blue of selfish devotion, or the pallid greyblue of fetish-worship tinged with fear, up to the rich deep clear colour of heartfelt adoration, and the beautiful pale azure of that highest form which implies self-renunciation and union with the divine; the devotional thought of an unselfish heart is very lovely in colour, like the deep blue of a summer sky. Through such clouds of blue will often shine out golden stars of great brilliancy, darting upwards like a shower of sparks. A mixture of affection and devotion is manifested by a tint of violet, and the more delicate shades of this invariably show the capacity of absorbing and responding to a high and beautiful ideal. The brilliancy and the depth of the colours are usually a measure of the strength and the activity of the feeling.32 Not only did they develop this detailed description of color values and emotions but they illustrate their ideas in individual diagrams and color charts that serve to concretize their beliefs and make them understandable to the uninitiated. The charts and images with accompanying explanations are scientific in their systematic layout, no doubt an intentional device meant

Ibid. Ibid.

31 32

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to lend credibility to their work. Furthermore, by giving visual expression to the color values and publishing them, Besant and Leadbeater give them authority. After all, there is a tendency to believe that if something is written about and can be pictured, it must be real. In the article, and in both books Thought-Forms and Man Visible and Invisible, the illustrations were actually executed by others: according to the image credits, John Varley (grandson of the English painter and astrologer John Varley), “Mr. Prince, and Miss McFarlane” executed the drawings for Thought-Forms, with several “Vibration Pictures” by Frederick Bligh Bond, an English illustrator and Theosophist, while Leadbeater credits the Lithuanian Theosophist Count Maurice Prozor for those in his book. The article was accompanied by far fewer illustrations than either book— only twelve small color images. The twelve figures use vibrant primary colors, red, yellow, blue, and green, with a bit of orange; they reflect in the most vivid visual terms the emotional values Besant and Leadbeater assigned to color. Figure 4 depicts “brutal anger’s… lurid red from dark brown clouds,” for instance, and Figure 10 is the “green of adaptability.” In contrast to the article, Besant and Leadbeater refined and augmented the images for the books. Far more were included than in the article, and each has a detailed explanation. Again, this suggests that Besant and Leadbeater were well aware of the impact of images on readers. Besant and Leadbeater claim that every one of the thought-forms here given [in illustrations] is drawn from life. They are not imaginary forms, prepared as some dreamer thinks that they ought to appear; they are representations of forms as thrown off by ordinary men and women, and either reproduced with all possible care and fidelity by those who have seen them, or with the help of artists to whom the seers have described them.33 A couple of the images they included in Thought-Forms make their thinking clear. Figure 16 is “Self-Renunciation.” It is a pale-blue, plant-like form with a stem beneath and petal-like forms above, culminating in one long, thin central petal. Besant and Leadbeater bemoan the difficulty the artist had in picturing this thought-form, which they rate “a definite act of devotion—better still, an act of utter selflessness, of self-surrender and renunciation.” “Greed for Drink,” which is Figure 29, shows a dark-mottled red figure, with three curling tails, set on a black background. The latter image was supposedly the thought-form generated by a man entering a bar and, accordingly, reveals his “craving” and “sensual nature of the appetite.” Besant and Leadbeater’s appraisal of the man precipitating this thoughtform is that his nature barely transcends that of animal.

33

Ibid., 40.

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But beyond their function as abstractions of theosophical concepts, as the art historian Sixten Ringbom has noted, these drawings are important markers in the development of abstract art, since many of them completely lack grounding in representational subject matter.34 In this light, Besant’s and Leadbeater’s contributions are significant not only because numerous artists, like the Russian Wassily Kandinsky, Dutchman Piet Mondrian, and Czech Frantisek Kupka, and architects like the Germans Wenzel Hablik, Paul Goesch, and Hans Scharoun, were influenced by their ideas, but because in their efforts to render those ideas visible, they were among the first to portray the immaterial world in abstract terms using color and form.35 The theosophical images were among many contributing factors to the evolution of painting from realism to abstraction.

Anthroposophy and Color If Theosophy suggested a connection between the immaterial world and the visible world involving color, Rudolf Steiner developed a more complex color theory regarding what this relationship is. In 1921, Steiner gave a series of lectures on color in which he augmented Theosophical color theory and developed Goethe’s color theory into an extended color psychology for both painting and architectural space, which he pronounced, “The essence of colors: the foundations for a humanistic color theory for artistic creation.”36 Steiner, the founder of Anthroposophy, was an Austrian philosopher, dramaturge, pedagogue, and social reformer. He became a Theosophist in 1899, and by 1902 had become secretary of the newly founded German branch of the society. In the period from 1902 to 1912/13, he was astonishingly prolific; he delivered over two thousand lectures, wrote six books, and published numerous articles, which helped fuel the tremendous growth in membership the German branch of Theosophy enjoyed under his leadership.37 Steiner brought with him years of experience analyzing and writing about the philosophical work of the German poet and philosopher Johann von Goethe, whom Steiner credited with the epistemological foundations of his

Sixten Ringbom, “Art in ‘The Epoch of the Great Spiritual’ Occult Elements in the Early Theory of Abstract Painting,” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 29 (1966), 398–9. 35 See for instance, Ringbom, The Sounding Cosmos; Washton Long, “Occultism, Anarchism, Abstraction: Kandinsky’s Art of the Future”; Timothy Benson, “Mysticism, Materialism and the Machine in Berlin Dada,” Art Journal, 46/1 (1987); Christoph Wagner, ed., Johannes Itten, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee: das Bauhaus und die Esoterik (Bielefeld: Kerber, 2005). 36 Rudolf Steiner, Das Wesen der Farben (Dornach: Steiner Verlag, 1991) reprinted from 1921 edition. 37 Robert McDermott, “Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy,” Modern Esoteric Spirituality, ed. Antoine Faivre, Jacob Needleman and Karen Voss (New York: Crossroad, 1992), 288. 34

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own thought, reflected in the later naming of both Anthroposophy Center buildings in Dornach, Switzerland as the Goetheanum. Steiner had moved to Berlin in 1897, where he was involved in professional literary pursuits. Together with the poet and dramatist Otto Erich Hartleben, he assumed the editorship of two journals, the Magazin für die Literattur (Literature Magazine), devoted to introducing Germans to contemporary literature, and Dramaturgischen Blätter (Dramaturgical Pages), which was the first German magazine dedicated to covering all things related to the theater.38 He was also actively involved in the Freien literarischen Gesellschaft (The Free Literary Society), Die Kommenden (The Coming Ones), Freien Hochschule (Free College), and Giordano-Bruno-Bund. While in Berlin, Hartleben introduced Steiner to the mystic Paul Scheerbart as well as other well-known literary figures, such as the poet, writer, and journalist Otto Julius Bierbaum.39 Through his other involvements, Steiner became acquainted with a broad swath of the Berlin avant-garde, including Erich Muhsam, Käthe Kollwitz, Peter Hiller, Else Lasker-Schüler, and Stefan Zweig. Steiner broke from Theosophy in 1912/13 over disagreements about the direction the movement should take—Theosophists favored a type of mysticism rooted in Eastern thought, while Steiner favored an approach based in Western traditions. When he left to found his own esoteric movement, he took most of the German Theosophists with him. Steiner’s aim was to establish what he called a “spiritual science,” a deliberate choice of words—he wished to differentiate his movement from faith-based religions by grounding it in scientific method; Anthroposophy would employ the methods of natural science to investigate the supersensible, spiritual world. Steiner chose the name Anthroposophy from the Greek words Anthropos, for man, and Sophia, for wisdom, to emphasize his movement’s humanist orientation. “Anthroposophy is the path of knowledge to guide the spiritual in the human being to the spiritual in the universe. It arises from a need of the heart for the life of feeling; and it can only be justified inasmuch as it can satisfy this inner need.”40 Although they shared important common ground, the critical differences between Anthroposophy and Theosophy were Anthroposophy’s firm basis in Western, rather than Eastern, thought, and Steiner’s insistence that science, art, and the spiritual were of equal importance to humankind.

38 Bruno Wille, Rudolf Steiner und der Giordano Bruno Bund, 2; Beiträge zur Rezeption der britischen und irischen Literatur des 19-Jahr Hunderts, ed. Norbert Bachleitner (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2000) 107. 39 Mateo Kries, Rudolf Steiner: Die Alchemie des Alltags (Weil am Rhein: Vitra, 2010), 322; Helmut Zander, Rudolf Steiner: Die Biographie (Munich: Piper, 2011) digital version—no pages. 40 Rudolf Steiner, Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy (Anthroposophical Society of Great Britain, nd), 1.

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Steiner’s engagement with color began while he was a young man employed to work on the staff of the great Weimar Goethe edition in 1890. During this project, he developed an in-depth understanding of Goethe’s Theory of Colors. In 1897, he published Materielien zur Geschichte der Farbenlehre (Materials on the History of the Theory of Colors). “Of course, it does not occur to me to want to defend every detail of Goethe’s teachings. What I want to know is just the principle.”41 Steiner asserted that to write a contemporary theory of colors that combined Goethe’s insights with the achievements of modern natural science would be the ultimate accomplishment. While Steiner never managed to do this, he did, however, deliver several lectures on color, which begin to address the potential inherent in architectural color application for spiritual architecture. Steiner’s initial understanding of color was similar to that of the Theosophists. Steiner noted the connections between their understanding of color and contemporary explorations into color by psychologists. But the similarities between psychology and the parapsychology of Theosophy and Anthroposophy are superficial. Theosophy and Anthroposophy developed color theories tied to psychic phenomena such as telepathy, clairvoyance, and extrasensory perception, rather than scientifically observed mental phenomena. The word “parapsychology” is a composite of “para” for “beside” and “psychology,” suggesting that it is a field outside of psychology. Essentially, psychology is the scientific study of the human mind, while parapsychology attempts to elucidate phenomena that are paranormal functions of the mind. Thus, in keeping with his belief system, at the beginning of his first essay on color, “Das Farbenerlebnis—Die vier Bildfarben” (Color Experience—The Four Image Colors), Steiner refers to “physicists,” “psychologists,” “soul researchers,” and “metaphysicians” as those who, like artists, must engage with color.42 Steiner immediately distinguishes between the physical, or objective, properties of color studied by physicists and the emotional, subjective ones that are of interest to Anthroposophists, psychologists, soul researchers, metaphysicians, and artists. Like Besant and Leadbeater before him, Steiner developed a color system expressive of the essences of humanity, but Steiner’s system is more comprehensive than that of Theosophy. In 1921, Steiner consolidated the material he had been pondering for over twenty years when he delivered the three essays on color that were subsequently published in a single volume, Das Wesen der Farben (The Essence of Colors). It is interesting to note Steiner’s title; in keeping with his spiritual understanding of color, it emphasizes the qualities of color, rather than how color behaves, is mixed, Rudolf Steiner, Goethean Science, trans. William Lindeman (Toronto: The Mercury Press, 1988), 123. 42 Rudolf Steiner, “Das Farbenerlebnis—Die vier Bildfarben,” Das Wesen der Farben (Dornach: Steiner Verlag, 1991), 3. 41

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or is perceived. Steiner’s interests ranged from how to portray the colors of a human aura to what he believed were the differences between color as it manifests in the physical versus the spiritual world. He pictures the two worlds as a “flowing sea of color,” which encompasses the physical and spiritual realms.43 Steiner was convinced that, unlike normal objects whose color is revealed by light emanating from an external source, spirit exudes its own light and color. This fundamental difference in the source of spiritual versus physical color, in Steiner’s mind, meant that the two types of color could not be portrayed or understood in the same way. And Steiner, like Goethe before him, accords the artist special interpretive powers: “He, to whom nature begins to unveil her open secrets, feels an irresistible longing for her worthiest interpreter, art.”44 This, he believes, is so since “a person who, like Goethe, has a living experience of art has no doubt that what the artist says about color is deeply connected with its [a thing’s] real nature.”45 Most importantly, because of the artist’s special ability to understand and use color, he or she is able through color to “bring the spiritual (emotional) immediately into the artistic,” which makes it comprehensible to others who are not endowed with such ability.46 As Sixten Ringbom asserts, “Steiner actually went as far as to designate artistic sensitivity the best prerequisite for the development of spiritual abilities, since ‘this sensitivity penetrates through the surface of things, reading their secrets.’”47 Thus, the artist’s relationship to color is critical; he or she is the means through which any color theory is made manifest to others with less acute perception. Steiner departs from the usual systems of primary colors to propose his own basic hues. In his first lecture, he identifies four fundamental colors in the natural world, what he calls “image colors” and “shadow colors”: green, peach, black, and white, which he believes are the most important colors because they are those related to life, the soul, and the spirit. He asserts, “Green represents the dead image of life, Peach Blossom represents the living or living image of the soul, White or the light represents the mental image of the spirit … Black represents the spiritual image of the dead.”48 That is, for Steiner, the painterly primaries are not fundamental but secondary; he is not concerned with the color mixing that adheres to art practice but with what he understands to be the color nature of the human body, mind, and spirit. He supports his view with two arguments: in order to properly understand color, it is necessary to “feel what is in color” in order to “penetrate its true nature.” Second, he explains the character of the usual Rudolf Steiner, “Die Schöpferische Welt der Farbe,” Das Wesen der Farben, 83. Steiner, “Farbenerlebnis,” 23. 45 Steiner, “Schöpfersiche Welt,” 82. 46 Steiner, “Bildwesen und Glanzwesen der Farbe,” Das Wesen der Farben, 33. 47 Ringbom, “Occult Elements in Abstract Painting,” 406. 48 Steiner, “Farbenerlebnis,” 35–6. 43 44

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primaries, yellow, blue, and red as very different from the “image colors,” which is his rationale for rejecting the usual primaries. Yellow cannot be enclosed or contained, and therefore it cannot be a basic color; blue belongs to the supernatural world, so it cannot be a basic color either, since the colors Steiner is interested in belong to the natural world.49 Steiner’s idea of blue is odd, of course, since blue is the perceived color of the oceans and the skies, both of which are part of the natural world. Yet he is correct, neither water nor atmosphere is actually blue—they absorb the other colors of the spectrum and therefore appear to be blue. Finally, Steiner addresses red, which he asserts neither radiates like yellow nor collapses in on itself like blue, but wants to be exactly in between, steady, and even.50 These colors, in his opinion, are the “luminous colors”—the ones that relate to surfaces and visible objects, rather than spiritual essence. Like Besant and Leadbeater before him, Steiner accompanies his text with diagrams; the one depicting the color relationships is a modification of Goethe’s notion of the interaction of light and dark. Steiner shows the usual colors, with the addition of peach, in a wheel, but with their normal positions to the left and right reversed. Above is black, and below is white. In this way, he illustrates Goethe’s belief that all color results from the mixture of darkness and light, a property Steiner had commented on in his book Goethe’s Conception of the World. Modern natural science sees darkness as a complete nothingness. According to this view, the light which streams into a dark space has no resistance from the darkness to overcome. Goethe pictures to himself that light and darkness relate to each other like the north and south pole of a magnet. The darkness can weaken the light in its working power. Conversely, the light can limit the energy of the darkness. In both cases color arises.51 That is, instead of the total combination of, or absence of, color, dark and light together make color. In the third essay, Steiner addresses color as a medium for art. Steiner was well aware of, and sarcastically referred to, contemporary physics’ explanations for color. He compared the way that material reflects all of the light in the spectrum except the one that is perceived to the reason that someone appears to be stupid: “Why is a person stupid? In fact, he is stupid because he swallows up all the cleverness and only the stupidity radiates out. If one considers this principle of physics, which is commonly taught, and

Steiner, “Bildwesen und Glanzwesen der Farben,” 44. Ibid., 47. 51 Rudolf Steiner, Goethe’s Conception of the World: Chapter III The Phenomena of the World of Colors (1897) Rudolf Steiner Archive; accessed January 26, 2021. 49 50

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applies it to the rest of life, you see such interesting things come out.”52 In Steiner’s view, the scientific explanation for color perception made no sense. Steiner also believed that physical surroundings had a profound effect on people, especially on their experience of the spiritual realm. For this reason, the colors used in architecture and the combinations in which they are applied were of critical importance to him. Steiner believed interior walls should be painted with color that is “watery” and that has “internal illumination.”53 He believed that the way to develop proper colors with the luminous quality that he sought was to work with natural minerals as the paint base, since applying colored paints with this technique dispersed the pigment in a way that made for a luminous visual effect similar to that of watercolor paints. According to Steiner, it is “sensations” that color transmits to “those who have the soul, when they meet the colors,” that is, to those who are sensitive enough to respond to the colors.54 He asserts that by paying attention to eliciting sensation, the painter will be able to achieve everything that is possible in the art.55 To illustrate his point about the emotional power of color, Steiner remarks on the power of different colors on the painted canvas: “If I paint a blue table—imagine a room painted entirely with blue furniture, if you have aesthetic sensation, you will find it unbearable. Nor can you actually decorate a room with yellow or red furniture, just a painted room.”56 In Steiner’s opinion, the problem with the saturated blue, yellow, or red furniture and space is that they do not radiate an inner light and therefore do not appeal to man’s spiritual side. Color is so central to Steiner’s worldview because in his opinion, it lies at the intersection between the spirit world and the physical world. Steiner understood color to have agency in the same way that earlier mystics understood color. Architecture, to him, is yet another medium sitting at this important juncture. When acting together, architecture and color have the power to open a door to the spiritual realm.

Steiner’s use of Color in Space Mystical attitudes toward color have inspired two principal kinds of architectural response: buildings in which color is used in service of their creators’ specific belief systems, and buildings in which color is used to transport the visitor to another realm. The former is the traditional way of using color common to many different cultures, and typically one that Steiner, “Farbe und Materie: Malen aus der Farbe,” 56. Ibid., 47. 54 Ibid., 44–5. 55 Ibid., 45. 56 Ibid., 46. 52 53

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combines symbolic use of color with other types of symbols. Gothic cathedrals and Hindu temples are excellent examples of this type. In such buildings and spaces, color is not an independent agent. Steiner’s innovation was to endow color itself with agency. In his projects and in the various designs that he executed, he worked with both ways of using color in a prescriptive system that he laid out in his lectures. Several German architects, like Hermann Finsterlin, Paul Goesch, and Wenzel Hablik, were inspired by mysticism and spirituality, and applied color in order to create the illusion of another world or another dimension in our world. Although their ultimate aim was similar to that of Steiner’s and their approaches shared some aesthetic strategies, they were never engaged with a codified system like Steiner’s, and their work will be discussed elsewhere (see Chapter 3). Rudolf Steiner tested his ideas for the marriage of color and architecture in his designs for the 1907 Theosophical Congress in Munich, the Munich Johannesbau, and the two projects for the Goetheanum buildings in Dornach, Switzerland. While other early Anthroposophical projects, such as the model for Malsch and the Stuttgart Anthroposophical center, were inspired by Steiner’s teachings, he did not have a major hand in their designs. Furthermore, as the only color renderings or photographs that remain are for the Munich Theater, the Johannesbau, and the Goetheanum projects, they are the focus of the discussion that follows. According to disciples writing later, Steiner’s intention was that “color and form are to be released from the constraints imposed by a rational approach to art and become independent expressions of a newly awakened spirituality.”57 Steiner’s interest in art and artists lay in the power he believed the artist wielded, namely, the ability to perceive, and then represent for others, invisible aspects of life and the universe. Not only could he represent the spiritual to others but the artist could create the means with which other less talented people could access the spiritual realm. Steiner asserted that “artistic fantasy and sagacious insight point to a hidden power behind them in the human soul in which they both are one.”58 Steiner understood art to include color, symbolic structures, and space, all of which were incorporated into his architectural projects.

Steiner’s Buildings By the beginning of the twentieth century, Steiner had decided that architecture had to be an essential part of any spiritual experience. And he Hagen Biesantz, “On the Way to a New Style in Architecture,” in The Goetheanum: Rudolf Steiner’s Architectural Impulse, Biesantz and Arne Klingborg (London: Steiner Press, 1979), 9. It should be noted that the preponderance of publications on Theosophy and Anthroposophy come from within the two societies and, therefore, must be read with a critical eye. 58 Pehnt, Expressionist Architecture (Westport: Praeger, 1973), 139. 57

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concluded that existing architecture was woefully deficient in its design. In 1911 he wrote, so long as we are compelled to hold our meeting in halls whose forms belong to a declining culture, our work will unavoidably also more or less share the fate of all that is caught in this decline. The spiritual stream will not be able to bring forth the new culture in the way that this should happen if it is not allowed the possibility of working right into the physical, even into the process of giving form to the very walls that surround us. Spiritual life will work differently when it is enabled to flow from rooms the forms and measurements of which spring from spiritual science.59 In other words, the architecture was more than just a place of shelter and meetings but a critical actor in spiritual pursuits. Not only were the shapes of these rooms to come from spiritual science, but the ornamentation and color schemes as well—all had to be generated with spiritual import. Even before he split from Theosophy, Steiner developed and tested theories on art, spatial arrangement, ornament, and color by fitting out the theater space for the 1907 Theosophical congress in Munich. Steiner combined several symbolic approaches in the design: numerology, Christian symbolism, and color symbolism. In the theater, he constructed a series of seven columns made of two-meter high painted board with idiosyncratic capitals that had symbolic meaning for Steiner and, in his view, for Theosophists.60 The use of seven columns reflected the seven levels of Christian initiation. The spaces between the capitals featured signs of the planets with “Apocalyptic Seals” taken from St. John the Divine’s Book of Revelation.61 According to Steiner, these represent “age-old wisdom.” One column was colored red and had the letter J; another was colored blue with the letter B. These represented the columns in Solomon’s temple, Jachin and Boaz, and for Steiner, tied Theosophical thought to ancient wisdom. Steiner placed busts of the German philosophers Hegel, Schelling, and Fichte in front of the podium to complete the symbolic message of space as the site of knowledge and wisdom. In remarks to the Munich audience, Steiner explained the choices of color and symbolism that he had employed: he used red curtains draped over the walls because they would evoke red’s complement in the audience, which means that everyone would feel blue inside. Blue, he believed, is calming and sacred.62 Red was also important since, in Steiner’s view, it opened a window onto the “kingdoms of nature.” Rudolf Steiner, January 3, 1911, reprinted in The Goetheanum, 14. Rudolf Steiner, “Commentary on the Arrangement of the Conference,” May 21, 1907, trans. Kathleen Rudolph, http://www.exploringtheword.com.au/research/munich-conference-1907. 61 Ibid. 62 Ibid; and Rudolf Steiner, October 15, 1911, reprinted in The Goetheanum, 13. 59 60

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Steiner had hoped to paint the domed ceiling of the theater blue, but there was not enough time to do so. He believed that such a ceiling would lift the spirits of the audience. The theater was designed for performances of Steiner’s mystery plays, dramas that he wrote as a way of instructing Theosophists, and later, Anthroposophists, in “spiritual science.”63 That is, the plays were a way of concretizing spiritual ideas, of making them more tangible. The architecture and the paintings that Steiner used to decorate the theater were two other ways of achieving the same end. Together, the space and the plays constituted a Theosophical Gesamtkunstwerk, in which animate and inanimate were codependent actors. As early as 1908, Mita Waller, one of the German Theosophists and a friend of the Steiners, proposed the construction of a new building, as opposed to the retrofitting of an existing one as in the 1907 project, specifically designed for the production of Steiner’s mystery plays and as a stage for Eurythmic productions.64 Called the Johannesbau after the character Johannes Thomasius in Steiner’s mystery plays, the project was intended for a site in Munich. Steiner collaborated with the architect Carl Schmid-Curtius (1884–1931) to develop the design for the Johannesbau. The completed design included orthographic drawings of the site plan, floor plans, and elevations, along with color renderings of some interior spaces. The building was to be comprised of two interpenetrating circular rooms, one large and one small, serving as the auditorium and stage, at the center of the building. At one end, the spatial composition responds to the site’s irregular contours to envelop the meeting rooms in rectilinear spaces, while, at the other end, the larger circular room is flanked by two smaller circular rooms and ringed by two concentric bands of space. As architectural historian Wolfgang Pehnt and Anthroposophical writer Hagen Biesantz have pointed out, the double dome was an original solution that had no historical precedent. The design was a clever idea in that it combined two competing impulses in traditional sacred buildings into one—the centrally focused and longitudinally planned, that is, the stationary and the movement-oriented.65 The visitor feels impelled to move through axial forms but to rest in centrally oriented, circular ones. Steiner believed that by combining the two types in the interpenetrating circles, he achieved a balance of both spatial impulses that would, “convey the spatial experience of the human being awakened to individual freedom.”66 Compared with the plan for the second Goetheanum, the floor plan for the Johannesbau is extremely conservative, even though it did not rely on historic plan types. It relied on pure geometric forms that were symmetrically Rudolf Steiner, June 29, 1921, reprinted in The Goetheanum: Rudolf Steiner’s Architectural Impulse, 16. 64 Christoph Lindenberg, Rudolf Steiner. Eine Chronik (Stuttgart: Freies Geistesleben, 1988). 65 Pehnt, 11; Hagen, The Goetheanum, 17–19. 66 Ibid., 19. 63

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arranged about two axes. The only departures from symmetry occurred because of the asymmetrical nature of the site. A colored section drawing and a physical model of the theater depict ideas similar to those that Steiner employed for the theater at the Munich Congress—a predominance of red and blue with traces of yellow, in a space ringed by columns (Figure 2.5). The smaller dome and space are predominantly blue with a red disk on the dome that radiates curved red beams to each of the six columns in the room, whose shafts are also a light red. The larger room is red below and capped with a colorful dome that has red, yellow, and blue sections along with six faces around its base, just above the column capitals. The color used for the domes is infused with white, and therefore brighter and more luminous than the color in the lower spaces, which is saturated. The way in which Schmid-Curtius rendered the color squares with Steiner’s philosophy of color: Steiner believed that color should be transparent, not opaque.67 Steiner compared the central rooms in the Johannesbau to a German Gugelhupf cake, which is a traditional yeast-based cake that is quite tall and rounded at the top, cast in a ring mold so that it has a void in the middle.

FIGURE 2.5  Model from 1913/1914 of the interior space of the First Goetheanum showing the small and large cupolas and a partial idea about the cupola painting. © Rudolf Steiner Archive, Dornach, Switzerland.

The color rendering Muenchen_1911.jpg

67

is

reprinted

at:

https://anthrowiki.at/Datei:Johannesbau_

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He used the analogy in order to emphasize that the way in which the mold shapes the cake is similar to the way in which architectural space shapes the human spirit.68 Thus, the form of a spiritual building is critical; it will have a palpable effect on the people who congregate inside of it. Steiner and Schmid-Curtius encountered constant resistance to their architectural suggestions from various parties in Munich; by 1913, it was clear that the authorities would not approve the plans. But by this time, Steiner had an offer of land in Dornach, Switzerland from Emil Grosheintz, a Swiss dentist and member of the Anthroposophical movement.69 The lot was on a hill outside of Basel with commanding views of a valley below. At the time, the neighboring area was relatively undeveloped and not governed by the strict planning controls extant in Munich, so it was possible for Steiner and Schmid-Curtius to realize their design ambitions without running afoul of local authorities. They continued working on and modifying the plans from the Johannesbau so that the new building in Dornach shared certain aspects with the scheme for Munich.

The First Goetheanum Although it was based on the Munich Johannesbau proposal, the design for the first Goetheanum was simpler and more refined (Figure 2.6). Like its predecessor, in plan, the first Goetheanum featured two interpenetrating circular rooms of differing size for audience and stage, but the similarities ended here. Gone are the surrounding buildings that would have largely obscured the Johannesbau, which made sense on the urban lot but was not necessary on the open, hilltop site in Dornach. Instead, this building is freestanding and visible from the surrounding countryside. There is only one ring-shaped ambulatory encircling the stage, and in place of the two side circular rooms are two rectangular wings reminiscent of a church’s transept, except unlike a church transept, which bisects the nave, they do not seem to cross the performance space at all. Steiner conceived the building as a Gesamtkunstwerk, a total work of art, that married architecture with painting, sculpture, crafts, theater, and dance—specifically the Anthroposophical dance-form, Eurythmics. Since Steiner was not trained as either an architect or an artist, but had definite ideas about form and color, he built several physical scale models out

Rudolf Steiner, Erdensterben und Weltenleben. Anthroposophische Lebensgaben. Bewußtseins-Notwendigkeiten für Gegenwart und Zukunft, GA 181 (1991), Sechzehnter Vortrag, Berlin, 3. Juli 1918, 34. 69 Pehnt, 11. 68

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FIGURE 2.6  Photograph of the first Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland (1921). © Rudolf Steiner Archive, Dornach, Switzerland. of modelling clay and wax in order to work out the larger form and the architectural details.70 A photograph from 1914 shows Steiner standing beside one of his study models for some of the outer forms. The model is enormous and sits across several tables.71 This model shows the formal direction Steiner’s architecture was moving in—toward a more plastic set of curvilinear and undulating surfaces and forms, in terms of both the larger scale of the building and smaller scale detail, than what he had used for the Munich theater or proposed for the Johannesbau. Ornamental features, such as the frieze above the columns in the theater space, are made from basrelief waves that rise, fall, and curl. Ornament atop the tri-partite windows is similarly rounded and bulbous. As other architectural historians have pointed out, the new forms are reminiscent of Belgian Art Nouveau, German Jugendstil, and of the work of Catalan master, Antoni Gaudi.72 There are also similarities to the fluidity of Erich Mendelsohn’s Einstein Tower as well as the organic architecture promoted by Hugo Häring and much of the work of the Dutch and German Expressionists. When speaking at the opening of the glass workshop in Dornach in 1914, Steiner described his aesthetic goal for the Goetheanum: to “create works of art that will serve as an organic Biesantz, “On the Way to a New Style in Architecture,” 21. Printed in Ibid., 20. 72 Pehnt, 19; Biesantz, “On the Way to a New Style in Architecture,” 21. 70 71

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component in the whole organism of our building.”73 In other words, Steiner conceived of all the components in the building as part of a unified system. Steiner described the approach more specifically elsewhere: “Everywhere the straight line is led over into the curve, balance is sought; everywhere the endeavor is made to melt what has been frozen, so that it may flow again, rest is everywhere created within movement and is then again caused to move. This is what is so spiritual about our building.”74 As this statement makes clear, Steiner envisioned not just an architecture of unity but one of fluidity as well. Steiner saw curvilinear and irregular forms as less static than orthogonal ones and also as more natural. Another key aspect of Steiner’s architecture was the concept of metamorphosis. Adapted from Goethe’s famous treatise on the subject, Steiner’s interpretation was inextricably connected to his interest in movement, to the extent that metamorphosis described the “constant motion and flux” of nature. It is the repetition and variation of visual motifs that constitute metamorphosis in the Goetheanum’s design, as well as the illusion of continuous, flowing form. The building was constructed of wood atop a concrete foundation. Construction began on September 20, 1914, and apparently proceeded slowly because of the First World War. Tragically, the building burned on New Year’s Eve 1923 just before it was complete. Still, it was far enough along to offer many insights into Steiner’s architectural and color thinking.75 The wooden structure offered the opportunity to sculpt every surface, exterior and interior, in order to strengthen the illusions of holistic continuity and movement. In addition to the architectural elements, and in keeping with his notion of a total work of art, Steiner designed and had artists fabricate wooden sculpture for certain areas in the building. For the first Goetheanum building, Steiner himself directed painters in the application of plant-based pigments. Not only were these natural products but the way that they covered surfaces was different from other paints— far more transparent, a quality that Steiner felt was essential to the proper presentation of color. As discussed above, Steiner distinguished between picture or image colors and luminous colors—for the Goetheanum, he chose luminous colors. He also distinguished between the superficial color we see on things and the spiritual colors that are emanated by ether and aura. The colors in the spiritual world are perceived by the clairvoyant human subject but cannot be replicated with mere pigment. Rudolf Steiner, “Buildings Will Speak,” Dornach, June 17, 1914, reprinted in Art as Spiritual Activity: Rudolf Steiner’s Contribution to the Visual Arts, ed. Michael Howard (Great Barrington: Anthroposophical Press, 1998), 156. 74 Rudolf Steiner, “Die Polarität von Dauer und Entwicklung im Menschenleben,” Gesamtausgabe 194, 2nd edition (Dornach: Rudolf Steiner Press, 1968), lecture from September 21, 1918; cited in Biesantz, “On the Way to a New Style in Architecture,” 21. 75 Biesantz, “On the Way to a New Style in Architecture,” 21–5; Pehnt, 11–17; Rudolf Steiner, Vorträge über Kunst, Book 276 (Dornach: Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 2002), 116. 73

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Steiner was equally clear about how color ought to be applied to surfaces: We must once more gain the ability not merely to look at colors and apply them here and there as external surfaces but rather to live with them, to experience the inner living force of colors. We cannot achieve this by merely studying the effect of a painting or determining the effect of a color in this or that spot, that is by merely staring at a color. We can only achieve it if with our soul we submerge ourselves in the manner in which red, or blue for instance, flows and streams; we can only achieve it if the flowing and streaming of color becomes directly alive for us.76 Depicting motion using color is a way of making such flowing and streaming visible (Figure 2.7). In fact, surviving renderings and photographs of the colored murals show just such wavy, swirling strokes of color. Even the parts of the murals that were not abstract fields of color, like the figures in the small cupola, are formed with curvilinear applications of color. The fluid lines and forms used for the frescoes were also mirrored in the architectural details on capitals, for instance.

FIGURE 2.7  Detail of the cupola painting in the first Goetheanum showing the transparent colors that Steiner favored and the use of swirling color (1922). © Rudolf Steiner Archive, Dornach, Switzerland. Rudolf Steiner, July 26, 1914 reprinted in Biesantz, “On the Way to a New Style in Architecture,”46.

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For the cupola, Steiner had hoped to paint in a way that would capture “auric self-illumination.” Of the painting, Steiner said, By painting the spiritual content of the world, we have not to do with figures that one thinks of lit from a source of light, but with selfilluminating gestures. So, it is a very different kind of the pictorial conception that had to be put into it. For example, when you paint the aura of a human being, you do not paint it the way you paint a physical form that you paint so that you distribute light and shadow as the light source illuminates the object.77

FIGURE 2.8  The palette of colors that Steiner favored, and the translucent application of them, is evident in this watercolor painting by Steiner called New Life (1924). © Rudolf Steiner Archive, Dornach, Switzerland.

Rudolf Steiner, Vorträge über Kunst (Dornach: Steiner Verlag, 1991), 15.

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(Figure 2.8). Evidently, as the painters Steiner had employed did not fully understand what he hoped to achieve, in 1917–18 Steiner himself worked on the cupola painting, hoping that he could better express “spiritual secrets,” even if he lacked the technical prowess of other, trained painters. The paintings were not totally abstract but a combination of gyrating abstract color, figurative motifs, and other forms derived from the Anthroposophical worldview.78 Steiner was emphatic about the way in which the paintings should be read—they should be felt and comprehended but not interpreted. He insisted in several lectures that although there are recognizable features in the frescoes, they have no symbolic or allegorical meaning as such; instead, they are pure expressions of the spirit.79 In addition to the colored walls, nine-colored glass windows were fabricated—three red, two green, two blue, and two violet that represented “shapes on the way to the spiritual worlds.”80 They denoted imagination, inspiration, intuition, Devachan (the dwelling of the gods according to Theosophy), astral world, ether world, physical world, seeing ether, and cosmic world. According to Steiner, the windows were arranged to elicit a sense of harmony; they were created by etching images on thick-colored glass. The red western window, for instance, was a tri-partite composition designed to illustrate the “path to imaginative insight.” Steiner claimed that here, another means was tried to overcome the enclosure of the space…. In the case of wood and in its architecture and sculpture, it is attempting to overcome space in forms that are purely psychic, intuitive, and leading beyond space. Sensually concrete, it starts with the windows. There is the connection with the translucent sunlight that streams in from the cosmos and radiates through our visible world.81 For Steiner, as for the builders of stained glass windows in Gothic cathedrals, the streaming colored light dissolved the physical boundaries of enclosure and created a mystical, spiritual ambience. It also made a connection between man on earth, God, and the cosmos. Color was as critical to this experience as light; Steiner carefully chose colors that he believed had special meaning and effect—red, blue, green, and violet.

Rudolf Steiner, “The Building at Dornach,” Berlin, July 3, 1918 reprinted in Art as Spiritual Activity, 227. 79 Rudolf Steiner, “Anthroposophy and the Visual Arts,” The Hague, April 9, 1922 reprinted in Art as a Spiritual Activity, 251–2. 80 Pehnt, 17. 81 Rudolf Steiner, Gesamtausgabe, Erdensterben und Weltenleben, 309. 78

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The Second Goetheanum According to architectural historian Wolfgang Pehnt, Steiner proclaimed his intention to re-build the Goetheanum to the Basel National-Zeitung immediately on the morning after the catastrophic fire.82 Redesign work for a second Goetheanum began shortly thereafter. Steiner apparently was convinced from the start that the new building had to be quite different from its predecessor in material palette, as well as architectural expression. In his view, it was impossible to consider rebuilding exactly what had already been constructed and destroyed. He quickly settled on concrete as the material because of its fire-resistant properties and then built a new study model to test his ideas (this still exists today and is on exhibit at the Goetheanum) (Figure 2.9). The decision to use concrete as the primary building material meant that the building would be formally different; it would not feature the fine craftsmanship and the sculpting of wooden surfaces characteristic of the first Goetheanum. Steiner also abandoned the idea of the double dome and interpenetrating circular rooms in favor of a single segmented roof and fractured geometry all around. However, Steiner retained the cruciform shape in the new floor plan, even if the spatial dispositions were quite different. Another distinct difference between the first and second Goetheanum buildings is in the planning for the use of color. Steiner died in 1925 before the second building or all of the planning for it was complete—because of

FIGURE 2.9  The side view of the second Goetheanum. The irregular, organic forms that Steiner favored for the reinforced concrete structure are apparent here. © Creative Commons.

Pehnt, 21.

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FIGURE 2.10 The main theater space inside the Goetheanum. © General Anthroposophical Society. Photo: Taxiarchos228. disputes among the members over how to paint the space, the painting was only completed in the late 1990s (Figure 2.10). In the end, today’s paintings combine repetitions of the frescoes from the first Goetheanum with contemporary interpretations of Steiner’s intentions. The colors employed here are predominantly translucent red, yellow, and blue primaries applied with swirling strokes. As before, the paintings use abstraction and figuration together but are meant to be “felt” rather than intellectually interpreted— exactly as Steiner would have wanted. Together the paintings and the room’s architectural elements tell the story of evolution in three stages from the beginning of time into the future. The architectural elements, like the columns and their capitals, depict the story of the physical world; the frescoes focus on man’s development as a cultural being; and the windows portray man’s cosmic relationships. The stained-glass windows in the second structure, like the other aspects of the architecture, are a variation on those made for the original building: they are single panes, rather than tri-partite ones, that follow the same color scheme of red, blue, green, and violet. The windows complement the ceiling fresco and the columns to “tell of the human being’s cosmic and individual development.”83 Thus, although the images are meant Anthroposophy and the Goetheanum (Dornach: Anthroposophical Society, 2013), 10.

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to be sensed rather than interpreted, they do tell a story that is readable by the initiated. For both buildings, Steiner hoped that by fusing architecture, sculpture, and painting, the Goetheanum could “transcend the sense of enclosed space.” By this he meant that the architecture would become transparent to those inside of it so that they were transported to another plane, or realm. He believed that the building, with its frescoes, stained-glass windows, and architectural ornament, was a vehicle both for such transportation and for spiritual enlightenment. Color was just one tool in his design arsenal, albeit an important one. Steiner only painted the ceilings of the two Goetheanum buildings, the space above the undulating architraves, and used single hues in a very restrained manner on isolated details throughout the rest of the building. Steiner did not recommend using color as the only means with which to dissolve the building envelope, however, a strategy that other contemporaries would use who sought to transport the visitor by engaging their visual perception such as architects interested in ways to access the fourth dimension of space.

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CHAPTER THREE

Color and Fourth-Dimensional Space

In November and December 1877, a number of Germany’s scientific luminaries gathered together at the home of their colleague and friend the distinguished astrophysicist Johann Karl Friedrich Zöllner, where they sat around a table in a darkened room, as well-known British medium Henry Slade channeled spirits, caused knocks to come from nowhere, and writing to appear magically on a slate. Zöllner had already concluded that the mathematically suggested fourth dimension might not only be real but that it might be the space that occultists called the “spirit realm”; he hoped to use the séances to substantiate his beliefs. In his mind, the group he had assembled to witness the séances was of unassailable intellectual character. If they testified that they had seen spirit activity, then Zöllner was sure that their testimony would convince others (Figure 3.1). Mysticism intersected with spatial concepts that affected color applications in architecture in the notion of a fourth dimension, a concept popular among artists and architects in the 1920s. Like the notions underlying such mystical belief systems as Theosophy and Anthroposophy, the idea of a fourth dimension, a spatial dimension invisible to the naked eye, seemed particularly plausible in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, based on the same reasoning that perceived the potential of specialized technologies like photography to provide indisputable evidence of a spiritual realm. This conception held that the evidentiary system scientists, and mathematicians used to support their beliefs might equally well apply to mystics, and that the mathematical idea of a higher spatial dimension could be logically conjoined with the belief in an invisible spiritual or etheric realm

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FIGURE 3.1  Nineteenth-century séance similar to the one that Zoellner and Slade hosted.

that existed beyond the illusions of the physical world.1 Indeed, the founder of Anthroposophy, Rudolf Steiner, believed that the fourth dimension and the higher spirit realm were one and the same. In a series of lectures that Steiner delivered between 1905 and 1909, Steiner took up British theorist Charles Howard Hinton’s models of a four-dimensional figure, how movement facilitated the passage between lower and higher dimensions, the connection between the astral world and the fourth dimension, and the relationship between physical and astral space.2 Steiner was not alone; many of those promulgating the existence of a fourth dimension were also Theosophists or Anthroposophists. American architect Claude Bragdon’s beliefs are typical of the period. Both a Theosophist and a believer in the fourth dimension, he authored several books on the intersection between the two, including the 1910 The Beautiful Necessity: Seven Essays on Theosophy and Architecture and the 1913 A Primer of Higher Space. And the other two important writers on the fourth dimension of the period, Charles Howard Hinton in England and Pyotr See Linda Dalrymple Henderson, The Fourth Dimension and Non-Euclidean Geometry in Modern Art, revised edition (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2013), along with her many essays on the topic. Henderson has written the most comprehensive history of the relationship between fourth-dimensional thinking and modern art. 2 Rudolf Steiner, The Fourth Dimension: Sacred Geometry, Alchemy and Mathematics, trans. Catherine E. Creeger (Great Barrington, MA: Anthroposophic Press, 2000). 1

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D. Ouspensky in Russia, were also Theosophists. Bragdon and the others believed that theories of the fourth dimension could validate the existence of a supersensible realm like the spirit world by describing it in mathematical terms, and that the mathematics would grant credibility to a belief system that was being constantly challenged by scientists, who viewed such things as pure superstition, and theologists, who saw them as heresy. At the same time, the idea of other spatial dimensions stimulated thinking among architects and artists around new possibilities for spatial expression, a trend that only intensified between 1905 and 1916 when Albert Einstein published his Theory of Relativity with its paradigmatic realignment of the physical universe in the concept of space-time. According to Einstein, time fused with conventional spatial three dimensions to yield the fourth dimension, which, in his model, is space-time rather than another purely physical dimension. As art historian Linda Dalrymple Henderson has demonstrated, many artists and architects in the 1920s were fascinated with the new theories that were revolutionizing mathematics and physics. But while the influence of both Einstein’s broader contributions and his particular notion of the fourth dimension was unequivocally important at the time, it was the rather pre-Einsteinian concept of the fourth dimension that was foundational to color application strategies, not only because it predated the Theory of Relativity by many years but also because it was much more widely disseminated. Artists and architects explored ways of representing the higher spatial dimension in drawings and paintings as well as architectural designs, and color played a critical part in many of the architectural schemes, particularly those in which the architect hoped to transport the visitor to another, supra-earthly realm. The idea that space might include a fourth dimension emerged toward the end of the nineteenth century, as mathematicians extended early nineteenthcentury explorations of non-Euclidean geometry in new directions. For over two thousand years, there had been only one form of geometry, that of Euclid, which was based on a system of axioms, and theorems derived from those axioms. Euclid’s system was believed to objectively describe physical reality and space. After all, “geometry” means “to measure the earth.” At the beginning of the nineteenth century, three mathematicians, German Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss, Hungarian Janos Bolyai, and Russian Nikolay Lobachevsky, independently challenged the Euclidean system by interrogating the validity of Euclid’s fifth axiom, the Parallel Postulate. The Parallel Postulate was their target because it is the only postulate that cannot be proven by a theorem and the only one that is not self-evident. The Parallel Postulate states that “for any given point not contained on a line, there passes exactly one line parallel to that line in the same plane.”3 All three men discovered consistent non-Euclidean geometries in which the parallel postulate did not hold, opening the path for other-dimensional 3

Encyclopedia Britannica online; accessed January 2020.

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spatial models and undermining the absolute correlation of mathematics with perceptible reality. Stated otherwise, the advent of non-Euclidean geometry and n-dimensional spatial models challenged not only mathematics but ideas as to the very nature of space itself, how it is perceived, and how it is measured. The new math proposed spatial dimensions imperceptible to the naked eye but mathematically valid nonetheless. But unlike many mathematical concepts that remain within the province of specialists, the idea of a fourth dimension captured the imagination of authors like Hinton, and later Bragdon and Ouspensky, who then popularized the concept in books designed for laymen.4 In the introduction to his 1904 book, The Fourth Dimension to which Is Added a Language of Space, Hinton explicitly tells his audience that “a lack of mathematical knowledge will prove of no disadvantage to the reader for I have used no mathematical processes of reasoning.”5 Hinton describes fourth-dimensional space as space that pertains to a dimension beyond the visible and tangible world of three dimensions. The ability to comprehend such a space, he writes, distinguishes the human senses that can only perceive physical presences on earth from other faculties, including spiritual awareness. Additionally, while spatial perception, in his view, is the faculty that enables human beings to apprehend the world, it does not pertain to perceiving a thing in and of itself. “Space is the instrument of the mind,” he writes.6 With this statement, Hinton affirms Kant’s definition of space and rejects both Newton’s belief that space and time are entities, and Leibniz’s assertion that space and time are merely relations between objects. Kant had written: “Space is not something objective and real, nor a substance, nor an accident, nor a relation; instead, it is subjective and ideal, and originates from the mind’s nature in accord with a stable law as a scheme, as it were, for coordinating everything sensed externally.”7 This is a critical concept because it makes the perception of space, which is an inherent human trait, central to the ability to understand the physical world and physical phenomena yet free from the limits of human visual perception. Hinton, Bragdon, and Ouspensky illustrate the fourth dimension with a figure that Hinton called a tesseract and also a hypercube (Figure 3.2). They explain the tesseract in terms of known geometry, which made it easier to apprehend. They argued that if multiple points joined together constitute a line, multiple lines joined together make one plane, and multiple planes joined together form a volume, then multiple volumes joined together must also create something different. The new form is the tesseract. Following the Claude Bragdon, A Primer of Higher Space (The Fourth Dimension) (Rochester, NY: Manas Press, 1913). 5 Charles Howard Hinton, The Fourth Dimension (Leeds: Celephais Press, 2004), v. 6 Charles Howard Hinton, A New Era of Thought (London: Swan Sonnenschein, 1888), 29. 7 Emmanuel Kant, Inaugural Dissertation (1770), 403. 4

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FIGURE 3.2  Theo van Doesburg’s “Tesseract in cube with cutting lines and color indications” (1924) is one of many drawings in which he explored how to picture the Tesseract and Fourth Dimensional space. © Collection Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, the Netherlands, van Moorsel donation to the Dutch State 1981. same line of reasoning, if a line is one-dimensional, a plane two-dimensional, and a cube three-dimensional, then the tesseract must be four-dimensional. Hinton also used another conceptual model to explain the tesseract—as a figure that has four-directional qualities as opposed to only three. Hinton asserts that perceiving the fourth dimension is not an ability that humans are born with, but rather a skill that must be learned. In the introduction to his book he writes, “We must learn to realize the shapes of objects in this world of the higher man.”8 Similar to any dimensional 8

Hinton, The Fourth Dimension, 3.

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system, four-dimensional space has positions “relative to four qualities” in contrast to the three qualities of three-dimensional space—length, breadth, and width. The challenge is how to understand and perceive, or at least confirm, the existence of a fourth spatial dimension when it is invisible to the naked eye. Hinton helps the reader to visualize this unfamiliar spatial construct by posing it in the form of a perpendicular extension of three-dimensional space. As art historian Richard Difford so eloquently put it, “It becomes possible to speculate that, just as a line can be projected perpendicular to itself to generate a cube, a cube might equally be projected in an imaginary direction perpendicular to all three of its defining axes to create its four-dimensional equivalent: a four-dimensional cube.”9 This figure is the tesseract. Hinton posits that dimensions derive from movement, first of points on a flat, two-dimensional plane, then of lines, and finally of volumes. Indeed, Hinton suggests that all life might be explained in terms of movement, or motion, but for the fact that certain things in the physical world that move, like trains and ships, do so not because of an inherent movement impulse but because of human invention.10 Hinton also uses the phenomenon of motion as proof of the existence of imperceptible things in the world like the soul and the fourth dimension; he argues that human motion is proof that the human soul exists, since the soul, or mind, animates the body. Without a mind giving instruction, human motion would not occur. Yet the mind is invisible. Furthermore, the way that the human mind motivates the body is analogous to the way that human ingenuity animates machines. While in both cases, the source of instruction cannot be seen, the fact that neither is visible does not mean that they do not exist. Hinton even goes so far as to suggest that “the soul is a four-dimensional being, capable in itself of fourdimensional movements, but in its experience through the senses limited to three dimensions.”11 That is, human perception is limited by the organs of perception—the eye, ear, nose, mouth, and surface of the body—but the soul is capable of discerning things that are beyond normal perception. Hinton’s argument simultaneously substantiates both Theosophical beliefs and claims for the fourth dimension; there are many things in the world that exist, even if they are beyond the scope of unaided human perception. Hinton situates his argument in the centuries-old philosophical debates between essence and appearance, those qualities of an object that must be deduced versus those that can be empirically observed and measured. In other words, following Plato and many since, the world as it really is, is not the same as the world as it appears to the human senses. Kant invented two terms to signify this split, “noumenon,” for the unknowable reality of the 9 Richard Difford, “Developed Space: Theo van Doesburg and the Chambre de Fleurs,” Journal of Architecture, 12/1 (2007), 83. 10 Hinton, The Fourth Dimension, 19–20. 11 Ibid., 20.

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thing in itself, and “phenomenon,” to mean the thing as sensually perceived. Hinton argues that the tesseract belongs to the former category; it is a thing that exists but can be neither perceived nor known.12 In spite of the supposed unknowability of four-dimensional objects and space, Hinton attempts to explain, rationalize, and represent them to his readers. The very first plate in the book, appearing even before the title page, is a four-color series of diagrams of the tesseract. Here, Hinton uses combinations of primary hues from different systems, with white, gray, and complementary colors to illustrate the tesseract in twelve views (Figure 3.3). This diagram refers to a detailed explanation of the tesseract in Chapter XII, “The Simplest Four Dimensional Solid,” and Chapter XIII, “Remarks on the Figures.” Hinton uses color to represent the fourth quality that, added to the x-, y-, and z-axes, forms the fourth dimension. Beyond his use of color to illustrate the fourth quality of space, Hinton further devises a systematic color scheme to help the viewer imaginatively access four-dimensional space. He begins with a diagram consisting of a large square divided into four smaller squares to each of which he assigns a color—neutral, red, yellow, and orange. The reason for orange is that it results when red and yellow combine.13 From this foundational

FIGURE 3.3  Hinton’s color renderings of the tesseract. Ibid., 33–5. Ibid., 137.

12 13

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figure, Hinton embarks on a complicated set of operations to explicate the creation of a four-dimensional solid. In the many subsequent illustrations included in his book, he also uses the primary colors, red, yellow, blue, and complementary colors, along with brown. However, the colored figures that Hinton employs only show a part of the tesseract, the part that can be drawn in three dimensions. Hinton did not develop a color space like Albert Henry Munsell or use color for any purpose other than as a medium with which to make four-dimensional figures easier to visualize. In contrast to Hinton, Claude Bragdon did not work with color, but he did create an easy-to-understand image of a four-dimensional solid by developing very simple line diagrams to depict the concept. As Linda Henderson has pointed out, two plates from Bragdon’s Primer of Higher Space are particularly important illustrations of what fourth-dimensional space might be. The first plate, titled, “The Generation of Corresponding Figures in One-, Two-, Three- and Four-Space,” pictures the four different dimensions in relation to geometric figures. One-dimensional space is a straight line, two-dimensional space is a square, and three-dimensional space is a cube. Another illustration, “The Development of a Unit of 2, 3, and 4 Space,” pictures the genesis of three- and four-dimensional volumes (Figure 3.4). Similar to Hinton, Bragdon explains the generation of all three figures as “movement” through space—first of a point, then a line, then a square. Bragdon draws two versions of a tesseract to illustrate fourdimensional space. The figure representing the tesseract is made by moving the three-dimensional cube in a direction “unimaginable by us [the viewers].” Bragdon cleverly defends his drawing of an “unimaginable” tesseract with a disclaimer: “Figure 4 is a symbolic representation only—a sort of diagram—suggesting some relations we can predicate of the tesseract.”14 This is analogous to Hinton’s use of color in the tesseract. Because it is a three-dimensional representation of a four-dimensional object, the diagram can never accurately represent a tesseract. Although he does not use color or connect color to the fourth dimension, Bragdon’s book is critical to understanding the links between color, fourthdimensional thinking and space because of the way in which the mystical concepts permeate the book. The subtitle, “A Primer of Higher Space,” alludes to the spiritual realm, of course. Mystical ideas are also evident in many of Bragdon’s illustrations and plates. Beginning with the front cover, the text is peppered with small images of Egyptian figures, Christ figures, and mystical symbols like the pentagram and equilateral triangle. Bragdon refers to the “etheric particles,” cites du Prel’s Philosophy of Mysticism, and Theosophist C. W. Leadbeater. Bragdon’s thirtieth plate, which is called “The Projections Made by a Cube in Traversing a Plane,” typifies the intersection of mystical and mathematical ideas in the book. It is divided into two

14

Bragdon, Higher Space, Plate 1.

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FIGURE 3.4  One plate from Bragdon’s book showing the development of two-, three-, and four-dimensional space. drawings with explanatory text. One shows three views of a cube in space above blackened plan forms that depict the voids the cube would make at intervals as it penetrated a flat plane. The other sketch shows a cascade of cubes descending from above like a meteor shower, with several partially puncturing the flat plane below. These demonstrate in three dimensions the shapes of the voids made when a cube passes through a flat surface. The sketches here are meant to demonstrate what would occur “If the cubes be taken to represent the higher selves of individuals in a higher-space world.

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The plane, our phenomenal world. The cross-sections would then represent the lower space aspects of these higher selves—personalities.”15 Bragdon’s eighteenth and nineteenth plates further develop the connection between fourth-dimensional space, psychic phenomena, and clairvoyance. Plate eighteen is titled, “An Interpretation of Certain So-called Psychic Phenomena in Terms of Higher Space Theory” (Figure 3.5). It pictures a two-dimensional floor plan of a one-room, square house, and a three-

FIGURE 3.5  The eighteenth plate in Bragdon’s book illustrates the relationship between two- and three-dimensional space as an analogy for clairvoyance. 15

Hinton, The Fourth Dimension, Plate 30.

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dimensional drawing of the same house. Bragdon uses the two diagrams to illustrate the difference between psychic and physical occupation of space. If drawn without breaks in the perimeter for doors and windows, he explains, the square two-dimensional plan is impenetrable in two-dimensional space. However, it would be possible to jump over the perimeter in a threedimensional space to penetrate the closed two-dimensional form. The same is true for a three-dimensional house; if totally closed, it can only be breached from the fourth dimension. Plate nineteen shows two versions of the human figure, one as understood by normal human visual perception, with flesh and face, and the other as perceived by clairvoyants, transparent and surrounded by an aura. Bragdon uses these illustrations as a kind of scientific proof of the veracity of the concepts shown in them; if it can be drawn, it must be real, even if it cannot be seen by most mortal eyes.

German Debates on the Fourth Dimension and Spiritism Bragdon and Hinton’s books were available in Germany in English almost immediately after they came out, although there were German-language publications on the market as well. Other books on the fourth dimension that explored both the mathematical implications of the concept and the spiritual and spatial ones had appeared in Germany beginning in the late nineteenth century. Questions regarding non-Euclidean mathematics were very much at the forefront of German mathematical explorations at the time. After all, the very first early nineteenth-century investigations into the concept were conducted in Germany and Austria; Gauss and Bolyai’s work was well-known in German mathematical and scientific circles. In 1879, Eugen Dreher published Die vierte dimension des Raumes (The Fourth Dimension of Space). Theodore Devaranne wrote on the relationship between Spiritism, the occult, and the fourth dimension in his 1918 book Geisterglaube, Spiritismus und vierte Dimension: Anleitung zur Beurteilung okkulter und spiritistischer Erscheinungen (Belief in Ghosts, Spiritism and the Fourth Dimension: Guidance for the Assessment of Occult and Spirit Appearances); as had Johann Karl Friedrich Zöllner in 1879 in Wissenschaftlichen Abhandlungen (Scientific Treatises); a 1922 excerpted edition of Zöllner’s text appeared under the name, Vierte Dimension und Okkultismus von Friedrich Zöllner (Friedrich Zöllner’s Fourth Dimension and Occult), edited by, and commented on, by Rudolf Tischner. The public response to Dreher, Devaranne, and Zöllner’s publications is illustrative of the mixed reception in Germany to the notion of a fourth dimension. Zöllner’s book is by far the most important in the German context, since it generated a year-long controversy over the mathematical and scientific basis for belief in other dimensions and a spirit realm. Early

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in his academic career, Zöllner researched sensory physiology, philosophy, and mathematics, following which, after completing his habilitation in 1872 in Leipzig, he became a professor of astrophysics. In 1875, he traveled to England, where he met British chemist and physicist William Crookes, inventor of the radiometer, a passionate advocate for Spiritism and a Theosophist, and later, president of the Society for Psychical Research. Most historians date Zöllner’s interest in the fourth dimension to the beginning of his friendship with Crookes. In 1876, Zöllner published his first serious foray into the science, mathematics, and philosophy of the fourth dimension, Principien einer elektrodynamischen Theorie der Materie (Principles of an Electrodynamic Theory of Matter). The book is a series of ruminations that examines mathematical and philosophical arguments for the fourth dimension but steers clear of the controversial subject of the spiritual. It is only with his next publication, Scientific Treatises, that Zöllner integrates scientific investigation with the study of spiritual phenomena. The carefully selected title, which omits any mention of spirituality, was meant to deflect criticism and present the book’s contents as thoughtful and serious. Zöllner’s book imparts his mathematical theories in support of a fourth dimension and describes his collaboration with the British medium Henry Slade to stage a series of séances in 1877 in an attempt to furnish irrefutable experimental proof of the existence of spirits in a fourth dimension. Zöllner’s aim was to push the limits of science into territory that had fascinated people since time immemorial but lacked the decisive corroborative endorsement of empirical proof. He writes, If I were called and could promise success in giving my compatriots advice concerning their behavior to those alleged apparitions, I would consider it more useful and instructive to let them knock on the tables and walls instead of letting the ghosts tap. To take over the tapping in our libraries, thereby purifying the classical masterpieces of our philosophical and scientific literature from the hundred-year-old dust which has hitherto removed them from the spiritual glimpses of the living generation.16 Together with Slade, Zöllner developed a series of sixteen experiments that could confirm the presence of spirits. His purpose was to simultaneously prove that spirits and the fourth dimension were real and that spirits occupied this invisible dimension of space. In his book on Zöllner, Rudolf Tischner lists and discusses the supposedly scientific experiments: To prove the existence of a fourth dimension, the following experiments and phenomena can be exploited: the knot experiment, the leather belt, the gut ring and the wooden rings, the footprint in the closed double board, the Reprinted in Volkert, 137; K. Zöllner Fr., Wissenschaftliche Abhandlungen. Erster Band (Leipzig: Staackmann, 1878), 277.

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appearance of the paper sheet in the sealed double board, the disappearance a thermometer case, a book, a table, the falling of a piece of wood and coal, the drizzle and the light phenomena. In addition, the penetration of a shell through the table, the disappearance of the coins from the said, also explain differently, namely by means of the “penetration of matter.”17 Incredibly, Zöllner does not seem to have been at all suspicious of the experiments’ scientific integrity or of Slade’s motives nor does he seem to have realized that each of these phenomena could easily be faked. The reputable German scientists that Zöllner invited to attend and observe the séances in the hope that they would verify his belief in spirits and their domain included three towering figures in German science: physicist Wilhelm Eduard Weber, experimental psychologist Gustav Fechner, and psychologist Wilhelm Wundt.18 Instead, Wundt left convinced that Slade had perpetrated a hoax on Zöllner and his guests and that Zöllner had left himself exposed to that hoax by lax application of the scientific method. The so-called experiments were, in fact, typical stunts used by mediums to prove to skeptical observers the veracity of their work.19 When Wundt published his opinion in 1879, Zöllner became furious, threatened a lawsuit, and apparently accused Wundt of being possessed by evil spirits.20 Almost forty years after the Zöllner affair, German intellectuals were still fascinated with the controversies it enfolded, and with the attendant questions regarding the fourth dimension and the possibility of an invisible spirit world.21 The end of the First World War, with its unprecedented loss of life, rekindled interest in the spirit realm and, with it, renewed controversy. Devaranne’s 1918 text, a systematic debunking of the fourth dimension and Spiritism from his perspective as a minister, must be considered, at least in part, relative to this historical context. He does not believe that an invisible dimension is a plausible thing but views it, rather, as a “mathematical game.” He proceeds to use scientific analysis to explain paranormal phenomena and demonstrate that their existence is not dependent on the fourth dimension. He then concludes, “Just as the superstitions of astrology and alchemy of the Middle Ages were once superseded by the science of modern astronomy 17 Volkert, 143–4; Rudolf Tischner, Vierte Dimension und Okkultismus (Graz: Geheimes Wissen, 1922), these are discussed at various places in the book. 18 The controversy surrounding Zöllner is well-known and well-documented. See, for instance, Klaus Volkert, In höheren Räumen: Der Weg der Geometrie in die vierte Dimension (Berlin: Springer, 2018), 133–83. 19 Cited in Volkert, 141; R. Elcho, Prof. Zöllner und die Knoten der vierdimensionalen Wesen (Volks-Zeitung Mittwoch, 27. März 1878 (Erstes Blatt); R. Elcho, Mr. Slade, das Schreibmedium. Eine spiristische Studie (Die Gartenlaube 25 (1878a), 793–6. 20 Friedrich Zöllner, Vierte Dimension und Okkultismus, intro. R. Tischner (Leipzig: Oswald Mutze, 1922). Tischner describes the controversy surrounding the séances in an appendix to the text. 21 The extent to which the controversy was known is evidenced by the fact that an artist like Kandinsky owned a copy of Zöllner’s Die transcendentale Physik and mentioned the names of Crookes, Butlerov, and Zöllner in On the Spiritual in Art.

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and chemistry, so will spiritualism and occultism be replaced by the sciences of psychology and parapsychology.”22 Devaranne’s assessment turned out to be very astute. In contrast, Rudolf Tischner’s 1922 book is an attempt to rescue Zöllner’s work and reputation from ridicule. It begins with a summary of Zöllner’s arguments and concludes with a long essay that rehearses the controversy and repudiates some of the criticism leveled at Zöllner. The very fact that his book appeared so long after Zöllner’s infamous experiments is a confirmation of Germans’ continued interest in the fourth dimension and the intersection between this dimension and an invisible spirit world. Another popular book published in 1922 and available in Germany also attempted to reconcile the advances of modern science and mathematics with occultism. Written by the Russian esoteric Pyotr Demianovich Ouspensky and translated into German by Bragdon together with Nicholas Besseraboff, Tertium Organum had bold ambitions. The inscription on the frontispiece summarizes the book’s unusual scope: “The mystery of space and time. Shadows and reality, occultism and love. Animated nature. Voices of the stones. Mathematics of the infinite. The logic of ecstasy. Mystical Theosophy. Cosmic consciousness. The new morality. Birth of the superman.”23 Beginning with the book’s name, Tertium Organum, or “third organ,” Ouspensky announced his audacious claims for the book—to articulate a third way of knowing the world. If, in the first case, Aristotle elucidated the logical functions of the thinking subject, and Francis Bacon, in the second, explained how to understand the world through systematic observation, Ouspensky’s third way was mystical. He proposed the application of mathematics, which he understood to underpin mystical insights into the world, as a means to achieving human understanding.24 Thus, in place of the deductive or inductive methods, Ouspensky proposed a mathematical model for comprehending the world, “space, time, motion, causality, free will and determination.”25 Ouspensky drew heavily on the work of Charles Hinton, showing how widely dispersed and read treatises on the fourth dimension were at the time, but argues his case somewhat differently. Ouspensky underscores the infinite quality of space and proceeds to ask why, if space is limitless, it’s measurement is delimited to three directions.26 He goes on to divide “existence” into two categories, physical and metaphysical, of which the essential difference lies in the tangible nature of the physical versus the intangible nature of the metaphysical. However, Ouspensky points out, the intangibility of the Theodore Devaranne, Geisterglaube, Spiritismus und vierte Dimension: Anleitung zur Beurteilung und spiritistischer Erscheinungen (Berlin: Hutten, 1918), 59. 23 P. D. Ouspensky, Tertium Organum, trans. Claude Bragdon (NY: Knopf, 1922). 24 George Bosworth Butch, “The philosophy of P. D. Ouspensky,” The Review of Metaphysics, 5/2 (December 1951), 248. 25 Bragdon, “Introduction to the English Translation,” Tertium Organum, 2. 26 Ouspensky, Tertium Organum, 28. 22

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metaphysical does not render it less real. The fundamental challenge for Ouspensky, then, is to elucidate the ways in which metaphysical reality can be perceived. Both Hinton and Ouspensky suggest that “ether” might be what we generally call, “time.”27 “Ether,” the preternatural substance that mystics believe surrounds human bodies, was postulated by some scientists in the late nineteenth century to be the medium in which all things exist. Ouspensky and Hinton propose another way of imagining the ether—as the surface between any two kinds of receptivity. That is, the ether exists between the human body and the spiritual world, or the human body and its aura, or one body and another. In this way, they explain both how it is that ether, space, and time are invisible and why our perceptions of all three are circumscribed. Ouspensky argues that the three-dimensional world is the visible aspect of a four-dimensional reality. As such, three-dimensional space is only a part of reality, the part that human perceptual faculties can easily comprehend. But this does not mean that the fourth dimension is a fiction. Rather, he argues that people need to enhance their perceptual abilities in order to see the other dimension. As the book progresses, Ouspensky’s concerns adhere more and more to different forms of spirituality rather than to the fourth dimension. The last two chapters are devoted to Theosophy and to the notion of Cosmic Consciousness, while the conclusion turns to the Apocalypse. Ouspensky has moved from the philosophical, to the mathematical, to the mystical, ending with the visionary. Cultivating a cosmic consciousness, he believes, will enable humans to “see” the fourth dimension. The public’s receptivity to Tertium Organum, along with the other three books as well as others like them, demonstrates the extent to which beliefs that other, invisible spatial dimensions must be connected to the spiritual realm and that the new non-Euclidean mathematics could make visible, or at least confirm, the existence of the super-sensible world had widespread currency in the cultural milieu of Germany in the 1920s.

The Fourth Dimension in German Literature As in England and the United States, the idea of another spatial dimension also inspired novelists, who helped to propel the idea into the popular consciousness; in 1909, for instance, Oskar Hoffmann released Die vierte Dimension: metaphysische Phantasieroman (The Fourth Dimension: Metaphysical Fantasy Novel). Although unknown today in the Englishspeaking world, Hoffmann was a prolific writer in his time—he published eight novels and romances between 1866 and his death. He was an Ibid., 51; Hinton, New Era, 52, 56, 57.

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enthusiastic fan of Jules Verne and to a lesser degree H. G. Wells, and he embraced aspects of early twentieth-century Spiritism and Theosophy. The Fourth Dimension is a “metaphysical travel story” and, as such, very similar to other literature engaged with imagining the fourth dimension that appeared at the time, such as Edwin Abbott Abbott’s Flatland: A Romance of many Dimensions and Camille Flammarion’s Les Mondes Imaginaires et les Mondes Réels (Real and Imaginary Worlds) (1864). Hoffmann’s novel tells the story of a Danish mathematics professor Lund, who, with the help of a radium-powered telepathor, a machine that can separate his soul from his body, takes a journey into the realm of the soul and the dead. During his travels in this fourth dimension, Lund encounters line and surface beings, similar to those in Abbott’s Flatland, as well as the souls of a litany of historical figures such as Charlemagne, founder of the German Reich. In Hoffmann’s novel, the fourth dimension resembles the etheric dimension described in Theosophical and esoteric texts—the place where the spirit resides.

Fourth Dimension, Artists, and Architects in the 1920s In 1920s Germany, the fourth dimension, its relationship to space and time, the cosmos, and the cosmic were recurring themes in art and architecture. “Time and space are the natural laws of nature and art,” wrote the Belgian painter and sculptor Georges Vantongerloo. “Time and space are the ministers of sound and volume…. The invisible of creation is visible to our mind (spirit) and the visible of creation shows us the invisible.”28 In this brief extract from a longer essay he wrote for the widely read Dutch journal De Stijl, Vantongerloo captures the significance of fourthdimensional thinking to art and architecture in the early twentieth century. While acknowledging the relationship between space and time as defined by Einstein’s new Theory of Relativity, it asserts that it is the “invisible,” rather than time, that constitutes the fourth dimension. The human spirit, in some mystical way not explained, is the organ through which perception of the fourth dimension is possible. Vantongerloo also alludes to the ongoing struggle among artists and architects to reconcile theories of the fourth dimension and non-Euclidean geometry with Einstein’s more recent Theory of Relativity. Since both theories were fundamentally about space, both had relevance for architectural practice. In architectural terms, the challenge was how to make the invisible perceptible; that is, how to explore the new spatial idea with the very material means of architecture. Architects therefore began to combine new spatial G. Vantongerloo, “Réflexions,” De Stijl, 9 (1918), 149.

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models—like open plan, open section, and axonometric—with applications of color in ways that articulated space in new and unfamiliar ways. While perhaps the best-known examples of these innovative architectural ideas were made by members of the Dutch De Stijl group, like Theo van Doesburg and Cor van Esteren (Figure 3.6), German architects were also influenced by four-dimensional thinking, and were certainly familiar with van Doesburg’s

FIGURE 3.6  Theo van Doesburg’s “Contra-Construction” (1923), one of several experimentations van Doesburg conducted into new spatial models. © Collection Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, the Netherlands, van Moorsel donation to the Dutch State 1981. Photo: Rik Klein Gotink.

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work, which was widely disseminated in contemporary Dutch and German architecture magazines. Although he did not live there permanently, van Doesburg also spent a great deal of time in Germany, beginning in 1921 when he first visited the Bauhaus.29 Between April 1921 and early 1923, van Doesburg lived and worked in Weimar and then Berlin.30 Furthermore, the multilingual De Stijl was widely distributed in Germany and van Doesburg frequently published in German-language magazines throughout the period. It was Bragdon’s various diagrams of the tesseract that influenced architects like van Doesburg the most directly.31 Around 1924, van Doesburg produced a series of sketch studies of the tesseract in several different aspects based on Bragdon’s plan drawing, on his Fifth Diagram, and on his “Corresponding developments and projections of a cube and tesseract in lower spaces”32 (Figure 3.2). The drawings of “Corresponding developments and projections of a cube and tesseract in lower spaces” show two-dimensional plan views and an axonometric of a centrally situated square with squares attached to each of its six sides. At one end an extra square is added, so that two squares project even further into space here than on the other five sides. One set of van Doesburg’s explorations pictured this tesseract form as a sixcubed object floating inside a larger cube.33 Van Doesburg’s drawing is not an exact replica of Bragdon’s; he does not double the cubes on one side as Bragdon does and he adds a series of diagonal lines connecting the interior corners of the outer cube that intersect one another at the outer cube’s absolute center. What at first glance appears to be an encompassing cube may not be—the lines do not connect in the way that they should, which may be van Doesburg’s way of suggesting a fourth-dimensional form. Van Doesburg reproduced different versions of this diagram in several journals: the French L’Architecture Vivante (Living Architecture) (1925), De Stijl magazine (1927) with the caption “A new dimension penetrates our scientific and plastic consciousness,” and the German Die Form (The Form) (1929) with the title “Schematic Representation of a Three-Dimensional Space, Simultaneously Agitated in All Directions.”34 The tesseract encompasses a particular formal design strategy, which involves using a cubic volume that is manipulated to create overlapping and intersecting spaces, that van Doesburg would probe throughout the 1920s, and that influenced architects in the Netherlands as well as abroad. The multi-cube tesseract was a key factor in van Doesburg and Cor van Esteren’s well-known 1923 explorations of Contra-Construction proposition, with its adjacent cubic forms that push and pull the central volume. In Germany, Walter Gropius Hans L. C. Jaffé, De Stijl 1917–1931 (New York: Abrams, 1971), 177–8. Ibid., 177–8. 31 Difford, “Developed Space,” 79–98; and Henderson, The Fourth Dimension, 453–87. 32 Hinton, The Fourth Dimension, Plates 3 and 4. 33 Kroller-Muller Museum Archive (pencil on paper); Kroller-Muller Museum Archive, Tesseract (Charcoal on paper); Netherlands Architecture Institute, van Doesburg Archive. 34 De Stijl, VII, 79/84, (1927), 539; reprinted in 1968 by Bert Bakker (Amsterdam). 29 30

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and Adolf Meyer’s entry to the 1922 Chicago Tribune competition similarly recalls the tesseract form with its volumetric plays—a central cubic volume towers over smaller contiguous orthogonal volumes. Whereas Gropius and Meyer’s design owes a formal debt to the tesseract, a strategy similar to that deployed by the De Stijl architects, German architects tended to take a different approach to incorporating space-time and the fourth dimension in their work. For his Einstein Tower (1924), Erich Mendelsohn attempted to visualize time through movement frozen in static form as a way of evoking Relativity. Apparently, when, years later, Mendelsohn asked Einstein whether it was actually possible to do this, Einstein answered, “It is simply clever shit!” Nevertheless, German architects continued to explore ways of physically manifesting space-time and the fourth dimension throughout the 1920s. The tactic most commonly employed was to try to alter the space-time relationship by dissolving the usual boundaries of architectural space to create an illusion of occupying multiple spaces at the same time (even though Einstein’s Theory actually refutes simultaneity). That is, architects used spatial and material transparency to form visually contiguous interior and exterior space so that as the subject moved around and through a building, moments in space and time seemed to collapse together. Beginning with the early glass experiments in the nineteenth century like the Crystal Palace (1851) in London, the Eiffel Tower (1889) in Paris, and greenhouses, orangeries, and floras all over Germany, architects had realized that visual transparency created the illusion of multiple spaces fusing into one, thereby disintegrating the physical boundaries of normal spatial experience. Because transparent architecture was only possible with newly invented structural systems and glass-making techniques, it quickly became associated with modernity and modernism. In Germany, the poet and visionary Paul Scheerbart extolled the magical qualities of glass construction beginning in 1893; he had an undeniable influence on German architectural practice not only because of his popular writings but also based on his collaboration with Bruno Taut on the Glass Pavilion at the Deutsche Werkbund Exhibition of 1914. If Scheerbart and Taut publicized the visionary and modern potential inherent in glass architecture, others, like artist Lazlo Moholy-Nagy, in his photograms and transparent paintings, and architect Walter Gropius, in buildings like the Dessau Bauhaus, probed transparency’s ability to create simultaneous experience. Moholy-Nagy was vocal about his interest in Einstein’s Theory of Relativity; his experiments with moveable art like the LightSpace Modulator (1922–30) were attempts to embody the theory, which he understood as the confluence of time and speed, or motion.35 By the 1920s, then, transparency was a popular architectural trope both inside and outside of Germany; there are numerous examples of built and unbuilt projects using large amounts of see-through glass and open spatial planning, Henderson, The Fourth Dimension, 35–6.

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including Mies van der Rohe’s Friedrichstrasse Office Building (1921), Glass Skyscraper (1922), and Barcelona Pavilion (1929); Gropius and Meyer’s Bauhaus Building (1926); and Hannes Meyer’s League of Nations design (1927).36 In 1925, Gropius articulated his understanding of the new spatial sensibility: the feeling of space changes; while the closed cultural developments of older times embodied the heavy bond to the earth in solid, monolithic structures and individualized interiors, the works of today’s trend-setting builders show a changed sense of space that reflects the movement, the traffic of our time in a loosening of the structures and rooms and the context tries to preserve the interior with the space, which negates the enclosing wall.37 The general interest in transparency is also apparent in a raft of journal articles and other publications that appeared in the 1920s, such as Arthur Korn’s 1928 book on glass construction titled Glas. Im Bau und als Gebrauchsgegenstand (Glass in Architecture and as a Commodity), and Konrad Werner Schultze’s 1929 Glas in der Architektur der Gegenwart (Glass in Contemporary Architecture) that documented the variety of ways in which transparent glass was being used at the time. Interestingly, Schultze ties the new interest in glass to its ability to create continuous space. It is the interior that is critical, he writes, not the exterior. The exterior results wholly from the interior spatial treatment: “Form is the visible appearance of the essence.”38 Thus, a transparent glass exterior would be the logical result of a modern open plan and section. Korn recognizes the kind of simultaneous experience that becomes possible in glass buildings—the “Es ist da und nicht da,” it is there and not there, property of transparent glass. That is, Korn understands the way that this material is both physically present and absent at the same time, as well as the way that this contradictory property permits spatial continuity, the construction of multiple viewpoints through the building, and a new kind of perspectival experience. Later, the German architectural historian Siegfried Giedion would affirm the connection between the transparent architecture of the 1920s and fourth-dimensional and Relativity thinking in his 1942 book, Space, Time and Architecture. A simple computer search for the term “fourth dimension” reveals its pervasiveness in the literature related to German art and architecture For a comprehensive history of transparency in German modern architecture, see Deborah Ascher Barnstone, The Transparent State: Architecture and Politics (London: Routledge, 2005). 37 Walter Gropius, “Baumeister-Siedlung,” 1925, cited in Mensch und Raum: Das Darmstädter Gespräch 1951 mit den wegweisenden, Bauwelt Fundamente 94, ed. Ulrich Conrads and Peter Neitzke (Braunschweig: Vieweg & Sohn, 1991), 47–8. 38 Konrad Werner Schulze, Glas in der Architektur der Gegenwart (Stuttgart: Dr. Zaugg, 1929), 25. 36

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after 1880; it appears in a range of influential art journals, including Innendekoration, Kunst und Künstler, Die Form, and Der Cicerone, to describe projects in painting, sculpture, and architecture, although it appears more frequently in the 1920s.39 One early mention is a notice published in Die Kunst für Alle from 1891 that advertises an artists’ festival in Vienna titled, “Im Reiche der vierten Dimension” (In the Realm of the Fourth Dimension).40 According to the notice, many “excellent artists of the future” registered to attend. Its use as an idiomatic figure of speech in 1917, “suddenly emerging from the fourth dimension” is perhaps an even better demonstration of the concept’s familiarity in lay circles.41 Equally important to note, already in the nineteenth century, the architecture literature associates the concept of a fourth dimension with new spatial models, as well as mystical “secrets of the fourth dimension.”42 No less a figure than art historian August Schmarsow discussed, and rejected, the fourth dimension as a manifestation of space in his 1921 essay “Zur Bedeutung des Tiefenerlebnisses im Raumgebilde” (On the Meaning of Deep Experience in Spatial Structure).43 Schmarsow was the first theorist to privilege space over form as the fundamental attribute of architecture.44 While Schmarsow’s position is not relevant here, his engagement with the idea of the fourth dimension is, since it demonstrates how widely disseminated and considered the concept was at the time. In the same year, Bruno Taut also weighed in on Relativity and the fourth dimension in an article titled, “My Worldview.”45 “Mathematics is identical with metaphysics,” he writes, not only because mathematics deals with the same unseen, supra-physical world as metaphysics but because, in his view, mathematical constructs like the fourth dimension are first principles. Later in the essay, Taut lists what he sees as the fundamental elements of human existence and architecture: “Holy numbers, dimensions, fabrics, colors, and so on. Architecture has three dimensions: length, width, height equals mind, feeling, imagination. Examples include Franz Roh, “Alexander Kanoldt,” Der Cicerone, 14 (1926), 483; Theo von Doesburg, “Über das Verhältnis von Malerischer und Architektonischer Gestaltung,” Der Cicerone, 18 (1927), 564; Walter Riezler, “Die Atonale Welt,” Die Form (1929), 26; Wilhelm Michel, “Zur Kosmologischen Anschauung der Kunst,” Innendekoration: mein Heim, mein Stoltz; die gesamte Wohnungskunst in Bild und Wort, 8 (1915), 321; and Fritz Schumacher, “Raum-Erlebnis und Gestaltungstrieb,” Innendekoration, 1 (1930), 49. 40 “Vermischte Nachrichten,” Die Kunst für Alle: Malerei, Plastik, Graphik, Architektur, 159. 41 Julius Elias, “Olaf Gulbransson,” Kunst und Künstler, 4 (1917), “… wie aus vierte Dimension plötzlich hervortretend,” 196. 42 Karl Michael Kuzmany, “Die Frühjahr Ausstellung der Wiener Sezession,” Die Kunst für Alle, 17 (1909), 400. 43 August Schmarsow, “Zur Bedeutung des Tiefenerlebnisses im Raumgebilde,” Zeitschrift für Äesthetik und allgemeine Kunstwissenschaft, III–IV/1 (1921), 104–9. 44 Mitchell W. Schwarzer, “The Emergence of Architectural Space: August Schmarsow’s Theory of ‘Raumgestaltung’,” Assemblage, 15 (1991), 48–61. 45 Bruno Taut, “Mein Weltbild,” Feuer: Monatsschrift für Kunst und künstlerische Kultur (1921–1922), 277–84. 39

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The fourth dimension after Gauss = Einstein: time, the musical. Space and time belong to the larger third, the fifth dimension, the universe?”46 This brief excerpt is rich in meaning. It ties mysticism and space-time to architecture and demonstrates Taut’s familiarity with the fourth dimension. That Taut was aware of Carl Friedrich Gauss’s claims vis-a-vis mathematical contributions to theories of the fourth dimension shows that Taut was quite knowledgeable about the origins of fourth-dimension theory, since Gauss never published on the topic. By equating Gauss’s theory with Einstein’s, the excerpt suggests that Taut considered space-time to be the fourth dimension. Lastly, it places both color and the fourth dimension together as essential elements of contemporary architecture in a combination that Taut would actively promote for most of his career.

Colored Architecture and Fourth-Dimensional Thinking A group of artists and architects, including Hermann Finsterlin, Paul Goesch, Wenzel Hablik, and Bruno Taut, with Carl Krayl, Paul Goesch, and Franz Mutzenbecher, designed some of the most unusual and original colored spaces of the 1920s. Motivated by a desire to create new kinds of space, this group produced vividly multicolored interiors. The techniques that they used varied widely from controlled geometric figures to seemingly random splashes of color. The work was similar in intent to designs by members of the Dutch De Stijl group such as Theo van Doesburg, who attempted to use a combination of primary colors, black, white, and gray, and abstract forms on interiors to dissolve the usual architectonic boundaries and reference points, and to replace them with a new kind of space. Van Doesburg’s aim was, “The expression of the spiritual without the natural as an aid, with no other means than the pure elements of painting—color and line: Spiritualism.”47 Pure color combined with abstraction was one means with which to achieve spiritual expression in architecture, as well as to disintegrate the materiality of architecture in order to reconstruct it as a temporal experience. Although often used interchangeably, spiritual and mystical do not mean exactly the same thing. The difference between the two terms is subtle: “spiritual” describes attitudes and practices that pertain to the soul or spirit, while “mystical” describes esoteric and occult practices and the ability to transcend ordinary human perception and knowledge. All mystics are spiritual, but not all spiritual beings are mystics. Ibid., 282. Theo van Doesburg, De Avondpost, November 20, 1915, cited in Alan Doig, Theo van Doesburg: Painting into Architecture, Theory into Practice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 4.

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The distinction between the two concepts is important in the 1920s because spiritual matters preoccupied many architects, like Bruno Taut, Erich Mendelsohn, and Hans Scharoun, who did not adhere to Theosophical or Anthroposophical beliefs, even though they would have been well aware of the substance of them. All of the protagonists discussed here were deeply spiritual men who were fascinated by different forms of spirituality, and many of them were equally intrigued by forms of mysticism; both Goesch and Finsterlin had Theosophical and Anthroposophical sympathies; Goesch was a devout Christian and deeply indebted to Eastern religious ideas; Hablik had a lifelong obsession with all things cosmic; Krayl was intensely interested in the apocalyptic texts of John the Baptist, Christian Revelation, and Christian Science; and Taut often referred to German mystics like Meister Eckhart, Hilde von Bingen, and Jakob Boehme, but also alluded to Eastern mystical traditions. All shared an interest in the spiritual potential of natural forms, color, and space and experimented with cosmic visions, as evident in the Crystal Chain letters exchanged in 1919 and 1920, as well as other letters, lectures, writings, and creative works.48

Hermann Finsterlin’s Architectural Fantasies Hermann Finsterlin is best known for his visionary architectural sketches from the interwar period. Although he was schooled not as an architect but as an artist, Finsterlin became a prominent figure in the German avantgarde because of his fantastic unbuilt architectural imaginings, which were simultaneously accomplished works of art. Finsterlin’s work differs from that of the others discussed here in that he always drew exterior forms, never interior spaces, so the relationship to the fourth dimension in his work is quite distinct. Nevertheless, it is clear from his essays that he imagined a new architecture that would surmount the constraints of earthly threedimensional geometry. The largely curvilinear forms could be seen as ideas for geometries other than Euclidean ones, bearing in mind that n-dimensional geometry applies to curved surfaces (Figure 3.7). Finsterlin was born in Munich on August 18, 1887, into a well-to-do, upper-middle-class family—Finsterlin’s father was a chemist and director of a factory. Intellectually restless, he matriculated into several different academic programs at the University of Munich over the years, studying natural science, medicine, and Indology, before turning to philosophy and painting. According to the eminent architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner, Finsterlin was drawn to fine art after experiencing an epiphany atop a mountain in

Finsterlin, Goesch, Hablik, Krayl, and Taut all participated in the correspondence. See Iain Boyd Whyte, The Crystal Chain Letters: Architectural Fantasies by Bruno Taut and His Circle (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1985) for translations of the letters and commentary.

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FIGURE 3.7  Sketches by Hermann Finsterlin of his architectural ideas. His use of primary colors is apparent in the drawings. “Wolkenkuckucksheim.” © Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Gift of the Finsterlin Family 1978. Inventory: C 1978/2766-2767. Bavaria.49 Having been disillusioned by the coldly analytical aspects of scientific study, he sought instead a more creative outlet. His rejection of rational thinking in favor of emotionally charged, imaginative thinking was an attitude that continued to permeate his architectural opinions and propositions lifelong, although allusions to his wide-ranging interests, from Nicholas Pevsner, “Finsterlin and Some Others,” Architectural Review, 132 (November 1962), 353–7. 49

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natural phenomena to art, are plentiful in the sketches and watercolors that made him famous. Usually labelled an “Expressionist,” as historian Dennis Sharp has pointed out, Finsterlin’s work is more properly seen as a kind of organic architecture in the true sense of the word, since the clear intent in his designs is to transform natural forms into architectural ones.50 Finsterlin explained his fascination with architecture by proclaiming, Tell me what love is, what faith, and the iron will of hope—and I will tell you what it means to build: to bring the seventh day of creation one wave further in the tidal chain that lovingly toys with eternity. There is no greater affirmer than the builder. Everything about him is expansion, pressing outwards—more rhythmical, harmonious and healthy the pulse of his soul, the more perfect and inimitable will be the superstructure he sets upon the world’s countenance…. Building is everything, love, procreation, struggle, movement, suffering, parent and child, and the holiest symbol of all that is holy.51 Not only does Finsterlin place, like Gropius, Taut, and the Arbeitsrat für Kunst, architecture at the center of all the arts, he situates it at the heart of all things human, a place of privilege that accounts for his impetus to produce visionary designs rather than “pure” art. Sadly, the buildings he envisioned were never to be realized in concrete form. Finsterlin was sympathetic to Steiner, Theosophy, and Anthroposophy, although the degree of his involvement with these movements is unknown.52 Still, his passionate, obsessive occupation with developing organic forms for architecture, and his preference for translucent, primary colors in his paintings and physical models, ties his work to that of Steiner and Steiner’s disciples (see Chapter 2). Finsterlin first came to notice in the famous 1919 Exhibition of Unknown Architects, sponsored by the Arbeitsrat für Kunst in Berlin. Finsterlin had responded to the Arbeitsrat für Kunst call for submissions by sending his work to Walter Gropius, who wrote back enthusiastically, “I am very impressed.”53 Finsterlin’s participation in the exhibition was followed by an invitation from Bruno Taut to join the Crystal Chain Correspondence, which Finsterlin reluctantly decided to do. Though opposed to the idea of an anonymous group, he believed that Taut’s circle of architects and artists, all significant figures in German art circles, were people he needed to know. For the Crystal Chain, Finsterlin chose the pseudonym Prometheus, usually translated as “foreseer,” or “predictor,” after the figure in Greek mythology. Since his theft Dennis Sharp, Modern Architecture and Expressionism (London: Longmans, 1966), 97. Hermann Finsterlin, “Der achte Tag,” Frühlicht, 11 (1920), 52–9; cited in Sharp, Modern Architecture and Expressionism, 104. 52 Jürgen Joedicke, “Hermann Finsterlin in seiner Zeit,” Bauen + Wohnen, 28 (1974), 31–4. 53 Franco Borsi, Hermann Finsterlin, Idea dell’architettura (Florence: 1959), 37; cited in Joedicke, 31. 50 51

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of fire enabled human beings to civilize themselves, Prometheus symbolizes the human quest for knowledge. In addition to the Crystal Chain letters, Finsterlin published a couple of essays in Taut’s Frühlicht in 1920 and 1922, followed by drawings and essays in a feature issue of Hendrikus Theodorous Wijdeveld’s Dutch journal, Wendingen (Twists and Turns) in 1924. The drawings, watercolors, and models that Finsterlin exhibited and published after the war derived from his study of the relationship between pure forms and historic architectural form. He published his ideas in “The Genesis of World Architecture or the Descent of the Dome as Style Game” in the 1922 spring edition of Frühlicht. Under the title “Style Game,” he presents his game of wooden blocks. The blocks are arranged in a series of basic architectural forms as both a way of analyzing possible architectural forms made with fundamental shapes and as a way of generating architecture. These are presented in several photographs showing historic architectural types such as the stupa, Greek temple, Romanesque church and Gothic church. In the essay, Finsterlin discusses the difference between humankind’s spiritual and psychological development—in his view, the more advanced status of the psychological in relation to that of the spiritual accounts for the relatively primitive nature of contemporary architecture.54 Finsterlin divides the history of architecture into three distinct periods: the coordinated epoch, in which the primary form elements developed into totally complex and proportional three dimensions; the geometric or trigonometric epoch, also the mineral epoch, in which the primary form elements splintered then combined with each other in harmonious pairs and groups: and the organic epoch, in which an unpredictable organic fusion of hybrid form elements [occurs] in a purely intuitive way.55 A sketch that Finsterlin included with the essay, titled The Architecture of the Future, shows five rows of structures ordered loosely into four columns beginning with recognizable combinations of architectural “form elements,” like domes and columns, that then metamorphose down the page into the unusual formal manipulations Finsterlin was known for, forms with a vague basis in natural things.56 Like many of his contemporaries, Finsterlin uses a combination of rational and mystical language to describe his formal ideas and processes of design. Words like “spiritual,” “psychic,” “cosmic,” “ineffable,” and “divine” permeate his writing. Also, like so many others, Finsterlin experimented with building types considered spiritual, if not mystical, such as cathedrals, Hermann Finsterlin, “Die Genesis der Weltarchitektur oder die Deszendenz der Dome als Stilspiel,” Frühlicht (1922), 75; reprinted by Gebr. Mann (Berlin: 2000). 55 Ibid., 76. 56 Ibid., 78. The sketches were published in Frühlicht. 54

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temples, and other houses of God. Explaining the connection between his design ideas and those of the past he writes, “The acting force, the psychic (spiritual) agent, is the same in all epochs and only subtler or more demanding, depending on the forming material used in the composition.”57 His hope was to build up the psychic agent influencing form-making. The challenge, as Finsterlin understood it, was to advance the art of architecture beyond conventional and known form-making into something that was both completely new and spiritual. “How shall we create divine forms, so long as our powers are not divine?” he asks.58 His answer was to turn to nature for lessons and inspiration; the result was a series of freeflowing, curvilinear forms that more closely resemble natural landscape elements like plants and rolling hills, or unusual animals like mollusks, than the orthogonal forms of buildings. His ambition was to create forms “for which we still have no name.”59 He described this new architecture as follows The focus of the new architecture is on the harmonious connection of irregular parts, irregular components, for instance the transfer of arbitrary parts into one another while maintaining the harmonic proportion in the parts and in the overall complex. It is the step from crystalline to natural organic to boundlessly organic, for instance the plastic kaleidoscope or complex architecture. The previous world architecture was only the modified development of primary formal elements in three dimensions.60 While he does not say it explicitly, the implication is that this new, organic form-making extends into four dimensions. The curved forms certainly suggest the non-Euclidean, n-dimensional geometries of the fourth dimension. Color was an essential ingredient in each architectural image and each physical model that Finsterlin made. His palette was restricted to the primary hues with black, white, and gray, and the peach color that Steiner promoted. Finsterlin’s imaginings are difficult to understand as true architectural propositions since, regardless of the medium, whether they are drawn on paper or physically modeled in plaster, the usual architectural markers like doors and windows, structure and cladding are totally absent.61 It is the very freedom in the forms and their structural impossibility that suggests that they manifest in worlds beyond the everyday.

Ibid., 76. Ibid. 59 Ibid., 75. 60 Ibid. 61 See photographs of the model by Hermann Finsterlin, Study for a House of Sociability, c. 1920; https://www.moma.org/collection/works/82391?sov_referrer=artist&artist_id=22800&page=1; accessed April 28, 2020. 57 58

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Paul Goesch’s Color Visions Like Finsterlin, architect and artist Paul Goesch did not construct any buildings and only succeeded in fully realizing one of his schemes for a colored space—the restaurant in the Berlin development of Siedlung Lindenhof, designed by Bruno Taut. But that room and surviving renderings for several others demonstrate his desire to use colored surfaces to create an alternate world here on earth (Figure 3.8). Goesch was born in Schwerin in 1885, the sixth child of Dorothee and lawyer and jurist Carl Goesch. Goesch was a trained professional architect, although he was a self-taught artist.62 He studied for brief periods at the Berlin Technical College, the University of Karlsruhe, and the Technical College in Dresden. In 1914, he passed the second state examination in Berlin to qualify as a government architect. Goesch’s interest in and involvement with spirituality was lifelong. As a young man of thirteen, Goesch decided to convert to Catholicism. Starting in 1908, he became interested in Theosophy and the teachings of Rudolf Steiner; he joined the German branch of the Theosophical Society in 1912 and the Anthroposophical Society in 1913 when Steiner split off from

FIGURE 3.8 Paul Goesch’s “Festsaal” (1921)—the painting represents an immersive space that is colored and patterned on all six sides. © Berlinische Galerie. Photo: Kai-Annett Becker (BGG-G-1516/78). Adolf Behne, “Paul Goesch,” Jahrbuch der Jungen Kunst (1920); reprinted in Modern Visionaries, 126–31.

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Theosophy. The subjects of his art, often biblical stories like Jacob’s Dream, mystical events like the Annunciation, and images of chapels and temples, suggest his deeply held interest in spirituality and mysticism. In 1918, Goesch aligned himself with two post-war progressive groups first by signing the November Group proclamation then by joining the Arbeitsrat für Kunst.63 He exhibited his works on paper with these organizations in 1920, 1921, 1923, 1925, and 1929. Goesch also participated in Taut’s Crystal Chain correspondence as Tancred, a name that means “well thoughtout” in German and which is also the name of the eponymous hero of Voltaire’s 1759 play. The historical character, on whose story Voltaire based his play, was a leader of the first Crusade who participated in the capture of Jerusalem and is revered for his kindness to the weak and defenseless. While the reasons behind Goesch’s choice of pseudonym are not certain, he suffered from psychological problems and physical illness throughout his life, for the treatment of which he was in and out of sanatoria. Tancred’s joint roles as defenders of the Catholic faith and the weak likely made him an appealing figure to Goesch. Although he left a substantial number of drawings and paintings, as Goesch did not write about his art at all, interpretative clues must come from examining his life, the subject matter of the images, and their titles. Beyond his known membership in the Anthroposophical Society, Goesch’s relationship to mysticism, or at least spirituality, is apparent in the subjects of his artwork, which range from Catholic stories to Greek and Hindu mythology to pure fantasy. He repeatedly painted Catholic themes such as Christkindchen (Christ Child, 1923), Christus (Christ, 1923), and Muttergottes (Mother God, 1922). The Mother God paintings picture Virgin Mary sitting upon her throne with the baby Jesus on her lap in a pose typical of medieval and Gothic representations. Many of these paintings include arches over Mary’s head that resemble the entry portals of a medieval cathedral. Goesch eschews perspective in favor of flat compositions, again, reminiscent of medieval art. Like many other visionary architects in the period, Goesch often portrayed temples in his art: Im Tempel (In Temple n.d.) and Nymphentempel (Nymph Temple n.d.) are two examples. Goesch also depicted any number of myths, including Hercules and the Nemean Lion (n.d.), Odysseus and the Sirens, and The Labyrinth of Minos (1918). A mystical theme prominent in Goesch’s work was the space of pure fantasy as rendered in whimsical architectural structures like Fantasy Architecture (1919) and dreamlike compositions with variations on the title Fantasie (Fantasy). Goesch experimented with color in space in several paintings he made over the years. Although he does not seem to have explained his color choices, he used a similar approach in many of them. The paint he worked 63 The November Group was formed by artists and architects in 1918 in order to give greater voice to progressive art ideas in the new German republic. Similarly, the Arbeistrat für Kunst was modeled on Russian Soviets with a view to bringing new art and architecture to a broader public.

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with was either watercolor or gouache, often used together with ink. These are all media that allow the paper to show through, making the color iridescent on the page, a quality that Steiner felt was critical and that contributes to the mystical effect Goesch was often trying to create. The color palette that Goesch used in his watercolor renderings was rich and vibrant—purple, pink, green blue, and yellow abound, often in multiple shades on the same image. They were either primary hues or secondary and tertiary hues. Goesch had an affinity for colors that Steiner promoted, like green, violet, and blue, although his palette was broader. Unlike the project in Lindenhof described below, in which every surface except the parquet floor was painted, the visionary designs foresee the total transformation of the space by treating every surface. The result is evident in Festsaal (Ballroom, 1921), Expressionistische Innenraum (Expressionist Inner Space, 1921), and Innenraum 71 (Inner Space, 1921), where up and down, left and right, forward and backward are all interchangeable. For Festsaal, Goesch used orange, red, brown, and deep blue on the four walls, lighter blues with brown and black on the ceiling, and gray and violet on the floor. The strong contrast between the hues conveys a sense of floating. In some of these visionary schemes, Goesch also shows three-dimensional manipulations of the walls, and ceiling, like proto-Merzbau spaces, but imagined over a decade before German artist Kurt Schwitters built his famous room. What all the images show are color-saturated environments where hue and form create unfamiliar new spaces. Goesch collaborated on the Lindenhof restaurant banquet hall with the painter Franz Mutzenbecher, who worked on several projects with Bruno Taut during the 1920s, and the sculptor Robert Elster. There are no color photographs of the room, only black-and-white ones; a single published description written by Taut is the sole surviving account of the project. Taut’s text describes a three-way “improvisation,” in which no single artist took control. Despite the lack of color in the photographs, it is possible to discern a fair amount about the design. The end result appears to be a cacophony of color, shape, and relief form applied to every surface except the floor, doors, and window frames. Parts of walls and ceiling are textured, even dripping plaster in strange ways. From the contrast between white, grays, and blacks, it is apparent that there was a range of hues. There is no geometric regularity to the composition but rather an energetic riot of form, color, and shade similar to many of Goesch’s drawings such as Ohne Titel (Without Title, 1920), Festsaal, and Muttergottes.64 The work looks like a giant, textured collage. In places, paint seems to have been indiscriminately brushed or splattered on. In other places, color is contained in a geometric form. It appears that “improvisation” describes a method of painting any which way, anywhere, without an organizing scheme, sometimes over the work of the other collaborators (Figure 3.9). 64

See Modern Visionaries, 91, 99, and 118, for reproductions.

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FIGURE 3.9  Interior of the Lindenhof restaurant showing the elaborate wall painting by Paul Goesch and Franz Mutzenbecher. Taut writes, The solution [to collaborating] could only be as it has turned out, free music in the same key—in contrast to any Puritanical style thought. The severe criticism [leveled by contemporary journalists] also stated that there were too many themes employed here, each of which had been aligned for the whole hall—a reproach already leveled at Mozart from contemporary critics.65 Taut naturally finds the innovative way of decorating the room correct for its function since, in his opinion, the painting and sculpture make the banquet hall “richer, fuller, and more joyful,” thereby satisfying his desire for “optical pleasure” in architecture.66 Taut views any negative reception to the room’s design as a lack of understanding of the new. By drawing a parallel with Mozart’s compositions, he is also suggesting that, as people become accustomed to it, this work will eventually be accepted, and that it will ultimately be recognized as the product of genius. 65 Bruno Taut, “Innenräume im Ledigenheim zu Schöneberg,” Frühlicht (Winter 1921/1922), reprint (Berlin: Gebr. Mann, 2000), 62. 66 Ibid.

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Looking at the photographs of the restaurant today, it is easy to imagine the feeling the splash of colors would have given of a joyous new kind of space, even a new dimension. Unfortunately, the use of color was not comprehensive, and aspects of the interior design did not tie into the wall and ceiling treatment. The oddest aspects are the lack of decoration on the floors, other architectural details, and furnishings. In contrast, some of Carl Krayl’s furniture designs from the same period were fashioned so that they fit into the unusual painted spaces he was making (see below). In the Lindenhof, however, the excluded elements stand in jarring formal disjunction with the surrounding walls. The floors are a typical herringbone-patterned wooden parquet, the furniture appears to be a combination of conventional wooden café chairs and tables, and the table cloths look like something that you might find anywhere. Even the floral arrangements sitting on many of the tables seem out of place. Unfortunately, the juxtaposition of bold wall and ceiling painting with more pedestrian design diminishes the effect of the wildly painted surfaces.

Wenzel Hablik’s Colored Interiors Unlike Goesch, Wenzel Hablik was not trained as an architect. He was trained in his father’s workshop to be a carpenter and then received formal schooling in crafts at the Vienna Kunstgewerbeschule (School of Applied Arts), where he studied decorative painting, graphic arts, typography, heraldry, and anatomy followed by painting studies with Czech artist Franz Thiele at the Prague Kunstakademie (Art Academy). Hablik’s family had expected him to follow in his father’s profession and take over the business, but after he suffered serious injury to his arm when he was fifteen years old, it was clear that he could not become a carpenter. The accident, however, left him free to pursue his own interests. Hablik’s eclectic background clearly influenced his adult practice, which included work in many different art forms: furniture and product design, architecture and interiors, and painting. And, many of his projects were Gesamtkunstwerke, for which Hablik designed every aspect from the largest to the smallest detail. Similar to Finsterlin, Taut, and other contemporaries, Hablik rejected the traditional imitation of nature in pictorial representation in favor of imaginative subjects, often utopian and fantastical ideas. “It is necessary that artists paint their pictures of memories and not some faint imitation of nature.”67 The result was a body of work that included flying castles, crystalline architecture, and cosmic terrains. Another aspect of his work was lush color, often in such variety and abundance that it verged on being overwhelming (Figure 3.10). As one contemporary critic put it, Hablik was a “strange color fanatic.”68 Looking at one typical painting from the Wenzel Hablik, Diary 6, August 14–19, 1908, cited in Reschke, 81. Hamburger Nachrichten, November 3, 1908, cited in Reschke, 92.

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FIGURE 3.10 Wenzel Hablik’s “Starry Sky” (1909) is typical of his cosmic visions with its swirling stars and planets, rendered in rich hues. © Wenzel-HablikFoundation, Itzehoe. interwar period, “Grosse bunte utopische Bauten” (Large colorful utopian buildings, 1922), it is possible to count in Hablik’s complicated palette at least two shades of red, three shades of yellow, four shades of blue, two shades of orange, two shades of green, and two shades of purple, black, and white. All this, on a canvas packed with abstract three-dimensional forms and patterns. Hablik was intentionally rebelling against the constraints of traditional color choices and combinations, as well as subject matter and composition, in favor of both a new palette and a new way of adjoining hues that was bolder, brighter, and busier. In his diary, he mused on conventional attitudes toward color: “But what is pure art (pure painting)? Just as those aesthetic minions claim, one had to consider a tastefully mixed palette as the end result of pure painting, therefore without any other as color content. Is it absolutely necessary to draw the contour, the color and the poetry as independent arts?

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Can a harmony of all three be discordant?”69 He is interested in pursuing colorito without disegno, that is, in color as the dominant element of painting without reliance on line. By “discordant harmony,” Hablik means the pairing of colors, compositional strategies, and techniques not usually brought together in more traditional approaches. In fact, his work often consisted of unusual combinations of color, form, and pattern, whether on paintings or in interiors. Hablik literally allowed the physical spaces he designed to drown in color, to overwhelm the visitor, as a way of disorienting and reorienting them inside the space. As Hablik said, “If I cannot dissipate myself in colors, then I cannot give at all.”70 Hablik viewed an all-encompassing color experience as critical to any successful artwork. At the same time, Hablik believed that both fine art and architecture had to strive for new forms, which would ensue from the artist and architect engaging in a deliberate search. “Life mocks the norm. Everything that happens is a surprise and a variation—Search!”71 This meant rejecting the naturalistic painting styles of the nineteenth century, with their clear subject matter, in favor of imaginative, even fantastic subjects. His drawings and paintings, large and small, represented crystalline structures resembling natural forms rather than buildings, domed cathedrals made up of unrecognizable materials, air-borne castles, and psychedelic landscapes. The images ranged from realistic yet dramatic architectural propositions for castles atop rock promontories to unbuildable visions of naturalistic forms, similar to some of Finsterlin’s drawings from the same period. Hablik applied his color and formal philosophies to both painting and interior architecture, two art forms that he believed were intertwined and for which he designed and executed some of the boldest interiors proposed or built by anyone in Germany during the 1920s. “Certainly the connection between architecture and painting is the last great goal and probably the [effort to achieve this brings] sweat of noble value,” affirms a local critic writing of Hablik’s drawings of architecture.72 His interior designs included his own home, homes for private clients, a restaurant, hotel, store, and exhibition spaces. Between 1912 and 1928, he was occupied with sixteen different projects. Of these, only the Richard Biel House and Hablik’s own home remain. Hablik redesigned and repainted his own home several times over the years, making it bear witness to his changing concepts for interior design, palette, and color application. “Any built-in room can be converted into a harmoniously structured room by color division and removal of excesses.”73 In other words, it is color, together with aesthetic restraint, that transforms the physical elements of mere building into something more. Wenzel Hablik, Diary 3, February 26, 1906, cited in Reschke, 16. Hamburger Nachrichten, November 3, 1908, cited in Reschke, 92. 71 Cited in Fuchs-Belhamri, Wenzel Hablik, 6. 72 Bremer Nachrichten, July 22, 1917, cited in Reschke, 112. 73 Walter C.Bröcker, Ein Tapetenausstellungsraum der Firma A. Soetje in Itzehoe von Wenzel Hablik, Eigenverlag Itzehoe (1921) catalog explaining the Soetje project written in discussion with Hablik. 69 70

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Not only was color an integral part of Hablik’s design practice, it was one aspect of a total design approach that encompassed all the arts; Hablik capitalized on his unusual education and fully embraced the Gesamtkunstwerk as the ideal artwork. He integrated the different arts through a combination of intention, skill, and mystical fusion. And, he believed, the Gesamtkunstwerk itself possessed special power: “A new Architecture—the basis for a new religion and ideology—the relationship of people of the Earth.”74 The Gesamtkunstwerk would replace the old religions to become the new force binding humans to one another and to the earth. “We need a new ideal. One of those is the ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’— the building! Not the ‘brick boxes’ and ‘emergency living quarters’—but an architecture as a living element in the sense of cosmic laws—a parallel to the high level of our technology—which is nothing other than the product of recognized natural laws, more purposefully done.”75 This quasimystical conception of the Gestamtkunstwerk was uniquely Hablik’s, but his reference to “cosmic laws” echoes the language used by his friends and associates like Taut, Finsterlin, and Goesch. Like them, Hablik’s writing is laced with phrases like “cosmic” qualities, “astral power,” “transmigration,” and “utopia” along with frequent invocations of “God” and the “divine.” From surviving pieces of his library and citations in his letters and essays, it is apparent that Hablik was well versed in color theory, philosophy, and various forms of mysticism. He read Paul Scheerbart’s Lika in Ver Sacrum (1899) and Das Paradies (1893), and he owned a copy of Scheerbart’s Glasarchitektur (1914).76 He also had the entire collected writings of Goethe, whom Hablik seems to have viewed enthusiastically, along with some other books on color theory.77 Writers like Novalis and Goethe used crystalline structures to symbolize paradise; crystals indicated cosmogony and the revelation of divine will in ancient texts—and color is closely tied to Scheerbart’s glass fantasies as well as those authored by Bruno Taut. Hablik was also an active member of the Crystal Chain group, whose cosmic and mystical language is well known, along with progressive arts organizations like the Arbeitsrat für Kunst. In 1919, he exhibited some of his crystal architecture alongside utopian propositions by Finsterlin, Goesch, Carl Krayl, Bruno, and Max Taut in the Berlin Unbekannte Architekten show. Since they often rely on line drawing with varying amounts of color, many of Hablik’s works on paper are more restrained than his interiors. However, where he does indulge in color use, as in drawings for a multi-family house from 1912/19, his exuberant color choices prefigure his later interior treatments. Wenzel Hablik, “Eine neue Architektur,” excerpt from the 1925 Etching series Architecture; printed in Wenzel Hablik 1881 bis 1934: Aspekte zum Gesamtkunstwerk, ed. Wolfgang Reschke (Itzehoe: Künstlerbund Steinberg, 1981), 18. 75 Wenzel Hablik, “‘Utopie und Wirklichkeit,” an unpublished manuscript, Wenzel Hablik Archive, printed in Wenzel Hablik 1881 bis 1934: Aspekte zum Gesamtkunstwerk, 12. 76 Farbenhäuser und Lichtgewächse, Wenzel Hablik, Paul Scheerbart, Bruno Taut, ed. Rainer Hawlik and Sandra Manhartseder (Wien: Folio, 2006), 83. 77 A portion of Hablik’s library is preserved at his former home in Itzehoe, Germany. 74

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Hablik’s early interior designs did not prefigure what was to come—they were very traditional in their approach; they comprise traditional spatial separations and elegant finishes, and color was restricted to panels specially designed for the rooms.78 It is only in 1917, with the first experiments on his own house, that Hablik begins to develop an original language for surface use of color and geometry. Hablik’s first interior commission after the First World War was for a garden room at the house of a friend, the author Gustav Frenssen in Barlt. Photographs show a very conservative foray into color; Hablik has painted the exposed beams and the upper third of the walls with a pattern of alternating hues that loosely follows the contours of the beam ends. The rest of the room is typical of a bourgeois interior of its time with an old-fashioned Persian carpet, unremarkable Biedermeier furniture, and a realistic landscape painting. The first design for the Itzehoe-based Soetje Wallpaper Company showroom, also completed in 1921, was Hablik’s true break-through project (Figure 3.11). Although some period photographs still exist, it is Hablik’s detailed color renderings for the design that best illustrate his approach. In comparison with some of the designs that followed, this first iteration of the Soetje Company space is simple and straightforward, making it possible to extract a series of color application rules that Hablik worked with. For example, wall panels created as hanging space for wallpaper samples always have a two-tone frame around them; relatively ornate color patterning is applied to primary structure, while one color only is applied to secondary structure; the floor is a neutral surface rendered in one color. Hablik imagined the highly decorative, wall-length wall-paper samples mounted on discreet panels that were separated by brown stripes of wall space. In comparison with the ceiling and structural columns, the walls were quite simple. The ceiling was included in the color plans, which called for a mix of pink, red, brown, orange yellow, blue, green, and white applied in rectilinear fields and stripes. The columns were painted with zigzagging lines of alternating hues that wrap around the sides; the primary ceiling beam received a similar treatment, while the secondary beams were red on all three exposed sides with a green stripe running parallel. Because it had to sell the product displayed on its walls, the commercial space of the Soetje Company showroom was functionally quite different from the domestic spaces for which Hablik created total designs. This aim is reflected in the ways that Hablik used color to define exhibition panels and frame the work hung on them, his neutral treatment of the floor, and the restrained use of pattern. While his color treatment created an unusual space for Soetje’s customers, it complemented the architecture of the room and its structural elements. The color did not dissolve spatial boundaries or

Fuchs-Belhamri, Wenzel Hablik, 13–14.

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FIGURE 3.11  Wenzel Hablik’s drawing for the first interior design of the Soetje Wallpaper Company showroom. © Wenzel-Hablik-Foundation, Itzehoe. evoke a sense of the otherworldly. Subsequent designs, however, took a very different approach. Beginning in the early 1920s, Hablik’s designs for interior domestic space used daring, unfamiliar combinations of colors and patterns that contravened architectural limits and details. One of the boldest propositions he executed was for the dining room in his own home (Figure 3.12). Completed in 1923, and still extant, the room is covered with alternating bands of vibrant hues

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FIGURE 3.12  View of the restored dining room in Hablik’s house in Itzehoe as it is today. © Wenzel-Hablik-Foundation, Itzehoe.

interspersed with geometric shapes that recall Hablik’s visionary canvases, like Große bunte utopische Bauten (Large Colorful Utopian Buildings, 1922), Zerstörung (Destruction, 1917), and Der Weg des Genius (The Way of Genius, 1913). Hablik’s palette includes a range of primary and secondary colors including red, yellow, blue, green, violet, and orange. He also liberally uses the peach color favored by Steiner. Unlike the Soetje design, here Hablik applies color to obliterate many conventional architectural markers such as moldings, door panels, and corners between surfaces by simply painting his patterns as if these elements did not exist. Colored stripes and rectangles fold around corners, extend beyond frames, and overlap different adjacent surfaces so that the colored patterns, not the architecture, are the dominant feature. This helps create the illusion of entering a new kind of space. There is no discernable compositional logic to the painting. In some places, Hablik suddenly varies the scale of colored elements to form a mini-composition within the greater whole, so that they resemble a canvas hung on the wall or a miniature world within the larger one surrounding it. In other places, as above the heater, he totally changes the color palette and patterns. The fact that individual walls and ceiling are treated equally, without hierarchy, means that any surface might be interchanged with any other. Usual spatial

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markers like up and down are eliminated. Looking straight ahead, or upward, in the room conveys the sense of standing in a gravity-free space or an alternate dimension. Unfortunately, similar to Taut, Goesch, and Mutzenbecher at Lindenhof, Hablik chose to retain the natural wooden flooring in the room and to furnish the room with pieces that are far more conventional than the bold wall and ceiling painting, which causes a visual disjunction that weakens the spatial illusion.

FIGURE 3.13  Wenzel Hablik design for an interior with custom built-in furniture, upholstery, and integrated colored surfaces throughout the room. © Wenzel-HablikFoundation, Itzehoe.

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Hablik must have realized his error, since his proposals for succeeding projects were more all-inclusive, typically incorporating the floor and builtin furniture as well as upholstery and architectonic elements like doors. A 1924 watercolor of a bedroom is typical; it shows a room with builtin seat, bed, and storage units wrapping around the perimeter, and then culminating in a vertical vitrine. The color palette combines primary and secondary hues such as red, yellow, blue, and green, with some secondary ones like a deep purple and a few swatches of the peach/pink Hablik used in his home. All the room’s surfaces are colored in abstract patterns that do not make a distinction between surfaces. The furniture pieces and the door are the elements that indicate up and down—without them, or the pull of gravity, it would be difficult to determine orientation or direction. Because colored fields and stripes wrap around neighboring surfaces and bend in unpredictable ways, the usual spatial cues do not exist (Figure 3.13). As art historian Manfred Speidel asserts, Hablik’s aggressive use of saturated hues in many of his interior projects, like the bedroom design described above, the design for the tapestry exhibition room in Soetje, his design for a party room (1924), and his various schemes for other bedrooms (1924–8), render the objects in the room almost superfluous.79 The cacophony of vibrant color is all-encompassing, overwhelming, and immersive. It is precisely the application of these colors in seemingly random ways, without regard to usual spatial orientation, that dematerializes physical enclosure to transform the room into a new spatial dimension. The approach relied on hue to erase architectural detail in order to create an altered spatial awareness; color was used by other practitioners in exactly the opposite way—to enhance perception of built space.

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Manfred Speidel, “Frühlicht,” in Fuchs-Belhamri, Wenzel Hablik, 22.

CHAPTER FOUR

Color and Spatial Perception

Color Vision “There is no denying that we can see neither color without space nor space without color,” begins Karl Bühler’s 1922 book on color psychology, Die Erscheinungsweisen der Farben (The Appearances of Colors).1 Bühler’s assertion corroborates a key aspect of our everyday perceptual experience but describes only one aspect of the visual process; as he proceeds to demonstrate, light is another essential factor in how color and space are perceived. While it goes without saying that nothing is visible without light, it is less commonly known that the quality of light affects how individual hues are perceived. Bühler’s observations would have come as no surprise to most painters, however; artists recognized interrelationships between color, light, and spatial perception long before science had sufficient knowledge of the physiology of vision to explain them. One such phenomenon, called the Purkinje Effect after Czech anatomist Jan Evangelista Purkyñe, involves the way twilight alters the perceived intensity of reds and blues. Color contrast changes under different illumination levels; in full light, red flowers appear brighter than surrounding green foliage, while in reduced light the inverse is the case. More generally, the brightness, and even the perceived hue, of color is contingent on changing light conditions. Today, scientists know that this occurs because the eye has two cellular systems for perceiving color: the photopic (cone) and scotopic (rod). Retinal rods are receptive in low light but do not discern color well; they are more sensitive to blues and greens. Retinal cones, on the other hand, are more sensitive to yellow light, like sunlight. At twilight, as the light dims, the eye adjusts by switching from rods to cones. At the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries, painters who may not have had specific knowledge of 1

Karl Bühler, Die Erscheinungsweisen der Farben (Jena: Gustav Fücher, 1922).

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the Purkinje Effect could yet describe it and take advantage of it in their color choices. Historically, twilight was known as the “painter’s hour” because the dimmer light allowed painters to see the contrasts between light and dark without much color, although the low light could also distort the relationships between warm and cool colors.2 Another aspect of the Purkinje Effect is the influence of low light on depth perception, an outcome among several perceptual phenomena related to color that increasingly interested architects in the 1920s because of the ways in which these phenomena could be used to affect spatial perception. The Purkinje Effect pertains to one aspect of human color vision—the ability to perceive color. But the study of color vision is twofold, consisting, on the one hand, of the study of the physiology of color perception, and, on the other, of the study of color’s psychological effects—how color stimuli affect the mechanics of seeing in the eye and brain, and how color perception affects human behavior. To understand color vision comprehensively, it is necessary to differentiate between properties of light, physical aspects of the eye and retina, and the functioning of the area of the brain that receives and processes color information because people see the world in color, and the mechanisms of color perception are accordingly closely related to those of spatial perception. In fact, the scope of many of the researchers who investigated questions of color vision extended to spatial perception, as well as the interrelationship between the two modes of seeing—both types of perception fall into the realm of psychophysics. The sciences of color vision and color psychology are relatively new; the first modern theories appeared in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and one of the most productive periods occurred between the mid-nineteenth century and 1930.3 It was in Germany that the first university programs for scientific psychology were established and where early systematic scientific research into color vision, color physiology, color psychology, and psychophysics occurred.4 Germany had reformed its university system during the Napoleonic era, largely because of the work of the Prussian Ministry of Interior’s Head of Culture and Education, Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767– 1835). As is widely acknowledged, his reforms laid the groundwork for the modern university system, with its research- and evidence-based approach that requires academics to actively engage in both research and teaching. Because of the new emphasis on research, nineteenth-century German institutions were willing to invest in research infrastructure in ways that universities in other countries were not yet prepared to do. In addition, Gage, Colour and Meaning, 46. John S. Werner, “Aging through the Eyes of Monet,” in Color Vision: Perspectives from Different Disciplines, ed. Werner G. K. Backhaus, Reinhold Kliegl, and John S. Werner (Berlin: De Gruyter, 1998), 3. 4 John D. Greenwood, Conceptual History of Psychology: Exploring the Tangled Web (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 236. 2 3

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German universities were more open to innovative academic disciplines than university systems in other countries. Wilhelm Wundt (1832– 1920) established the first experimental laboratory for psychological research in 1879 at the University of Leipzig.5 Wundt’s work laid the foundation for the field of experimental psychology, which distinguished psychology from philosophy and physiology, and legitimized psychology as a science by introducing formal laboratory methods to psychological research. Wundt was also the first person to “develop psychological laws by applying the experimental methods of physiology to those mental states and processes (such as thought, emotion and the will) that were formerly the exclusive domain of philosophers.”6 Equally important, Wundt believed in “psychic causality,” that the psyche affects the body and that psychological phenomena are autonomous from physiological ones—if psychological and physiological phenomena are different, then it is possible to measure their mutual effects. Soon, other German researchers would follow Wundt’s lead, founding psychology departments and laboratory facilities at other German universities—predictably, with a range of approaches that differed from Wundt’s. New areas of research spanned an impressive breadth of fields, including sensory and perceptual psychology, associationist psychology, gestalt psychology, act psychology, and psychophysics, to name a few. Long before Wundt established his laboratory in Leipzig, German physicist and experimental psychologist Gustav Theodor Fechner (1801–87) was engaged at Leipzig University, where he began a series of experiments into the relationship between physical stimuli and sensation. Fechner was convinced that the human psyche could be studied in a rigorous, scientific fashion. The experiments that he conducted were the first in what now is known as psychophysics, the study of the relationship between mind and body, which is a term that Fechner coined.7 Fechner was interested in how the brain perceived physical sensation, and his work included research into color perception. In one famous series of studies, in which Fechner made himself the subject of the experiment by looking directly at the sun in order to stimulate visual after-images, he stared at the sun so often that his eyesight was damaged to the extent that he had to take a break from his research! Fechner’s work established the quantifiable interrelationship between the physical and mental worlds and paved the way for other investigations of color vision. The first modern theories of the way the eye perceives color rested on the research conducted by two scientists, Thomas Young (1773–1829), in England, and Hermann von Helmholtz (1821–94), in Germany, that confirmed the basic structures of vision. Known today as the YoungIbid., 3, 13, and 236. Ibid., 242. 7 Ibid., 177–80. 5 6

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Helmholtz Theory of trichromatic vision, their work proposed that three color receptors in the eye together account for all color vision. Around 1801, Young was able to demonstrate that light was composed of waves and that each color had a unique wavelength. He went on to postulate that the eye must have special photoreceptors that could translate these differing light waves into color, and that only three color receptors were necessary in order to perceive the entire spectrum. It was not until 1860, however, that Hermann von Helmholtz was able to confirm Young’s hypothesis by proving the existence of three color receptors and establishing that each receptor was sensitive to a particular wavelength—short (blue), medium (green), or long (red). Helmholtz also realized that the signals transmitted by the retinal receptors are, in turn, interpreted by the brain as visible color. His mapping of a system of neural transmission from eye receptor to the brain confirmed the interconnection of color physiology with color psychology. In a parallel development in Germany, the physiologist Ewald Hering (1834–1918) proposed the other major theory of color vision, opponentprocess theory. Hering was the first to recognize that certain colors could not mix: there is no such thing as a red-and-green mixture for instance, which means that you can never make a reddish-green or greenish-red. Based on this observation, he postulated the existence of pairs of color receptors, opposites that act together, red-green, blue-yellow, and black-white, with opponent processes in the human retina, one a blue-yellow and the other a red-green mechanism. Today, scientists believe that Hering’s and the YoungHelmholtz Theory are complementary—that together, they account for the complexity of human color vision.8 The human eye’s three color receptors process signals that are then combined in opponent-process channels to achieve color vision. Prior to science’s eventual recognition that their ideas worked synthetically, however, opponent-process theory and the trichromatic theory of vision were considered to be incompatible, and Hering and Helmholtz accordingly engaged in a decade-long rivalry with respect to their differing theories about the psychology of seeing. But their professional rivalry was further complicated by their differing positions on the ways that sight evolves in humans; Helmholtz was an empiricist, while Hering was a nativist. Nativists believe that key human abilities like color vision are innate, rather than learned, while empiricists claim that all ability derives from experience of the world. In a broader context then, although the intellectual rivalry between Hering and Helmholtz played out within the restricted radius of scientific circles, the broader outlines of their differences reflected longstanding debates in German philosophy that are important to notions of space and spatial perception.

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Barry B. Lee, “The Evolution of Concepts of Color Vision,” Neurociencias, 4/4 (2008), 216.

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The Nature of Space and Spatial Perception Investigations into human spatial cognition have their roots in philosophical and scientific discussions that began in the early modern period. Figures as diverse as Descartes, Galileo, Boyle, Newton, and Leibniz, to name only a few, struggled to understand the properties of space and time, or extension and duration, because of their centrality to the new science emerging in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Their inquiries embraced two distinct modalities of thought: those concerning the physical nature of space and those concerning the human cognition of space.9 Three approaches to the understanding of the character of space, as posited by Isaac Newton (1643–1727), Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646– 1716), and Immanuel Kant (1724–1804), underpin later debates about the nature of spatial perception; they comprise space as an independent entity, as a relation, or as a transcendental ideal. The human relationship to space, and the way space is perceived, differs radically among these conceptions. Newton, who believed that space was a distinct entity, neither belonging to the human body nor to objects, distinguished between absolute space, which is immeasurable and imperceptible yet contains all the beings and objects in the world, and relative space, “which our senses determine by its relation to bodies.”10 While absolute space is immeasurable, relative space is defined by reference to the bodies in it and can be mathematically measured. Leibniz held that space only existed as the relative location of objects; space was either the relations between actual objects or relations between places that those objects might occupy but, notably, not a thing in itself. Kant espoused yet another viewpoint. If space is ideal, as Kant maintained, then it exists a priori in each person. Kant explains: “Space is not something objective and real, nor a substance, nor an accident, nor a relation; instead, it is subjective and ideal, and originates from the mind’s nature in accord with a stable law as a scheme, as it were, for coordinating everything sensed externally.”11 Space for Kant, then, is merely a perceptual framework imposed on the world so that it can be understood. While Kant’s view is the most difficult to understand, it is central to modern German engagement with spatial perception because, in the Transcendental Aesthetic, Kant was concerned not only with the nature of space but with how space (and time) is perceived.12 If space exists only in the mind, it cannot be perceived; yet, it is a necessary component of our Gary Carl Hatfield, “Kant on the Perception of Space,” in The Cambridge Companion to Kant and Modern Philosophy, ed. Paul Guyer (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 61. 10 Isaac Newtown, Newton’s Principia, trans. Andrew Motte (New York: Daniel Adee, 1846), 83. 11 Emmanuel Kant, Kants gesammelte Schriften, Band II (Akademie Edition) 402 cited in Andrew Janiak, “Kant’s View on Space and Time,” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/kant-spacetime/; accessed on December 2019. 12 Hatfield, “Kant on the Perception of Space,” 61–93. 9

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apprehension of the physical world. Kant further argued that “Euclid’s description of spatial structures provides universal and necessary principles of physical space and physical objects.”13 According to this view, Euclidean geometry provides the mathematical description of physical space and is therefore accurate and true. Kant’s theory was widely read in Germany in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and, although opinions differed dramatically on whether it was correct, was viewed by many physiologists and psychologists as a foundational statement on spatial perception.14 As with Hering’s and Helmholtz’s dispute over color vision, with regard to spatial cognition, scientists’ sympathies attended to either nativists or empiricists. Finally, however, the discovery of non-Euclidian space superseded Kant’s theory by demonstrating the existence of space whose properties could not be visually apprehended. Modern investigations into the intersection of color perception and space perception can trace their scientific origins to other research conducted by Helmholtz, who was a prolific and inquisitive scientist. Helmholtz, who worked extensively on many aspects of human perception—namely, the ability to comprehend distance, shape, size, causality, and motion, which relate closely to how space is seen and understood15—rejected Kant’s theory of spatial perception in favor of exhaustive empirical investigation.16 According to Helmholtz, human beings combine sensory perception with cognitive judgments to delineate physical bodies and space by translating sensory perceptions into symbols that are interpreted by the brain. Helmholtz held that these symbols did not resemble the world as we “see” it but were organized by the brain into visualizations of the physical world.17 While he did not conduct experiments into the relationship between color and spatial perception, Helmholtz’s ideas suggest a connection that scientists today know exists. This implicit link was key to architectural experiments with color during the 1920s, in which color was used to enhance spatial perception. The psychologists Erich Rudolf Jaensch (1883–1940) and David Katz (1884–1953) were important early pioneers of research into the perception of space. Appointed chair of philosophy at Marburg University in 1913, Jaensch founded the Psychological Institute there. Like Helmholtz, Jaensch investigated different aspects of human perception, including both color vision and spatial perception. He began with experiments in visual acuity, which led him to probe the ways human vision functions, and then Ibid., 88. Ibid., 87–8. 15 Greenwood, Conceptual History of Psychology, 174; J. H. Hyslop, “Helmholz’s Theory of Space-Perception,” Mind, 16/61 (January 1891), 54–79. 16 Gary Carl Hatfield, The Natural and the Normative: Theories of Spatial Perception from Kant to Helmholtz (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1990), viii. 17 Hyslop, “Helmholtz’s Theory of Space-Perception,” 58–9. 13 14

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proceeded to studies of spatial perception.18 Jaensch’s research demonstrated the existence of two contributing factors to all elements of human perception: outer stimuli and inner contents, that is, the physiological and the psychological.19 Jaensch began his 1911 book Über die Wahrnehmung des Raumes: eine experimentell-psychologische Untersuchung nebst Anwendung auf Äesthetik und Erkenntnislehre (On the Perception of Space: An Experimental-psychological Investigation along with Aesthetics and Knowledge) with the assertion that understanding human perception is the most important research task of modern psychology.20 He was particularly interested in the psychological dimensions of spatial perception. This enormous tome explores numerous questions relating to how appearances in the physical world are seen and interpreted. Notably, time and again in the book, Jaensch relates research into human perception to impressionist painting, devoting special attention to the relationship between color and the illusion of depth in impressionist painting and, thereby, connecting color to spatial representation. Jaensch emphatically takes issue with the notion upheld by art critics that the impressionists had introduced a new way of seeing the world, proposing instead that they presented a new way of interpreting the visual world using color. While what they actually perceived was the world as it is in nature, they used color to express what he terms the world’s “atmosphere.” By atmosphere, Jaensch meant the emotional effect that the visible world has on the viewer. Color was the medium that allowed the impressionists to make the emotional content of a place palpable. It was also the medium with which impressionists rendered space and spatial relationships readable without resorting to perspective. Katz, like Jaensch, completed his doctoral work in Göttingen, where he learned a rigorous experimental research method under the supervision of G. E. Müller. After completing his doctorate, Katz spent several years as assistant to Müller then as a privat dozent (private lecturer) at the university. After the First World War, Katz was appointed to the University of Rostock in Mecklenburg before being compelled to flee Nazi Germany. He first continued his career in England, and then in Sweden. Like Jaensch, Katz was broadly interested in human perception, but engaged far more than Jaensch with the relationship between color vision and spatial perception. Katz published his research in 1911 in Die Erscheinungsweisen der Farben und ihre Beeinflussung durch die individuelle Erfahrung (translated into https://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/applied-and-social-sciences-magazines/ jaensch-erich; accessed on February 12, 2020; Johan Wagemans, “Historical and Conceptual Background: Gestalt Theory,” in Oxford Handbook of Perceptual Organization (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015). 19 Erich Rudolf Jaensch, Über den Aufbau der Wahrnehmungswelt (1923); Erich Rudolf Jaensch, “Wege und Ziele der Psychologie in Deutschland,” The American Journal of Psychology, L/1–4 (November 1937), 1–22. 20 Erich Rudolf Jaensch, Über die Wahrnehmung des Raumes: eine experimentell-psychologische Untersuchung nebst Anwendung auf Äesthetik und Erkenntnislehre (Leipzig: Barth, 1911), 13. 18

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English as The World of Colour in 1935). As an organizing principle for comprehending color-to-space relationships, Katz differentiates between what he calls “surface colors” and “film colors”.21 The term “surface colors” denotes the colors visible on objects, while “film colors” are transparent, spectral colors like those visible in a spectroscope. Katz begins his introduction to the English edition by pointing out that the world as seen by human beings is constituted by colored objects in illuminated space. “Inasmuch as space is always presented in colored form, it plays an important part in determining the color-impressions which we receive. Without the spatial factor, we should lack the wealth of spatially organized modes of appearance which colors assume, and inasmuch as color is always presented in spatial form it exercises a corresponding influence on the impression of space.”22 In other words, color and space cognition are inextricably linked: one cannot occur without the other.23 Therefore, humans only perceive space correctly because they can see in color. But while Katz’s experiments supplied early proof of the psychological connection between color and space, substantive knowledge of this connection was reflected in artists’ theory and practice long in advance of Katz’s work.

Artistic Ideas about Color and Space In the traditional separation of pictorial representation into two constituent parts, lines and colors, or disegno and colorito, lies two different ways of creating spatial illusion on the flat canvas: through the converging lines of perspectival drawing, and through contrast expressed with color and light. The polarity between disegno and colorito was more than a subject of debate over the correct, or better, way to portray the visual world—it was an expression of a deeper, long-standing debate over how humans perceive that world. As John Gage points out, ever since antiquity, there has been a fairly clear-cut philosophical division between those, like Berkeley or Goethe, who considered that our knowledge of the world was conditioned by our understanding of its colored surfaces, and those, like the ancient skeptics or Locke, who regarded color as an accidental attribute of the visual world and visual phenomena themselves as an unreliable index of substance.24

David Katz, The World of Colour, trans. R. B. MacLeod and C. W. Fox (London: Routledge, 2002 reprint), 7 and 9. 22 Ibid., 2. 23 R. S. Turner, In the Mind’s Eye: Vision and the Helmholtz-Hering Controversy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994), 253. 24 John Gage, “Color in Western Art: An Issue?” The Art Bulletin, 72 (1990), 518–41. 21

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These opposing beliefs were hotly debated in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century German philosophical circles. Broadly speaking, line was viewed as the intellectual foundation of art and therefore superior to color, which related to the sensational and emotional reception of a work.25 In a colored world, however, the way that color acts on spatial perception is critical. As Goethe emphasizes in his Theory of Colors, color fundamentally affects spatial perception due to the way that colored areas can appear to either advance toward or recede away from the viewer, depending on the hue, its chroma and value, and the qualities of neighboring hues. According to traditional color theory, the so-called cold colors and shades—green, blue, violet, and black—appear to recede, while the warm colors—yellow, red, orange, and white—advance. The actual optical effects of cold and warm hues are far more complex, however. While painters have always taken advantage of this visual phenomenon to heighten the illusion of spatial depth on the canvas, in the era of abstract painting, when visual phenomena become even more important because of the lack of other visual cues, these effects take on a much greater significance. In France, Robert Delaunay was one of the first painters to use color as his sole means of representation. Inspired by the color use of impressionist painters, he studied color science and color theory along with art, then developed a strong belief in color and colored light as the primary means of painterly expression. In his famous 1913 essay “Notes on the Construction of Reality in Pure Painting,” Delaunay argued that the painter’s primary task is to portray “reality.” However, reality is not a photographic reproduction of the world as seen, but a composite response to that world as seen, sensed, and understood. Although he greatly admired painters like Cezanne and Renoir, Delaunay wished to move beyond what he viewed as their reliance on depictions of nature, what he called “naturalism.” In order to do this, the painter could use color and light. “Color,” he writes “is fundamentally the material means of painting—and its language.”26 If color and light are the tools of representation, then the painter needs a new way of conceiving the composition. Color, desirably, replaces drawing [line], in the sense that form reaches its fullest when color is at its peak of saturation (Cezanne): drawing, consequently, being in effect a stranger to the problem of volume, not creating real volume as is created by color, volume achieved by the quality There are innumerable sources on this topic but one excellent one is Georgia Cecchinato, “Form and Colour in Kant’s and Fichte’s Theory of Beauty,” in Fichte, German Idealism, and Early Romanticism, ed. Daniel Breazeale and Tom Rockmore (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2010), 71–3. 26 Robert Delaunay, “Constructionism and Neoclassicism (1924),” reprinted in The New Art of Color: The Writings of Robert and Sonia Delaunay, ed. Arthur A. Cohen, trans. David Shapiro and Arthur A. Cohen (New York: Viking, 1978), 10. I am quoting far more extensively from this later essay because in it, Delaunay explicates his ideas far more thoroughly and clearly than in the 1912 piece. 25

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and interaction of colors, even without elements of chiaroscuro, by the direct intervention of the simultaneous relations of colors, corresponds to the new art, the expressive art of color. 27 Simply said, color is the basis for the new art and it supplants line and chiaroscuro and should be subsumed into form (Figure 4.1).

FIGURE 4.1  Robert Delaunay “Windows” (1912). An early abstract painting of Delaunay’s that shows his complex use of primary, secondary, and tertiary colors in geometric forms. © Tateimages Photo © Tate CC-BY-ND 3.0. Delaunay, “Constructionism and Neoclassicism (1924),” 8–9.

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To explain his color technique, Delaunay writes, “Simultaneous contrast ensures the dynamism of colors and their construction in the painting; it is the most powerful means to express reality.”28 Delaunay evokes the science of color and vision to support his advocacy for color contrast as the basis of all painterly depiction—color relationships now stand in for all the “archaic procedures of traditional painting (draftsmanship, geometry, perspective).” That is, color is the means with which space is expressed on the canvas. In far more explicit terms, he describes exactly how color creates spatial illusion: the measurable object called the picture, a surface of two or more dimensions being read simultaneously in the visual radius, becomes an object with multiple dimensions. These multiple dimensions form groups, which oppose or neutralize one another, color being a rhythm in vibration depending on this or that intensity, seen in its surroundings or seen as a surface, in its interaction with all the colors. The vibration of an orange placed in a composition next to a yellow (since these two colors are placed almost side by side in the diagram of colors, their vibrations are consequently neighbors) occurs at a great rate. If in the same composition there is a blue-violet, the blue-violet will vibrate far more slowly against the orange-yellow. All the other colors, according to their distance and their quantitative relationships, vibrate… and, depending on either the predominant color or on the balance of colors, the colors vitalize or subdue one another. Thus, it is with the help of these methods, which are the foundation of current painting, that the painter finds the elements with which to express forms: their interaction in created, subject space, which is not space in perspective copied according to antiquated formulas, but the formal, dimensional space of the picture.29 It is the value of individual hues, their relative brightness, and the juxtaposition of those hues on the picture plane that create the impression of space without recourse to recognizable form or traditional perspective. Delaunay’s beliefs are important not only because he used color to create spatial illusion but because his work and his ideas were widely disseminated in Germany and therefore part of the lexicon of 1920s color theory. His essay “Notes on the Construction of Reality in Pure Painting” was first published in Paul Klee’s translation as “Über das Licht” in Herwarth Walden’s Der Sturm, and Delaunay’s work was exhibited across in Germany beginning with the 1912 exhibition at Berlin’s Der Sturm gallery, and published in important German art periodicals like Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration, Der Robert Delaunay, “Notes on the Construction of Reality in Pure Painting,” printed in Guillaume Apollinaire, “Réalité, peintre pure,” Der Sturm: Monatsschrift für Kultur und die Künste (Dezember 1912), 422–3. 29 Delaunay, “Constructionism and Neoclassicism (1924),” 11. 28

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Cicerone, and Kunstchronik. Bruno Taut frequently referred to Delaunay as a master of color and an important color theorist, for example, and after he translated Delaunay’s essay, Paul Klee was profoundly influenced by Delaunay’s ideas, altering his own color palette and approach to color application. It is impossible to consider the relationship between color and space in art without at least briefly discussing the De Stijl movement in the Netherlands. It too, through the De Stijl journal and Theo van Doesburg’s frequent presence in Germany, was instrumental in changing the way artists and architects viewed color and space. The painter Piet Mondrian held beliefs similar to those of Delaunay. Colored surfaces, he asserts “are able to design space without visually expressing the space in perspective, due to their dimension (line) as well as their tonal values (color)… the depth dimension appears through the distance effect of the colored differentiation of the surfaces.”30 Van Doesburg, who took Mondrian’s concept even further—from painting into the realm of architecture—was fascinated by the idea of using colors to form the “painterly composition of the threedimensional space.” That is, van Doesburg wished to use color as one means of extending the sculptural, plastic, and space-making qualities of architecture. In one of many articles that van Doesburg wrote for De Stijl, he describes the way that color could define architectural space: The colored planes of a painting which delimit each other and hold each other in strict, right-angled, determinate proportionality, remove once and for all the idea of form. The same applies to architecture in terms of strict, determined, and compositionally balanced bodies in space. In this way architecture acquires a new element; it is open, bounded but not organically closed (form-architecture). If the building achieves a Gestalt arising out of the internal constructive divisions, then it also excludes form, the type, once and for all. Every plane that forms the boundary of a space has a continuing spatial extension, while overcoming the closed nature of organic form. This is formless monumentality.31 Van Doesburg envisions a radical departure from traditional notions of architecture. In place of orthogonal, regular, enclosed rooms, van Doesburg imagines a spatial matrix defined by overlapping and intersecting colored planes where spatial boundaries are fluid (Figure 3.6). Wall planes are painted in primary colors, black, white, or gray, and juxtaposed for optical effect. Experimental models drawn in the early 1920s epitomize his ideas—

Piet Mondrian, “Die Neue Gestaltung in der Malerei,” (1917) cited in Clara Weyergraf, Piet Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg (Munchen: Fink, 1979), 73. 31 Theo van Doesburg, De Stijl, 28, cited in Allan Doig, 183. 30

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an example being the well-known axonometric drawing, the ContraConstruction design, that van Doesburg made together with Cornelis van Esteren in 1923. The architecture is devoid of the usual embellishments like crown and baseboard molding, and more functional architectural elements like doors and windows. Instead, walls are flat and abstract. Color is uniform and applied to emphasize the abstract nature of enclosure. The intention was to use colors and planes to create a three-dimensional version of a two-dimensional De Stijl canvas. It is critical to point out that van Doesburg did not create single color spaces—immersive environments—as Bruno Taut would later do in the 1920s, but rather used multiple colors (and shades) on planar surfaces of many different sizes to enclose spaces. Contrasting colors here act to give the illusion of surfaces receding or advancing in space and to animate the construction. Like Delaunay and his work, van Doesburg and De Stijl were very well known in German art and architecture circles of the 1920s. The eponymous journal circulated in art circles and van Doesburg’s essays were published in art and architecture journals like Kunst und Künstler, Die Form, and Der Cicerone, to name just three. Van Doesburg also knew many of Germany’s most important contemporary artists and architects personally and, in April 1921, relocated for a couple of years to Weimar, where he hoped to obtain a teaching position at the Bauhaus. When that did not materialize, van Doesburg set up a rival program in Weimar, much to Walter Gropius’s irritation, to promote his more radical ideas to Bauhaus teachers and students. Van Doesburg’s influence was acknowledged by his peers; by 1926, for instance, Harry Scheibe could write “Die Atmosphäre der neuen Architektur” (The Atmosphere of the New Architecture), in which he makes clear how central van Doesburg was to Neues Bauen. “The rapid spread of constructivist knowledge is truly mainly a result of Doesburg’s action, whose philosophical fundamentalism allowed the new movement to thrive.”32 By the mid-1920s, no less a figure than Hans Poelzig (1869–1936) asserted that color was the factor that, if properly used, could overcome formalism in contemporary architecture and give it spatial and urban character appropriate to the times. In a 1922 article for Die Form on style in contemporary architecture, he writes, “Color is certainly a very strong medium to help overcome the weak, purely formal clinging to [architectural] tradition… it is largely unknown that you can build with color, and if you use it at all, you have to build it.”33 Poelzig’s assertion anticipates many color innovations that were soon to be introduced.

Harry Scheibe, “Die Atmosphäre der neuen Architektur,” Die Form (1926), 329. Hans Poelzig, “Vom Bauen unserer Zeit,” Die Form: Zeitschrift für gestaltende Arbeit, 1 (1922), 16–29.

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Hinnerk Scheper and Walter Gropius One of the most interesting collaborations on color and spatial perception was between Hinnerk Scheper and Walter Gropius.34 Gropius is well-known as an architect and as the first director of the Bauhaus; Scheper is a far less celebrated figure—he was a former student at the Bauhaus and, later, a Master of the Wall Painting Workshop. Born Gerhard Hermann Heinrich Dühne, from 1921 he adopted the last name of his adoptive father and the Low German version of Heinrich, Hinnerk. He matriculated at the Bauhaus at the start in 1919, where he elected to study in the workshop for decorative wall painting. Scheper had already completed the journeyman’s course with master painter Gustav Nehmelmann in Badbergen in northeast Germany, and had worked for another master painter, Rudolf Engels, in Quakenbrück, a nearby town, and was therefore already quite an accomplished interior painter when he arrived in Weimar.35 He completed his studies at the Bauhaus in 1922 after which he began a career as a color designer rather than a painter—an interesting choice of professional title. Clearly, his extensive work with three Bauhaus teachers, Johannes Itten, Oskar Schlemmer, and Wassily Kandinsky, who were passionately interested in color, had had an effect on the young man. According to Lou Scheper, Hinnerk’s wife, who was also a Bauhaustrained artist, her husband developed the principle of “color in architecture as a design element of the building, not a superimposed end effect.”36 By this he meant that color had to be considered as an integral part of any design from its inception. Scheper’s early work was influenced by Johannes Itten’s mystical approach to design, but, by 1924, Scheper had fully accepted the turn towards functional planning. “Color was assigned the task of selfpresentation of the architecture, it had to serve the purpose of the room at the same time. The difference between load-bearing and infill elements provided the possibility of strong tensions in the light/dark contrasts and material oppositions.”37 In other words, color was now used to enhance the architectural design and spatial effects of the architectonic elements. Scheper’s first commission, which he obtained soon after completing his studies in 1922, was for the Landes- und Schlossmuseum (State and Castle Museum) in Weimar. The director of the museum, Wilhelm Köhler, approached Scheper to devise an interior color scheme as part of a project to renew the Hinnerk Scheper’s wife, Lou Scheper-Berkenkamp, collaborated on color space design projects with Hinnerk after the Second World War, but according to surviving evidence and their daughter-in-law, she did not collaborate with her husband on the projects from the 1920s. 35 Renate Scheper, Hinnerk Scheper: Farbgestalter Fotograf Denkmalpfleger (Osnabrück: Rasch, 2007), 5. 36 Lou Scheper, “Rückschau,” in Bauhaus und Bauhäusler, ed. Eckhard Neumann (Stuttgart: Hallweg, 1971), 93. 37 Ibid., 94. 34

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exhibition design.38 Surviving sketches for the project evidence his early interest in using color to differentiate architectural elements in the space and to affect spatial perception. In his view, the ceilings of the Neo-Renaissance building were proportionally too high, which he attempted to use color to correct. In one sketch, the walls are indicated in white, space between the hanging wall and crown molding is gray-blue, the decorative crown molding is deep red, and a band of molding at the baseboard and door frame is black and gray. By using a darker color above the bright white, Scheper would have created the illusion of a heavy, lower ceiling over an expanding space below. Equally interesting are the 1923 sketches for rooms for the Old Masters in the Schlossmuseum. Here, he used colored stripes at the baseboard, around door frames, and at the wall/ceiling juncture to emphasize the various spatial planes and mark connections.39 The linear coloration was meant to aid people with wayfinding and prefigures his use of color stripes as orientation devices, as well as substitutes for applied ornament, in later designs. Another early project, the apartments for full-time employees of the Fagus Works in Alfeld an der Leine, served as a testing ground for some of Scheper’s experiments with color and spatial perception. Gropius obtained the commission for Scheper in 1923 to propose color designs for six three-room apartments in a part of the complex that had been realized by W. Rudolph. The planning sketches for the apartments use a palette that combines pastel green and pink with light and dark grays. The most unusual parts of the proposal are the dark color he used for most of the walls, except for a band of light color above; the ways that he frames windows and doors with light colors that also form a stripe around the upper part of the walls; and the ceiling painting in combinations of green, pink, ochre, and gray. Since dark colors retreat visually, the dark color on the walls would make the small rooms appear larger, while the brighter colors above would have balanced the potential dreary character of a dark-colored room.40 Apparently, it was the project to paint the walls of the University Clinic in Münster that impressed Gropius to the extent that in 1924 he offered Scheper the position as Young Master of the Workshop for Wall Painting at the new Bauhaus in Dessau. The Münster project is interesting because it signals Scheper’s embrace of colored space’s ability to influence the psyche, and his turn towards primary and secondary colors for his interiors. The colored plan for one of the large buildings shows Scheper’s palette of red, light blue, yellow, peach, pink, gray and black. For the x-ray room and darkrooms, Scheper selected dark colors, primarily Pompeii red, for walls and ceilings, because he believed that red would facilitate the eye’s adaptation to the dark.41 He chose light pastel Ibid., 15. Ibid., 17. 40 Ibid., 18. 41 Ibid., 23. 38 39

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colors, not white, for the operating rooms so as to avoid “blinding” the doctors. For the patients’ rooms, “calming and cheering” colors were applied together with “appropriate toning of the walls and ceilings, which are so important for lying in the room. Light and dark sides were taken into account.”42 Darker rooms were painted in yellows, while brighter rooms received blue-green treatments to balance natural light conditions to make the space as comfortable as possible. Scheper’s designs for Münster also convinced Gropius that Scheper should design the color scheme for the new Bauhaus building in Dessau.43 Scheper was tasked with devising color applications for both the outside and inside of the school subject to Gropius’s approval. Scheper incorporated and expanded on lessons from his previous projects, making the Bauhaus building the most developed and sophisticated example of his color experiments to date. While Gropius was not only a prolific designer but also an extraordinarily productive writer on architecture during his lifetime, he did not address the question of color directly, which is odd for several reasons: he was a signatory on Bruno Taut’s 1919 “Ruf zum farbigen Bauen” and, although his architectural exteriors tended to the neutral whites and grays of Neues Bauen, his interiors usually worked with more varied color palettes. This is especially true of Gropius’s projects in the first half of the 1920s, such as the Jena Theater (1921), House W33 (1924), the Master Houses in Dessau (1926), and the Bauhaus (1926). Gropius and his partner Adolf Meyer collaborated with Hinnerk Scheper for the Jena Theater and Bauhaus, and with Alfred Arndt at House W33. Although the palettes at all three projects are different, certain fundamental principles are the same: color is deployed to articulate the space, delineate function, and help with orientation. Although he does not seem to have addressed color application directly, Gropius did write copiously about his ambitions for the new architecture, from which his attitude towards color can be inferred. From the very beginnings of the Weimar Bauhaus, Gropius advocated the fusion of all the arts in architecture. In 1923 he writes, What is space, how can we capture and design it? The basic elements of space are: number and movement. Number alone distinguishes people from things, understands and arranges the material world with it…. The force we call movement orders the numbers. Both number and movement are an idea of our finite brain, that cannot grasp the concept of the infinite. We probably experience infinite space by virtue of our belonging to space, but we can only design space with finite means. We feel space with our whole indivisible self, at the same time with soul, mind and body and so we shape it with all bodily organs. Man invents through

Lou Scheper, “Rückschau,” cited in Scheper, Hinnerk Scheper, 22. Sabine Baabe-Meijer, Berufliche Bildung am Bauhaus (Paderborn: Eusl, 2006), 313.

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his intuition, through his metaphysical power… he feels the connections between his means of appearance, colors, shapes, tones and senses with them laws, measures and numbers.44 Gropius only gestures toward the role that color plays in architectural design here, but his meaning is still clear. Color is one of the essential elements of space and therefore architecture. Through color, together with the other basic elements, shape and tone, space is experienced and understood. The illusion that the stationary object, architecture, is in motion is partly created by repeating elements; repeating color, whether on individual details or whole surfaces like walls, or entire rooms, therefore helps generate a sense of movement. Gropius and Meyer used the Jena Theater project as an opportunity to test new ideas about architectural design, especially about the integration of the different arts under the umbrella of architecture—this included trying new ways of using painting to enhance architectural space. At the same time, Gropius extended a practice he had begun with the Sommerfeld House project, providing opportunities to Bauhaus teachers and students to try their hands in a real-world project. Gropius initially entrusted the painting scheme to Oskar Schlemmer, but was disappointed with Schlemmer’s work, which he viewed as too pictorial and therefore not in harmony with the new architecture. After Schlemmer completed the painting, Gropius decided to have it painted over.45 The second scheme was designed by Hinnerk Scheper, who was still a student at the time. Only a little is known about what Scheper did: he chose a primary color palette for the project, juxtaposing each color with its complementary, and used color as an abstract element.46 Blackand-white photographs suggest that different hues were used to accentuate architectonic elements like the column shafts and bases, which foreshadowed the way that Scheper and Gropius would use color in future projects. Perhaps a clearer precursor to the Bauhaus project was Gropius’s collaboration with student Alfred Arndt on the 1924 Auerbach House in Jena, a project that has recently been restored to its glorious thirty-seven original colors.47 The exterior of the house is a simple composition of Walter Gropius, Idee und Aufbau des Bauhaus (Weimar: Staatliches Bauhaus, 1923). Hajo Düchting, Farbe am Bauhaus: Synthese und Synästhesie (Berlin: Gebr. Mann, 1996), 116; and Volker Wahl, “Jena und das Bauhaus,” in Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrift der Hochschule für Architektur und Bauwesen, Weimar 26 JG, Heft 4/5 (1979), 347. 46 Gerda Wendermann, “Der Internationalen Kongress der Konstruktivisten und Dadaisten in Weimar im September 1922,” in Europa in Weimar: Visionen eines Kontinents, ed. Hellmut Th. Seemann (Weimar: Wallstein, 2008), 396. 47 Barbara Happe and Martin S. Fischer, “Haus Auerbach von Walter Gropius mit Adolf Meyer,” Detail (2018): https://issuu.com/detail-magazine/docs/haus-auerbach_de_ansichtsseiten_jov. Another precursor was the Haus Otte in Berlin, completed in 1922 with interior wall painting by Bauhaus student Dörte Helm. It too used single colors for the walls with other colors on architectural elements like handrails, doors, and windows. See Morgan Ridler, “Dörte Helm, Margaret Leiteritz, and Lou Scheper-Berkenkamp: Rare Women of the Bauhaus Wall-Painting Workshop,” in Bauhaus Bodies: Gender, Sexuality, and Body Culture in Modernism’s Legendary Art School, ed. Elizabeth Ottio and Patrick Rössler (London: Bloomsbury, 2019), 195–204. 44 45

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adjacent box-like volumes covered in white stucco. The strategy is similar to that of Viennese architect Adolf Loos, who rendered building exteriors mute in favor of rich interiors, and one that Gropius repeats elsewhere. Arndt chose a unique palette of pastel colors for the project, in sharp contrast to the palette that Scheper would choose for the Bauhaus building in Dessau. Although his color palette was very different from that of Scheper, there are similarities in approach—both use color to enhance both the experiential and perceptual spatial effects of the architecture. In the stairwell, for instance, Arndt highlighted the baseboards, stringer, and handrail with shades and colors that contrast with adjacent surfaces and serve to visually emphasize depth as well as movement (Figure 4.2). The baseboard is dark gray, and the stringers are light gray, while the handrails are a brick red. One wall in the

FIGURE 4.2  Walter Gropius and Adolf Arndt “Auerbach House” (1924). View of the stairwell, with its combination of primary colors used to accent architectural details. © SG Koezle - [email protected]

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stairwell is peach colored, the back wall is yellow, and the ceiling changes from white to dark gray and back to white. At the same time, the repetitious rhythms help move the eye through the space of the stairwell and upwards so that even when the viewer does not physically move through the space, an illusion of movement is created. The red banister, gray baseboard and repeating stair elements together help propel the physical movement of a person in the space upward. The other two spaces that are well documented are the music room and adjacent dining room. The music room is painted a strong light green with thick yellow bands—one of which, on the outer wall, bends and continues onto the ceiling, turns a corner, stretches the length of the room, and then dips down on the partition wall between the music and dining rooms. In this way, the yellow band acts both to direct physical movement between the two spaces and to frame the action of occupants inside the music room as its twisting shape forms a quasi-frame for the space. The music room opens onto the orange-colored dining room, with its band of dark-gray molding that travels over door frames, and its orange and light-gray ceiling. A

FIGURE 4.3  Walter Gropius and Adolf Arndt “Auerbach House” (1924). View of the Music Room showing the band of yellow that wraps around the space to frame the entry wall. © SG Koezle - [email protected]

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medium-gray band that marks one side of the glass partition doors between the two rooms acts to frame the view through, by covering the strip of wall between door and ceiling. In this room too, color is applied in irregularly sized bands that extend over multiple surfaces, walls, and ceiling to elicit one’s eyes’ movement through the space. Writing in 1930 about the architecture of the Bauhaus building, Gropius reiterated the same goals he had articulated earlier, and that applied at the Auerbach House, namely, “the synthesis of all artistic creativity into a unity, the unification of all artistic and technical disciplines into a new architecture as its inseparable components, an architecture that serves the living life.”48 Architecture should therefore incorporate into the building arts, like structural engineering systems, and spatial design, other arts, like sculpture, furniture design, weaving, and painting, all synthesized into the building’s fabric. Color, the medium of painters, was only one of the many media he saw as crucial to this new approach to design.

The Bauhaus Building Scheper’s approach demonstrated a rich understanding of the possibilities of color application from a material, scientific, and psychological point-ofview—ideas that were deeply influenced by the color theories taught at the Bauhaus. Having been involved in the Wall Painting Workshop during Itten’s, Schlemmer’s, and Kandinsky’s tenures, Scheper would have learned about color from each of these masters. (Both Itten and Schlemmer had studied with the great master of color Adolf Hölzel, in Stuttgart.49) Itten taught from his personal interpretation of Philipp Otto Runge’s and Hölzel’s color spheres—drawn as a star, intersected by concentric circles, with white at the center and black points at its extremities, comprised of twelve colors, the four primary hue system (red, yellow, blue, and green) plus secondary and tertiary colors arranged in sections that gradually become darker. The star was derived from the spherical form cut into equal parts and then flattened into a plan diagram. Thus, Itten’s diagram illustrated several fundamental aspects of color: hue, complementarity, analogy, saturation, and extension, as well as eight polarities that he inherited from Adolf Hölzel, cold/warm, dark/light, intensity contrast, simultaneous contrast, quantity contrast, and contrast between color and “not-color.”50 Itten’s color relationships are evident in Scheper’s color choices and juxtapositions. Itten expanded his Walter Gropius, The New Architecture and the Bauhaus, trans. Morton Shand (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1965). 49 Christoph Wagner, “Adolf Hölzel, Johannes Itten, und das Bauhaus: Bemerkungen zur Rezeption Adolf Hölzels Farbenlehre,” in Kaleidoskop—Hölzl in der Avant-garde, ed. Marion Ackermann (Heidelberg: Stuttgart Museum, 2009), 110–15. 50 Ibid., 112. 48

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color system into a cosmology that related color, space, and architecture to one another. The belief that color was an intrinsic element of any spatial system was central to Scheper’s practice as well. Wassily Kandinsky took a more scientific approach to color instruction than Itten, which would have provided a good balance to Itten. Kandinsky’s notes on his way of teaching color at the Bauhaus make clear that students were taught both the scientific and psychological aspects of color: 1 Chemisch-physikalische Eigenschaften der Farbe—ihre materielle Substanz (Chemical-physical characteristics of color—their material substance). 2 Psychologische Eigenschaften der Farbe—ihre schöpferische Kräfte. (Psychological characteristics of color—their creative strengths).51 In addition to the scientific and psychological properties of color, Kandinsky was convinced that there was a fixed color-form relationship—that is, that there must be a specific primary color for each basic shape. Kandinsky famously conducted an experiment at the Bauhaus in order to prove his theory52 (Figure 4.4). He asked students and colleagues to assign a color to the primary forms, the triangle, square, and circle. He proposed yellowtriangle, blue-circle, and red-square, and most of the Bauhäusler agreed. By matching fundamental colors and forms, Kandinsky was establishing an essential vocabulary for abstract art. Kandinsky also emphasized that color exploration was to support “speculative experiments, analytic and compositional art—designs and refinements of surfaces and room treatments.”53 In other words, Bauhaus students were taught the chemical as well as psychological workings of color—to use color for spatial effect and emotional affect in painting as well as architecture. A range of concepts for color engagement with architecture were taught at the Bauhaus Werkstatt für Wandmalerei (Workshop for wall painting) under Kandinsky, Itten, and Schlemmer. These included specialized techniques such as “tempera paints, casein paint, oil tempera, oil painting, chalk colors, sgraffito, fresco [and], wax color,” and “colored and plastic handling of walls.”54 Approaches to wall treatment varied from Schlemmer’s more traditional treatment of the wall as a surface for frescoes, whether figural or abstract, to the wall as abstract element serving the spatial function.

Cited in Baabe-Meijer, Berufliche Bildung am Bauhaus, 302. More contemporary research disproves Kandinsky’s theory. See, Alexi D. J. Makin and Sophie M. Wuerger, “The IAT Shows No Evidence for Kandinsky’s Color-Shape Associations,” Frontiers in Psychology, 4 (2013), 616–47. 53 Cited in Baabe-Meijer, Berufliche Bildung am Bauhaus, 302. 54 Cited in Düchting, Farbe am Bauhaus, 115 from a handwritten note by Kandinsky dated June 1923, Bauhaus Archiv, Berlin. 51 52

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FIGURE 4.4  Kandinsky’s survey of the correlation between color and form. By the time he received the Bauhaus commission, Scheper had begun to develop a system for color application in architecture. Scheper’s method combined articulation of architectonic elements in the space with colored surface treatments, in order to heighten the presence of structure, create a sense of movement, enhance the spatial dimensions of the room, or focus views inside and beyond. Lou Scheper said of her husband’s work on the Bauhaus project: For Scheper, the turn to the constructive, the functional, [and] the functional in interior design had finally taken place. The color had been assigned its task of self-expression of the architecture, it had to serve

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the purpose of the room. The distinction between load-bearing and filling elements offered the possibility of strong tensions in the light/dark contrasts and the material contrasts.55 In fact, in addition to varying hues, Scheper deployed color, brightness, and shade contrasts, and repetition of colored elements in space, to great effect (Figure 4.5).

FIGURE 4.5 Hinnerk Scheper’s orientation diagram for the interior of the Bauhaus, with his ideas for how and where to use color. (1926). © Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin, Photo: Hermann Kiessling Cited in Baabe-Meijer, Berufliche Bildung am Bauhaus, 315.

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Scheper explained his color strategy as follows: The colored orientation map of the Bauhaus vestibule, directional arrows and lines point to the workshops and departments that have a distinctive color. When designing the interior, there is a distinction between load-bearing and non-load-bearing surfaces, thereby bringing their architectural tension to a clear expression. The spatial effect of the color is increased by the use of various material, smooth, polished, grainy, and rough plaster surfaces, matt, dull, and glossy coatings, glass and metal.56 In other words, Scheper viewed color as a means with which to enhance the architectural expression and the spatial experience, in particular depth perception. Color also acts a substitute for ornament, helps with spatial orientation, directs movement, and can aide in differentiating functions. Scheper used it to frame views, create the illusion of depth in space, and define or accentuate spatial divisions. Single color was never all-encompassing in Scheper’s work; he never created an immersive color space, but rather used color to form visual accents. While Scheper did color entire walls, he then used different colors for different surfaces, or parts of the same surface, which often exaggerated aspects of the spatial organization. Furthermore, Scheper worked deliberately with color effects, such as color contrast, to heighten perceptual awareness. Scheper’s palette at the Bauhaus included white, gray, and black, together with the primary hues, red, yellow, and blue (Figure 4.6). (The anomalies at the main entry foyer and the theater were not designed by Scheper but by Moholoy-Nagy, who introduced other colors as visual anomalies—pink

FIGURE 4.6  Hinnerk Scheper’s color rendering of his color scheme for the Bauhaus exterior, which was not realized. © Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin, Photo: Reinhard Friedrich Wulf Herzogenrath, Oskar Schlemmer: Die Wandgestaltung der neuen Architektur (Munich: Prestel, 1973), 154.

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in the foyer, and silver in the theater.) All three primary colors that Scheper chose are bright and saturated hues, quite similar to the color palette used by Dutch De Stijl artists and architects like Theo van Doesburg and Piet Mondrian at the time. Since van Doesburg had been in Weimar in 1921, when Scheper was there, it is highly likely that Scheper was cognizant of the De Stijl color philosophy and palette. Unfortunately, only some of his plans for the Bauhaus were realized, but what was realized demonstrates Scheper’s working principles. Plans for the interiors were more detailed and complex than those for the exterior. On the exterior, the color as executed is far more restrained than as Scheper’s original plans had called for, in keeping with Gropius’s usual approach, although even in his plans, color is far more restrained on the exteriors than on the interiors. Scheper’s façade drawings call for a combination of white, gray, and black, with red accents, in a dispersal of color that encourages the eye to travel over the whole composition. Scheper proposed alternating stripes of gray and black on the theater/café wing, for example, to emphasize the horizontality of Gropius’s design, but the block was painted white instead. Only the vertical divisions of the façade are gray. Scheper showed Gropius’s building floating atop a gray base—the color contrast literally created the illusion that the different building volumes were suspended above the ground. Gropius retained most of this aspect of the color scheme, with a few exceptions. Scheper envisioned subtle yellow on the underside of the long balconies of the dormitory wing, red accents on the small balconies, and red mullions for the windows, but none of these suggestions was taken up. Scheper had also utilized far more variation in white, gray, and black tones on the building’s volumes than was finally realized. Today, only the end piece of the workshop wing is gray—whereas Scheper illustrated a dynamic interplay of white, gray, and black on all sides of the building. His drawings capture the implied motion embedded in the pinwheel plan and are far more visually animated than the actual building appears to be— Gropius’s decision to render it a predominantly white mass diminishes the visual illusion of movement. On the interiors, Scheper elected to use more color in the wing that housed the existing school, and in the bridge, than in the workshop wing. It is not clear whether this was Scheper’s decision, reflecting his understanding of the functional differences between the parts of the building, or whether Gropius had proscribed the areas in which Scheper could use color.57 He applied color in stripes or fields using several distinct strategies, to very different effect. Stripes of color tend to serve one of three purposes: to emphasize the presence of structural members, usually beams overhead; to indicate direction of movement through the space; and to heighten the

In conversation with Monika Markgraf at the Bauhaus Stiftung, March 4, 2020.

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depth of space (Figure 4.7). Color painted on the undersides of beams or on the sides of solid wall banisters is used to direct visual and physical movement through many of the interior spaces. At the same time, these accents extend the space outward. One stairwell juxtaposes bright-yellow stripes on the undersides of the beams with red banister walls and a blue end wall. Blue recedes visually in relation to yellow and red. The yellow and red lines gesture toward the stair landing and large window. The yellowpainted beams terminate in a dark-gray beam, whose color wraps down the walls on either side of the stairwell to frame it. The total effect, as the eye moves over yellow, red, and blue surfaces, is one of swirling motion. By only painting the beams’ undersides and leaving the sides white, Scheper reduced the three-dimensionality of the structure to a line that seems to float in space. In all three hallways, Scheper alternated primary hues between the corridor beams and beams inside the rooms. For instance, where the beams are yellow in the hallway, they are blue or red inside the adjacent rooms. The color contrast serves to exaggerate the brightness of each color. In several other parts of the building, Scheper painted both the beam undersides and banister walls red, which draws the eye to the picture window in the stairwell and the landing opposite in an aggressive way (Figure 4.8). By coloring the window surround gray, Scheper created a frame around the window and the illusion that the view to the outside is an image on the picture plane of a large canvas—the window appears separated from the building enclosure.

FIGURE 4.7  View of the Bauhaus interior showing Scheper’s use of the primary colors to highlight architectural details.

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FIGURE 4.8 View down the Bauhaus corridor that connects the two main buildings together; red lines direct the eye along the space, frame the windows, and views to the outside. Often, Scheper placed color sparingly on individual elements in an otherwise-white space, like the bright-blue underside of exposed beams in one corridor, whose rhythm animates the long spatial trajectory. Another typical example is the way red stripes were painted above and below the long windows in the administrative corridor to draw attention to the window and the view beyond, as well as to exaggerate the primary direction of movement through the space. In the wing housing the existing crafts school, Scheper painted one end wall of each corridor gray and one blue. The repetition of the same color in the same location serves as an orientation device. In the dormitory stairwell, there is a riot of color on most architectural elements, such as banisters, exposed pipes, and surfaces. As in the rest of the Bauhaus, Scheper uses a primary palette consisting of yellow, red, and blue.

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The red steel, tubular handrail connects the landings and stairs through the vertical space, while other shades of white, gray, yellow, blue, and black appear on patches of wall, beams, and ceiling sections. The contrast between the continuous red handrail and sections of other color creates tension between movement, thrust, and rest. Scheper also chose a different combination of colors for each floor, which helps with spatial orientation. Scheper’s strategy for the placement of colored walls and ceilings differed from his use of linear colored elements. Colored walls act as spaceenhancing elements—architecture that effects spatial and depth perception. In Gropius’s office, for example, white, black, and yellow define discreet spaces within the larger room, while a red stripe highlights a vertical support and the boundary between two areas (Figure 4.9). Scheper painted the wall behind Gropius’s desk black, creating an illusion of space extending behind the school director. The ceiling above is bright yellow, echoed in the color of the visitor’s chair in front of Gropius’s desk. The yellow has the effect of making the ceiling feel lower, since yellow is a color that appears to advance when adjacent to black, thereby helping to make the space around the desk feel more intimate. The subtly colored Bauhaus building, with its understated exterior and rugged industrial aesthetic, presents a new model for how to integrate color into the new architecture. Scheper and Gropius demonstrated here that color is a fundamental architectural element when deployed to reinforce the design and enhance the spatial experience.

FIGURE 4.9  Walter Gropius’ office in the Bauhaus. The way that color affects perception of the space is evident.

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Adolf Rading and the Dr. Rabe House In a rare experiment with color and painted surfaces at the Dr. Rabe House in Zwenkau, the architect Adolf Rading created a unique spatial experience by treating all six sides of the interior as part of his canvas. Rading’s use of color was radically different from that of Scheper and Gropius. Rading was inspired by innovations in spatial depiction deployed by cubist painters. Cubism allowed the simultaneous viewing of all sides of an object by breaking objects into distinct planes imagined on the surfaces of a box, so that it was possible to unfold the six-sided box in order to simultaneously show each side on the flat surface of the painting’s picture plane. Rading inverted the cubist process by folding the flat painted canvas in on itself in six sections, thereby enclosing both space and the viewer. In this way, not only did Rading invert the cubist process, he also drastically altered the conventional relationship between viewer and canvas—from frontal and distanced engagement to an all-encompassing interior experience; that is, he spatialized the two-dimensional canvas. Rading then experimented with several different ways of using color. Similar to Scheper and Gropius, he applied color in ways that directed movement through the space, defined locations within the architecture, activated particular spaces, and enhanced the perceptual effects of individual spaces. Apollinaire was describing cubism when he wrote about “the opening of new vistas on the exterior and interior universes,” yet his words also describe what Rading achieved at the Dr. Rabe House.58 Rading challenged both architectural and painterly conventions with his application of color, which differed from that of other contemporaries because he moved beyond the use of pure color and geometric form to marry color with abstract forms of many kinds, sometimes even using pattern and figure, to transform the traditional medium of painting from a flat surface to a three-dimensional space. Cubism was a revolutionary approach to painting invented by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque in 1907. At its core, the approach rejected the notion that art should represent nature or reality. Cubism abandoned perspectival attempts to replicate three-dimensional spatial reality on the picture plane in favor of a new way of picturing the world. Picasso and Braque wished to fuse time and space in their paintings. To this end, they fragmented objects into smaller pieces, as seen from every angle as the painter walked around the object, and then painted them on the painting surface, as seen at once from a single vantage point. In this way, both viewing time and spatial depth were collapsed together into one image. Picasso’s 1907 painting Les Demoiselles d’Avignon is considered the first cubist work ever executed. Like many cubist canvases, it retains recognizable forms and Guillaume Apollinaire, “The New Spirit and the Poets,” cited in Pamela A. Genova, “The Poetics of Visual Cubism: Guillaume Apollinaire on Pablo Picasso,” Studies in 20th Century Literature, 27/1 (2003), 10.

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combines them with abstracted ones. If cubism fractured and merged time and space on a flat plane, then Rading’s wall paintings did the opposite: they engulfed the viewer within pictorial space and attenuated time by stretching the time necessary for viewing the surrounding artwork and space. Although well-known during his lifetime as one of the pioneers of modern architecture in Germany, Rading is largely forgotten today, particularly outside Germany. He is best known for his project at the 1927 Weissenhofsiedlung in Stuttgart, a fairly conventional Neues Bauen building of orthogonal forms, white stucco, and tubular steel details. He is an interesting character; having adopted many aspects of the formal expression associated with the avant-garde of the 1920s, he was yet highly suspicious of architectural fashion and authored many articles articulating these reservations, including one called “Fanal (Signal),” in which he warns his readers about totally abandoning traditional forms in favor of fashionable new ones.59 His work was, therefore, situated in the middle ground between the often-oppositional positions in Weimar art and architecture debates. He was extremely well read and engaged repeatedly with contemporary art issues. Although he does not seem to have written about cubism, or even about painting, the scope of his other writings supports the notion that he would have been well versed in the new approach to painting. He was also close friends with numerous artists and collaborated with Oskar Schlemmer at the Dr. Rabe House, although it is Rading’s work that is of primary concern here, rather than Schlemmer’s, which has received a fair amount of scholarly attention. Rading designed the Dr. Rabe House to accommodate two environments: the doctor’s medical practice and his private home. Three stories high, the house has the signature elements of early modernism: it is a simple cubic block, with white stucco façades, and a flat roof with a barely articulated thin metal drip edge (Figure 4.10). At first glance, it appears to be an unremarkable example of Neues Bauen design. But on closer examination, Rading’s quirky personalization becomes apparent. Each façade has a unique aspect, and none are symmetrical. The main entrances are offset to one side of the front façade, marked by the thinnest of asymmetrically placed awnings set upon slender square columns; there is a door to the practice that faces the street, while the door to the private home lies under the same awning but around the corner, on the more private side of the house. The only color, other than white, used on the exterior is a deep forest green, close to black, on the window frames, mullions, and doors, that mirrors natural colors on the site. Inside, the visitor discovers a rationally arranged square plan, with simple rectangular rooms organized around a two-story central void. Rading’s innovation at Dr. Rabe House was to use every surface of the interior as a canvas on which he painted a unique work.

59

Adolf Rading, “Fanal,” Rading Archiv, AdK Berlin.

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FIGURE 4.10  Adolf Rading’s Dr. Rabe House in Zwenkau (1930). The exterior is a simple white box with dark-green window mullions and an unusual black-andwhite pattern on the underside of the awning. © Creative Commons. Rading used the primary palette at Dr. Rabe House: red, yellow, and blue, with black, white, and gray. For most of the colors, Rading selected a deeply saturated hue, with the notable exception of his yellows. For Rading, color was one of six fundamental aspects of architecture that included: “light, environment, landscape, work conditions, and material.”60 Rading emphatically believed that architecture reflected the times and the ways in which people live.61 While, in his writings, he does not articulate exactly what this means in spatial terms, his residential work from 1918 onward tended to combine modern open planning in public spaces, like the living and dining rooms, with traditional planning in private areas, like the bedrooms.62 Rading conceived of the house in two parts: the outer shell, which he called a “dead body,” and the interior, “the power” and “force” of the house; in other words, the exterior is meant to be silent and simple, a Adolf Rading, “Lehrplan einer Bauakademie,” December 5, 1932, 6. AdK, Rad 6. His many essays from the 1920s make this clear, for instance “Fanal” and “Neues Bauen.” 62 Deborah Ascher Barnstone, “Modernism Reconsidered: The Kultur/Zivilisation Dichotomy in the work of Adolf Rading,” New German Critique (Fall 2009), No. 108; and Deborah Ascher Barnstone, Beyond the Bauhaus: Cultural Modernity in Breslau, 1918–1933 (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 2016). 60 61

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principle supported in practice by his design for Dr. Rabe House, where the exterior is muted, while the interior, where all the action occurs, is meant to be lively.63 He compared a house to the human body, and its interior to the human nervous system, without which the skeleton and muscles are dead. Materials, he asserted, activated the interiors to hold the spaces together. Although Rading does not call out color per se, he indicates the importance of color and optical effects in many of his essays. “If there was a painter who could conjure up the glamor, color and crystal of marble on a wooden board so that the difference was imperceptible, why should I not let him deceive me?”64 he once asked. He finished the essay by asserting that architectural beauty lies in the qualities of materials as perceived by living beings. The interiors of Dr. Rabe House, then, are designed to activate human perception and experience. As Marcia Feuerstein points out, the German word for wall is Wand, which is also the root for wandern, to walk or wander.65 In this sense, the very specific wall paintings signal the potential for the house to act as a performance space or as a space for a sequence of experiences. One simple task Rading assigns color is to act as a way indicator; this actually begins outside the house where the swirling dark green and white curvilinear forms lead the visitor to the entry doors. Inside, floors are color coded with strips that lead from one door to another, as with the white strip in the main living room that leads to the playroom door, and the red strip leading from the entrance to the center of the space. Colored patches also demarcate particular spaces, like the black square in the main living room, on which the dining table and chairs are placed, and the white square, on which the bed is placed in the master bedroom. At times color augments room functions, thereby enhancing the emotional force of the space. The pale, yellow walls and ceiling in the main living space are warm and calming; while the bright red in the master bedroom is energetic. Kandinsky called both yellow and red “warm” colors, but he makes a distinction between them. Red is “an endless typically warm color” that “has an inner, highly vivid, lively, restless appeal,” which might explain its use in a bedroom. It also advances spatially, which makes the room feel more intimate. Yellow, in contrast, is “earthly,” which may explain its appeal in a space designed for larger group human interaction. Yet, like red, yellow advances, which could render an entertaining space comfortable and welcoming. The way Rading has designed the interior creates more than an informal backdrop for domestic dramas—it provides a protected, self-contained

Adolf Rading, “Vom Wesen des Bauwerks,” (1925), 1. AdK, Rad. 92. Adolf Rading, “Kosten und Schönheit,” 2. Rad 103. 65 Marcia Feuerstein, Architecture as a Performing Art, ed. Marcia Feuerstein and Gray Read (London: Ashgate, 2013), 182. 63 64

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other world.66 In the theater, flats sit behind the action, flattening the space and framing it in a two-dimensional plane. At the Dr. Rabe House, the human action is enfolded and enclosed by the painted surfaces so that it is totally immersed inside. Rading decorated the void of the double-height living room and the rooms surrounding it as a multicolored abstract threedimensional art installation, with colored geometric shapes that wrap around corners, connect floors to walls, and walls to ceilings, blurring the edges and boundaries between planes (Figures 4.11 and 4.12). Parts of the floor in the main living space are bright-red, cobalt-blue, white, and black rectangles; the ceiling is light-yellow beige bisected by two white lines of differing widths; a section of the wall over the alcove features a semicircle that is part white stripes and part black, situated off center between two black rectangles suspended just above; inside the most private part of the room, one wall is bright red, while a rounded red form oozes across the

FIGURE 4.11  Living room in the Dr. Rabe House, looking at Oskar Schlemmer’s metal installation and ways in which Rading employed color. © Photo: Jörg Glaescher/laif. Marcia Feuerstein reads the space as “Architecture as performing art,” but in her reading, it is the architecture that is the main actor, whereas the opposite is also true: the architecture is the background against which human drama is enacted. Architecture as a Performing Art eds. Marcia Feuerstein and Gray Read.

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FIGURE 4.12  Historic photograph of the house showing the oozing red with the black and white forms. © Canadian Centre for Architecture. ceiling. In the kitchen, a red-and-white triangle bisects the ceiling flanked by gray and black cabinetry on both sides and white end walls. A red step stool and red trim pick up the color as visual accents. The strong diagonal formed at the intersection between red and white accentuates the movement

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through the space, while the white end walls frame any action in the room. Upstairs, the parallel oozing red, white, and gray on the bedroom ceiling seep down the walls and onto the armoire, while a black band, underscored by a thin red piece of trim, marks the bottom of the white wall (Figure 4.13). In the hallway, Rading used gray and yellow triangles to direct movement toward both the stairway and the bedrooms, and to complement wall paintings executed by Oskar Schlemmer; the gray wall acts as the backdrop for the action (Figure 4.14). The amorphous shapes Rading painted in much of the house recall forms used by his contemporaries Amedee Ozenfant and Le Corbusier in their Purist paintings. At the same time, the illusion of occupying a painting removes some of the traditional hierarchies of spatial enclosure and place markers. Coloring all the surfaces of a room emphasizes the fourth dimension, an approach used by some of his contemporaries like the Dutch De Stijl architects, Paul Goesch, Wenzel Hablik, and others (see Chapter 3).67 When abstract colored

FIGURE 4.13  The master bedroom with its vivid red, white, and gray zones. © Photo: Jörg Glaescher/laif. 67 Theo van Doesburg, “Towards a Plastic Architecture,” reprinted in Conrads, Programs and Manifestos on 20th Century Architecture.

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FIGURE 4.14  The upstairs corridor looking at Oskar Schlemmer’s figurative murals. The image shows how Rading worked with the primary colors throughout. © Photo: Jörg Glaescher/laif. forms, lines, and surfaces envelope the viewer, the distinction between floor, wall, and ceiling disappears, or blurs, so that one literally does not know which “end is up.” One result is the sense of extension of space in all directions—of endless spatial possibilities. As Apollinaire said, “the fourth dimension appears to spring from the three known dimensions: it represents the immensity of space eternalizing itself in all directions at a given moment.”68 At the same time, Rading’s use of colored forms both directs and frames human physical action in the house. Cubist painting used the object to suggest spatial and temporal experience frontally; Rading uses the abstract form and color to illuminate spatial and temporal possibility in an immersive environment. At the same time, Rading’s tactics demonstrate the variety of ways that color can affect spatial perception and make a stunningly beautiful visual environment that is the interior equivalent of Bruno Taut’s urban strategy for ‘optical pleasure.’

68 Guillaume Apollinaire, The Cubist Painters: Aesthetic Meditations, trans. Lionel Abel. (New York: Wittenborn, 1949), 13–14 cited in Pamela A. Genova, “The Poetics of Visual Cubism: Guillaume Apollinaire on Pablo Picasso,” Studies in 20th and 21st Century Literature, 27/1 (2003), 13.

CHAPTER FIVE

Color and Optical Pleasure

Color Harmony, Color Contrast, and Simultaneous Contrast In 1919, Bruno Taut, decrying gray cities, and dull, colorless places, called for the restoration of “optical pleasure” to architecture.1 While he certainly used hyperbole to make his point, Taut recognized how integral color is to human happiness: the colors of the physical world do more than enhance three-dimensional spatial vision; they enliven the environment and can bring real joy—think of the way that the sight of a stunning flower, a double rainbow, or a magnificent sunset can lift the spirits. Goethe expressed this well: “People generally enjoy color. The eye, like light, needs it. Remember the reinvigoration when, on a cloudy day, the sun shines on a single part of the area and the colors are visible there. That colored gemstones were ascribed healing powers may have been a result of the deep feeling of this ineffable comfort.”2 In other words, color brings delight to all aspects of life. Goethe recognized how powerful color is in contrast to gray and how brilliantly the two work together. The beginning of the nineteenth century witnessed a color revolution in art: gray, previously valued only as a means of dulling pure colors, was accepted as a color in its own right, and neutral colors entered the artistic lexicon together with the tonal scale of light to dark.3 This meant that Bruno Taut, “Ruf zum farbigen Bauen,” Bauwelt (1919); reprinted in Frühlicht (1921 Herbst); reprint (Berlin: Gebr. Mann, 2000), 28. 2 Cited in Wilhelm Michel, “Goethe über Farbwirkung im Innenraum,” Innen-Dekoration, XI/2 (1919), 386. 3 Lorenz Dittmann, Farbgestaltung und Farbtheorie in der Abendländischen Malerei (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1987), 260. 1

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the grisaille technique was no longer the only acceptable way to use gray. The exploitation of light and dark, or chiaroscuro on the canvas, together with the use of contrast between gray and brown tones and the primaries, introduced in the work of artists like Francisco Goya in Spain, Tiepolo in Italy, and Fragonard in France, marked the beginning of this new trend, followed by Delacroix and Courbet in France, and Leibl, and Hans van Marées in Germany. Artists now had three elements to work with: colors, chiaroscuro, and natural tones. As German art historian Lorenz Dittmann explains in Farbgestaltung und Farbtheorie in der abendländischen Malerei (Color Design and Color Theory in Western Painting), this critical development in nineteenth-century color use represented a “new vision of reality” together with an altered understanding of luminescence—how to portray light and dark using color, and how color acts against darker shades.4 Dittmann cites Cézanne to illustrate his point: “I wanted to copy nature—I did not succeed. But I was happy when I discovered that the sun, for instance, could not be represented but that it had to be represented by something else… by color.”5 Stated otherwise, artists began to realize the power of color, color contrast, and other color phenomena. Artists have long been aware of, and exploited, numerous chromatic phenomena that scientists were not yet able to explain: these include chiaroscuro, color contrast, color constancy, color opposition, color harmony, and simultaneous contrast, to name a few. By the middle of the nineteenth century, command of these phenomena grew accordingly with corresponding advances in art and scientific theory. Developing a perfect system for color harmony, the aesthetically pleasing combination of colors, has been an overarching goal of artists and philosophers for centuries. Theorists thought that in order to achieve optimal color combinations it was necessary to devise a harmonic structure for color arrangement similar to that of pitch in music. Such an arrangement required a logical way of ordering and combining color, much like musical notes exist in the seven-tone scale and join in numerous different combinations to form chords. Color harmony systems therefore need three components: a rationale for the selection of individual hues, a scheme for ordering those hues, and a clear method for creating color combinations. Some theorists, like Sir Isaac Newton, took the musical analogy to great lengths in order to create a color system that paralleled the musical scale. Others looked to natural examples for inspiration. The rainbow, with its spectral colors and gradual transition between them, was considered an example of color harmony in the Renaissance.6 But, as none of the early color harmony systems fully accounted for the incredible breadth of possible colors, or

Ibid., 261–3. Ibid., 261. 6 Gage, Colour and Culture, 108–10. 4 5

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offered an adequate scientific basis for color intervals and color mixture, artists, philosophers, and scientists kept proposing new models. Although the color circle was a popular form beginning with Newton and continuing with Goethe, a host of geometric forms proliferated over the next 150 years in the search for the perfect system with which to embody color harmony. In the effort to better represent the complexities of color, both two-dimensional and three-dimensional models were proposed. Twodimensional schemes ranged from Charles Hayter’s diagrams of overlapping circles and triangles (1826) to Robert Adams’s star (1862) to Eduard Kreutzer’s color compass (1894). The color compass was a particularly ingenious mechanism consisting of two movable wheels, one large and one small, mounted on top of each other. Each wheel was divided into twelve sections that corresponded to the twelve primary, secondary, and tertiary colors. By moving the circles, it was possible to create different color relationships so as to determine which were harmonious and which not.7 Kreutzer’s invention therefore not only revealed color harmonies but also helped with color contrast and other optical pairing of colors. German astronomer, mathematician, and cartographer Johann Tobias Mayer (1723–62) introduced a double equilateral pyramid as a model for color harmony, in which black was at the bottom, white at the top, and each corner held a primary color.8 Mayer’s triangle used intervals based on the twelve-tone chromatic scale in music. The system represented an important advance in color harmony because it relied on a mathematical formula for mixing pigment, thereby establishing a uniform step between adjacent hues. Other contributors included Philipp Otto Runge, who proposed the first color sphere in 1810; William A. S. Benson (1854–1924), whose contribution in 1868 was a color cube; and, Bezold, whose idea was a cone. Two new systems developed at the beginning of the twentieth century in Germany were especially significant for 1920s architectural practice: Paul Baumann’s and Otto Prase’s Color Tone System (1912), and Wilhelm Ostwald’s Color Atlas and Color Primer (1916 and 1917). Prase was a professional commercial painter who, in 1911, went to work for Baumann in his color card manufactory. Together, they developed a precise and detailed color system consisting of 1,359 graded colors, with clearly prescribed ratios of pigment for mixing. The system was organized from a twenty-four-hue mapping of the visual spectrum, which was then doubled to include all the combinations of adjacent colors for a total of forty-eight basic hues. These, in turn, were used as the basis for sheets of color samples arranged in twelve steps of brightness from light to dark. The color samples were placed on small rectangular sheets of paper that were mounted in vertical strips, on a larger sheet. Each sheet had one of the base colors with its light and dark Farb-Systeme 1611–2007: Farb-Dokumenten der Sammlung Werner Spillmann, ed. Karl Gerstner (Basel: Schwabe, 2010), 96–7. 8 Ibid., 24. 7

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variations. Each color had a corresponding number for easy identification with its formula beneath. The Color Tone System’s clear logic and precise formulas appealed to German industry as well as to artists and architects.9 The German chemist, color researcher, amateur painter, and Nobel Prize winner Wilhelm Ostwald (1853–1952) was responsible for inventing a better-known color system, which he published in two parts: the Farbenfibel (Color Primer; 1916), and the Farbenatlas (Color Atlas; 1917)10 (Figure 5.1). Ostwald was a professor at Leipzig University, one of the leading universities for psychological research at the time, where Fechner had been professor, and Hering would later be appointed (see Chapter 4). Like Bezold, Ostwald aimed to create a color system, based on science but designed for use in the arts, as a tool that could solve the challenge of color harmony.11 He particularly wanted to develop a standardized mathematical system for quantifying color mixtures, for the addition of black and white (gray) to a pure hue in order to create shades of that hue that could be precisely reproduced time and again.12 Ostwald had been impressed by Albert Munsell’s attempts to systematize color space, and based his own work in part on Munsell’s efforts, excepting Munsell’s reliance on visual metrics, as opposed to a logarithmic formula, for color mixing. Ostwald eventually created a color space model, similar to Munsell’s but more rigorously mathematical in its underpinnings, which entailed a logarithmic interval of measure for each color mixture, to allow a regular gradation between hues.13 Ostwald’s system guaranteed consistent color hue, saturation, and brightness, which he believed was necessary for color harmony. While many artists bristled at his suggestion that “order results in harmony” and that his system would guarantee color harmony in an artwork, Ostwald’s propositions were significant insofar as they posited the possibility of a scientific solution to the problem of color harmony. Artists who rejected Ostwald’s theories, like Paul Klee and Oskar Schlemmer, did so for precisely the reasons he pursued such a theory in the first place—they could not imagine reducing the infinite capacity of the human imagination to a formula.14

Baumanns neue Farbentonkarte System Prase (1359 Farben), Verlag P. Baumann, Aue/Sachsen, 1. Ausgabe 1912, 2. verbesserte Auflage 1928. 10 Clark Vandersall Poling, Color Theories of the Bauhaus Artists (Dissertation, Columbia University, 1973); Vandersall discusses Ostwald’s involvement with the Bauhaus and the limited reception his theories actually received. Many Bauhaus artists were skeptical of Ostwald’s ideas finding them too scientific. 11 Wilhelm Ostwald, “Farbenschönheit,” Der Sturm, Heft 17 (1926–1927), 81. 12 Philip Ball and Mario Ruben, “Ostwald und das Bauhaus—Farbtheorien in Wissenschaft und Kunst,” Angewandte Chemie, 116 (2004), 4950; Wilhelm Ostwald, Farbenfibel (Leipzig: Unesma, 1917). 13 Ostwald, “Farbenschönheit,” 81. 14 Ball and Ruben, “Ostwald und das Bauhaus—Farbtheorien in Wissenschaft und Kunst,” 4845 and 4846. 9

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FIGURE 5.1  A page from Wilhelm Ostwald’s “Farbenfibel” illustrating how black and white should be mixed with color. Although Ostwald’s scientific approach may not have appealed to many artists, paint manufacturers recognized its value. Ostwald’s theories were well known and whether adopted or not, certainly influenced color thinking during the 1920s: Theo van Doesburg published Ostwald’s work in the Dutch De Stijl magazine; other articles about his ideas appeared in German periodicals through the 1920s; Ostwald himself published the Farbenfibel (Color Primer) in 1917, essays, and other books; and he gave a series of talks at the Bauhaus in 1927. In a 1927 essay printed in Die Form, Walter Riezler reviewed Ostwald’s theory and, while appreciating Ostwald’s aims, criticized the end product.15 In his view, Ostwald failed to account for the ways that color combinations appeal to the human eye, which may, or may not, accord with mathematical formulae for color mixture, hue, saturation, and brightness. Phenomena such as color contrast and complementarity do not figure in Ostwald’s calculations, yet they certainly help to determine color harmony. But, according to Riezler, the most egregious failure in Ostwald’s system is the boring result it produces when used to create a painting.16

Walter Riezler, “Die Frage nach der Gültigkeit der Ostwaldchen Farbenlehre,” Die Form (1927), 87. 16 Ostwald’s system continued to be controversial through the 1920s. In 1929, for instance, Die Form ran a series of articles on color in which, among other subjects, the problems with Ostwald’s system was discussed. Die Form, Heft 4 (February 15, 1929), 90–5. 15

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Even if Ostwald’s invention ultimately had limited use for artists and architects, the underlying premise, that color harmony was essential to what Bruno Taut called “optical pleasure” still held true. The desire to achieve such visual harmony underpinned much 1920s art and architecture color practice.

Color Contrast If color harmony was the overall goal in artistic color applications, command of the various color phenomena, like color contrast and color opposition, was necessary for creating harmony in any one work. Certain color phenomena, such as chiaroscuro and color constancy, were more important to painting than to architecture, therefore—only those critical to architectural practice will be considered here. Color contrast is the difference in luminance between two adjacent colors and comprises several different visual phenomena. Perhaps the most dramatic is simultaneous color contrast, which occurs when placing certain colors adjacent to one another alters the appearance of one or both. Color opposition describes the way that particular colors cancel each other out when mixed to produce a white, gray, or black. Also called complementary colors, these are colors that appear opposite one another on many color wheels. The complement of a primary color is a mixture of the other two primaries, a secondary color. So, for instance, the complement of blue is orange, which is a mixture of red and yellow. Another significant property of complementary colors is that they intensify when next to one another—they become visibly brighter. The laws of color contrast were first codified by French chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul in his book, De la loi du contraste simultané des couleurs et de l’assortiment des objets colorés considéré d’aprés cette loi dans ses rapports avec la peinture… (1839), or, in English, the Law of Simultaneous Contrast, although it was first published as The Principles of Harmony and Contrast of Colours and their Application in the Arts.17 As the French title was extremely long, it was shortened in other versions that, like the English one, reflect the true scope of Chevreul’s research. Chevreul’s book was quickly translated into German and published in 1840 under the title Die Farbenharmonie. Chevreul had been named director of the dye works for the famous Gobelin tapestry factory in 1824, where he was tasked with addressing perceived weaknesses in certain dyes, particularly the black, which appeared reddish in some products when it was surrounded by deep blues and purples (Figure 5.2). Yet on close study, Chevreul discovered that the black dye was high quality; the problem was the way the black was

17

Gage, Color and Culture, 191; Poling, Color Theories of the Bauhaus, 26.

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FIGURE 5.2  Eugene Michel Chevreul’s illustration of color contrast. The dots demonstrate the optical effect that two adjacent colors have on one another. perceived when neighboring colors were deep blues or purples. On further study, Chevreul discovered that when certain combinations of color occur, colors tend to shift toward their complement in hue and tone. However, as these modifications make the zones, observed at the same time, appear more different than they really are, I give them the name of simultaneous contrast of colors; and I call contrast of tone the modification which relates to the optical composition of each juxtaposed color. Here is the very simple way to contrast the double phenomenon of simultaneous color contrast.18 Chevreul’s analysis covered the effects of adjacent colors on one another, as well as the ways in which the gray scale acts on color perception. Thus, when two hues of different lightness are next to one another, the difference will be exaggerated. When a pure hue is juxtaposed with gray, it appears true, while juxtaposing a pure hue with black or white affects brightness and tone. Another conclusion Chevreul drew from his research, one critical for painters, was that if two complementary colors are contiguous, they will appear even more brilliant; that is, if red and green are placed side-by-side, the red will appear redder and the green will appear greener.19 Chevreul represented his color analysis with a new color system, a seventytwo-part color circle that included the three primary colors, nine secondary colors, and five color steps between each of the twelve colors on the circle. He then divided each radius into twenty segments to accommodate the

Michel Eugène Chevreul, De la loi du contraste simultané des couleurs et de l’assortiment des objets colorés considéré d’après cette loi dans ses rapports avec la peinture … (Paris: PitoisLevrault, 1839), 249–50. 19 Georges Roque, “Chevreul’s Colour Theory and its Consequences for Artists,” Colour Group 2011, 9; www.colour.org.uk. 18

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gray scale from dark to light, placing black at one pole of the eventuating sphere and white at the other. Chevreul’s scheme further developed existing spherical models, like that of Philipp Otto Runge, by increasing the numbers of base colors and the steps between them. It also suggested two forms of color harmony: analogous harmony, and harmony of contrast. Analogous harmony exists when different shades of the same basic hue are adjacent and when the luminance of neighboring colors is the same, while harmony of contrast occurs when complementary colors are placed side-by-side.20 Chevreul’s ideas were, from the outset, tremendously influential in artistic circles all over the world. In Germany, the physicist Wilhelm von Bezold (1837–1907) and the artist and educator Adolf von Hölzel (1853–1934) were both indebted to Chevreul, and both devoted extensive time to probing the ways that adjacent colors interact. Bezold’s scientific research into color phenomena, in turn, was carefully studied by Hölzel and other German artists at a time when Hölzel, who was an early convert to abstract art, was one of the most influential art teachers of his generation.21 Among his former pupils were a number of key Bauhäusler, including Johannes Itten, Oskar Schlemmer, Ida Kerkovius, and Hinnerk Scheper, along with other important artists, like Willi Baumeister, Max Ackermann, and Otto Meyer-Amden. Bezold was professor of physics at the Technical University in Munich. One of his many interests was optics, a field in which he conducted numerous experiments that led to an important new insight into how adjacent colors affect one another, that added to what was already known from Chevreul’s work. Like Chevreul, Bezold observed the visual effects that adjacent colors have on one another, finding that, under certain circumstances, rather than its complement, a hue will take on the attributes of the adjacent color. Now called the Bezold Effect, it was a visual phenomenon that Josef Albers would later exploit in his square paintings. The phenomenon is apparent when, for instance, bright-red stripes are interlaced with white stripes in an alternating pattern, as opposed to the same red stripes interposed with black ones. In the first instance, the red will appear brighter and whiter, while in the second, the red stripes will appear darker and blacker, even though the red hue is the same in both instances. Bezold’s interest was not only in how the eye perceives, but in the intersection of physiological workings of the eye, optical effects, and ways in which the science of vision can enhance artistic production. He was convinced that if painters better understood how vision works, they would have better command of their art. Bezold published his discoveries, along with practical advice for painters, in 1874 in Die Farbenlehre in Hinblick auf Kunst und Kunstgewerbe (The Theory of Color in Regards to Art and Handicraft). Dittmann, Farbgestaltung, 261–3. Ulrich Röthke, “Die Farbe ist das Complicierteste… Hölzels Farbenlehre im Kontext seines Kunstunterrichts,” Kunstgeschichte Open Peer Reviewed Journal; www.kunstgeschichteejournal.net.

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Bezold came to the important conclusion that seeing color was a physical, physiological, and psychological occurrence, and that mixing colored light and mixing colored material, what today we would respectively call additive and subtractive mixing, are different.22 He created a twelve-point color circle, which Hölzel and others, like Johannes Itten, would adopt and adapt, which was based on Chevreul’s circle, and which was intended to be an aid to subtractive mixing, as well as to choosing the right complementary colors for adjacencies in an artwork. Bezold argued for the use of tripartite, or triadic, color schemes, which he believed were the most effective basis for painting because they had the strongest color contrast. By triadic, Bezold meant colors that were located one-third apart on the color circle—that is, colors that had the positions of 1, 5, and 9 on the color circle in relationship to one another. Bezold’s twelve-color circle could therefore be divided into three different groups of three colors. This too made an impression on Hölzel. After studying art at the Academies of Vienna and Munich, Adolf Hölzel moved to an artists’ colony in Dachau, Germany, where he came under the influence of genre painter Fritz von Uhde. Uhde was a realist and impressionist painter known for his images of rural peasant life and his deft evocations of light. Uhde’s work no doubt influenced Hölzel’s ideas about nature as a subject of art, as well as his interest in light and color. At the end of 1905, Hölzel was appointed professor at the Kunstakademie in Stuttgart, where he attracted the group of talented young painters known as the “Hölzel circle” to his course on the fundamentals of painting, which covered line, form, dark, and light, and included instruction on color theory and color use. Hölzel said, “Color is the most complicated thing in painting and complicates itself even more in connection with line and form and light and dark.”23 According to art historians who write on Hölzel, his course distinguished itself from others at the time because of its systematic approach to its subject matter.24 In his lessons, Hölzel cited an impressive group of antecedents whose color theories had influenced his own—in addition to Goethe and Schopenhauer, he named, “Helmholtz, Bezold, Rood, Schreiber, Brücke, Chevreul, Wundt, Raehlmann, John Burnet, Owen Jones, Bartolo Brandt, Kreutzer, Kallap and Ostwald,” a list that speaks to Hözel’s comprehensive engagement with the latest scientific, psychological, and artistic color theories.25 Hölzel Wilhelm von Bezold, Die Farbenlehre in Hinblick auf Kunst und Kunstgewerbe (Braunschweig: Westermann, 1874). These topics all form the subject of a subsection in his book. 23 Röthke, “Die Farbe ist das Complicierteste … Hölzels Farbenlehre im Kontext seines Kunstunterrichts,” 2. 24 Röthke, “Die Farbe ist das Complicierteste … Hölzels Farbenlehre im Kontext seines Kunstunterrichts”; and Christoph Wagner, “Adolf Hözel, Johannes Itten und das Bauhaus: Bermerkungen zur Rezeption von Hölzels Farbenlehre,” Kaleidoskop—Hoelzel in der Avantgarde, ed. Marion Ackermann (Heidelberg: 2009), 110–15. 25 Röthke, “Die Farbe ist das Complicierteste… Hölzels Farbenlehre im Kontext seines Kunstunterrichts,” 3. 22

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had special praise for Bezold’s “outstanding and to be recommended Color Theory.”26 As Ulrich Röthke points out, the work of many of Hölzel’s sources, like Chevreul, Bezold, and Rood, focused on developing systematic approaches to color application theory for artists, architects, and others that were grounded in contemporary science.27 What did Hölzel’s lessons convey? They were divided into two sections: one on the seven color contrasts and the other on color circles, a tool that allows painters to develop color harmony.28 He published many of his ideas in his essay “Über kunstlerische Ausdrucksmittel und deren Verhältnis zu Natur und Bild” (On Artistic means of Expression and their relationship to Nature and Image), printed in three issues of Die Kunst für Alle (Art for All) in 1904–5. While the essay is not the syllabus for his course, it presents Hölzel’s ideas about painting—its tools, and compositional strategies. He identifies three foundational technical elements in painting: line, form, and color.29 Basic forms include the simple geometric shapes like the rectangle, circle, and triangle—the forms that underlie the visible world. Color and shade bring form to life on the canvas. Hölzel charts what he sees as the development of painterly technique through the centuries, explaining that “the detailed study of nature soon combined with the desire for a stronger plastic design of the object in the picture. The means that the painter has at his disposal are the contrasts of light and dark with their toning and the contrast of color.”30 In other words, color and shade are the constitutive components of visual contrast, which, he asserts, is a more effective means than line to describe form, in accordance with the principle that light advances and dark recedes. Hölzel extends his theory on the critical importance of contrast to apply it to a wide range of compositional elements: light/dark, vertical/horizontal, far/near, two-/three-dimensional, saturation and quantity of pigment (more/ less), complementary colors, and especially simultaneous color contrasts. In the last section of the essay, having asserted that “light is color,” Hölzel explains how the two must relate in art. “In terms of the harmony of color, a picture is only complete when the colors it contains have been introduced into the picture in such a way that they complement one another with artistic variety and arrangement to the light.”31 Hölzel provides detailed descriptions of the complementary colors and how they interact, emphasizing the importance of reducing the palette to three primary colors from which all the others derive, and advancing the color wheel as the

Adolf Hölzel, “Über kunstlerische Ausdrucksmittel und deren Verhältnis zu Natur und Bild,” Die Kunst für Alle (1904–1905), 124. 27 Röthke, “Die Farbe ist das Complicierteste… Hölzels Farbenlehre im Kontext seines Kunstunterrichts,” 3. 28 Ibid., 6. 29 Hölzel, “Über künstlerische Ausdrucksmittel,” 83. 30 Op cit. 31 Ibid., 124. 26

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most effective tool for painters to employ to mathematically calculate the correct complementary values. Delacroix’s canvases are cited as examples of successful color use based on a thorough knowledge of color science and theory. Hölzel goes on to propose contrast in musical counterpoint as a useful analogy for understanding color contrast in painting, appropriating the terms for two different ways of forming a musical scale, diatonic and chromatic, to describe two appositional “scales” of color values. In music, a chromatic scale consists of all twelve notes in the octave, while a diatonic scale comprises only those notes within the key of the scale. In terms of color, a chromatic group would be composed of the adjacent colors of the rainbow, while a diatonic group would consist of shades of the same hue. In addition to the Bezold circle, Hölzel taught an eight-color circle, which had the advantage of setting up clear oppositional pairs for color contrast.32 Toward the end of the essay, Hölzel turns to the subject of painting, rather than its technique, which is noteworthy because he envisions an art based in pure abstraction and color. Having described the important innovations made by the impressionists in the use of light and color, he quotes Emile Zola’s observation: “An artwork has the purpose of revealing any essential or striking character, or an idea, more clearly and completely than the object itself.”33 For Hölzel, this meant that art should represent and interpret, rather than imitate, reality or nature, and that color and light are the media with which to accomplish that end.

Color Phenomena and German Architecture There is a long-standing tradition of using color on the exteriors of German vernacular architecture dating back at least to the Middle Ages.34 It was usual to mix color in the stucco used on façades of half-timbered houses and, in some places, to color the timbers brightly. Stucco façades on houses of all kinds were often colored, and it was common practice in many parts of the country to apply vivid color to wooden shutters, window frames, architectural details, and ornament. Such treatments were equally the norm in the cities as in villages, although by the eighteenth century, as buildings were increasingly constructed of stone, or brick made to appear as stone, color fell out of fashion. At the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth centuries, debates around colored architecture reignited in Germany when archeologists, having discovered residues of polychrome painting on ancient Greek sculpture, argued that the statuary in Greek temples, and the temples Röthke, “Die Farbe ist das Complicierteste… Hölzels Farbenlehre im Kontext seines Kunstunterrichts,” 9. 33 Hölzel, “Über kunstlerische Ausdrucksmittel,” 128. 34 Guido Hengst, Die Farbe am Hause (Munich: Georg D. W. Callway, 1926), 1–2; Karl Weishaupt, “Farbe im Äußeren Raum,” Frühlicht (Herbst 1921), 29. 32

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themselves, had once been covered in colorfully painted plaster.35 Previously, due to the fact that the paint had disappeared over the centuries leaving exposed stone only, conventional wisdom had held that classical sculpture and architecture were white—the natural color of the marble out of which they were made. If the ancient Greeks, who had constructed revered models of architectural excellence, used color, then why not use it now? A group of distinguished architects, including Gottfried Semper, Gabriel and Emanuel Seidel, and Friedrich von Thiersch, began to champion the restoration of color to architecture in German cities. And, during the Gründerzeit in the late nineteenth century, architects began to apply color to aspects of architectural façades in more and more creative ways: colored stucco was common as were colored ornamental embellishments. August Endell’s 1898 design for the Elvira Atelier in Munich typified this approach. The street façade featured a sweeping abstract stucco relief in gold and red on a green background. The unusual abstract forms rendered in vivid and unusual colors caused a sensation—with both positive and negative responses (Figure 5.3). By the 1920s, artists, architects, and critics pointed to impressionism in painting, and Jugendstil in architecture as the turning points

FIGURE 5.3  August Endell’s Atelier Elvira in Munich. Harry Francis Mallgrave, Modern Architectural Theory: A Historical Survey, 1673–1968 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 74–8.

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in color use. As Bruno Taut asserted, “Impressionism… signifies the transition to the freedom of color, in that painters emancipate themselves from pure image thinking and elevate nature, and their impression [of nature] to the sole goddess, just like some leading architects and artisans, who basically refused all tradition, in the time of Jugendstil subordinated themselves exclusively to nature.”36 By this Taut means that artists have learned to turn away from imitating nature as they see it in favor of portraying the essence of nature— something ineffable, abstract, and beholden to color. By 1900, a group of German architects beyond Semper, the Seidels, and Thiersch were lobbying their colleagues on the topic of color in urban design. In one characteristic essay called “Colored Architecture,” published in Kunstwart (1901), Hamburg-based architect and urban planner Fritz Schumacher defended the use of color in the urban realm.37 Writing just five years after Kunstwart editor Ferdinand Avenarius had penned his own essay, “The Fear of Color,” Schumacher identifies an emerging interest in using color on building interiors and exteriors. His essay coincided with the formation of the first Farbenbewegung (Color Movement), which emerged as a reaction against what some Germans viewed as the oppressively gray Mietskaserne (rental barracks) that had proliferated in German cities in the second half of the nineteenth century.38 Schumacher acknowledges that color was already popular for building interiors, stucco façades, and wooden villas, and that architects were now turning their attention to the urban realm. He recommends color for brick and steel buildings but not for stone, explaining that to be used effectively, color needs to be part of the planning from the start: colored architecture demands a very different approach than uncolored building. Ruskin, he writes, warned that color and form are enemies.39 Color is most effective on simple forms and independent of the form on which it is used. Schumacher outlines the ways that color works on building exteriors: The color effect of a building is not based solely on the actual colors that adhere to its outer surfaces, but for the colored impression the presence and distribution of the shadow masses that appear on the building are of at least the same importance. Even a shade is colored, it is never colorless, and the more varied and interesting this coloristic play of shadows on a building, the more carefully you have to adapt the main coloring to the second color effect of the actual color so that the effects do not interfere or even pick it up.40

Bruno Taut, “Die Wiedergeburt der Farbe,” Farbe am Hause: Das erste deutsche Farbentag, ed. Werner Hellweg (Berlin: Bauwelt, 1925), 13. 37 Fritz Schumacher, “Farbige Architektur,” Kunstwart, 14/20 (Juli 1901), 297–302. 38 Franziska Bollerey and Kristiana Hartmann, “Farbenstreit und Farbenbund. Zitate der 2034 Jahre,” in Farbe im Stadtbild, ed. Martina Dittmann, Friedrich Schmuck, and Johannes Uhl (Berlin, 1980), 18. 39 Schumacher, “Farbige Architektur,” 298. 40 Ibid., 299. 36

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Schumacher does offer a balanced approach to color application, if a limited one. Although he provides general guidelines for color use, he does not discuss specific color palettes, hues, or color combinations that may or may not work on building exteriors. Efforts to convince architects and urban planners to embrace color on building exteriors enjoyed a renewed push led by Bruno Taut after the First World War armistice in 1918. Taut had used color boldly on the façades of his prewar housing projects like Garden Cities Falkenberg and Reform and had constructed the 1914 Glass Pavilion in Cologne with colored glass, but he only became a crusader for colored architecture after the war. Beginning with “Ruf zum farbigen Bauen” (Call to Colored Architecture) described in Chapter 1, he published a raft of essays advocating colored buildings in German cities. His essays appeared in the journal he edited and produced, Frühlicht (Early Light), as well as many other leading German architecture and urban design periodicals. In his utopian book Alpine Architektur (Alpine Architecture), written toward the end of the war and published in 1920, Taut used color to project an ideal futuristic architecture and society. In books from the mid-1920s, like his 1924 Die neue Wohnung: Die Frau als Schöpferin (The new Apartment: The Woman as Creator), and his 1927 Ein Wohnhaus (A Residential Building), he presents color as an integral part of the new architecture, an element that can have a positive psychological effect on inhabitants that, in turn, can help improve social conditions in urban living. In addition to publications, Taut and sympathetic supporters worked to create exhibitions and other public events to raise awareness and support for colored architecture, especially in the urban realm. The first Deutsche Farbentag (German Color Day) was sponsored by the Deutsche Werkbund in Stuttgart in 1919/20. Unfortunately, little documentation has survived. The second Deutsche Farbentag, often called the “first Color Day” in the literature, occurred in Hamburg in 1925. The Hamburg conference resulted in the establishment of the Bund zur Förderung der Farbe im Stadtbild (The Federation to Promote Color in the Cityscape), an association with members across Germany, including architects, urban designers, city planners, and professional painters. Around 280 participated in the Hamburg event. From the book that was published afterward, it is possible to reconstruct aspects of the Hamburg Farbentag. The goal was to raise awareness of color’s architectural possibilities and to demonstrate ways in which “color as an architectural design and mood element must again be used to the greatest possible extent.”41 In order to advance their goals, the organizers mounted an exhibition of colored architecture projects together with addresses, talks, and speeches by various German experts on color. The Hamburg lectures ranged from chronicles of historic uses of color in ancient Rome, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the Baroque to technical instructions about the 41 Farbe am Hause: Das erste deutsche Farbentag, ed. Werner Hellweg (Berlin: Bauwelt, 1925), 1.

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proper use of different types of paint. The focus was on making an historical argument for color use in the city by showing how integral color had been to architecture throughout the ages and in every conceivable context. Speakers addressed pure color both as an ornamental element and as an element of frescoes and other traditional wall paintings. Bruno Taut gave one of the speeches in Hamburg. Titled “Der Wiedergeburt der Farbe” (The Rebirth of Color); it presented an argument for color as an indispensable tool for creating an architecture that is responsive to conditions of contemporary life, new technologies, and modern urbanity. Rather than resort to the historicist position that other speakers would advance, namely that German vernacular architecture had always been colorful, Taut took a different tack by tying the rediscovery of color to recent artistic innovations like impressionism and suggesting that these movements were the true reflections of the Zeitgeist in art and should therefore serve as examples to architecture. Architecture, of course, is not painting, but the two share certain attributes. Both art forms are dependent on vision and, therefore, on light and color, for their reception. Taut says, The eye lives from light; light is our means of satisfying the visual sense of the building, and light naturally leads to color in a straightforward manner; color is light. Before the war I was called a “glass architect”; in Magdeburg, I am called the Color Apostle. One is the consequence of the other, because joy in light is one with joy in color.42 Architects must reinstate color into their practice because it is an elemental component of design. The new architecture is based on simple, clear, formal expression, exposed structure, and lack of ornament, making color more important than ever. “Power and purity in sound, space, body and color!” he declares.43 Taut is fully conscious of the challenges inherent in working with color. He warns, “Pure, powerful colors are wonderful but when they are incorrectly used they are worse than none.”44

Bruno Taut and the Campaign for Colorful Magdeburg The exceptional use of color in Magdeburg, executed under Bruno Taut’s direction, is, based on its ambitious scope, one of the best illustrations of how to create optical pleasure in a city. Although Taut’s experiments Taut, “Die Wiedergeburt der Farbe,” 16. Ibid., 17. 44 Op cit. 42 43

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with color in the urban realm dated to before the First World War, they evolved and accelerated with his 1921 appointment as City Architect in Magdeburg. In 1921, Magdeburg, an ancient Hanseatic city located West of Berlin on the Elbe River, was a mid-sized city with a population of just under 300,000. Since Hanseatic city centers had traditionally been vibrantly colored, Magdeburg’s history no doubt heightened Taut’s desire to use color there. After a rigorous search process that attracted thirty-five applicants, Taut was selected because of the city councilors’ unanimous desire to modernize and their sense that Taut possessed a vision for the future.45 As city architect, Taut was responsible for overseeing all aspects of architecture and urban design in the city: modernization and expansion of the city and its infrastructure, new housing developments, municipal buildings, and new architecture more generally. He was one of a privileged minority of German architects who were able to realize some of their ideas during the hyperinflation years between 1920 and full currency stabilization in 1924. Convinced that transforming cities into colorful streetscapes could improve the public’s sense of well-being, Taut embarked on an ambitious campaign to paint the city. He decided to test his ideas about color application in urban settings by painting a representative street, Otto Richter Strasse, in downtown Magdeburg, together with as many houses as possible in the town (Fiigure 5.4). By the time he left in 1924, he had successfully repainted the city hall, had colored eleven buildings on Otto Richter Strasse along a kilometer-long stretch and another sixty-nine buildings in other parts of the city. In addition, during the three years that he was active as City Architect, he completed seven plans for urban expansion and four general housing development plans.46 Although he was unable to realize most of his large-scale planning projects during his tenure, his successors continued to implement Taut’s ideas for years after his departure.47 In 1918, Taut had traveled to Kovno, Lithuania, where he was impressed with the way the colorful buildings lining the streets in the old city created a festive streetscape. To Taut, the contrast between the Kovno buildings in yellow, orange, red, and green, and the gray stone of a typical German city, could not have been starker. Most historians credit the Kovno visit with inspiring Taut to try a bolder use of color in urban environments. In fact, Taut experimented with far more daring color schemes and color arrangements in Magdeburg than he had dared attempt in his prewar projects.

Regina Prinz, “Bruno Taut als Stadtbaurat Magdeburg 1921 bis 1923,” in Bruno Taut 1880– 1938 Architekt zwischen Tradition u. Avantgarde, ed. Winfried Nerdinger, Kristiana Hartmann, Matthias Schirren, Manfred Speidel (Munich: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 2001), 114. 46 Annegret Nippe, “Bruno Taut in Magdeburg,” in Bruno Taut: Eine Dokumentation: Projekte—Texte—Mitarbeit, ed. Annegret Nippe (Magdeburg: Stadtplanungsamt Magdeburg, 1995), 11. 47 Ibid., 13. 45

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FIGURE 5.4  Bruno Taut and Carl Krayl, Otto-Richter-Strasse in Magdeburg. The kilometer-long stretch of colored buildings. The photograph shows the vibrant colors with which they worked. © Creative Commons. In his lecture to the Hamburg audience, Taut explained his urban color strategy in explicit terms.48 The strategies that Taut describes in this talk apply to his work in Magdeburg and elsewhere—even to his prewar projects. He addresses color choice, combinations, light effects, and even the theoretical underpinnings of color use. Color, he is sure, is the antidote to grayness in the German city and the depressive state it causes. Primarily, he advises against using complementary, or mixed, colors, and green on the basis that mixed colors are chemically weak and therefore more susceptible to deterioration in adverse weather conditions like strong sun, wind, rain, and snow, while green is problematic because it is nature’s color. To support this view, he refers to polychromy in classical architecture: “In antiquity, I was taught, in their temples [the Greeks] used predominantly blue, red and yellow and have used gold; yes, it is said that the Greeks never knew green as a color.”49 Taut therefore recommends pure primary colors—red, yellow, and blue—for any outdoor palette. He then turns to addressing the question of how to determine the correct combination of colors and the proper method for creating color harmony on urban architecture, revealing in the process the breadth of his knowledge of color theory by referring directly to thinkers like Goethe and indirectly Taut, “Die Wiedergeburt der Farbe,” 17. Op cit.

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to others like Chevreul.50 Pointing to the many existent color theories, he identifies a shared weakness in their methodologies: they consider single color effects independent of their interaction with neighboring colors. That is, they overlook effects such as simultaneous color contrast when choosing a palette. One factor architects must consider, he argues, is the Purkinje Effect: “Goethe explains that red is an advancing color, blue color a retreating color. This psychological interpretation, however, is reversed with certain changes in light; as dusk sets in, the red becomes dark and withdrawn, it retreats, while the blue emerges and finally shines alone.”51 Architects therefore must take optical effects into account, including changing light conditions during the day, when choosing color combinations. Taut also warns against certain colors, like violet, orange, and blue-green, that may work well in small amounts but are overwhelming in large quantities, recommending that architects stick to primary colors rather than using secondary and tertiary ones. Crucially, architects must understand the influence of scale as it effects ideal representations of color harmony, such as the spectrum or systems like Ostwald’s, that use tiny strips of color to test optical laws, as opposed to the much larger color applications that pertain to buildings. In reality, therefore, when using color in a room and on a building, only the decisive factors, which are missing in spectral representations, have a say. The relationship between color and the form in which it is depicted, the relationship between different sized brightly colored areas, finally the relationships between bright colors on different walls and the like contain such an endless chain of effects that cannot be taken into account in those harmonies so that every law that has been drafted must fail here.52 In other words, the complexities of color interaction supersede the ability of theoretical constructions to explain them, and, since color theory was developed to account for color on a flat canvas, this is especially true for architectural applications of color in three dimensions, either on surfaces or in spaces. This caveat applies as well to Chevreul’s theories, which derived from observations of color on the almost flat, two-dimensional surface of tapestries. And, even within the terms of large-scale architectural application, color will act differently on exterior surfaces, in the altering natural and artificial light conditions of the city, than it will in the more modulated lighting conditions of an interior space. A critical part of Taut’s color strategy relates to understanding the inextricable link between color and light. He returns to this again and again; “color is light” is a recurring mantra.53 “Above all, however, the purity of the Ibid., 18. Op cit. 52 Op cit. 53 Ibid., 16. 50 51

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color combination must remain the highest principle, so that this purity of color and light remains in harmony with the purity of the other elements of construction, with that of the space, the body and the sound.”54 In spite of his detailed prescriptions for color application, Taut admitted that there is no one way of solving the color challenge and no easy solutions. “There are at most very general formulas that can be stated, to some extent, in the form of a law; for example, color must strive in some way in relation to the light, it must express the properties of the light itself, since it is an appearance of the light, and a property of the same.”55 In order to use color well, the architect must possess a comprehensive understanding of the interactions between color and light, and study color’s properties in conjunction with architectural form. Taut also repeatedly brings musical metaphors and analogies into play to explain how color functions, an approach to color, like Newton’s seven color primaries, that dates back to the earliest schemes for color harmony. Musical terms abound, although harmony and tone are most frequently used. Tone refers both to the pitch of sound and the hue of color, while harmony describes the aesthetically pleasing combination of hues or notes. Taut exploits the double entendre: “Purity of impression can also be created by very delicate and reserved tones, just as it can be created by strong and powerful tones.”56 His assertion holds true for both music and color. Lastly, the word “color” applies to music as well as to hues in the visible world. Tone color in music refers to the quality of sound, or timbre, and is used to differentiate the same sound made by different instruments. Taut does not just employ analogous terminology; he compares the workings of music and color. For instance, he relates the harmonious arrangement of musical notes to that of color in a visual composition and the saturation of hues to the force with which a note is struck. When combinations of color work well, they are similar to musical chords with three, four, or five notes forming a pleasing effect. Taut writes that “strong colors together are still not colorfulness, as strong tones together are also not music.”57 In the same way that musical notes can be played together in many ways, in chords and other combinations, to very different effect, both pale and vibrant colors can be visually successful if they are combined correctly and used in the appropriate space. Taut asks whether color can improve ugly buildings like the Mietskaserne and answers in the affirmative.58 In his view, color can improve any building, although using color to improve poor design is different from using color as an integral part of good design. Architects need to avoid formulaic solutions Ibid., 18. Ibid., 17. 56 Ibid., 18. 57 Ibid., 16. 58 Ibid., 19. 54 55

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to color and question habitual ways of using color as well; convention is the only reason that all the surfaces in a room tend to be painted the same color—varying the color on walls, or on walls and ceiling, can enliven an interior space. He urges his fellow architects to challenge embedded color practice with the same probity they apply toward other aspects of architecture. Throughout his career, Taut repeatedly insisted that a fundamental difference exists between historic uses of color on buildings and modern applications, which arises from the different formal solutions characteristic of historic versus modern buildings. Form has its laws and so does color. “[T]he material requirements of color are very different from those of form,” he writes. “That is why color has to follow different laws from form and can take on and pursue its own theme, a theme that does not necessarily have to run parallel to form but rather can cross it, separate from it, create dissonance and dissolution” as a way of creating unity.59 Such an approach enriches the relationship between form and color. Magdeburg’s transformation into a colored city was led by Taut, but realized by a team of architects and painters who worked for him in the city offices. After Taut accepted the appointment in Magdeburg, he invited other talented architects and building artists to join him, including Carl Krayl, Johannes Göderitz, Erich Weishaupt, and Konrad Rühl, with whom he formed a circle of sympathetic colleagues who were able to support him in his radical ideas. While it is not always clear what was decided solely by Taut, what by the team, and what by individual architects and painters, it is certain that Taut was responsible for the philosophy underpinning the coloring of Magdeburg as well as the drive to transform the cityscape using color. He directed the efforts and would have approved all of the schemes. The decision to work with primary colors only, for instance, reflects Taut’s beliefs as do the ways in which color was applied to most houses as an enhancement of architectural elements. Two 1922 designs for office buildings owned by the firm Hauswaldt that were definitely executed by Taut and Krayl together utilize the same strategies as the buildings on Otto Richter Strasse, evidence that Taut was closely involved with the work on Otto Richter Strasse as well. Taut did delegate the day-to-day operations to Carl Krayl, however, and named Krayl director of Color Consulting, so that it was Krayl who ultimately made many of the design decisions, albeit under Taut’s supervision.60 The design team chose a very particular color palette for the buildings on Otto Richter Strasse in Magdeburg—highly saturated, brilliant primary hues, which in the main are cobalt blue, canary yellow, deep cadmium red, Bruno Taut, “Architekten Malereien,” Frühlicht (Winter 1921/1922), 62. Michael Stöneberg, “Das Bunte Magdeburg,” Bunte Stadt- Neues Bauen, 86–91. Stöneberg also writes that Taut has received credit for the work in Magdeburg that by rights should have gone to Krayl since Krayl was responsible for the logistics of the color campaign.

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and cyan. In addition, they included black and white. They deployed the vivid colors in keeping with Taut’s philosophy of color application in the city; they chose colors of the same saturation and brightness, which, as Chevreul had discovered, create visual harmony. By sticking to pure hues, the color contrast is strong—colors appear even brighter than they would in other combinations. Palettes on individual houses are divided into discreet parts: the background stucco of the main façade wall, building base, window and door surrounds, and window sills. In some cases, the space above windows is decorated with abstract patterns. The colors used on architectural elements always contrast with the background color, and each house has at least three primary colors. As no two neighboring houses have the same background color, or detailing, the streetscape is a lively set of changing colors. Taut was able to give visual harmony to the whole by using a consistent palette for the entire kilometer-long painted area; each of the principal colors appears on every façade in one way or another. The way color is applied on two adjacent houses, numbers 44 and 46, illustrates the team’s overall strategy. Number 44 has a deep-cadmium red wall stucco treatment. Window frames and the base are cyan and sills are yellow, while door trim and cornice are cobalt blue. In contrast, Number 46 has a cyan stucco wall, a deep-cadmium red base, window frames with a bit of cobalt blue on the key above the window center, and cobalt-blue frames around the attic windows. Because the same colors repeat on both houses, although in different proportions and combinations, the overall impression is one of unity. Furthermore, on all but one building, Number 2, which Carl Krayl executed on his own, color corresponds to specific architectural details and surfaces, acting in concert with the building design to enhance it. Reception was initially mixed: in Magdeburg, the project provoked a vehement debate that played out in the local press and city council. While many locals hated the new look, others rather liked it (today, the colorfully painted houses are a tourist attraction). Taut does not seem to have been at all disturbed by the uproar, however. He defended his actions vociferously in person and in print.61 At the Hamburg Farbentag, he spoke about the Magdeburg color controversy with pride: Color is light. Positively stated: on a grey rainy day, I led men from the Ministry in Magdeburg to the street with colored Mietskaserne on two sides, that in its continuation still has no color. The men said: in this section of the street, it appears that the sun shines in spite of the rain and in the other section it truly rains. And in fact, even in good weather more children play in the colored section.62

61 Taut’s short piece, “Die Magdeburger Farbenstreit” in Frühlicht (Herbst 1921), 31 is typical; he comments on the “power of the familiar” as the chief problem—people do not like change. 62 Taut, “Die Wiedergeburt der Farbe,” 16.

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In spite of the mixed reception to the color campaign, Magdeburg’s new look soon became its defining characteristic, both locally and nationally, a fact apparent in its postcards, stamps, and Notgeld (emergency money). Both Taut and Carl Krayl designed Notgeld for the city. One of Taut’s notes shows an expressionist building, topped by a central crystal reminiscent of the Cologne Glass Pavilion, flanked by a gothic cathedral on the left and a workers building and a modern skyscraper on the right. Printed in complementary red and green ink of equal saturation, the note’s colors are brilliant. The rhyming inscription reads: “Der einst in ungehemmten schaffen werde, neu-Magdeburg zur schönsten Stadt der Erde.” (The once uninhibited creates a new Magdeburg—the most beautiful city on earth.) Another, vibrantly colorful piece of Notgeld, printed in yellow, red, and blue, shows a scene from the center of the city with the banners: “Gruss vom bunten Magdeburg” (Greetings from Colorful Magdeburg) above and “Sehr farbenfreudig ist man hier, das zeiget dieses Kärtchen Dir, selbst die Sonn’ am Himmel lacht, über soviel farbenpracht.” (One is very color happy here, this card shows you, even the sun in sky laughs at so many splendid colors.63) Taut may not have been much of a poet, but he was certainly a master of propaganda, especially when it came to taking every opportunity to promote the color cause!

Carl Krayl in Magdeburg Several projects in Magdeburg stand out in comparison with the others for their free use of color and pattern: these include Carl Krayl’s work on an existing city clock, the house at Otto Richter Strasse Number 2, and the private house at 61/62 Braunschweiger Strasse, Krayl’s home in the Reform Garden City Colony (painted over), as well as projects by other artists and architects like Peter Strasse 22, and Oskar Fischer’s work on the Barasch Department Store (Figure 5.5). All of these projects treat color in a far less architectural way than the others in the city. In each case, color is largely independent from the architectural elements—painting on the front façade consists of colored shapes and lines arranged in a way that makes the façade an abstract work of art. The building on Peter Strasse, for instance, had a dark base at the street level, while the upper volume housing floors 2 through 3 was painted with interlocking orthogonal shapes of differing hues that were outlined in a darker color. Berlin-based artist Oskar Fischer (1892–1955) used a similar strategy at the Barasch store, which featured a glass façade on the ground floor and an elaborately conceived painting above. Fischer divided the façade into outlined geometric shapes of differing

Several of the notgeld pieces are reproduced in Bruno Taut in Magdeburg: Eine Dokumentation: Projekte Texte Mitarbeiter, 4–5.

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FIGURE 5.5  Oskar Fischer’s “Barasch House” with its unusual multicolored façade. © Stadtarchiv Magdeburg. sizes—rectangles, triangles, circles, and semi-circles. The shapes are arranged in an interlocking pattern of changing hues; the dark outline both unifies the composition and helps emphasize its parts. In these and Krayl’s projects, the architecture acts as a mere backdrop to the art rather than an integral part of it. This approach was more common on building interiors than on exteriors (see Chapters 2 and 3) and contravenes Taut’s philosophy of proper color use, which insists on color acting as an integral architectural element rather than a separate, decorative one. Nevertheless, the projects merit discussion since they demonstrate another way of using color as a means with which to create optical pleasure.

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As there is little surviving archival material about either the Peter Strasse or Barasch Department Store projects, and both have since been destroyed, the focus here will be on Carl Krayl’s work. Although many of the architects and artists that Taut brought to Magdeburg were involved in the campaign to color the city, Krayl had a privileged position because of his appointment as Director of Color Consulting, with its responsibilities to direct the city design office and to manage the color campaign. As architectural historian Ute Maasberg points out, Krayl was Taut’s right-hand man for most of the design commissions.64 Not only was Krayl involved with most of the color schemes, he was responsible for convincing Magdeburg residents to have their houses painted.65 After Taut left Magdeburg in 1923, Krayl remained, opening his own firm, which received a steady flow of major commissions until the early 1930s that included several large-scale housing developments like Cracau and Curie. Following Taut’s departure, Krayl embraced the clean lines and whiteness of much German functionalism and seems to have abandoned color entirely. Krayl was a talented graphic artist and painter who had studied interior architecture at the Stuttgart Königlich Württembergische Kunstgewerbeschule (Royal Wurttemberg School of Applied Arts) and then completed a further two-semester-long architecture degree with Paul Bonatz at the Stuttgart Technische Hochschule (Technical High School). Krayl practiced regionally in the early years of his career; he worked for a year and a half in Freiburg with the cathedral architect Carl Anton Meckel, who was also an early colored façade enthusiast.66 It is not known, however, whether Krayl participated in any of Meckel’s colored architecture projects. Taut and Krayl seem to have met when Krayl applied for, and was accepted to, the 1919 exhibition Unbekannte Architekten (Unknown Architects), which was sponsored by the Berlin-based Arbeitsrat für Kunst (Working Council for Art).67 Krayl also participated in the Crystal Chain correspondence that Taut initiated in 1919, although he does not seem to have written any letters to the group, but only contributed some drawings. As these are black and white, they reveal little about Krayl’s attitude toward color as an artist or architect. Krayl’s free use of line in the prints does prefigure the compositions on his Magdeburg house projects, however. Almost as soon as Krayl arrived in Magdeburg, he was assigned to work on the effort to color the city. The city’s makeover occurred at a dizzying Ute Maasberg, “Aus dem Schatten ins Licht,” in Bunte Stadt—Neues Bauen: Die Baukunst von Carl Krayl, ed. Gabriele Köster and Michael Stöneberg (Berlin: Deutsche Kunstverlag, 2016), 13; Ute Maasberg, Im Auftrag der Farbe: Die Idee einer farbigen Stadt und ihre Realisation durch Carl Krayl (Dissertation, Free University Berlin, 1997), 1. Maasberg has conducted the only rigorous research into Krayl and his career: I am indebted to her for the wealth of information and meticulous detail in her work. 65 Maasberg, Im Auftrag der Farbe, 142. 66 Maasberg, “Aus dem Schatten ins Licht,” 16. 67 Maasberg, Im Auftrag der Farbe, 1. 64

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pace: even in 1922 the director of the Magdeburg Museum could write, “Today, so many facades are already painted that only a few places are missing, so that entire streets appear animated in color. One can confidently predict that after another year, long stretches of color images will appear. The main part of these solutions fell to Krayl, who was brought in by Taut.”68 Because, unlike Taut, Krayl did not write about his ideas, an understanding of his theoretical approach must rely on what is known about Krayl from second-hand accounts, studying his surviving projects, and black-and-white photographic documentation from the 1920s. Krayl was a deeply religious and spiritual man who was driven by a “longing for a better world and human condition.”69 He signed a drawing of an immensely complicated cathedral in Frühlicht with the words “Cathedral—Christian Science,” indicating that Karyl identified with the Christian Science movement.70 At the side of the image, he wrote “Dream,” and on the front façade of the drawing, Krayl inscribed a series of excerpts from the Book of Revelation and Matthew, while other drawings from the period feature mottos like “Dream City,” “Cosmic Building,” and “Light greetings from my star house,” which suggest mystical sympathies similar to those of Taut, Hablik, and other members of the Crystal Chain group. Some of Krayl’s initial forays into work with colored environments occurred at his home, where he experimented with abstract color applications on the façade, interiors, and furniture. Krayl and his family moved into the house on Bunter Weg 3, in Taut’s Reform Housing Colony, when Krayl accepted the position in Magdeburg (Figure 5.6). Surviving black-and-white photographs show a variety of highly animated surface treatments. The exterior is more restrained than the interiors and furniture, and in comparison with other projects Krayl would color; it shows a single stucco hue with squares of differing sizes and colors placed over the entries, several hues on window and door frames across the façade, and abstract patterning on the side window of his unit. In contrast to this relative restraint on the exterior, the interiors are wild and merit brief discussion here because they relate to his designs for other exteriors in the city. Contemporary photographs show a cacophony of line and color in many different patterns on the walls—in the living room, for instance, the patterns varied on every wall and on each of the doors. The doors were covered with a crisscrossing linear lattice in a single dark hue. This contrasted with the multicolored painting on the walls—one wall had a Jackson Pollock like mix of overlapping, diagonal, wavy, and curving lines, while the other wall was painted in an orthogonal pattern of mostly vertical and horizontal lines and rectangles. Portions of the wall painting in the master bedroom resemble the Otto Richter Strasse 68 Walther Greischel, “Bruno Taut,” Das Feuer Heft 8 (1922), 27: cited in Maasberg, “Aus dem Schatten ins Licht,” 25. 69 Maasberg, Im Auftrag der Farbe, 19. 70 Frühlicht (Winter 1921/1922), Heft 2, 46.

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design—a series of linear elements radiating outward and upward in an organic formation, while the buffet and utensil cabinets were more formal compositions (Figure 5.7). Similar to the Braunschweiger Strasse building façade (see below), the cabinets had dark curvilinear lines atop rectangular fields beneath. The master bedroom also had multisized text intermixed with the designs; the text was a collection of quotes from Saint John’s Revelation, likely placed there for daily inspiration. That Krayl painted the citations on his bedroom wall, where he would see them before rising and retiring on a daily basis, speaks to the importance the texts must have had for Krayl. Krayl’s interior painting strategies resemble those of other contemporaries like Wenzel Hablik, Paul Goesch, Franz Mutzenbecher, Wilhelm Höpfner, and Lilli Loebell, color treatments designed to transport the viewer to a realm beyond the purely physical (see Chapter 3). The clock that Krayl colored was a public timepiece situated in Staatsburgerplatz in the town center. An unremarkable piece of design dating to 1908, the clock was a small tower made in a conservative design style. It had three main sections: a square volume with four faces at the top, one pointing in each direction; a middle section, also with four sides, plant-like ornament at the corners, and ornamental molding beneath; and a rectilinear base. Atop the clock was a domed cap with a weather vane. From the black-and-white photographs that survive, it is possible to discern a multicolored abstract patterning on much of the clock tower, although it

FIGURE 5.6  Carl Krayl’s house in the Reform housing development. The colored squares are visible on the front façade as is the multicolored window surround on the side of the building. © Nachlass Carl Krayl, Stadtarchiv Magdeburg.

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FIGURE 5.7  Carl Krayl’s designs for the interior of his bedroom in Magdeburg. The text visible on the right-hand side of the image is a series of excerpts from Revelations. © Nachlass Carl Krayl, Stadtarchiv Magdeburg. is not possible to determine which colors Krayl used. The pattern consists of irregular splotches of color with no apparent geometric order or relationship to the geometry of the clock tower. Taut explained Krayl’s design strategy in Frühlicht: “The painting of the normal clock tries to remove from the eye the unsightly existing form, in its ugliness, by the fact that the color only [follows] the edges, otherwise does not follow the given shape at all and in this way plays with it.”71 Taut’s explanation applies to all of Krayl’s color work—the color application, forms, and patterns implemented in a seemingly willful manner ignore the underlying form of the object on which they were painted thereby altering the visual impact of the object’s form. Bruno Taut, “Architekten Malereien,” Frühlicht (Winter 1921/1922), 62.

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Krayl utilized a more rigid composition on the main and side façades of Braunschweiger Strasse 61/62 than elsewhere (Figure 5.8). Here, the side façade features eleven parallel vertical stripes that bend at the top to end up perpendicular to the roof pitch. Although it is impossible to see which colors Krayl used, the black-and-white photographs indicate that they were of at least three different hues. The front façade is the piece-de-resistance, however. It is divided into three sections, a dark middle and two light sides (Figure 5.9). Stretching across much of the façade but concentrated in the center is a whimsical abstraction formed by linear and planar elements with little relationship to the architectural features they move around. Number 2 Otto Richter Strasse was different from the other buildings on the block in that it housed the offices of the Administration of the Housing Association (Figure 5.10). Krayl may have used the important functional distinction to justify a different color treatment. The base is cadmium red while the stucco wall is cobalt blue. Window frames on the ground floor are red; they are blue above, while sills are a light gray. Using more cadmium red, yellow, cyan, and white, Krayl painted a series of abstract linear elements that dip and rise, zig-zag and curl, as they fan out from the main door to the façade’s edges in an explosion of colored lines. The door itself is a miniature version of the whole with a similar pattern. Although abstract, certain compositional rules are evident: the three major colors are equally distributed across the façade. Colored lines are short bursts that transform

FIGURE 5.8  Carl Krayl’s façade treatment at Braunschweiger Strasse—the vertical stripes on the side wall. © Nachlass Carl Krayl, Stadtarchiv Magdeburg.

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FIGURE 5.9  The multicolored painting on the main façade of Carl Krayl’s project on Braunschweiger Strasse. © Nachlass Carl Krayl, Stadtarchiv Magdeburg.

FIGURE 5.10 Carl Karyl’s abstract façade design on Otto-Richter-Strasse. © Creative Commons.

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into other colors and are often reinforced by juxtaposition to elements in one of the other colors, which makes each color even more brilliant. While some lines follow the edges of windows, color here mostly ignores the architectural elements—the gray sills, blue and red window frames, and red base are exceptions. The exceptions help to integrate the color scheme into the surrounding context by accepting some of the rules for color yet departing from others. The abstract composition resembles contemporary graffiti with its energetic splatter of color over the blue background.

Other Examples of Color in the Urban Realm The members of the group working in Magdeburg were not the only German architects and artists to experiment with bold color in the urban realm, as the numbers attending the Hamburg conference suggest, but many projects by others have not survived and documentation is sparse. Although color photography was invented in the nineteenth century, it was still not common in the 1920s. Still, by the mid-1920s German art and architecture journals increasingly covered the colored city movement as a national one, rather than merely a local phenomenon in Magdeburg.72 “The situation today is such,” writes one critic in Deustche Kunst und Dekoration in 1926, “that the idea of a color revival in architecture can no longer be rejected.”73 Mirroring much of Taut’s argument, the positive aspects of color, asserts the writer, are its ability to create joy and to improve the exterior of any building, good or bad, if used judiciously. The author emphasizes the drabness of both older cities and new housing developments as justification for color use. Among the few projects to survive today are several housing settlements in the town of Celle designed by the partnership of architect Otto Haesler and painter Karl Völker, recognized both nationally and internationally in the 1920s for their work with color. Because they demonstrate a different approach to color application, the Celle projects make an interesting contrast to Taut’s and Krayl’s work in Magdeburg. Whereas Taut and Krayl used abundant color on elements of every scale to cover every inch of the façade, Völker and Haesler were more judicious and reserved, working with less color spread over larger surfaces, and interspersed with equally generous areas of white, gray, and black. Otto Haesler (1880–1962) was born in Munich; attended Realschule, not the more academically rigorous Gymnasium; and then studied at two different Baugewerkschulen (Construction Schools) in Augsburg and in Würzburg. He also began, but did not complete, a course in masonry. After a few years working for others, he moved to the town of Celle, just O. R. “Farbige Architektur,” Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration (1925–1926), 216–19. Ibid., 216.

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outside of Hanover, and established a successful practice. Celle was notable for its historic city center with half-timbered houses in traditional colors. The aesthetics of Haesler’s early work were very traditional, influenced by Hermann Muthesius’s interpretation of the English country cottage and Henry van de Velde’s Jugendstil designs. In the mid-1920s, Haesler changed his design approach from traditional to very contemporary. At the same time, he joined both the Deutsche Werkbund and the Berlin-based Der Ring, the group of progressive architects who assembled to promote Neues Bauen and socially responsible architecture, although he does not seem to have been active in progressive architecture circles beforehand. Indeed, Haesler’s biographer Angela Schumacher refers to him as the architect who “went from unknown provincial building master to well-known Neues Bauen architect” without explaining how the transformation occurred.74 Indeed, he is widely credited as having completed the very first housing development in the Neues Bauen style, and Henry Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson included Haesler’s work in the International Style exhibition in 1932.75 Writing for the catalogue, they assert, “Otto Haesler is the foremost housing architect in Germany and perhaps in the world, since Germany has so far outstripped other nations in solving the housing problem.”76 They praise Haesler’s ability to design practical, economical, and aesthetically pleasing buildings. “Haesler never compromises. He insists that even the most inexpensive housing can still be handled as an art.”77 According to biographical information on the Otto Haesler Foundation website, it was Bruno Taut who suggested that Haesler use bright colors for his settlement designs and that he hire Halle-based painter Karl Völker.78 Völker had worked with Taut on the very first project in the campaign to color Magdeburg, the City Hall repainting in 1922. The introduction proved to be fortuitous; the two men apparently worked well together. Völker collaborated with Haesler on a number of housing designs until 1932 and then again after the Second World War. Völker and Haesler’s best known project was a large-scale public housing development called Italian Garden, a project that was considered the “first unified housing estate in Neues Bauen [style] in Germany”79 (Figure 5.11). Designed and constructed between 1923 and 1924, the development was also held up as an example of successful color use in the public realm; it was considered so important that attendees of the August 1926 Hanover meeting

Angela Schumacher, Otto Haesler und der Wohnungsbau in der Weimarer Republik (Marburg: Jonas, 1982), 36. 75 Alfred Barr, Henry-Russell Hitchcock, Philip Johnson and Lewis Mumford, Modern Architecture: International Exhibition (New York: MOMA, 1932). 76 Ibid., 192. 77 Ibid., 193 78 http://www.otto-haesler-stiftung.de/Italienischer-Garten; accessed on April 10, 2020. 79 Barr, Hitchcock, Johnson and Mumford, Modern Architecture, 193. 74

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FIGURE 5.11  Looking down the main street at Otto Haesler’s “Italian Garden” development in Celle. The image shows the way that Völker and Haesler arranged red and blue blocks. © Celle Tourism.

FIGURE 5.12  The front façade of one block in Otto Haesler’s “Italian Garden.” Völker’s and Haesler’s use of primary colors on different aspects of the architecture is visible. © Celle Tourism.

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of The Federation to Promote Color in the Cityscape made an excursion to Celle to see the settlement.80 A review in Die Form praised the project for its ability to meld new with old: “Here, with a truly exemplary determination, extremely modern buildings are placed in the immediate vicinity of the old part of the city, the steep roofs of which stand out…. Through the contrast, the old does not suffer but on the contrary its effect is increased.”81 For the Italian Garden Settlement, Völker and Haesler chose vibrant saturated primary colors together with white, gray, and black, which they assembled in a bold fashion (Figure 5.12). The local press dubbed the color scheme “Blau-Grau-Rot” (Blue-Gray-Red): “[Haesler’s] row of houses vividly illustrates the importance for architecture of a strict rhythm of colors blue, gray and red. This is precisely why the colored Celle is based on the fact that, in addition to half-timbered and plastered houses from many centuries, modern architectural forms, have also been successfully treated in terms of color.”82 As the journalist points out, repetition is the main compositional strategy at Italian Garden. The relatively reduced palette of colors repeats in a series of rhythms, with respect to both the scale of the whole building and individual detail, to create a lively visual aspect. Similar to Taut and Krayl, Völker and Haesler used the primary hues, red, yellow, and blue, but applied them in a far more restrained manner than what was done in Magdeburg (Figure 5.13). Nevertheless, the visual effect is powerful. The blocks all consist of a central volume with two adjacent wings. In each case, the central volume was colored white and the two wings either red or blue. The blocks are arranged so that blue blocks flank a pair of red ones. A typical block demonstrates the overall strategy: the central volume is white, while the two flanking volumes are bright blue. Windows on the two wings are set back from the main façade and painted white, as is a patch of stucco façade adjacent to each window. In this way, the blue wings are tied visually to the central volume. Window frames and the main entry door are a vibrant vermillion, which creates the visual connection to the two neighboring red blocks. The entry awning and door jams are yellow, creating a subtle color contrast and visual frame. Völker’s and Haesler’s drawn façade study for Italian Garden shows a wall around each housing block. This feature no longer exists, but in the original, it was made of low gray elements with black metal railings. Window sills were also gray. Together, all the painted sections of the design formed the Red-Blue-Grey format. A second large-scale housing development in Celle executed by Völker and Haesler also used color, or was meant to, according to a colored sketch that still survives. Georgsgarten (George’s Garden; 1925–6) consisted of six enormous building blocks with 180 apartments, a library, a cafeteria, http://www.otto-haesler-stiftung.de/Italienischer-Garten; accessed on April 12, 2020. “Zur Frage der heimische Bauweise,” Die Form, Heft 2 (1927), 62. 82 Cited in http://www.otto-haesler-stiftung.de/Italienischer-Garten; accessed on April 12, 2020. 80 81

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FIGURE 5.13  A view down the block at Haesler’s “Italian Garden” showing the intense contrast between blocks painted with vivid primary colors. © Celle Tourism. a kindergarten with splash pool for the children, a playground, and rental community gardens. Here, Haesler innovated by turning the gable ends toward the street so that blocks were parallel to one another, and perpendicular to the street, which allowed for large green areas between the blocks. He then spaced the buildings out far enough to guarantee sunlight could penetrate into the green spaces. On one of the streets, he used a lowrise perimeter block to give protection to the green space without obstructing the sun. According to architecture critic Walter Dexel, Georgsgarten was the first housing development in Germany to use this approach, rather than situate blocks parallel to the street to form a perimeter wall.83 Haesler broke up the scale and monotony of the Georgsgarten settlement in several ways, using architectonic elements and color. He placed a protruding entry and stairwell volume at regular intervals on one side of each block, which combined with rhythmic window patterns, asymmetrically arranged windows of different sizes, shapes, and lights, in order to vary the outward aspect. On some blocks, he used three different repeating façade design elements, including a protruding rear bay to disrupt the long façade. It was on this façade that he and Völker planned for a subtly changing color scheme. The existing study shows what appears to be yellow stucco for the

http://www.otto-haesler-stiftung.de/St-Georg-Garten; accessed on April 14, 2020.

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main body of the building and white stucco on the bays. Windows in the white bays are divided into three lights of differing sizes—two have darkblue frames and mullions and the third has a red frame and mullions. The side walls of the bays are a light sienna: the steel handrails a darker shade. The building cornice appears to have sienna, blue, and red horizontal strips running the length of the block. The one-story end building is white stucco with red-framed windows and a sienna cornice. Although the color palette was similar, in comparison with the animated color applications Taut and Krayl devised for Magdeburg, Völker’s and Haesler’s color treatment is sparse and restrained. It is also less indebted to historic German color applications. Rather, with its use of broad color canvases in contrast to minimal linear elements, Völker’s and Haesler’s approach seems more clearly derived from functionalist and Neues Bauen principles of simplicity and sobriety. The large, sweeping bands of color also echo ways in which other architects used boldly colored walls, ceilings, and floors to elicit an emotional response or create an expressive ambience.

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CHAPTER SIX

Color Healing, Color Psychology, and Emotion

For a brief period in 1876 and 1877, Americans were seized with a craze for the color blue, especially blue light, and fervently purchased blue glass for their homes and eyeglasses, even blue wallpaper, in a quest to create spaces filled with blue color and light, driving the price of blue glass up by 50 percent!1 (See Figure 6.1.) The craze was spurred by the publication of a book by American Civil War general Augustus James Pleasonton claiming a raft of curative benefits derived from exposure to blue light.2 As strange as the blue-glass craze may seem when looking back on it today, it is just one example of the centuries-old belief in chromotherapy, the power of color to heal illness by acting on the human psyche. Chromotherapy is as old as recorded history and dates back at least to the ancient Egyptians, who had a complex color symbolism that informed the interior design treatment of rooms in their temples, which were painted with what they thought were healing colors.3 Ancient Greeks and Romans made color and colored objects Phil Edwards, “Blue Glass: The 19th Century Miracle Cure That Split the Country,” Vox, May 14, 2015, https://www.vox.com/2015/5/14/8602411/blue-glass-debate; accessed on January 2, 2020. 2 Augustus James Pleasonton, The Influence of the Blue Ray of Sunlight and of the Blue Colour of the Sky: In Developing Animal and Vegetable Life: In Arresting Disease, and in Restoring Health in Acute and Chronic Disorders to Human and Domestic Animals (Philadelphia: Claxton, Remsen and Haffelfinger, 1877). 3 Azeemi, Samina T. Yousuf and S. Mohsin Raza, “A Critical Analysis of Chromotherapy and Its Evolution,” eCam, 2/4 (2005), 481–8; accessed on January 2, 2020: Phil Edwards and Faber Birren, Color Psychology and Color Therapy: A Factual Study of the Influence of Color on Human Life (Secaucus: University Books, 1961), 4 and 15. The Egyptian Ebers Papyrus includes prescriptions for treating different diseases with colored minerals and other substances; color was clearly thought at least partly responsible for the treatments’ efficacy. 1

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FIGURE 6.1  An American cartoon from the nineteenth century about the Blue Glass Craze.

into healing agents in other ways: by filtering light through colored glass to create colored light; by crushing colored stones to make what they believed were curative powders; and by mixing colored substances in color-saturated plasters, ointments, and salves to aid in healing. The Persian polymath Avicenna studied color both as a manifestation of disease and as a curative: he noted that, as illness often caused discoloration of the skin, blood, and bodily secretions, color could be a measure of relative health or illness.4 He also advocated colored light as therapy for certain ailments: “Blue light soothed the movement of the blood; red light stimulated it.”5 Belief in the curative and affective powers of color has persisted for centuries, in spite of little supporting scientific proof (only recently have scientists begun to uncover the actual benefits of color and colored light and to distinguish them from false claims); the raft of publications appearing every year on the emotional values of color, how color can influence responses to advertising, and how color can affect interior space, to name a few, is evidence of the enduring attraction of the idea that color has both positive and negative effects on the human psyche, on emotional well-being, and on physical health.

4 5

Birren, Color Psychology, 22. Ibid., 23.

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The belief in color’s curative properties, while related to mystical beliefs about color, also departs from them in significant ways. Theosophists, Anthroposophists, and other mystics assigned emotional value to individual colors that often corresponded to the affective value assigned by chromotherapists, but correspondences between the systems end there; Theosophists, Anthroposophists, and mystics believed in a parallel color world comprised of layers of aura that was invisible to most people other than clairvoyants (see Chapter 2). For them, aura color indicated a person’s dominant personality traits, thoughts, and emotions. Color was therefore a bridge between the visible and invisible worlds. Rudolf Steiner developed this thinking further: he thought that color was a visible medium through which people could access the invisible spiritual world. For mystics, color is not an agent or stimulus that acts on the human being but a manifestation of an existing mental or emotional state. The subject of this chapter, however, is how color may affect the human psyche and emotions. Goethe was the first modern color theorist to propose the idea that color might have an effect on the human psyche, suggesting a link between color perception and emotional experience, a subject to which he devoted a whole section of his Theory of Colours. Titled “The Effect of Colour with Reference to Moral Associations,” the section proposed two major color groups, which Goethe named “plus” and “minus” colors, in relation to the ways in which he thought they acted.6 On the plus side are the warm colors: “yellow, redyellow (orange), yellow-red (cinnabar). The feelings they inspire are quick, lively, aspiring.”7 These are also the colors that traditional color theory posited appear to advance in space. On the minus side are the cold colors: “blue, red-blue, and blue-red. They produce a restless, susceptible, anxious impression.”8 The cold colors, also according to traditional color theory, are those that appear to recede in space. To truly experience the effects of any color, Goethe recommended that “the eye should be entirely surrounded with one colour; we should be in a room of one colour, or, look through a coloured glass.”9 In other words, in order to understand the emotional impact of any one color on the human psyche, it is necessary to be totally immersed in a space of that color, ideally with colored light as well. Goethe’s observations on the effects of individual colors include, “yellow, as it appears on satin, has a magnificent and noble effect”; “yellow excites a warm and agreeable impression”; “red-yellow gives an impression of warmth and gladness”; while blue tends to melancholy and sadness.10 Because he considers it is a restful color, he recommends the color green for “rooms to live in constantly.” Even though Goethe’s lexicon of colorGoethe, Theory of Colours, 276. Ibid., 306. 8 Ibid., 310. 9 Ibid., 306. 10 Ibid., 307–11. 6 7

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incited emotions is conventional and based on personal observation rather than empirical observation or scientific testing, his beliefs had a profound effect on art and architectural practice. Despite its controversial status within the scientific community since its publication, Goethe’s work has been widely read by scientists of every kind, along with philosophers, psychologists, mystics, and artists; in short, anyone interested in color since 1810 has read Theory of Colours (whether German or not). For instance, the nineteenth-century physicist and physiologist Hermann von Helmholtz (1821–94), who was responsible for proving the tri-chromatic theory of color perception and who participated in the repudiation of Euclidean models of space, read and commented publicly on Goethe’s ideas.11 Helmholz addressed Goethe’s writings largely to repudiate them; yet the fact that he felt compelled to engage with Goethe’s ideas underscores the critical importance of Goethe’s work. While scientists like Helmholtz studied the physiology of color perception, they often avoided the question of a psychological or emotional response to color. This area of research has remained in a category of its own, receiving attention from a range of researchers extending from quack medical practitioners, to hopeful amateur scientists, to credentialed scientific researchers in the fields of psychology and physiology.

Chromotherapy In the latter half of the nineteenth century, chromotherapy enjoyed a renaissance albeit with modern inflections. The new approaches combined serious scientific inquiry and established scientific knowledge with occult beliefs about color and human psychological responses to it often making it difficult to separate genuine science from quackery. Most historians credit Pleasonton’s publishing his “findings” on the effects of blue light on plants and animals with sparking this new interest. Reasoning that, since the sky is blue all over the world, there must be something in the color blue or in blue light that is beneficial to living things, Pleasonton constructed a greenhouse with alternating bands of blue and clear glass to test his theory. The result of this experiment, according to his reports, was that the grapes that he planted in the greenhouse grew at an unprecedented speed, and to an unusually uniform and large size, compared with grapes grown in a conventional greenhouse made only of clear glass. Having concluded that it was the blue light that had had such miraculous effects, Pleasonton extended his experiment to test the effects of blue light on farm animals, and, here too, he claimed to have had astonishing results. In his book, Barry B. Lee, “The Evolution of Concepts of Color Vision,” Neurociencias, July 1, 2008; 4/4, 209–24; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3095437/; accessed on January 8, 2020.

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Pleasonton even speculated on the potential benefits of blue light for human health, and included testimonials to this effect, among them the stories of the miraculous development experienced by a premature baby when housed and nursed under blue light, and the recovery of a sickly woman who was regularly placed inside a blue-lit room.12 By his own admission, Pleasonton’s work inspired controversy among his contemporaries, which only seemed to inspire others to attempt to copy Pleasonton’s work—some attempting to disprove, and others to prove his theories. Blue light therapy was typical of many chromotherapeutic approaches that combined the supposed beneficial effects of specific colors with those of light. Indeed, heliotherapy, treatment by exposure to the sun’s rays, and phototherapy, treatment by exposure to artificial light, are also among the ancient healing arts that experienced a resurgence in the nineteenth century13 (Figure 6.2). Chromotherapy is also distinct from scientifically verified light

FIGURE 6.2  A photograph of a patient receiving alpine light treatment at the turn of the twentieth century.

Pleasonton, The Influence of the Blue Ray of Sunlight and of the Blue Colour of the Sky, 10 and 12. 13 Another fashion that was popular in the latter half of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries was “light washing,” or sun bathing with artificial light, used most often to treat tuberculosis. 12

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treatments such as neonatal jaundice treatment. As, unlike chromotherapy, the light used in such therapies, whether scientifically proven or not, was not always colored, their particulars are not relevant in this context. Research into the benefits of exposure to colored light soon expanded from blue into other parts of the light spectrum, as Dr. Seth Pancoast’s 1877 book Blue and Red Light: Light and its Rays as Medicine makes clear, along with other contemporary texts.14 Pancoast’s book is instructive for other reasons—like many treatises on chromotherapy and phototherapy, it blends aspects of mysticism, the occult and science into what can be a confusing mix. Pancoast was a trained medical doctor, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania medical school, a mystic with a lifelong interest in Kabbala, and a founding member of the Theosophical Society in 1875. In the opening chapter of his book, he expounds on the wonders of the Kabbala and its foundations in light, which Pancoast equates with the divine.15 According to his reasoning, if God is light, and God is the source of all good in the world, then light must be both good and beneficial to humans. Pancoast does not advocate relying on light treatment alone, arguing rather that colored light has healing properties that can be best harnessed when used together with traditional medicines. Pancoast also ascribed to the ancient theory of organic harmony, a state necessary for maintaining health in the human organism. When, “the dual forces that constitute the Vital Force cease to work in unison a diseased condition of the System is at once evident,” he claimed.16 To heal a diseased body, the bodily system must be restored to harmony. Pancoast believed that light’s ability to cure disease if applied correctly rested on its status as “the one universal pathological agent” and “the source of the curative properties of medicines.”17 He proposed two ways of using colored light therapeutically: indirect and direct, whereby indirect application employs colored light as mediated through medications (Pancoast would expose medicines to colored light before administering them to a patient), while the vehicle for direct application was a sun-bath.18 The sun-bath was created by filtering sunlight through colored panes of glass, and the intensity of the colored light and duration of exposure were calibrated relative to the disease to be treated. See, for instance, How to be Healthy: A Collection from the Writings and Experience of Eminent Physicians on Preventing Disease, Preserving Youth and Beauty, Prolonging Life, and Producing a Cheerful Happy Old Age (Cleveland: A. J. Campbell, 1878), which has sections on “The Importance of Light,” and “Effects of Color on Health and Disease.” 15 Seth Pancoast, Blue and Red Light: Or, Light and Its Rays as Medicine; Showing That Light is the Original and Sole Source of Life, as it Is the Source of All the Physical and Vital Forces of Nature; and That Light Is Nature’s Own and Only Remedy for Disease… (Philadelphia: J. M. Stoddart, 1877), 20. 16 Pancoast, Blue and Red Light, 230. 17 Ibid., 232. 18 Ibid., 264. 14

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As Pancoast elaborates, “The Red ray is specially demanded in cases where it is desired to induce excitation of the nervous system, the Blue where it is desired to produce an opposite effect.”19 He goes on to assert, “Doubtless, the color, Red, carries with it the vital polar energy of the ray of Sunlight that gives it birth.”20 Pancoast’s mystical formulations included assigning value to each of the primary colors and shades in the spectrum: “Blue invites to repose, or is slumber; Black is absolute rest, the sleep of death; Yellow is activity; Red is absolute motion, the motion of life; White is the equilibrium of motion, healthful activity.”21 The values that Pancoast assigns to individual colors, which are meant to guide the chromo-therapist in the proper choice of color, are similar to those assigned in other occult belief systems, such as Theosophy and Anthroposophy. Another important book, Edwin D. Babbitt’s The Principles of Light and Color (1878), developed Pleasonton’s and Pancoast’s ideas into a lengthy and detailed treatise on the many ways that colored light could heal human and plant disease. Like Pancoast, Babbitt was trained as a traditional medical doctor before embarking on his career in alternative medicine. A strange amalgamation of pseudo-science and the occult, Babbitt’s book is, nevertheless, a compendium of information on chromotherapy at the end of the nineteenth century. Babbitt begins by discussing what he calls “the principle of unity of all fundamental elements in nature,” the same ancient concept that Pancoast had invoked, an ideation that locates illness in disunity, or lack of harmony, and conceives of healing as the restoration of harmony to the organism. That is, a healthy body’s cells, organs, and parts are harmonious, while those of a diseased body are imbalanced and disharmonious. According to this belief system, one can cure most diseases by restoring harmony. Babbitt argues that, since color is naturally occurring in all things and is a fundamental property of all things in nature, color must be an integral part of the unity principle.22 Unity of any kind, he writes, is created by combining both complementary and contrasting properties together into a single entity. Babbitt used light to illustrate his logical schema: light appears white when it unifies all the different and contrasting color wavelengths in the spectrum together. Most important, he believes that since color is an intrinsic part of the human organism, properly applying colored light to rebalance the body can cure it of a range of ills. Like many others interested in chromotherapy, Babbitt ties color’s efficacy to light. Ibid., 94. Ibid., 176. 21 Ibid., 247. 22 Edwin D. Babbitt, The Principles of Light and Color (New York: Babbitt and Co, 1878), 1–71. 19 20

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Light, with all its colors, is a marvelous storehouse of power to vitalize and heal mankind. It produces not only color but chemical effects, heat, electricity, magnetism; its organic reaction is witnessed in all the flora and fauna of the earth. All things manifest their potencies and their qualities by means of color. There is tremendous power in color repulsions and color affinities. From these facts, an exact materia medica can be constructed.23 Babbitt did indeed develop a detailed series of prescriptions for color treatments for an astonishing range of ailments, including sciatica, rheumatism, hemorrhoids, nervous disorders, bronchial infections, constipation, meningitis, headache, sunstroke, and even baldness!24 Beginning with red, Babbitt goes on to explain “the healing power” of many specific colors, describing how various red-colored spices, liquids, tonics, elements, and compounds along with red light can treat various conditions and illnesses.25 Similar to Pancoast, he attributes the healing abilities of red to the color’s relationship to the “red principle of the blood” as well as the “warming element of sunlight.” Babbitt also warns the reader, however, that red can be injurious if there is “too much of the red, or inflammatory condition of the system, such as the predominance of red hair, very rubicund countenance, or feverish and excitable condition generally.”26 Along with red, Babbitt catalogues the healing powers of yellow, orange, blue, and violet, stating that blue and violet are “cold, electrical, and contracting potencies, which are very fine and penetrating, and also very soothing to all systems in which inflammatory and nervous conditions predominate.”27 Looking forward, the significance of the specific attributes that Babbitt afforded individual colors, lies in the extent to which, as with the color values in Pancoast’s system, they often align with the value given in other color schemas, as in the way Babbit’s attributions of vigor to red and yellow and a calming property to blue align with Goethe’s color system. Most critical, Babbitt outlines what he believes to be the affective powers of color. Color has an effect not only on the physical body, but also on the psyche. Germany was not immune to the nineteenth-century interest in chromotherapy and colored light. Along with the English-language texts that were available in Germany soon after publication, German doctors, mystics, and psychologists also conducted research on colored light and wrote about their work. As early as 1866, a decade before the first popular English-language texts described above, Theodor Schultze published Betrachtungen über die physikalischen Lehren von farbigen Lichte und Babbitt, Principles of Light and Color, “Chromotherapeutics,” cited in Color Healing: Chromotherapy (Pomeroy, WA: Health Research, 1999), 1. 24 Birren, Color Psychology, 57. 25 Babbitt, Principles of Light and Color, 280–2. 26 Ibid., 284. 27 Ibid., 298. 23

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über dessen wahrscheinlichen Ursprung (Observations about the Physical Teachings of Colored Light and its Probable Origin), following which, in 1873, Dr. Warmann disseminated his findings on studies of colored light.28 In 1876, Breslau-based ophthalmologist Professor Hugo Magnus’s (1842– 1907) detailed studies of the effects of colored light on healthy eyesight appeared, the first in a lifelong series of studies of color, color blindness, and color vision. The translation of Grant Allen’s Color Sense was released in a German edition in 1880. Subtitled “A Contribution to Comparative Psychologie,” Allen’s book attempted to present a history of color sense as context for contemporary research into color and color affect.29 In 1894, the dentist and parapsychologist Georg von Langsdorff (1822–1921) wrote on the therapeutic benefits of light and color in a book that was an explicit interpretation of Babbitt’s ideas for a German audience.30 Langsdorff followed this book with the 1900 publication of Die Lichtfarbstrahlen und ihre Heilkraft für Krankheiten (Colored Light Rays and their Healing Strength for Illnesses). Langsdorff’s mixing of Spiritism, mesmerism, psychometry, massage, and chromotherapy in his interests and writings was typical for the time.

Experimental Psychology and Color Although much of the craze for colored glass and colored light at the end of the nineteenth century was based on pseudo-science and occult beliefs, there were psychologists, physiologists, and physicists in Germany who conducted rigorous scientific investigations into the possible links between color, colored light, and the human psyche, out of which two new related fields emerged: color psychology and psychophysics. In the context of color perception, psychophysics, the study of the relationship between mind and body, considers the ways in which physical color stimuli to the eye are received and interpreted by the brain. Color psychology, on the other hand, is the study of the relationship between color perception and the mental and emotional responses to color stimuli. The physics of color perception and color vision were covered in chapter four; this chapter will cover only the affective responses to color as studied in color psychology and psychophysics. As mentioned in Chapter 4, German researchers were pioneers in the study of scientific psychology toward the end of the nineteenth century, and, 28 Dr. Warmann, Untersuchungen über das Wesen des Lichtes und der Farben (Leipzig: Verlag von Friedrich Fleischer, 1873). 29 Grant Allen, Der Farbensinn: Sein Ursprung und seine Entwicklung (Leipzig: Ernst Günther, 1880). 30 Georg von Langsdorff, Die Licht- und Farbengesetze und deren therapeutische Anwendung, Karlsruhe 1894 (Nachdruck Niedernhausen: Protzmann, 1977).

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in this context, Germans were at the forefront of research into those aspects of color perception that relate to human emotions and the psyche. As already discussed, Gustav Theodor Fechner’s research was the first to reveal links between experimental physiology and psychology, and he is considered to be the founder of what now is known as psychophysics.31 Fechner’s interest was in how the brain perceives physical sensation, with particular focus on the question of aesthetic perception; he is also considered to be the founder of the field of experimental aesthetics. Later in life, he conducted a series of investigations into the golden section to determine whether an inherent aesthetic preference for the form could be measured in a physical response. Convinced that the golden section represented the pinnacle of beauty, he believed that any artwork created using the golden section as its underlying geometry would qualify as beautiful. Accordingly, using the golden section as the test case, he set out to measure the psychophysical effects of beauty by recording observers’ responses to works based on the geometry of the golden section.32 Fechner described his method as aesthetics “from below” as opposed to aesthetics “from above,” by which he meant that he was investigating the empirical response to art rather than the philosophical ideas about it.33 Fechner’s aim was to transform aesthetics from a philosophy into a “science.” It is just one step from the generalized study of how perception of a standard of beauty like the golden section affects the body to how it affects the psyche. While Fechner himself never worked on the affective power of color, his work laid the groundwork for others who did by establishing methodological precedents. It is a short leap to make from examining the affective power of geometric forms like the golden section to measuring the ability of other aspects of art, like color, to act on the psyche and emotions. It was ophthalmologist Hugo Magnus (1804–1907) who recognized the inextricable connections between man, color, and emotion and attempted to provide an early scientific and cultural explanation of them. In his 1881 collection of eight lectures titled, Farben und Schöpfung: acht Vorlesungen über die Beziehungen der Farben zum Menschen und zur Natur (Colors and Creation: Eight Lectures on the Relationship of Colors to Men and Nature), Magnus speculated on the ways in which color affects people. In Magnus’s seventh lecture, for which the subject is color preference and its origins, he begins by stating, “The joy of color is a property inherent in the human race, inseparable from his thinking and feeling.”34 Magnus points out that color is with humankind from birth to death, from happiness to sadness, John D. Greenwood, Conceptual History of Psychology: Exploring the Tangled Web (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 177–80. 32 J. Flip Phillips, Farley Norman and Amanda M. Beers, “Fechner’s Aesthetics Revisited,” Seeing and Perceiving, 23 (2010), 264. 33 Moshe Barasch, Modern Theories of Art 3: From Impressionism to Kandinsky (London: Routledge, 2011), 86–7. 34 Hugo Magnus, Farben und Schöpfung: acht Vorlesungen über die Beziehungen der Farben zum Menschen und zur Natur (Breslau: F. U. Kern, 1881), 244. 31

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informing responses to the world and its events and asks, “But where does this power lie about the mind of man; what factors are there that have made the aesthetic value of color so high and undisputed?”35 Magnus reminds the reader of the warm versus cold values usually ascribed to color—red, yellow, and orange being the warm colors and green, blue, and violet the cold ones—and that Goethe had already identified this polarity in 1810. He discusses the degree to which color appreciation is culturally inflected, and therefore relative, as opposed to innate, and that it is determined by a mixture of local climate, light conditions, geographic location, local flora and fauna, ways of living, and traditions. Beyond ascribing hot and cold values to color, however, Magnus does not address the affective power of specific colors. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the psychologist Gustav Johannes von Allesch (1882–1967) probed the relationship between aesthetics and psychology. Allesch had studied philosophy, psychology, and art history at the University of Berlin, where he completed his doctoral dissertation under Carl Stumpf in 1909. Titled, Über die Verhältnis der Äesthetik zur Psychologie (On the Relationship between Aesthetics and Psychology), the dissertation interrogated the ways that qualities of an artwork, such as line, color, and composition effect the psychological state of the viewer, deviating from the time’s canonical art historical and critical studies by ignoring subject matter and interpretation. By the 1920s, Allesch’s focus had turned to color with his book, Zur äesthetischen Erscheinungsweise der Farbe (On the Aesthetic Appearance of Colors), which treats color as part of a dynamic relationship in which “the observer and color participate, and in which a direction becomes clear, a pressure, a desire, a meaning.”36 The book relates Allesch’s findings from a series of experiments he conducted before the First World War, in which he attempted to measure subjects’ reactions to specific colors and color combinations. While his methodology and results were challenged almost as soon as they were published in 1925, his investigations nevertheless figure significantly in the broader effort to develop scientific means with which to determine emotional response to color.37 Yet another medical professional active in the 1920s, Dresden-based Dr. Franz Freudenberg (1852–1932), was one of the few Germans who wrote on color, was interested in color affect, and practiced chromotherapy. His work was also studied by artists in the period, and directly influenced Kandinsky who mentions Freudenberg in On the Spiritual in Art.38 Like others of his contemporaries, Freudenberg was a trained medical doctor as well as an occultist and advocate for alternative medical treatments like

Ibid., 244. Gustav Johannes von Allesch, Zur ästhetische Erscheinungsweise der Farben (Berlin: 1925), 45. 37 Book review in JAMA 85/25 (December 19, 1925), 1989. 38 Barasch, Theories of Art 3, 322. 35 36

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massage, and he published quite a few books on these subjects. Freudenberg was reputedly successful at using chromotherapy to treat a range of nervous disorders by restoring harmony to the patient’s body and mind. Like Pancoast, Babbitt and Langsdorff, Freudenberg treated his patients by exposing them to colored light. In the chapter on the effects of color in On the Spiritual in Art, Kandinsky recounts a story Freudenberg told of “a patient, whom he characterizes as ‘spiritual and exceptionally superior,’ who finds that a certain sauce invariably tastes ‘blue’ to him, by which he means that it reminds him of the colour blue.”39 For Kandinsky, this example was evidence of the existence of synesthesia, or the ability of some people to connect senses such as perception of color with hearing or taste in an unusual way. Freudenberg wrote about this phenomenon in his 1908 book Übersinnliche Welt (Supersensuous World). Kandinsky uses the example of Freudenberg’s patient in order to argue the affective power of color; if color could act in such a way, then it must have tremendous power.

Artistic Theories of Color Affect Although many of the alleged benefits of chromotherapy are not recognized by the professional medical community, the relationship of color to the human psyche is not subject to question. The precise ways in which color affects people is not clear, because in many cases the same color has a different effect on different subjects, as Hugo Magnus noted. While psychologists and psychiatrists today acknowledge that color has emotional significance, in the early twentieth century, it was artists and art theorists who were interested in color affect and who were most likely to speculate on, and write about the subject. In 1905, for instance, the noted art historian and curator, Alfred Lichtwark (1852–1914) wrote a brief treatise on the need to educate people about color titled, Die Erziehung des Farbensinnes (The Education of Color Sense).40 Lichtwark was concerned with what he viewed as the lack of color sensibility in German art at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries, but he never goes so far as to explain why color sense is so critical. He either assumes that this is self-evident or, since he expressly wishes to avoid theoretical musings in the text, leaves the reasons for color sense to others to explain. Underlying the text, however, is the legible belief that color is critical to imbuing art with meaning, or in other words, to the extent that color carries meaning and emotional impact, the colors that an artist chooses to employ are critical to the reception of

Wassily Kandinsky, On the Spiritual in Art, ed. Hilla Rebay (New York: Gugenheim, 1946), 41; cited in Kevin T. Dann, Bright Colors Falsely Seen: Synaesthesia and the Search for Transcendental Knowledge (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998), 55–6. 40 Alfred Lichtwark, Die Erziehung des Farbensinnes (Berlin: Bruno Cassirer, 1905).

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his or her art. As John Gage writes, German artists at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries were deeply influenced by Goethe and far more interested in the moral and symbolic value of color than other aspects of color theory.41 Perhaps the most influential treatise on color affect authored and read during the interwar period was Kandinsky’s 1912 On the Spiritual in Art. While other artists, like the French painters Sonia and Robert Delaunay, had celebrated color in art and declared its importance to the new, non-objective ways of painting, Kandinsky went further. In his book, Kandinsky outlined a complex set of relationships between specific colors and human emotional response. In the introduction, Kandinsky identifies two ways that color acts on the observer, what he terms, physical and spiritual. As the art historian Moshe Barasch points out, by “physical” Kandinsky does not mean the ways that color stimulates the eye or brain, but rather the effect that is the opposite of spiritual.42 If the spiritual is deep and lasting, touching the soul and with true significance, then the physical is temporary and fleeting, with no real import. The first is a purely physical effect when the eye itself is enchanted by beauty and the multiple delight of colour. The observer is pleased. He experiences a pleasure similar to that enjoyed by an epicure in tasting a delicacy.43 The second effect he describes as follows: As man develops further, the circle of impressions widens to different beings and objects and the development continues until these beings and objects acquire the value of spiritual harmony. The same with colour, at first, it makes only a superficial impression upon a soul hardly developed to sensitiveness, an impression which disappears shortly after it has been evoked.44 But with time, “the main effect produced by observing color is a psychic effect. Here, the psychic power of colour takes hold, causing an emotional vibration. Thus, the first physical elementary force develops the channel, through which the deep, inner emotion reaches the soul.”45 Kandinsky believes that it is the first response to color that helps to develop the ability to respond emotionally. The second effect of color, the one that provokes an emotional response, is color acting on the soul, or psyche; it is what he calls the “spiritual in art.” Gage, Colour and Meaning, 188–91. Barasch, 320–2. 43 Kandinsky, On the Spiritual in Art, 40. 44 Ibid., 40–1. 45 Ibid. 41 42

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Kandinsky is not certain whether the psychological response to color is a direct one, or the result of associations accumulated through life experience. He uses the example of the color red, which is the color of fire, to illustrate his point. Red can elicit a warm feeling as well as an excited or painful one— all responses that might result from its association with fire.46 Similarly, Kandinsky writes, since it is the color of lemons, yellow might provoke a sour sensation. Yet, he admits, these colors can also elicit responses that are not directly related to associations. For instance, he ties the idea of rest to blue even though blue water, for example, can be turbulent as well as restful and still. Kandinsky emphasizes, however, that an explanation for the origin of the psychic power of color is not essential in the context of artistic practice. Rather, what is important is the irrefutable effect that color has on everyone’s psyche, even if that effect differs. It is precisely the ability of color to act directly and forcefully on the viewer without any mediation that appeals to Kandinsky. Kandinsky was writing not only a theory of color but a defense of the transition to abstraction in painting.47 Color, he believed, had the power to affect the viewer in a way that pure line could not. With the withdrawal of representation from painting, artists like Kandinsky sought for elements whose impact would equal that of recognizable subjects. As already discussed, Sonia and Robert Delaunay held the same opinion regarding color’s effect on the viewer. But Kandinsky does not confine his arguments to a single line of reasoning. Equally well read in contemporary psychology and spirituality, Kandinsky refers to chromotherapy as proof of color’s potency: “These facts [of chromotherapy] in any case prove that color contains within itself a littlestudied but enormous power, which can influence the entire human body as a physical organism.”48 If color has such strength, the artist no longer has a need for representation. This attribution of power to color was also appealing to architects at this time, who were seeking ways to create visual interest in architecture without using applied ornament, which was viewed both as old fashioned and un-sachlich. Kandinsky’s suggestion about the power of color would have appealed to many architects as a way of enhancing architecture in an integrated fashion. To bolster his argument, Kandinsky devotes many pages to explaining the emotional values of each color. He begins by asserting the age-old divisions of color into light and dark, warm and cold.49 And, like Goethe, he writes that warm colors tend towards yellow and white while cold ones tend towards blue and black. His descriptions of the emotional values are complex and, as he admits in the text, provisional, by which he means they Ibid., 41. Barasch, 240 ff. 48 Kandinsky, On the Spiritual in Art, 43; cited in Barasch, 327. 49 Ibid., 60.

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can vary depending on the observer, the shade and tone of the color, other color proximities, and so on. Nevertheless, he emphasizes the power of color on the observer: Yellow is the typically earthly color and never contains a profound meaning. With an intermixture of blue, it takes on a sickly color. When compared with the frame of mind of some individual, it would be capable of the color representation of madness—not melancholy or hypochondriacal mania, but rather an attack of violent, raving lunacy. The mad man attacks other persons, smashes everything in his way, squanders his physical powers in all directions, uses them up without rhyme, reason, or plan, until he has used them up completely. It is also akin to the utter waste when the last rays of summer strike the intense autumn leaves, deprived of the quieting blue which rises to the heavens. A very powerful colour is created, lacking all capacity of depth. This capacity of profound depth is found in blue and, theoretically, in all its physical movements: 1. retreating from the spectator; 2. Moving towards its own center. The same applies, if we allow the blue (in any desired geometric form) to work on the mind. The inclination of blue to deepen is so strong that its inner appeal is stronger when its shade is deeper. The deeper the blue the more it beckons man into the infinite, arousing a longing for purity and the super sensuous. It is the colour of the heavens just as we imagine it, when we hear the word heaven. Blue is the typical heavenly colour.50 In contrast to yellow and blue, Kandinsky finds green to be the “most restful colour in existence,” although, when mixed with other colors, it can be “quieting,” “passive,” or “immovable.” White symbolizes the world without color but with possibilities: black is death. Kandinsky sees red as “highly vivid,” with “tenacious immense power.” Kandinsky finds colors like orange and violet, which are combinations of primaries, out of balance and more difficult to explain. Kandinsky supports his argument by comparing a visually effective painting to conversation, “We know, that… the truly important part in conversation is conveying ideas, feelings, and emotions. We should observe a painting with the same valuation in mind and receive a direct absolute effect from the work of art.”51 Color, he believes, is similar to music in the way that it operates—it is abstract, rather than representational; it affects the viewer without mediation, and speaks to raw emotion.

Ibid., 63–4. Ibid., 84.

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In contrast to the historic pairing of line and color, Kandinsky names color and form as the two fundamental elements at the artist’s disposal.52 Kandinsky reduces form to three basic shapes, the triangle, square, and circle, which he posits as the formal equivalents of the primary colors, red, yellow, and blue.53 He then describes the different effects of color-form combinations on the viewer: “The values of certain colours are emphasized by certain forms and dulled by others. In any event, sharp colours sound stronger in sharp forms (for example, yellow in a triangle). Those inclined to be deep are intensified by round forms (for example, blue in a circle).”54 For Kandinsky, form is the logical correlative for color because, like color, form has symbolic connotations and is not purely representational. As already discussed, he paired yellow with the triangle, red with the square, and blue with the circle, which he claimed were the results of a famous survey he conducted at the Bauhaus about correlations between form and color.55 Art historian Gustav Friedrich Hartlaub (1884–1963) echoed Kandinsky when he noted: Colors… are symbols for feelings, sometimes for thoughts too, direct revelations of inner states of being, even if naturally awakened by the seen, felt experience of the world, like sounds in music. Munch was the first one to grasp them in this sense. Today such a grasp is almost common property of a generation of artists… Marc, Kandinsky, Kokoschka, Muche, Chagall, Metzinger, or Klee.56 It was designers like Benita Koch-Otte, artists like Georg Muche, and architects like Adolf Meyer and Bruno Taut who translated this approach to color to three dimensions.

Color Affect in Architecture: Haus am Horn Rich color was part of interior decoration for centuries; the difference between earlier uses of color and the new techniques has to do with application—historic buildings combined color with surface ornament, patterning or images, and often elaborate architectural details, so that the color was just one aspect of the surface. In the early modern period, architects started to experiment with pure color as a replacement for surface ornament and, in the cases discussed below, color was the only ornament. Ibid., 45. Ibid., 44–50; Thomas Jacobsen, “Kandinsky’s Color-Form Correspondence and the Bauhaus Colors: An Empirical View,” Leonardo, 37/2 (2004), 135. 54 Kandinsky, On the Spiritual in Art, 46. 55 Jacobsen, “Kandinsky’s Color-Form Correspondence,” 135–6. 56 Gustav Hartlaub, cited in Long 1993, 92. 52 53

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One of the first color schemes for the interior of a Neues Bauen house was the axonometric drawing Benita Koch-Otte (1892–1976) drew together with Georg Muche in 1923 for the Haus am Horn in Weimar (Figure 6.3). Neither Koch-Otte nor Muche was an architect—she was a weaver and textile artist and he was a painter. Furthermore, in-depth analysis of the axonometric is not possible since the original was lost and no written records survive that might explain the circumstances of the drawing’s genesis or the intentions behind it. Any reading therefore relies on comparisons with other contemporary work, published material about the Haus am Horn, and the aspirations that the Bauhäusler had for the future development planned for the Haus am Horn site. Nevertheless, the drawing represented a desire for interior colored space and proposed a series of colors with which to actualize that desire.

FIGURE 6.3  Benita Koch-Otte’s colored axonometric study for the “Haus am Horn.” (1923) © Bauhaus Archive Berlin

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As the Haus am Horn was designed for a site close to Goethe’s eighteenthcentury Garden House, the use of bright color in each room at Goethe’s Garden House likely was the inspiration for Koch-Otte and Muche, although the hues and the color values for their choices were ultimately closer to Kandinsky’s system than Goethe’s selections for the Weimar house. The walls in each room of the Goethe Garden House are painted a single primary or secondary color, with no other decorative motifs or ornament, making the rooms’ immersive color environments align with the kind Goethe describes in Theory of Colours. Not surprisingly, the color choices seem to have a relationship to Goethe’s moral color associations. For instance, his study is green. Goethe believed that green gave “a distinctly grateful impression” and sense of “repose… Hence for rooms to live in constantly, the green colour is generally selected.”57 Therefore it makes sense that he chose green for a room in which he spent many hours and was engaged in contemplative thought and writing. Goethe’s determination that light red conveys “grace and attractiveness” also aligns with his choice of a light-red hue for the kitchen where food preparation takes place—arguably an activity that demands grace from the chef and attractiveness in food presentation. Haus am Horn was designed by Muche but executed by architects Adolf Meyer and Walter March, with custom-made furnishings from the Bauhaus workshops.58 Koch-Otte conceived of, and realized, the modern kitchen along with a custom washable carpet for the children’s room.59 The house was the first experimental architecture designed by a member of the Bauhaus teaching staff and the only such project constructed in Weimar. Inspired by Walter Gropius’ new mantra, “Art and technology—a new unity,” the house was intended as a prototype for the new architecture of the machine age, as an affordable, mass produced house in a simple form, without applied ornament, and complete with all the latest technological gadgets. Writing about the goals for the building, both Gropius and Muche made clear that this house should reflect the Zeitgeist. Gropius asserted that the design and construction of housing should modernize in such a way as to provide domiciles that were appropriate for contemporary living.60 Muche affirmed, “The formal design of the apartment must embody the sense of style of the living generation” not that of dead generations.61 In other words, housing design must stop relying on historic styles. Not only should the

Goethe, Theory of Colours, 316. Haus am Horn: Bauhaus Architecture in Weimar, ed. Anke Blümm and Martina Ullrich (Weimar: Hirmer, 2019), 11. I am very grateful to Anke Blümm for the wonderful private tour she took me on and for all of her help with this topic and generous sharing of her expertise. 59 Bauhaus Women: A Global Perspective, ed. Elizabeth Otto and Patrick Roessler (London: Bloomsbury, 2019), 42. 60 Walter Gropius, “Wohnhaus Industrie,” in Das Versuchshaus des Bauhauses in Weimar, ed. Adolf Meyer (Weimar: Bauhaus Bucher, 1923), 5. 61 Georg Muche, “Ein Versuchshaus des Bauhauses,” in Das Versuchshaus des Bauhauses in Weimar, ed. Adolf Meyer (Weimar: Bauhaus Bucher, 1923), 17. 57 58

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latest mechanical advancements be installed in the house but “the form of furniture and furnishings should correspond in character to the possibilities of industrialized and standardized machine work.”62 Accordingly, the architecture is devoid of many traditional details like baseboard and crown molding. Spatial organization must be based on functional demands, and, in Muche’s view, no space should be multipurpose; rather, single function spaces were preferred so as to make construction as cheap, and spatial configurations as functional, as possible. In keeping with the functional aims for the house, Muche comments on color only briefly, and without explaining the choices. When describing the dining room, he mentions the colored floor and walls without identifying which colors were used. “Yellow, blue and red writable blackboards cover half the wall height” in the children’s room, he asserts, which was realized (Figure 6.4). Yet Koch-Otte’s axonometric suggests a far more ambitious

FIGURE 6.4  Children’s colored blocks in the Haus am Horn. © Bauhaus Archive Berlin Ibid.,17.

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and comprehensive color scheme for the house, in which each room is totally painted in a single primary or secondary color. Koch-Otto was the perfect choice for devising color use—she was part of the weaving workshop where she worked with complex color applications. Her textiles demonstrate a keen knowledge of contemporary color theory with their combinations of primary colors with black, white, and gray, as well as primary and complementary colors, in juxtapositions that often correspond to color contrast theory. Her palette even hints at engagement with Theosophy—she often uses peach in her compositions (see Chapter 2 for Steiner’s ideas about peach). If it had been carried out, the kitchen would have been yellow, the children’s playroom blue and the bedroom red, and so on. The only room that appears to have been planned with multiple colors on its surfaces is the central living room. It is interesting to note that the axonometric calls for immersive spaces of a single hue.63 In comparing the color placement with Goethe’s and Kandinsky’s moral color values, there seems to be a parallel. According to Goethe, yellow “has a serene, gay, softly exciting character,” while Kandinsky sees yellow as earthly and active. Both interpretations made sense for an old-fashioned kitchen where a great deal of time was spent preparing family meals, often with the kids in tow. Goethe finds blue rooms “empty and cold” in contrast to Kandinsky, for whom blue is heavenly and serious, fitting for the husband’s bedroom. Light blue is like a “flute”—a playful instrument whose sound suggests children. The color plans shown in the Koch-Otte drawing were not realized, however. Instead, a much less ambitious color scheme prevailed, created by Alfred Arndt and Josef Maltan, from the Wall Painting Workshop.64 Their palette was similar to Koch-Otte’s; they selected primary hues with the addition of white, and gray for surfaces like walls, ceilings, and floors. Most of the colors are subdued—the yellow is pastel and the gray has quite a bit of white in it. The exception is the strong red used on window frames, the bright, saturated red, yellow and blue of the children’s blocks designed by Alma Siedhoff-Buscher, and the red- and blue-checked floor in the kitchen.65 As Michael Siebenbrodt points out, the color choices refer to Goethe’s moral values for color affect as well as those promoted by Kandinsky evoking serenity, gaiety, and down-to-earth practicality; the restrained choices of yellow and green-gray also recall Goethe’s nearby Garden House.66 Unlike Koch-Otte’s proposal, only a couple of rooms were painted all around, and

63 See Haus am Horn: Bauhaus Architecture in Weimar for the most comprehensive history of the project and for images of its current state. 64 Michael Siebenbrodt, “Das Haus am Horn in Weimar—Bauhausstätte und Weltkulturerbe: Bau, Nutzung und Denkmalpflege,” World Heritage Sites of the 20th Century—German Case Studies, Icomos, 117. 65 For more on Alma Siedhoff-Buscher see Ulrike Müller, Bauhaus-Frauen: Meisterinnen in Kunst, Handwerk und Design (Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2019). 66 Siebenbrodt, “Das Haus am Horn in Weimar,” 117.

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the colors that Arndt and Maltan selected were less radical than the original scheme. The husband’s bedroom has yellow walls, a white ceiling, and a gray floor, for instance, rather than blue all around.

Color Affect in Architecture: Bruno Taut’s Projects in the 1920s Bruno Taut’s use of color for the interiors of his projects in the second half of the 1920s represented a radical departure from his previous color work on architectural interiors. The change also signaled a shift in emphasis from color vision and color space to color psychology, although he was interested in all three approaches to color from the start of his practice. At his house in Dahlewitz (1926, Dahlewitz II), the Weissenhofsiedlung (1927), Fuldastrasse (1927–8), and the Hufeisensiedlung (1929–33), Taut’s strategy was to use colored walls to envelope the visitor in a single-color environment, thereby creating the kind of immersive color space that Goethe had achieved at the Weimar Garden House and Koch-Otte had proposed for the Haus am Horn. When enveloped by a single color, the visitor is under its affective power. If, as Taut asserts, “Art is the communication of sensations,” then color is the perfect medium with which to communicate in architectural interiors, because its affective power can be deployed at every scale, on any surface and object.67 Taut embraced the proposal made by both Kandinsky and Delaunay that form, color, and emotion were inextricable from one another. Kandinsky and Delaunay were interested in the emotional associations and sensations that color elicited in viewers, and probed this aspect of color in their work, but they differed in their understanding of the color-form relationship. Delaunay rejected the notion that color was a secondary property of form; he saw color as a formal and spatial element in its own right, ideas that were deeply attractive to Taut. As already discussed, Dutch artist Theo van Doesburg was the first theorist to associate the primary colors, red, yellow and blue plus black, white, and gray, with three-, and four-dimensional space (see Chapter 3).68 Taut would also adopt this understanding of the primary schema for interiors of his buildings, but with his own inflections. In his 1927 book, Ein Wohnhaus, Taut even published his own color system, consisting of a selection of paints produced by the German company Paul Baumann, which he had used for his new home in Dahlewitz (Figure 6.5). Based on the primary hues, the colors are a range of dark and light hues. He Bruno Taut, “Ü B E R B Ü H N E U N D M U S I K: Nachwort zum Architekturschauspiel, Taut Archiv, AdK. 68 Gage, Colour and Meaning, 242. See also Theo van Doesburg, “Painting and Sculpture: Elementarism” (1927); and Henderson, The Fourth Dimension and Non-Euclidean Geometry in Modern Art. 67

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FIGURE 6.5  The music room in Bruno Taut’s house in Dahlewitz. Not only are the rich primary colors on view but Taut’s use of them to create an immersive space. © Gettyimages divided his colors into two categories of paint type, matte and oil. There are fifteen shades of red, yellow, blue, and green in the Matte Colors, and nine darker variations on the primaries in the Oil Colors. By 1919, Taut was already interested in the psychological and emotional effects of color on interior space. In an article titled “Farbwirkungen aus meiner Praxis” (Color Effects in my Practice), he writes that “psychological effects of architecture are beyond question” then suggests that soon, the psychological effects of colored architectural space will also be recognized. “Ewald Paul,” he continues, “writes very heartfelt words about the effect of colored spaces on our nerves… But the full implementation of colored treatment in rooms for living encounters much greater inhibitions than when [color is used on the] outside of the house.”69 That is, the conservative bias towards color in architecture is stronger with respect to interior spaces than with respect to buildings’ exteriors. Taut reminds his reader that vibrant color is already widely accepted for certain aspects of interior design including curtains and light fixtures. Only brilliant and unusual hues on

Bruno Taut, “Farbenwirkungen aus meiner Praxis,” Das hohe Ufer, Heft 11, November 1919, 1 Jg, 263–8. Taut published Ewald Paul’s essay, “Die Wirkung die Farben auf die Nerven,” in Frühlicht (Winter 1921/1922), 47–9.

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walls and façades are controversial because people are simply not used to living with so much color. Taut describes Thai culture, where strong hues permeate everything from clothing to architecture, as an example of a culture where bold chromatic schemes are not only beautiful to look at but uplifting to the spirit. Color in Thailand is inseparable from the Thai way of life, which Taut suggests makes life a celebration. He urges Germans to change their attitude towards color in order to improve their quality of life. Germans, he feels, are afraid of color because it is luxurious and pleasurable, and their Protestant ethic frowns on sensual pleasure. Taut also recognizes the interconnection of color and light and their combined importance to interior architecture. Without light, there is no color and without light, colored space cannot be seen. In an article published by the English journal The Studio, Taut underscores these beliefs by asserting that color “in the interior is an asset by virtue of its relation to ideas of space and lighting.”70 By implication, in order to be successful, every interior design scheme must address both the need for light and color. By the mid-1920s, Taut had developed a rigorous concept for design based on simplicity and accordance to functional needs. Color was at once a means with which to ensure psychological responses to architectural space and a way to help articulate functional differences in specific rooms. Proponents of the new movement, he writes in Die neue Wohnung: Die Frau als Schöpferin (The New Apartment: The Woman as Creator), “think primarily of the economic and practical, have a special interest in the machine and otherwise regard the aesthetic as a minor matter.”71 Taut is arguing for a beauty that he believes will emerge from a well-designed living space, one that takes its cues from the intrinsic characteristics of each room’s function combined with aesthetic considerations such as color. So, for instance, a bedroom needs warmth, a bed, and clothing storage, which means that the architect must work to devise an integrated space to accommodate all these elements. Traditional forms of applied ornament, he reminds the reader, have a symbolic function. And, the new architecture will likely develop new symbols; color might replace older symbols since, like them, it carries associations. Taut refers to a host of architectural projects as examples of the new architecture, with special attention paid to Dutch De Stijl architects like Vilmar Huszar, Gerrit Rietveld, and Jan Wils, who combine color with custom-designed furnishings, sleek lines, simple forms, and spatial enclosure. The Dutch projects work with every surface, floor, walls, and ceiling, to create comprehensive designs. He also points to the Haus am Horn as a successful example of integrated color and interior space.

Bruno Taut, “The Nature and Aims of Architecture,” The Studio, 97 (1929), 169–74. Bruno Taut, Die neue Wohnung: Die Frau als Schöpferin (Leipzig: Klinckhardt & Biermann, 1928), 31. 70 71

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Taut agreed with Goethe’s moral assessment of color asserting, “In addition to its function in the constructive entirety of architectural form, color gains moral value.”72 But Taut ultimately saw color’s psychological effect in more complicated terms than those presented in the Farbenlehre. “So, one can reverse Goethe’s psychological color analysis,” he writes, inverting it piece by piece to its opposite, because color is not an absolute value in itself, but always affirmed through form, the type and size of the surface and the connection not only of color and color but of form and colors, sounding together. All of this becomes even more complicated as a result of material, rain, sun, snow, landscape and the diversity of the object as soon as it is used as architecture.73 In other words, color has a psychological effect on the viewer, as does colored space, but that effect is difficult, if not impossible, to predict since so many factors act on architecture and affect its reception. Not least are the differences in individual responses that are conditioned by personal history and personality. However, as Bettina Zöller-Stock suggests, Taut believed that color has the ability to elevate people above everyday concerns and to improve their lives.74 It is for these reasons that Taut never abandoned his color crusade. While Taut began to experiment with immersive color environments fairly early on, his first attempts, using multiple colors on the many interior surfaces, were more akin to the De Stijl projects and Adolf Rading’s Dr. Rabe House. The apartment in Dahlewitz (1919) is an excellent example of his initial approach. Surviving colored renderings of the living room, office, and bedroom show a riot of color on every imaginable surface: ceilings, walls, and floors. The office space has a brown ceiling, walls painted in stripes of white, red, matte blue, green, gray, and chrome yellow, with a black cross on the floor that divides the room into floor quadrants of white, blue, and yellow. The bedroom space seems to be an attic room with angled walls and dormers. Its floor is divided into black, white, yellow, and blue fields, while the faceted walls are ultramarine blue, deep red, and orange. The most restrained space, and the one closest to the approach he would adopt in the mid-1920s, is the living room with its single-color surfaces—red ceiling, and yellow and blue walls. Here, at least two of the walls are yellow. One wall is blue. The fourth wall is not visible. But the impression that the drawing gives is of a predominantly yellow room with a blue accent wall, so that anyone inside the room would feel that they were in a yellow space.

Bruno Taut, “Zur Farbenfrage,” Schlesisches Heim, Heft 2, 6 JG (1925), 54–6. Ibid., 54–6. 74 Bettina Zoeller-Stock, Bruno Taut: Die Innenraumentwürfe des Berliner Architekten (Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags Anstalt, 1993), 78. 72 73

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It is Taut’s second project in Dahlewitz (1927), the design for a freestanding house for his family, that incorporates his new ideas about how to deploy color on the interior. Located just across the street from his first Dahlewitz residence, the project has an unusual plan form consisting of two adjacent wings: a rectangular arm that houses the garage, coal room, and wash room, and a quarter circle that houses the kitchen plus main living spaces. In Ein Wohnhaus, Taut writes, “The house is the crystallization of atmospheric conditions. It will be reinforced by color”75 (Figure 6.6). For the exterior, Taut painted the eastern-facing side black, in order to absorb the sun’s heat, and the western-facing side white, in order to reflect the sun’s heat. But it was in the interior that Taut created “atmosphere” with his color choices, using a mix of primary and secondary colors for the rooms76 (Figure 6.7). Walls tend to be a single color, with floors and ceilings painted

FIGURE 6.6  The living room in Bruno Taut’s house in Dahlewitz. Here, Taut has made a red room in contrast to the blue music room. © Gettyimages.

Cited in Thomas Drachenberg, “Bruno Taut—was für ein Mensch steckt hinter der Farbe,” in Werk und Rezeption: Architektur und ihre Ausstattung: Festschrift Ernst Badstübner, ed. Tobias Kunz and Dirk Schumann (Berlin: Lukas, 2011), 440; Bruno Taut, Ein Wohnhaus (Stuttgart: Franksche Verlagshandlung, 1927), 5.

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Paola Ardizzola, “Architectural Practice and Theory: The Case of Bruno Taut’s House in Berlin-Dahlewitz,” Vitruvio, 2/1 (2017), 45–57; Winfried Brenne, Heiterkeit und Lebensfreude: Bruno Tauts farbige Architektur (Berlin: Keimfarben, nd).

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FIGURE 6.7  Color sketch of the study for Bruno Taut’s house showing the interplay of primary colors on walls, furniture, and architectural details.

a different, and often a darker hue, so that the eye tends to focus on the middle height. For example, Taut describes his color choices for the living room as a deliberate response to the views of the garden and more distant landscape beyond Figure 6.6. This beautiful landscape in every season has been the starting point for the color solution. The three walls with windows and outside door are therefore sand gray, while the other three walls of the hexagonal room bear a wine red with dark door frames of the same value, and that is to catch the evening sun’s warmth but not its glare. The entire ceiling, on the

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FIGURE 6.8  Axonometric drawing of a unit at the Fuldastrasse apartments with the color scheme for each room. other hand, has the most luminous red color possible, so that from the lower hallway, the red of the ceiling appears as a complementary color to the green of the meadow without competing with the natural green, as it does in the house.77 In other words, he has chosen his palette to accomplish two things: to complement nature’s colors and to respond to light. He does use some very strong colors, but only in shaded parts of the room where their luminosity would enliven the space. He writes, “the principle that the luminous tones Taut, Ein Wohnhaus, 38–9.

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are only appropriate where that daylight does not shine on them directly, but rather where they are in the streaky light or in the shade and where they become a means by which to give space a colorful atmosphere without imposing itself.”78 Here again, he is concerned with the “atmosphere” created by the color; “atmosphere” is the ambience to which a visitor will respond. Taut’s color choice for the living room might relate to Goethe’s belief that red gives, “the impression of dignity and gravity, grace and attractiveness” or to Kandinsky’s equation of red with extreme warmth, “vivid, lively, restless appeal.”79 Both theorists view red as a positive color; Goethe reminds his readers that red was historically a royal color highly valued by kings and queens and, therefore, carrying many good connotations. Making red the color of the living room, which is the public showroom in any home as well as the place for entertainment and fun, would therefore equate with a stately and energetic space appropriate for lively, more public, activities. Taut decided to color both the kitchen and one bedroom in the house with bright yellow. Goethe writes that yellow, “excites a warm and agreeable impression,” although he goes on to warn that, as it is a color easily contaminated, it can be an awful choice for a space.80 Kandinsky has a much more negative response to yellow than Goethe, appreciating its dangers—it “can become acute and cannot attain deep significance,” is “irresponsible and self-dispersive”—more acutely than its positive attributes, although he does acknowledge its warmth. For both functions, kitchen and bedroom, it is arguable that cozy warmth is desirable. Taut did paint a deep blue on the ceiling and pipes of the bedroom to contrast the yellow. If he adhered to Kandinsky’s color schema, then blue is the color of “repose” and “the most heavenly color.” The fact that the ceiling would be mostly viewed by someone supine on the bed might be the reason that Taut used the color blue there. Taut’s 1926 axonometric color study for the interior of the apartments at Fuldastrasse in Berlin suggests that he was increasingly interested in color’s potential to form an immersive environment (Figure 6.8). Fuldastrasse was an apartment complex that ran parallel to three streets in the workingclass neighborhood of Berlin-Neukölln. For the project, Taut drew an axonometric color study similar to the one that Koch-Otte had made for the Haus am Horn, without the transparency.81 The drawing shows a four-room apartment, with a kitchen and bathroom, arranged around a central corridor. Most rooms have a single color: the bathroom is white, the living room is orange, one bedroom is red, one bedroom is blue, and the last bedroom is violet. The corridor is a gray-green. Only the kitchen is two colors, yellow

Ibid., 39. Goethe, Theory of Colours, 314; and Kandinsky, On the Spiritual in Art, 69. 80 Goethe, Theory of Colours, 307–8. 81 Reprinted in Bettina Zöller-Stock, Bruno Taut, 115. 78 79

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FIGURE 6.9  Tautes Heim in the Hufeisensiedlung, Berlin (1933). The outside is a simple white box; the bright-blue window frames are the only indication of the interior color scheme. © www.tautshome.com, photos: Ben Buschfeld. and white. Other than the kitchen, where he used yellow again, the color palette here is more varied than at the house in Dahlewitz, and he assigns color differently, which is evidence that Taut was still experimenting with colored environments and their affect. Whereas Goethe does not discuss the moral value of white, Kandinsky views white in a typically complicated way. On the one hand, it is “blank” and suggests the potential of birth. On the other hand, white is the color “used to colour pure joy and infinite purity.”82 Since all of these meanings correlate to the functions of the two spaces, Taut may have chosen white for the kitchen and bathroom either for its association with purity and cleanliness, or for its association with blankness and the notion of potential. The kitchen is a place for invention, for creating something complete and new from a selection of individual ingredients, while the bathroom is the place in which cleansing and other rituals of beautifying occur. Arguably, Taut’s most sophisticated use of color to make powerfully affective interior space was in the freestanding house at the Hufeisensiedlung (1925–33), where he created immersive environments designed to elicit specific emotional responses from the users.83 Here, as above, his application of color was closer to Wassily Kandinsky’s color theory than to either Goethe’s ideas Kandinsky, On the Spiritual in Art, 68–70. One of the houses was fully restored a few years ago according to the original scheme and is open to visitors. It is called “Taut’s Heim,” or, “Taut’s Home” in English.

82 83

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or true, scientific color psychology.84 At the Hufeisensiedlung, Taut developed a color plan for the entire house: each room’s walls have a unique color, and built-in elements also follow a precise chromatic system. Things like the large, old-fashioned heating elements are usually in one of the three primary colors, but not the dominant wall color in the room. The palette for the house is a combination of primary hues from different systems, red, yellow, blue, and green, with black, white, and gray. The hues derive from the catalogue of colors that Taut had developed for his home in Dahlewitz and had published in Ein Wohnhaus. They include three shades of blue, two shades of yellow, and two shades of red. Every room has at least two primaries, if not all three. Some of his color choices are similar to other projects and some are different; generally, the color planning is more detailed here, perhaps because this is a single-family home rather than an apartment complex, which allowed Taut a larger budget. For most of the rooms, Taut employed a deliberate strategy of choosing a dark color for the floor and white for the ceiling, while using a single color for all four walls. This does three things: it makes the space at eye level, the walls, the visual focus; the dark-red floors give a sense of solid ground; and the white ceilings create the illusion of spatial extension upward. The exceptions to this are the kitchen, where the ceiling is a bright blue, and the hallway and stairs, where the floor is light gray. Taut may have chosen gray for the floors on the stairs and hallway because the lighter color feels less solid and grounded than the deep red that he used elsewhere and would, therefore, promote movement through these spaces as opposed to stopping and remaining. The exterior of the house gives no clues to its interior. It is a flat-roofed, white stucco cube sitting atop a red brick base (Figure 6.9). Only the electric blue door frame and sky-blue window frames and mullions hint at something livelier inside. The house has a tightly organized plan: each of the two floors has three rooms with a tiny circulation space connecting them. Downstairs, there is a vestibule, kitchen, and living room. The visitor enters into the small vestibule just beyond the front door that opens onto a pale yellow and white downstairs circulation space and the stair. In addition to the gray and white described above, Taut had the handrail painted black and the balusters white and red in a varying pattern of single and paired balusters of the same color. The rhythmic and repetitious nature of the banister design combined with the black line of the handrail encourages upward movement through the house. To the immediate left of the entrance, the visitor finds the kitchen (Figure 6.10). Here, Taut used a combination of white and gray-white walls, light blue ceiling and deep red floor with black, white, and gray details. The walls are light gray from the floor to the height of the backsplash, perhaps as a concession to how difficult it is to keep white kitchen surfaces clean. By this time, of course, white was generally associated with cleanliness and hygiene, which also conformed to Kandinsky’s color theory. Kandinsky, On the Spiritual in Art, 44–79.

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FIGURE 6.10  The kitchen in Tautes Heim combines sky-blue ceiling, deep-red floor, and beige with a yellow tint. © www.tautshome.com, photos: Ben Buschfeld. The living room is located at the back of the ground floor. Taut selected a light green for all the walls in the living room, with the exception of a small yellow band underneath the window (Figure 6.11). The old-fashioned oven is covered with a darker green tile. This is the space in which the family is supposed to find repose; Kandinsky believed that “absolute green” was “the most restful color in existence.”85 When green is light and has more yellow in it, as do the walls at the Hufeisensiedlung, it represents the green of summer when growth slows and can be enjoyed. There are also three rooms upstairs: the main bedroom, the child’s room, and a bathroom. Taut chose the same shades of white and gray for the bathroom, suggesting that he associated these hues with hygiene. For the 85

Ibid., 65.

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FIGURE 6.11  The living room in Tautes Heim with its green walls, deep-red floor and white ceiling. © www.tautshome.com, photos: Ben Buschfeld.

FIGURE 6.12  The bedroom in Tautes Heim, which uses a vivid blue complemented by the deep red. © www.tautshome.com, photos: Ben Buschfeld.

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bedroom, he used an electric blue on the walls, which he complemented with a brick-red heating element that matches the flooring (Figure 6.12). Kandinsky valued blue above all colors: he called blue “heavenly” and the color of “repose,” which makes it particularly well suited to a bedroom. Kandinsky writes that blue can beckon “man to the infinite, arousing a longing for purity and the super-sensuous.”86 The child’s bedroom is painted bright yellow with a deep-blue heating element and brick red on the floor and upholstery (Figure 6.13). Yellow is a warm and lively color (when it is

FIGURE 6.13  The corner of the child’s bedroom at Tautes Heim where all three primary colors interact. © www.tautshome.com, photos: Ben Buschfeld.

86

Ibid., 64.

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not sour), and therefore appropriate for a child’s space. The combination of red, yellow, and blue of a similar value makes the room visually lively. In her book on Taut’s interior designs, Bettina Zöller-Stock includes a table comparing all of his different interior color schemes from the latter half of the 1920s.87 While there are variations with respect to which color he deployed for which function, Taut stuck to the primary hues, red, yellow, green, and blue, with the very occasional use of a secondary one together with black, white, and gray. He was quite consistent in his hue selection for certain rooms but less so for others. For instance, he favored yellow and white for bathrooms; and white, yellow, or blue for kitchens. While in many instances he used red for the living room, he experimented with each of the primary colors, and even with beige, for an apartment in Onkel Tom’s Hütte, yet kept returning to red. This suggests that while Taut may have believed in the affective power of color, he was not certain which color created the optimal emotional charge in relation to a specific spatial function. This is not surprising since there was little scientific data to help him make his choices. What is certain from surviving projects, however, is that he successfully created an emotional “atmosphere” in each and every one.

Zöller-Stock, Bruno Taut, 156–7.

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The Problem with Color

With incredible foresight or, perhaps, by mere serendipity, Bruno Taut published an essay titled, “Die Farbe” (Color) in 1930 that summarized his view of the state of color use in German architectural practice as the decade closed.1 According to Taut, most architects, even those progressives who embraced the Neues Bauen tenets of functional, clean, white architecture, no longer regarded color suspiciously or as a romantic aberration. He writes, According to our current views on architecture, there are direct relationships between function and form to the extent that we see almost an aesthetic factor in the fulfillment of function. “Almost” insofar as it depends on what is understood by “function.” If you grasp function very broadly, that is in the sense of increased usability and thus in the sense of a societal force, as well as in a social, even socialist sense, function becomes unconditional and immediately an aesthetic factor, while it is natural that from a purely technical point of view [it] can only be conditional.2 Taut is convinced not only that he has won the argument about color but that he has also prevailed in the critical debate over what constitutes “function.” No building can be functional if it is ugly, nor can a purely functional building be appealing if aesthetics does not figure in its design. Accordingly, since effective color and aesthetics cannot be separated, color has to be considered from the start. Certainly, as color is an inextricable part of the visual world, as well as an attribute of all of architecture’s constituent materials, it must perforce figure into any design strategy. Furthermore, as Taut asserts, color has the ability Bruno Taut, “Die Farbe,” in Gehag-Nachrichten (1930), 6; reprinted in Bruno Taut 1880– 1938, ed. Barbara Volkmann (Berlin: Akademie der Künste, 1980), 228. 2 Op cit. 1

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to work with the architectural design to enhance certain desired effects, such as the appearance of proximity or distance, the sense of containment or openness, and all aspects of spatial perception. Taut does not, however, address certain questions head on, such as color’s ornamental potential, its affective power, or other less frequently deployed properties of color application, such as its ability to create an immersive environment that fundamentally alters the space. Arguably, such properties are understood to be inseparable from color’s general ability to influence the perception of space. Taut does expand the definition of color, beyond its status as a property of all materials and all things, by declaring it a material in its own right. More than semantic sleight of hand, understanding color as a material relegates its status from a component of secondary importance during the design and construction process to one that is absolutely essential. Taut’s list of fundamental architectural design elements would therefore include form, space, structure, materials, and color; any good building design would comprise all five. “The objective work with color and the consideration of color as an unavoidable and indispensable building material,” he writes, “will best help to avoid any such degeneracy and to open the way to a really popular but not sentimental/cloying building.”3 The key to avoiding saccharine color schemes is to consider color from the outset of design and to completely integrate it into the planning. In spite of Taut’s optimistic assessment, enthusiasm for color in architectural applications seems to have peaked in mid-1920s Germany and begun to wane toward the end of the decade. Although the 1925 Hamburg Farbentag was well attended, it was not followed by others. The involvements of the Bund zur Förderung der Farbe im Stadtbild from 1926 onwards seem to have been confined to producing and publishing regular issues of Die Farbige Stadt until 1937, when production ceased. Taut’s claims notwithstanding, most of the modernist large-scale public housing projects of the latter half of the 1920s such as Onkel Tom’s Hütte, Siemenstadt, and the Weissestadt in Berlin; Ernst May’s designs for Frankfurt; and Otto Haesler’s Ebertring and Rothenberg Siedlungen in Celle featured the clean lines, simple volumes, and white facades typical of Neues Bauen, with little or no color at all. Where color did figure, it was restrained when compared with Taut’s pre-war projects like Reform in Berlin and his work to color the streets of Magdeburg in the interwar period. Even Hufeisensiedlung, in which Taut had a prominent role, used color rather sparingly on most of the exteriors. The interior treatment there for the freestanding house discussed in Chapter 6 was not visible from the public realm. The two model housing estates and exhibitions mounted by the Deutsche Werkbund in Stuttgart and Breslau in the latter half of the 1920s illustrate

Op cit.

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the attitudes to color at the time. While color played a role in some of the architecture constructed for the Stuttgart and Breslau Werkbund exhibition projects, the dominant exterior color was white. In most cases, color was used as accent on window frames and mullions, doors, and sometimes columns and ceilings, but rarely for façade surfaces. Mies van der Rohe, who curated the Stuttgart Weissenhof exhibition, mandated white stucco for the buildings so as to preserve visual unity across the development. Where color did figure prominently at Stuttgart was on the interior of projects such as Le Corbusier’s semi-detached house. The guidelines in Breslau, however, were looser, so some buildings like Hans Scharoun’s Ledigenheim (Home for Single Persons), and one villa designed by Theo Effenberger, featured colored façades—pale yellow for the Ledigenheim, and rich, dark green for the Effenberger villa, but these were tame applications of color in comparison with Taut’s and Krayl’s work in Magdeburg. The Breslau projects favored one or two overall colors for the stucco, and only one other color on window frames, mullions, and doors, rather than a rich and varied color palette. The interiors of the Ledigenheim were an exception, in that Scharoun chose a vibrant set of hues for walls, architectural details, and for the fabrics used for carpets, curtains, and upholstery. Still, with respect to color, the overall urban character of the Werkbund development was similar to Weissenhof—white. The 1929 Werkbund Exhibition, Wohn- und Werkraum (WuWA: Living and Workspace), which was held in Breslau, was the second such endeavor mounted by the Deutsche Werkbund. Unlike the earlier model housing estate built in Stuttgart, the one in Breslau was designed solely by German architects and had an intentional regional focus. Still, its aims were ambitious: the WuWA was planned as both a model housing estate showcasing new approaches to spatial planning, materials, and construction techniques and a more traditional exhibition encompassing a wide array of topics related to the new architecture, such as contemporary furniture and home furnishings, lighting, raw materials, new construction materials and systems, new building technologies, architectural details and surfaces, paints and color design, the historical development of mass housing, the development of the living room and its furnishings, green spaces, everyday life, art by local figures, and model work places.4 The Exhibition Catalog captured WuWA’s intentions and purpose: “Every modern exhibition is a tactically considered totality… each modern exhibition speaks for specific ideas,” it noted, and the goal of the whole was “to propagate in wide circles the thinking behind modern living culture and contemporary workspace organization.”5 As paint and color design were included in the exhibition, these were clearly considered to be a critical aspect of modern design. 4 Wohnung und Werkraum: Werkbund Ausstellung in Breslau 1929: 15 Juni bis 15 September: Der Offizielle Katalog (Breslau: 1929), 1. University of Wroclaw Archives. 5 Op cit.

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Graphic designer Johannes Molzahn was responsible for curating the part of the exhibition devoted to paints and color; titled, “Order and Measurement of Colors,” his section was divided into three subsets, themselves titled, “Achromatic Department,” “Colorful Department,” and “Measurement Department.”6 Molzahn was friendly with Bruno Taut, who secured a teaching position for him in 1923 at the School for Applied Arts in Magdeburg, where he taught commercial graphics, typesetting, printing, and lithography. During this period, he also became acquainted with a number of artists and architects who taught at the Bauhaus, including Gropius, Muche, and Schlemmer. In 1928, Molzahn joined the faculty at the Breslau Academy of Fine and Applied Arts as the professor of graphics. According to the review of the Breslau WuWA in Die Form, “Johannes Molzahn, the creator of the exhibition sign, received special attention because everyone asked what it meant.”7 Of course, the idea that color needed order and measurement, while familiar to artists and architects, would have been confounding for the average person attending the exhibition. This part of the exhibit was based on the Ostwald color theory, the practical meaning of which cannot be understood. The problem of color has been dealt with often in this magazine… wouldn’t it be important to treat the problem from the side of the expressive value of the color, the artistically most important— and not just from the decorative side? Unfortunately, it is just as impossible to use numerical values [to determine decorative value] as [to determine] harmony. It should not be forgotten that the expressive value of color depends on its quantitative and formal use on surfaces and in space.8 The critic’s response in Die Form aligns with the usual artist’s response to Ostwald’s theories—disdain for a system that was viewed as privileging mathematics over human sensibilities—yet Molzahn clearly found Ostwald’s ideas compelling. The Breslau WuWA closed just a few weeks before the 1929 stock market crash, an event that would affect the course of German economics and politics as well as culture. After stabilization in 1924, German national income steadily increased until 1929, when it stagnated even before the crash caused catastrophic losses across the economy. By 1932, income had declined by 43 percent.9 At the same time, there were a host of other economic disasters, including falling prices for agricultural goods and rising unemployment, which increased to 5.6 million, that helped to fuel the rise of the Nazi party and precipitated the compromises made after the November “Wohnung und Werkraum: Aus der Hallenausstellung,” Die Form (1929), 388. Ibid. 8 Ibid. 9 https://www.bpb.de/izpb/55973/zerstoerung-der-demokratie-1930-1933?p=2; accessed May 2020. 6 7

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1932 election that ultimately placed Adolf Hitler in the chancellorship.10 The Nazi party returned 18.3 percent in the September 1930 national elections, a share of the vote that then jumped to 37.4 percent in July 1932 and, after a dip in the second 1932 elections, rose to 43.9 percent in March 1933. These events also led to a mass exodus of political and cultural progressives from Germany beginning in late January–early February 1933. Taut fled the country on March 1, 1933, traveling from Berlin to Switzerland, France, the Mediterranean, the Soviet Union, and eventually arriving in Japan. He would never return to his homeland. Taut’s departure meant the loss of the figure who agitated for color use more than anyone else in Germany.

Color After Taut One hundred years after Taut’s call for colorful buildings, and his many experiments with the ways of using color to improve architecture, color continues to fascinate theorists, artists, architects, urban designers, physiologists, and psychologists in Germany and throughout the world. Publications proposing pseudo-scientific aspects of color application linking specific hues with emotional responses abound, especially for interior design and architecture—an internet search will bring up dozens of articles and how-to books. Publications on color symbolism have proliferated as well, demonstrating the enduring allure of both these topics. Although there is still no evidence that colored space can transport people to other dimensions, numerous ideas with which Taut and his contemporaries experimented that were beyond the scope of 1920s science can now be tested, measured, and verified. This means that some hypotheses that seemed far-fetched one hundred years ago have sometimes been proven to be true. Scientists today have better instruments with which to measure the physiology of color vision and to study color psychology, and color vision can be measured with a variety of quite accurate tests that check the observer’s ability to identify hue and brightness by matching, discerning, or arranging hues.11 Molecular biological instruments have allowed researchers to isolate and verify the genes for trichromatic vision and understand more precisely how they respond to light. While the question of color affect that fascinated Taut and his contemporaries has only received serious academic attention in recent years, here too advances continue to be made. And although color psychology is still an understudied field, as the tools of cognitive science have improved to allow for more accurate measurements of human responses to external stimuli, research in this area is slowly Op cit. “Procedures for Testing Color Vision: Report of Working Group 4”; https://www.ncbi.nlm. nih.gov/books/NBK217823/; accessed May 2020; Barry B. Lee, “The Evolution of Concepts of Color Vision,” Neurosciences, 4/4 (July 2008), 209–42.

10 11

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expanding.12 It seems that the color with which a space is rendered can indeed affect the people inside it.13 Since the correlation between heartrate and emotion is well established, researchers have measured the heart rate of people in spaces of different colors to calibrate their emotional response, and the results have demonstrated both that colored light and space can cause variations in heartrate and that the same colors affect people differently. The idea that human beings have a physiological response to colored light also turns out to have a basis in science; recent research has affirmed that certain types of colored screen light affect human physiology, potentially causing macular degeneration and certainly triggering fatigue.14 Research has also shown that modern colored light therapies can have positive curative effects for specific types of illness, such as neonatal jaundice and seasonal affective disorder.15 Although Taut never returned to his homeland, his legacy is strong: interest in color continues to appear in Germany as the subject of serious research into architectural and urban design, as a goal for contemporary designers and planners, as a topic for public discourse regarding the aesthetics of building and city, and as the central theme in exhibitions and conferences. In addition, a raft of books and articles on how to design with color in architecture and the urban realm has been published in Germany over the last ten years. Recent examples include articles in Merkur, “Jede Stadt hat ihre Farben” (Every City has its Colors; 2020); Westfalen Post, “Für ‘Farben in der Stadt’ gibt es einen Zuschuss” (There is a Grant for See for instance, A. J. Elliott and M. A. Maier, “Color Psychology: Effects of Perceiving Color on Psychological Functioning in Humans,” Annual Review of Psychology, 65/95 (2014); T. W. Whitfield and T. J. Whilstshire, “Color psychology: A Critical review,” Genetic, Social and General Psychology, 116/4 (1990), 385–411; “Color Psychology and Color Therapy: Caveat Emptor,” Color Research and Application, 36/3 (April 2011), 229–34; Andrew J. Elliot, “Color and Psychological Functioning: A Review of Theoretical and Empirical Work,” Frontiers in psychology 6 (2015), 1–8. 13 N. Abbas, D. Kumar and N. McLachlan “The Psychological and Physiological Effects of Light and Colour on Space Users,” Conf. Proc. IEEE Eng. Med. Biol. Soc. 2, 1228–31. 14 C. Cajochen, S. Frey, D. Anders, J. Späti, M. Bues, A. Pross, et al, “Evening Exposure to a Lightemitting diodes(LED)-backlit Computer Screen Affects Circadian Physiology and Cognitive Performance,” Journal of Applied Physiology, 110 (2011), 1432–8; C. Cajochen, M. Münch, S. Kobialka, K. Kräuchi, R. Steiner, P. Oelhafen, et al. “High Sensitivity of Human Melatonin, Alertness, Thermos Regulation, Heartrate to Short Wavelength Light,” Journal of Clinical Endocrinal Metabolism, 90 (2005), 1311–16; A. J. Metz, S. D. Klein, F. Scholkmann, and U. Wolf, “Continuous Coloured Light Altered Human Brain Haemodynamics and Oxygenation Assessed by Systemic Physiology Augmented by Functional Near-infrared Spectroscopy,” Nature 30 (August 2017); https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-09970-z 15 M. J. Maisels and A. F. McDonagh “Phototherapy for Neonatal Jaundice,” New England Journal of Medicine, 358 (2008), 920–8; F. Gross and F. Gysin “Phototherapy in Psychiatry: Clinical Update and Review of Indications,” L’Encephale 22 (1996), 143–8; and S. Radeljak, T. Zarkovic-Palijan, D. Kovacevic and M. Kovac “Chromotherapy in the Regulation of Neurohormonal Balance in Human Brain–Complementary Application in Modern Psychiatric Treatment,” Coll. Antropol. 32(Suppl 2:2008), 185–8. 12

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Colors in the City; 2018); and Der Spiegel, “Im Norden wird’s bunt” (In the North it will be colored; 2016) that all promote colored architecture in the urban realm.16 Books on color design strategies like the 2012 Stadtfarben: Strategische und zukunftsfähige Planung von Stadtraum und Atmosphäre durch Farbmasterplanung (Urban Colors: Strategic and future-oriented planning of urban space and atmosphere through color master planning) assembled by the Stiftung Lebendige Stadt (Foundation for the Living City), and Monika Holfeld’s 2013 book, Licht und Farbe: Planung und Ausführung bei der Gebäudegestaltung (Light and Color: Planning and Realization in Building Design) are contemporary sourcebooks for practitioners.17 There have also been symposia on color in the city; the 2013 venture sponsored by the city of Hamburg, “Die Farben der Stadt,” which suggested cities have a single color identity depending on the character of their urban design and occupants, is one example of a recent conference.18 A publication concerning a project hosted by North Rhine Westfalia in 2006 called Farbe in der Stadt (Color in the city) articulates many of the reasons that color continues to be so important, stating that the project, deals with the complex topic of the use of color in architecture and urban planning. The idea for this exhibition is based on the observation that knowledge of the use of color by planners and contractors is not always sufficient due to the increased complexity. However, the use of color is of outstanding importance for architecture…. Color in the city promotes the discussion of color in the cityscape and in architecture and provides the basis for a corresponding discussion with building owners, specialist planners, committees and authorities.19 Indeed, the ongoing desire to improve the public and private realms and the belief that color has a key role seem to drive the continuing interest in color. Today, the world-renowned German architecture firm Sauerbruch and Hutton not only works with an in-depth understanding of color theory to inform its designs, which it actively promotes on its website, but also leads conversations about color theory and color in architecture nationally

16 h t t p s : / / w w w. b a u n e t z w i s s e n . d e / f a s s a d e / f a c h w i s s e n / g r u n d l a g e n / f a r b e - i n - d e rarchitektur-6173590; https://www.wp.de/staedte/fuer-farbe-in-der-stadt-gibt-es-einen-zuschussid213664757.html; https://www.hsozkult.de/event/id/termine-21174: Carola Padtberg, “Im Norden wird’s bunt,” Der Spiegel October 13, 2016: https://www.spiegel.de/kultur/gesellschaft/ kann-man-eine-stadt-an-ihrer-farbe-erkennen-a-1116452.html; accessed May 2020. 17 Stadtfarben: Strategische und zukunftsfähige Planung von Stadtraum und Atmosphäre durch Farbmasterplanung, eds. Marcus Schlegel and Gerhard Funchs (Societäts Verlag, 2012); Monika Holfeld, Licht und Farbe: Planung und Asuführung bei der Gebäudegestaltung (Berlin: Beuth, 2013). 18 https://www.hsozkult.de/event/id/termine-21174; accessed May 2020. 19 https://stadtbaukultur-nrw.de/projekte/farbe-in-der-stadt/; accessed May 2020.

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and internationally. And, as with the firm’s principals, Louisa Hutton and Matthias Sauerbruch, German architect and philosopher Axel Buether, German architect Christian Brandstädter, and German artist and architect Nina Zeilhofer, to name just a few, actively proselytize for color.20 And these are just three among many German architects and city planners who, like Taut, treat color as a critical aspect of spatial design of all types and at all scales. But it is not only in Germany that color is in fashion, a cursory survey of world-renowned architects around the world shows how important color is to contemporary practice. Recent projects include Spanish firm RCR architects’ Els Colors school in Manlleu, Spain; Swiss firm Herzog and de Meuron’s Laban Centre in London; Dutch firm MVRDV’s Multi-colored Wego Hotel in Eindhoven; and American Steven Holl’s design for Doctors without Borders in Geneva are just a few recent examples of buildings that use vibrant color as an integral part of their design (Figure 7.1). Taut may not have lived to see the “victory of color” or even its true rebirth, but one hundred years after his engagement with the problem of color, innovative use of color in architecture and urban design is still a mark of the avant-garde.

FIGURE 7.1  MVRDV’s design for the multicolored Wego Hotel in Eindhoven (2017) is just one contemporary example of the prevalence of color in architecture. © Photo: Zhang Chao

https://www.architekturfarbe.de; https://www.nina-zeilhofer.de/architektur-farbgestaltung; Karl Lorenzini, “Nicht jeder Mensch braucht die selben Farbe,” Detail, March 30, 2015; https://www. detail.de/artikel/nicht-jeder-mensch-braucht-dieselben-farben-13324/; accessed May 2020.

20

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY Allen, Grant, Der Farbensinn: Sein Ursprung und seine Entwicklung (Leipzig: Ernst Günther, 1880). Ardizzola, Paola, “Architectural Practice and Theory: The case of Bruno Taut’s House in Berlin-Dahlewitz,” Vitruvio, 2/1 (2017), 44–58. Aristotle, On Colours, Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016). Aviles, Ivan Gomez, Der Baugedanke des Goetheanum: Geometrie und Esoterik (Petersburg: Michael/imhof, 2016). Baabe-Meijer, Sabine, Berufliche Bildung am Bauhaus: Die Lehre am historischen Bauhaus und daraus resultierende Entwicklungsperspektiven für berufspädagogisch-didaktische Arbeit im Berufsfeld Farbtechnik und Raumgestaltung (Paderborn: Eusl, 2006). Ball, Philip and Mario Ruben, “Colour Theory in Science and Art: Ostwald and the Bauhaus,” History of Science, 43 (2004). Barasch, Moshe, Theories of Art: From Impressionism to Kandinsky (New York: New York University Press, 1998). Barth, Holger and Lennart Hellberg, “Otto Haesler und der Städtebau der DDR in den fünfziger Jahren,” Wissenschaftliche Zeitung Hochschule für Bauwesen Weimar, 39/1/2 (1993), 43–51. Barthel, Albrecht, “Wenzel Hablik – Farbräume der Moderne in SchleswigHolstein,” in DenkMal! (Itzehoe: Wenzel Hablik Stiftung, 2007). Bau einer neuen Welt: Architektonische Visionen des Expressionismus, ed. Rainer Stamm and Daniel Schreiber (Berlin: Walter König, 2003). Bauhaus und Bauhäusler: Bekenntnisse und Erinnerungen, ed. Eckhard Neumann (Stuttgart: Hallweg, 197). Behne, Adolf, Der Wiederkehr der Kunst (Nendeln: Berlin, 1919). Bei Hablik zu Hause, ed. Katrin Maibaum (Itzehoe: Wenzel Hablik Stiftung, 2012). Bell, Janis. “Zaccolini’s Theory of Colour Perspective,” The Art Bulletin, 75/1 (March 1993). Benson, Timothy, “Mysticism, Materialism and the Machine in Berlin Dada,” Art Journal, 46/1 (1987). Besant, Annie and Charles W. Leadbeater, Thought-Forms (London: Theosophical Society, 1901). Biesantz, Hagen and Arne Klingborg, trans. Jean Schmid, The Goetheanum: Rudolf Steiner’s Architectural Impulse (London: Steiner Press, 1979). Birren, Faber, Color, Form and Space (New York: Reinhold, 1961). Birren, Faber, Color Psychology and Color Therapy: A Factual Study of the Influence of Color on Human Life (Secaucus: University Books, 1961). Blaser, Werner, Natur im Gebauten: Rudolf Steiner in Dornach (1913–1925) (Basel: Birkhäuser, 2002).

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INDEX

Aalto, Alvar 1, 2 Abbott, Edwin Abbott 78 abstract art 16, 43, 123, 146 abstraction 5, 18, 19, 25, 39, 43, 60, 84, 149, 166, 188 additive system 12 aesthetics 23, 169, 184, 185, 209, 214 Allen, Grant 183 Allesch, Gustav Johannes von 185 animal magnetism 34 Anthroposophy 29, 31–3, 43–5, 63, 64, 87, 181 Apollinaire, Guillaume 131, 138 Arbeitsrat für Kunst 21, 28, 87, 91, 91 n.63, 97, 162 architectural space 43, 53, 81, 114, 119, 196, 197 Architecture of the Future, The (Finsterlin) 88 Arndt, Alfred 118–21, 194, 195 artificial light 156, 179 Asplund, Gunnar 5 astral body 37–9 Atelier Elvira 150–1 Auerbach House 119–22 aura 37, 39, 46, 55, 57, 73, 77, 177 Avenarius, Ferdinand 151 Babbitt, Edwin D. 181–3, 186 Bacon, Francis 76 Baraduc, Hippolyte 34–7 Barasch Department Store (Fischer) 160, 162 Barasch House (Fischer) 161 Barasch, Moshe 187 Baugewerkschule (construction work school) 23, 168 Bauhaus building 118, 120, 122–30

project 119–20, 124–5 teachers 10, 115, 116, 119, 192 Bauhäusler 123, 146, 191 Baumann, Paul 141, 195 Beautiful Necessity, The: Seven Essays on Theosophy and Architecture (Bragdon) 64–5 Behne, Adolf 26, 27 Benson, William 15, 141 Berlin Garden City Falkenburg 22 Berlin Gesellschaft für Experimental Psychologie (Society for Experimental Psychology, 1888) 30 Besant, Annie 29, 33, 34, 37, 39, 41–3, 45, 47 Bezold circle 149 Bezold Effect 146 Bezold, Wilhelm von 141, 142, 146–9 Biesantz, Hagen 51 Blavatsky, Madame Helena 16, 37 Blossom, Peach 46 Blue and Red Light: Light and its Rays as Medicine (Pancoast) 180–1 blue-glass craze 175, 176 blue light therapy 179 Böcklin, Arnold 23 Böhme, Jakob 23, 31, 32, 85 Bolyai, Janos 65, 73 Bonatz, Paul 23, 162 Bond, Frederick Bligh 42 Box of Watercolors Estate (Tuschkastensiedlung) 22 Bragdon, Claude 64–6, 70–3, 76, 80 Brandstädter, Christian 216 Braque, Georges 131 Braunschweiger Strasse 160, 164, 166, 167 Breslau WuWA 212–13

226

INDEX

Buether, Axel 216 Bühler, Karl 103 Bund zur Förderung der Farbe im Stadtbild (The Association for the Requirement of Color in the Cityscape) 28, 152, 210 Burckhardt, Jakob 8 Carus, Carl Gustav 31 Celle 168–72, 210 Chevreul, Michel Eugène 2, 15, 25, 144–8, 156, 159 chromotherapy 175, 178–83, 185, 186, 188 clairvoyance 45, 72 Cologne Glass Pavilion 8, 160 color ability of 31 anthroposophy and 43–8 application 2–4, 9, 22, 28, 45, 63, 65, 96, 98, 114, 118, 122, 124, 131, 144, 148, 152, 154, 156, 157, 159, 163, 165, 168, 173, 194, 210, 213 in architecture 27 artistic and 110–15 blindness 1–10 cause for 8 chemical-physical characteristics 123 choice 91–2, 95, 97, 104, 122, 155, 192, 194, 199, 200, 202, 204 circle 141, 145, 147–9 cold and shades 111, 177 compass 141 contrast 13, 15, 103, 113, 126–8, 140, 141, 143–9, 156, 159, 171, 194 effect 4, 16, 126, 151 emotions 9, 10, 14, 16, 39–41, 48, 176, 177, 188, 196 engagement 123 essentials of 10–12 form and 18, 31, 37, 43, 49, 53, 124, 138, 148, 151, 158, 190, 198 in Germany 8–9 harmony 10, 15–16, 34, 58, 140–4, 146, 148, 155–7

healing 139, 175, 176, 179–82 importance of 3, 5, 18, 19, 21–8, 134 interaction 156 interiors 94–102 and light 22, 24, 46, 110, 111, 147–9, 153, 156, 157, 175, 181, 183, 197 in Magdeburg 153–60 mixing of 12 opposition 144 palette 10, 92, 100, 102, 114, 118–20, 127, 152, 158, 173, 203, 211 perception 13–15, 48, 104, 105, 108, 145, 177, 178, 183, 184 phenomena 3, 140, 144, 146, 149–53 potency 188 power of 4, 10, 14, 48, 140, 175, 182, 184–9, 208 problem of 209–16 psychology 16, 23, 27, 30, 43, 45, 76, 103–6, 109, 123, 178, 183–6, 188, 195, 204, 213 scheme 33, 50, 60, 69, 116, 118, 126, 127, 147, 154, 162, 168, 171, 172, 191, 194, 201, 203, 208, 210 sense 3–4, 183, 186 and space 9, 19–21, 85, 103, 108, 110–17 Steiner’s use of 45–6, 48–9 strategy 126, 155–7 and symbolism 50–1 temperaments 16 theory 2, 5, 10–17, 22, 25, 27, 33, 43, 45, 46, 97, 111, 113, 140, 147, 148, 155, 156, 177, 187, 194, 203, 204, 212, 215 tone 157 vision 12, 90–4, 103–6, 108, 109, 113, 183, 195, 213 whiteness and 6 color affect 13, 130, 183–5, 213 artistic theories of 186–90 Haus am Horn 190–5 Taut’s project 195–208 colorito 4, 19, 20, 96, 110

INDEX Color Movement 28, 151 Color Sense (Allen) 183 Color Tone System (Prase) 141, 142 contemporary art 23, 25, 132 Contra-Construction (van Doesburg) 79, 80, 115 Crookes, William 74 Crystal Chain correspondence 23, 31, 87, 91, 162 Crystal Chain group 1, 97, 163 Crystal Palace (1851) 81 cubism 131, 132, 138 cupola painting 52, 56–8 Dahlewitz 195, 196, 198, 199, 203, 204 Darget, Louis 35–7 Das Farbenerlebnis-Die vier Bildfarben (Color Experience-The Four Image Colors, Steiner) 45 Das Prinzip der Bekleidung (The Principle of Dress, Loos) 17 Das Wesen der Farben (The Essence of Colors, Steiner) 45 Delacroix, Eugène 15, 140, 149 Delaunay, Robert 24–6, 111–15, 187, 188, 195 Delaunay, Sonia 25, 187, 188 Der Stil in den technischen und tektonischen Künsten oder praktische Äesthetik (Style in the Technical and Tectonic Arts or Practical Aesthetics, Semper) 17 Der Sturm 24, 113 Dessau Bauhaus (Gropius) 6, 21, 81 De Stijl 7, 11, 78–81, 84, 114, 115, 127, 137, 143, 197, 198 Deutsche Farbentag (German Color Day) 28, 152 Deutsche Werkbund 5, 10, 21, 22, 81, 152, 169, 210, 211 Notes on the Construction of Reality in Pure Painting (Delaunay) 111, 113 Windows (1912) 112 Devaranne, Theodore 73, 75–6 Die Atmosphäre der neuen Architektur (The Atmosphere of the New Architecture, Scheibe) 115

227

Die Erscheinungsweisen der Farben (The Appearances of Colors, Bühler) 103 Die Erscheinungsweisen der Farben und ihre Beeinflussung durch die individuelle Erfahrung (The World of Colour, Katz) 109–10 Die Erziehung des Farbensinnes (The Education of Color Sense, Lichtwark) 186 Die Farbenlehre in Hinblick auf Kunst und Kunstgewerbe (The Theory of Color in Regards to Art and Handicraft, Bezold) 146 Die Farbige Stadt (The Colorful City) 28, 210 Die Form (The Form) 80, 83, 115, 143, 171, 212 Die Kunst für Alle (Art for All) 83, 148 Die vierte dimension des Raumes (The Fourth Dimension of Space, Dreher) 73 Die vierte Dimension: metaphysische Phantasieroman (The Fourth Dimension: Metaphysical Fantasy Novel, Hoffmann) 77 Die Wiederkehr der Kunst (The Return of Art, Behne) 27 Difford, Richard 68 dimension. See individual dimension disegno 4, 19, 20, 96, 110 Dittmann, Lorenz 140 Dreher, Eugen 73 Dr. Rabe House (Rading) 6, 131–5, 198 Dudok, Willem Marinus 5 Eckhart, Meister 23, 31, 85 Effenberger, Theo 211 Eiffel Tower (1889) 81 Einstein, Albert 65, 78, 81, 84 Einstein Tower (Mendelsohn) 54, 81 emotions/emotional astral body and 39 atmosphere 208 color and 9, 14, 16 effect 109, 196 force 134 power 10, 14, 48, 196 and psyche 184

228

INDEX

response 17, 173, 178, 183, 185, 187, 203, 213, 214 sudden 39 value 39, 42, 176, 177, 188 vibration 187 Empathy Theory 18–19 Endell, August 150–1 Esteren, Cor van 79, 80, 115 Euclidean 65, 85, 108, 178 Farbenfibel (Color Primer) (Ostwald) 2, 15–16, 142, 143 Farben und Schöpfung: acht Vorlesungen über die Beziehungen der Farben zum Menschen und zur Natur (Colors and Creation: Eight Lectures on the Relationship of Colors to Men and Nature, Magnus) 184 Farbe und Raum (Color and Space) 28 Farbgestaltung und Farbtheorie in der abendländischen Malerei (Color Design and Color Theory in Western Painting, Dittmann) 140 Fear of Color, The (Schumacher) 151 Fechner, Gustav 18, 23, 75, 105, 142, 184 Feuerstein, Marcia 134, 135 n.66 film colors 110 Finsterlin, Hermann 6, 21, 49, 84–90, 94, 96, 97 first Color Day 10, 152 First World War 8, 21, 29, 55, 75, 98, 109, 152, 154, 185 Fischer, Friedrich Theodor 18, 23 Fischer, Oskar 160–1 Flammarion, Camille 78 Flatland: A Romance of many Dimensions (Abbott) 78 Florentine School 20 fourth dimension 4, 5, 61, 63–71, 73 art and architecture 78–84 Finsterlin architecture 85–9 in German literature 77–8 Goesch vision 90–4 Hablik interiors 94–102 and spiritism 73–7 Fourth Dimension to which Is Added a Language of Space, The (Hinton) 66

Freudenberg, Franz 185–6 Friedrich, Caspar David 31, 32 Fuldastrasse 195, 201, 202 Gage, John 5, 7, 10, 40, 110, 187 Garden City Falkenburg 22 Gauss, Johann Carl Friedrich 65, 73, 84 Geisterglaube, Spiritismus und vierte Dimension: Anleitung zur Beurteilung okkulter und spiritistischer Erscheinungen (Belief in Ghosts, Spiritism and the Fourth Dimension: Guidance for the Assessment of Occult and Spirit Appearances, Devaranne) 73 geometry 15, 51, 59, 65, 66, 70, 78, 84, 85, 88, 89, 92, 98, 100, 108, 131, 135, 141, 148, 160, 165, 184, 189 Georgsgarten 171–2 German architecture 5, 22, 28, 29, 73–8, 80, 149–53, 215 Germany 1, 4, 7, 8–9, 13, 14, 22, 23, 28–30, 34, 73, 76–8, 80, 81, 96, 104–6, 108, 109, 113, 114, 116, 132, 140, 141, 146, 147, 149, 152, 169, 172, 182–3, 210, 213, 214, 216 Gesamtkunstwerk 51, 53, 94, 97 Gesellschaft für Psychologische Forschung (Society for Psychological Research) 30 Giedion, Siegfried 5, 6, 82 Gläserne Kette (Crystal Chain) group 1, 21 Glas. Im Bau und als Gebrauchsgegenstand (Glass in Architecture and as a Commodity, Korn) 82 Glas in der Architektur der Gegenwart (Glass in Contemporary Architecture, Schultze) 82 glass windows 23, 24, 58, 60, 61 Goesch, Paul 2, 5, 9, 21, 43, 49, 84, 85, 97, 101, 137, 164 color vision 90–4 Festsaal 90, 92 to mysticism 91

INDEX Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von 2, 10, 13, 14, 16, 27, 33, 43–7, 49, 51–6, 59–61, 97, 110, 139, 141, 177, 178, 182, 192, 194, 195, 202 Farbenlehre 2, 10, 13, 27, 45, 198 Garden House 192, 194, 195 Materielien zur Geschichte der Farbenlehre (Materials on the History of the Theory of Colors) 45 Theory of Colours 2, 13, 14, 45, 111, 146, 177, 178, 192 golden section 184 Gothic cathedral 25, 31, 49, 58, 160 Gropius, Walter 2, 4, 6, 21, 80–2, 87, 115–22, 127, 130, 131, 192, 212 Grosheintz, Emil 53 Grunow, Gertrud 10 Hablik, Wenzel 2, 5, 21, 43, 49, 84, 85 colored interiors 94–102 discordant harmony 96 Hablik House 96, 99–102 Richard Biel House 96 Soetje Wallpaper Company 98, 99 Starry Sky 95 Haesler, Otto 4, 168–73, 210 Georgsgarten 171–3 Italian Garden (Italienischegarten) 169–72 Magdeburg City Hall 169 Hamburg conference 152, 168 Hamburg Farbentag 152, 159, 210 harmony 10, 15–16, 34, 58, 88, 89, 96, 119, 140–4, 146, 148, 155–7, 159, 180, 181, 186, 187, 212 Hartlaub, Gustav Friedrich 190 Hartleben, Otto Erich 44 Haus am Horn 190–5, 197, 202 healing power 139, 182 Helmholtz, Hermann von 15, 105–6, 108, 178 Henderson, Linda Dalrymple 32, 33 n.9, 64 n.1, 65, 70 Henry, Charles 25 Herf, Jeffrey 30 n.2 Hering, Ewald 106, 108, 142 Hindu temples 49 Hinton, Charles Howard 64, 66–70, 73, 76, 77

229

Hitchcock, Henry Russell 5, 169 Hittell, John 35 Hoffmann, Oskar 77–8 Hölzel, Adolf von 10, 15, 122, 146–9 Hölzel circle 147 Hufeisensiedlung 195, 203–5, 210 human happiness 139 motion 68 perception 35, 68, 84, 108, 109, 134 psyche 28, 30, 105, 175–7, 183, 186 soul 33, 35, 36, 49, 68 spirit 53, 78 subjects 36, 55 types 39 humankind 21, 31, 37, 38, 44, 88, 184 Humboldt, Wilhelm von 104 Hutton, Louisa 215, 216 hygiene 7, 204, 205 hypercube 66, 67 image colors 46, 47, 55 improvisation 92 Industrial Revolution 29 Intense Anger 39 International Style 1932 5, 169 Italian Garden 169–72 Itten, Johannes 10, 15, 116, 122–3, 146, 147 Jaensch, Erich Rudolf 108–9 Johannesbau 49, 51–4 Johnson, Philip 5, 6, 169 Jugendstil 3, 19, 22, 23, 54, 150, 151, 169 Kandinsky, Wassily 2, 4, 14–16, 18, 19, 24–6, 43, 116, 122, 134, 188–90, 192, 194, 195, 202–5, 207 color and form 123–4 On the Spiritual in Art 2, 16, 185–7 Kant, Immanuel 66, 68, 107–8 Katz, David 108–10 Klee, Paul 113, 114, 142 Koch-Otte, Benita 190–5, 202 Köhler, Wilhelm 116 Korn, Arthur 82

230

INDEX

Krayl, Carl 2, 4, 5, 9, 84, 85, 94, 97, 158–68, 171, 173, 211 Kropotkin, Peter 31 Kunstwart 151 Kunstwollen 18 Landauer, Gustav 31 Langbehn, Julius 29 Langsdorff, Georg von 183, 186 Lavin, Sylvia 10 Leadbeater, Charles W. 29, 33, 34, 37–9, 41–3, 45, 47, 70 Le Corbusier 5, 7, 137, 211 Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm 66, 107 Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (Picasso) 131 Les Mondes Imaginaires et les Mondes Réels (Real and Imaginary Worlds, Flammarion) 78 Lichtenberg, Georg-Christof 14 Lichtwark, Alfred 3–4, 22, 186 Light, Air and Openness: Modern Architecture Between the Wars (Overy) 7 Light-Space Modulator (MoholyNagy) 81 Lindenhof 90, 92–4, 101 Lipps, Theodor 18–19 Lobachevsky, Nikolay 65 Loos, Adolf 8, 17, 120 luminous colors 47, 55, 201 quality 48 Magdeburg 8, 22, 28, 153, 168, 169, 171, 210–12 Krayl in 160–8 Taut and 153–60 Magdeburg Garden City Colony Reform 22 magnetic fluid 34 Magnus, Hugo 183–6 Maltan, Josef 194, 195 Man Visible and Invisible (Leadbeater) 37–9, 42 March, Walter 192 materialism 29 mathematics 13–16, 63–6, 70, 73–8, 83, 84, 107, 108, 141–3, 149, 212

Mayer, Johann Tobias 14, 141 Mendelsohn, Erich 23, 54, 81, 85 Mesmer, Franz Anton 34, 35 mesmerism 34, 183 metamorphosis 55 Meyer, Adolf 81, 82, 118, 119, 190, 192 Mies van der Rohe, Ludwig 5, 82, 211 mind and body 38, 68, 105, 118, 183, 186 emotions of 14 psychology 45 Steiner’s 46 modern color 12, 13, 22, 177, 214 Moholy-Nagy, Lazlo 81 Möhring, Bruno 23 Molzahn, Johannes 212 Mondrian, Piet 11, 43, 114, 127 Mother God 91 Muche, Georg 190–3, 212 Müller, G. E. 109 Multi-colored Wego Hotel (MVRDV) 216 Munich Congress 52 Munich Psychologische Gesellschaft (Psychological Society, 1886) 30 Munich Theater 49–51, 54 Munsell, Albert H. 2, 11, 12, 15, 16, 70, 142 Münster project 117, 118 Mutzenbecher, Franz 9, 84, 92, 93, 101, 164 mysticism 29, 63 appeal of 31 Goesch to 91 nondenominational 32 and occult 30 and science 33–7 and space-time 84 spiritualism and 30–1 naturalism 111 natural science 44, 45, 47 Nehmelmann, Gustav 116 Neues Bauen 5, 115, 118, 132, 169, 173, 191, 209, 210 Newton, Isaac 11, 13, 66, 107, 140, 141, 157

INDEX non-Euclidean geometry 65, 66, 73, 77, 78, 89, 108 November Group 91, 91 n.63 occult 29, 30, 32, 38, 63, 76, 84, 178, 180, 181, 183, 185 Odic Force 34–5 Odic Letters, The (von Reichenbach) 35 On Vision and Colors (Schopenhauer) 14 optical pleasure 93, 138, 139, 144, 153, 161 ornament 2, 6, 8, 17–22, 24, 26, 28, 50, 54, 61, 117, 126, 149, 150, 153, 164, 188, 190, 192, 197, 210 Ornament and Crime (Loos) 8 Ostwald color theory 212 Ostwald, Wilhelm 2, 10, 15, 16, 141–4, 143 n.16, 156, 212 Otto-Richter-Strasse 28, 154, 155, 158, 160, 163–4, 166, 167 Ouspensky, Pyotr Demianovich 65, 66, 76–7 Overy, Paul 7 Ozenfant, Amedee 137 Paimio Sanatorium 1, 2 painter’s hour 104 Pancoast, Seth 180–2, 186 Parallel Postulate 65 parapsychology 45, 76 Paul, Ewald 27, 196 Pehnt, Wolfgang 51, 59 photographic plate 35, 36 photography 7, 33, 35–7, 63, 168 physical body 37, 38, 182 color 12, 46, 183 Picasso, Pablo 131 Plate XIII 39 Pleasonton, Augustus James 175, 178–9, 181 Poelzig, Hans 115 Pollock, Jackson 163 polychrome 8, 20, 149 Prase, Otto 141 Primer of Higher Space, A (Bragdon) 64–5, 70

231

Principien einer elektrodynamischen Theorie der Materie (Principles of an Electrodynamic Theory of Matter, Zöllner) 74 Principles of Harmony and Contrast of Colours and their Application in the Arts, The (Chevreul) 144 Principles of Light and Color, The (Babbitt) 181 process theory 106, 155 Prometheus 87, 88 Prospettiva del colore (Color perspective, Zaccolini) 19 psychic causality 105 psychichones 36 psychophysics 104, 105, 183, 184 Purkinje Effect 103, 104, 156 Purkyñe, Jan Evangelista 103 Rading, Adolf 2, 4–6, 28, 131–8, 198 Raehlmann, Edward 27 rationalism 29, 30 Red-Blue-Grey format 171 Relativity 65, 78, 81–3 Riegl, Alois 17, 18 Ringbom, Sixten 43, 46 Rosenblum, Robert 32 Röthke, Ulrich 148 Rudolph, W. 117 Runge, Philipp Otto 14–15, 31, 122, 141, 146 Sauerbruch, Matthias 215, 216 Scheerbart, Paul 31, 44, 81, 97 Scheffler, Karl 3, 4, 22 Scheibe, Harry 115 Scheper, Hinnerk 4, 116–20, 122–31, 146 Scheper, Lou 116, 124–5 Schlemmer, Oskar 116, 119, 122, 123, 132, 135, 137, 138, 142, 146, 212 Schmarsow, August 83 Schmid-Curtius, Carl 51–3 Schopenhauer, Arthur 14, 147 Schultze, Konrad Werner 82 Schultze, Theodor 182–3 Schumacher, Angela 169 Schumacher, Fritz 151–2

232

INDEX

Second World War 7, 116 n.34, 169 self-illumination 57 self-renunciation 41, 42 Semper, Gottfried 17, 18, 150, 151 shadow colors 46 Sharp, Dennis 87 Siebenbrodt, Michael 194 Siedhoff-Buscher, Alma 194 Signac, Paul 25 simultaneous contrast 22, 113, 122, 140, 144, 145 Slade, Henry 63, 64, 74, 75 Society for Psychical Research 30, 74 space artistic and 110–15 color and 110–15 nature of 66, 107–10 and time 66, 77, 78, 81, 84, 107 Space, Time and Architecture (Giedion) 5, 82 spatial illusion 101, 110, 113 spatial perception 19, 66, 103, 104, 106–9, 111, 116, 117, 138, 210 Speidel, Manfred 102 Spengler, Oswald 29 spiritism 73–8, 183 spirit photography 35n18 spirituality 29–32, 49, 50, 55, 74, 76, 77, 84, 85, 90, 91, 188 body 37–9 realm 46, 48, 49, 63, 70, 77 Steiner, Rudolf 4, 29, 31, 43–8, 64, 87, 89, 90, 92, 100, 177 Anthroposophy and color 29, 31–3, 43–5, 63, 64, 87, 181 buildings 49–53 Das Farbenerlebnis-Die vier Bildfarben (Color ExperienceThe Four Image Colors) 45 Das Wesen der Farben (The Essence of Colors) 45, 46 Goetheanum buildings 33, 49, 53–61 Goethe’s Conception of the World 47 mystery plays 51 New Life 57 spiritual science 44, 50, 51 use of color 48–9 Stern, Fritz 29 n.1 Stilfragen (Questions of Style, Riegl) 17

Stöneberg, Michael 158 n.60 Stumpf, Carl 185 Stuttgart 5, 10, 23, 28, 49, 132, 147, 152, 162, 210, 211 Stuttgart Weissenhof 211 Style Game (Finsterlin) 88 subtractive system 12 surface colors 110 swirling color 56, 60, 95, 128, 134 tattoos 8 Taut, Bruno 1, 4, 5, 7, 8, 21–8, 31, 81, 83–5, 91–4, 139, 152, 153, 162, 163, 165, 169, 173, 209–13 Alpine Architektur (Alpine Architecture) 8, 9, 21, 27, 30, 152 Box of Watercolors Estate (Tuschkastensiedlung) 22 color affect 195–208 color and 213–16 Der Wiedergeburt der Farbe (The Rebirth of Color) 153 Die Farbe (Color) 209 Die neue Wohnung: Die Frau als Schöpferin (The New Apartment: The Woman as Creator) 197 Eine Notwendigkeit (A Necessity) 24, 25 Ein Wohnhaus (A Residential Building) 152, 195, 199, 204 Farbwirkungen aus meiner Praxis (Color Effects in my Practice) 196 Frühlicht (Early Light) 28, 88, 152, 163, 165 Glass Pavilion 8, 22, 81, 152, 160 and Magdeburg 153–60 painting and architecture 24 Ruf zum farbigen Bauen (Call to Colored Architecture) 1, 9, 26, 118, 151, 152 surface treatments and space 25 Tautes Heim 203, 205–7 telegraphy 38 Tertium Organum (Ouspensky) 76, 77 tesseract 66–70, 80, 81 Theory of Relativity (Einstein) 65, 78, 81

INDEX Theosophical Congress in Munich 1907 49, 50 Theosophy 23, 29, 31–3, 37, 43–5, 50, 58, 63, 64, 76–8, 87, 90, 91, 181, 194 Thiele, Franz 94 Thomas, Ann 35 Thought-Forms (Besant and Leadbeater) 33 n.10, 37, 39–40, 42 three dimension 14, 15, 65, 66, 68, 70–2, 77, 83, 88, 89, 92, 95, 115, 128, 131, 139, 141, 156, 190 Tischner, Rudolf 73, 74, 75 n.20, 76 traditional color theory 111, 177 Transcendental Aesthetic 107 two dimension 68, 70–3, 135, 141 Über die Verhältnis der Äesthetik zur Psychologie (On the Relationship between Aesthetics and Psychology, Allesch) 185 Über die Wahrnehmung des Raumes: eine experimentellpsychologische Untersuchung nebst Anwendung auf Äesthetik und Erkenntnislehre (On the Perception of Space: An Experimental-psychological Investigation along with Aesthetics and Knowledge, Jaensch) 109 Über kunstlerische Ausdrucksmittel und deren Verhältnis zu Natur und Bild (On Artistic means of Expression and their relationship to Nature and Image, Hölzel) 148 Übersinnliche Welt (Supersensuous World, Freudenberg) 186 Uhde, Fritz von 147 Unbekannte Architekten (Unknown Architects) exhibition 1, 21, 97, 162 urban realm 22, 28, 151, 152, 154, 168–73, 214, 215 van Doesburg, Theo 11, 67, 79, 80, 84, 114–15, 127, 143, 195

233

Vantongerloo, Georges 78 Vasari, Giorgio 19–20 Venetian School 20 Vierte Dimension und Okkultismus von Friedrich Zöllner (Friedrich Zöllner’s Fourth Dimension and Occult) 73 Völker, Karl 168–73 von Reichenbach, Freiherr Karl 34–5 Waller, Mita 51 wall painting 93, 116, 117, 122, 123, 132, 134, 137, 153, 163, 194 watercolor 48, 57, 87, 88, 92, 102 Weber, Wilhelm Eduard 75 Wego Hotel (MVRDV) 216 Weisenhofsiedlung housing estate 6 Weissenhofsiedlung (Rading) 132 Werkbund Exhibition, Wohn- und Werkraum housing estate (WuWA: Living and Workspace) 211, 212 whiteness 1, 6, 7, 162 Wigley, Mark 6–7 Wissenschaftlichen Abhandlungen (Scientific Treatises, Zöllner) 73, 74 Wundt, Wilhelm 75, 105, 147 X-ray 35, 117 Young, Thomas 105–6 Zaccolini, Matteo 19, 20 Zeilhofer, Nina 216 Zola, Emile 149 Zöller-Stock, Bettina 198, 208 Zöllner, Johann Karl Friedrich 63, 73–6, 75 n.18 Zur äesthetischen Erscheinungsweise der Farbe (On the Aesthetic Appearance of Colors, Allesch) 185 Zur Bedeutung des Tiefenerlebnisses im Raumgebilde (On the Meaning of Deep Experience in Spatial Structure, Schmarsow) 83 Zweig, Stefan 34, 44

234

Plate 1  The stair in Alvar Aalto’s Paimio Sanatorium showing the primary colors: red window mullions, blue banister, and yellow floor. ©Ben Gilbert/Welcome Collection CC BY-NC 4.0.

Plate 2  Illustration from Bruno Taut’s Alpine Architecture (1920) showing the use of primary colors in his imaginary renderings. © Bruno Taut Archive, Akademie der Künste, Berlin.

Plate 3  Title page from Man Visible and Invisible together with the chart showing which colors correspond to which emotions.

Plate 4  Model from 1913/1914 of the interior space of the First Goetheanum showing the small and large cupolas and a partial idea about the cupola painting. © Rudolf Steiner Archive, Dornach, Switzerland.

Plate 5  Detail of the cupola painting in the first Goetheanum showing the transparent colors that Steiner favored and the use of swirling color (1922). © Rudolf Steiner Archive, Dornach, Switzerland.

Plate 6  The palette of colors that Steiner favored, and the translucent application of them, are evident in this watercolor painting by Steiner called New Life (1924). © Rudolf Steiner Archive, Dornach, Switzerland.

Plate 7  Hinton’s color renderings of the tesseract.

Plate 8  Theo van Doesburg’s “Contra-Construction” (1923), one of several experimentations van Doesburg conducted into new spatial models. © Collection Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, the Netherlands, van Moorsel donation to the Dutch State 1981. Photo: Rik Klein Gotink.

Plate 9  Sketches by Hermann Finsterlin of his architectural ideas. His use of primary colors is apparent in the drawings. “Wolkenkuckucksheim”. © Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Gift of the Finsterlin Family 1978. Inventory: C 1978/2766-2767.

Plate 10  Paul Goesch’s “Festsaal” (1921)—the painting represents an immersive space that is colored and patterned on all six sides. © Berlinische Galerie. Photo: Kai-Annett Becker (BGG-G-1516/78).

Plate 11  Wenzel Hablik’s “Starry Sky” (1909) is typical of his cosmic visions with its swirling stars and planets, rendered in rich hues. © Wenzel-Hablik-Foundation, Itzehoe.

Plate 12  Wenzel Hablik’s drawing for the first interior design of the Soetje Wallpaper Company showroom. © Wenzel-Hablik-Foundation, Itzehoe.

Plate 13  View of the restored dining room in Hablik’s house in Itzehoe as it is today. © Wenzel-Hablik-Foundation, Itzehoe.

Plate 14  Wenzel Hablik design for an interior with custom built-in furniture, upholstery, and integrated colored surfaces throughout the room. © Wenzel-HablikFoundation, Itzehoe.

Plate 15  Robert Delaunay “Windows” (1912). An early abstract painting of Delaunay’s that shows his complex use of primary, secondary, and tertiary colors in geometric forms. © Tateimages Photo © Tate CC-BY-ND 3.0.

Plate 16  Walter Gropius and Adolf Arndt “Auerbach House” (1924). View of the stairwell, with its combination of primary colors used to accent architectural details. © SG Koezle - [email protected]

Plate 17  Walter Gropius and Adolf Arndt “Auerbach House” (1924). View of the Music Room showing the band of yellow that wraps around the space to frame the entry wall. © SG Koezle - [email protected]

Plate 18  Hinnerk Scheper’s orientation diagram for the interior of the Bauhaus, with his ideas for how and where to use color. (1926). © Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin, Photo: Hermann Kiessling

Plate 19  Hinnerk Scheper’s color rendering of his color scheme for the Bauhaus exterior, which was not realized. © Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin, Photo: Reinhard Friedrich

Plate 20  View of the Bauhaus interior showing Scheper’s use of the primary colors to highlight architectural details.

Plate 21  Walter Gropius’ office in the Bauhaus. The way that color affects perception of the space is evident.

Plate 22  Living room in the Dr. Rabe House, looking at Oskar Schlemmer’s metal installation and ways in which Rading employed color. © Photo: Jörg Glaescher/laif.

Plate 23 The master bedroom with its vivid red, white, and gray zones. © Photo: Jörg Glaescher/laif.

Plate 24  The upstairs corridor looking at Oskar Schlemmer’s figurative murals. The image shows how Rading worked with the primary colors throughout. © Photo: Jörg Glaescher/laif.

Plate 25  A page from Wilhelm Ostwald’s “Farbenfibel” illustrating how black and white should be mixed with color.

Plate 26  Bruno Taut and Carl Krayl, Otto-Richter-Strasse in Magdeburg. The kilometer-long stretch of colored buildings. The photograph shows the vibrant colors with which they worked. © Creative Commons.

Plate 27 Carl Karyl’s abstract façade design on Otto-Richter-Strasse. © Creative Commons.

Plate 28  Looking down the main street at Otto Haesler’s “Italian Garden” development in Celle. The image shows the way that Haesler arranged red and blue blocks. © Celle Tourism.

Plate 29  The front façade of one block in Otto Haesler’s “Italian Garden.” Haesler’s use of primary colors on different aspects of the architecture is visible. ©Celle Tourism.

Plate 30  A view down the block at Haesler’s “Italian Garden” showing the intense contrast between blocks painted with vivid primary colors. © Celle Tourism.

Plate 31  Benita Koch-Otte’s colored axonometric study for the “Haus am Horn.” (1923) © Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin

Plate 32  The music room in Bruno Taut’s house in Dahlewitz. Not only are the rich primary colors on view but Taut’s use of them to create an immersive space is apparent. © Getty Images.

Plate 33  The Living Room in Bruno Taut’s house in Dahlewitz. Here, Taut has made a red room in contrast to the blue music room. © Getty Images.

Plate 34  Axonometric drawing of a unit at the Fuldastrasse apartments with the color scheme for each room.

Plate 35  Tautes Heim in the Hufeisensiedlung, Berlin (1933). The outside is a simple white box; the bright-blue window frames are the only indication of the interior color scheme. © www.tautshome.com, photos: Ben Buschfeld.

Plate 36  The kitchen in Tautes Heim combines sky blue ceiling, deep-red floor, and beige with a yellow tint. © www.tautshome.com, photos: Ben Buschfeld.

Plate 37  The living room in Tautes Heim with its green walls, deep-red floor, and white ceiling. © www.tautshome.com, photos: Ben Buschfeld.

Plate 38  The bedroom in Tautes Heim, which uses a vivid blue complemented by the deep red. © www.tautshome.com, photos: Ben Buschfeld.

Plate 39  The corner of the child’s bedroom at Tautes Heim where all three primary colors interact. © www.tautshome.com, photos: Ben Buschfeld.

Plate 40  MVRDV’s design for the multicolored Wego Hotel in Eindhoven (2017) is just one contemporary example of the prevalence of color in architecture. Photo: Zhang Chao.