Cover image for Peter Behrens and a new architecture for the twentieth century
Peter Behrens and a new architecture for the twentieth century
Anderson, Stanford.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
xi, 429 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
NA1088.B4 A827 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Most histories of twentieth-century architecture cite Peter Behrens' influence on three of his proteges--Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Le Corbusier--and mention the turbine factory and arc lamp he designed for the German electrical firm AEG. Now Behrens' full contribution to the history of twentieth-century architecture is finally told, in Stanford Anderson's indispensable guide to one of the great designers of our century. The author was first attracted to Behrens as one of the emblematic figures in the development of architectural modernism. Over the years, he has reflected critically on the growing body of Behrens scholarship that has appeared on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as on the views of such tastemakers as Philip Johnson, who rejected Behrens' AEG Turbine Factory, the signature icon of his early experiments in modernism, in favor of his later conservatively classical work. Anderson now assimilates decades of research into a definitive work that considers Behrens from the most nuanced perspective yet and that clarifies many problematic issues such as Behrens' endorsement of historical determinism and his work on Hitler's proposed monumental axis in Berlin. The book looks at the cultural and architectural context in which Behrens worked, his early career, and the relation of his own house in Darmstadt to his ideal of a society where life is formed as art. It also looks at his directorship of the School of Arts and Crafts in Dusseldorf, where he drew on the work of such brilliant historiographers of art and architecture as Alois Riegl and August Schmarsow. In his conclusion, Anderson considers Behrens' melancholy in the face of modern industrial society and his avoidance of a direct address of life, despite, or rather because of, his professed commitment to express life as art.

Author Notes

Stanford Anderson is Head of the Department of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Anderson's long-awaited monograph on Behrens, the early-20th-century pioneer of German architecture, has finally been published. Although part of the material has appeared in periodical articles by Anderson (MIT), and Alan Windsor's Peter Behrens, Architect and Designer (1981) appeared long ago, this complete and up-to-date work by the leading American student of the architect is definitive. It is a detailed chronological study of Behrens's entire architectural career as well as a sensitive study of his life and of German architecture of the time. The teacher of such leading architects as Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, and Le Corbusier, Behrens occupies a unique position in 20th-century architecture in Germany. His varied work in Darmstadt, Dusseldorf, and Berlin--on public buildings, domestic work, and most of all, industrial designs, and factory architecture--is the most important of his time. Anderson includes excellent illustrations of the works, particularly the AEG turbine factory. Besides the list of works and excellent bibliography, the book itself is a work of art reflecting the art and design of its subject's time, complete with end papers based on fabric designs by the architect. A first-rate study, unlikely to be surpassed. General readers; upper-division undergraduates through faculty. T. J. McCormick; emeritus, Wheaton College (MA)

Table of Contents

Peter Behrens
Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Introductionp. ix
1 A Context for the Early Work of Behrens: The Emergence of a New Architecture in Germany and Austria around 1900p. 1
2 Behrens's Changing Concept of Life as Art: A Review of the Early Workp. 27
3 Behrens's Highest Kultursymbol, the Theater: Darmstadt, 1900-1903p. 45
4 Theory and Teaching of Architecture: Dusseldorf, 1903-1907p. 69
5 Modern Architecture and Industry, a Cultural Policy of Historical Determinism: Berlin Ip. 95
6 Industrial Design, a Strategy for Uniting Technology and Art: Berlin IIp. 113
7 Architecture for Industry, the AEG Factories: Berlin IIIp. 129
8 Expression, Convention, and Convention as Expression: Berlin IVp. 165
9 The Interwar Yearsp. 221
Conclusionp. 255
Notesp. 261
List of Architectural Worksp. 323
Bibliography and Sourcesp. 373
Illustration Creditsp. 409
Indexp. 415