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Criminal Skins: Tattoos and Modern Architecture in the Work of Adolf Loos


Médium: article de revue
Langue(s): en 
Publié dans: Architectural History, , v. 48
Page(s): 235-256
DOI: 10.1017/s0066622x00003798

Adolf Loos's famous essay, ‘Ornament and Crime', decisively linked unornamented architecture with the culture of modernity and, in so doing, became one of the key formulations of modern architecture. To a great extent, the essay's force comes from arguments drawn from nineteenth-century criminal anthropology. Nevertheless, Loos's work has been consistently understood only within the context of the inter-war avant- gardes. In the 1920s, Le Corbusier was particularly enthusiastic in bringing Loos's work to the fore, thereby establishing its future reception. ‘Ornament and Crime' became an essential catalyst for architecture's conversion away from the historicism of the nineteenth century to modernism. At the turn of the century, Loos's essay already foreshadowed the white abstraction of ‘less is more' architecture and the functionalist rigour of the International Style which would dominate the twentieth century.



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