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A contemporary assessment of the genesis of the modern aesthetic : the impact of modern art on modern architecture.

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This dissertation assesses the impact of modem art on the so-called heroic period of modem architecture, dated for the purposes ofthis thesis from 1917 to 1933. The study is premised on two principal arguments: firstly, modem art - Cubism, in particular - was the seminal influence on the codification of a modem architectural vocabulary. Secondly, the increasing preoccupation with utilitarian tenets obscured and ultimately undermined the semantic significance ofmodem architecture that was derived from the visual arts. A general introduction to the tumultuous history of 20th century architecture substantiates these presuppositions and contextualizes the current interest in the aesthetic intent of the pioneering Modernists. For the sake of reviewing the genesis of the modem aesthetic, the classical ideal of beauty is briefly reflected upon. This is followed by a review of the alternating depiction of pictorial depth and its extraordinary symbiotic relationship with the expression ofplastic space. The cubist-induced perception and experience of space is preceded by the catalytic role of the mechanization ofvision on the rejection ofthe classical canons of beauty. An in-depth analysis of Cubism, coupled with its derivatives that spawned architectural equivalents, reinforces the volumetric incarnation of modem art, exemplified by Purism, Constructivism and Neo-Plasticism. This study is concluded with an assessment of the adopted prerruses and a reflection on the longer-term objectives of this study.


Thesis (Ph.D.)-University of Natal, Durban, 1999.


Architecture--Aesthetics., Architecture, Modern--20th century., Cubism--Influence., Theses--Architecture.