Josef Frank, Leon Battista Alberti, and the Search for a Modern Architecture

  • Cardamone, C. (Invited speaker)
  • Albert Kirchengast (Speaker)
  • Hana Gründler (Speaker)

Activiteit: Talk at an external academic organisation


osef Frank (1885–1967) is generally acknowledged as one of the most influential Austrian architectural theorists of the 20th century, and as one of the most acute critics of Germanic modern architecture, from inside the institutions of the Moderne itself. My talk focuses on the main issue in Frank's theoretical work: the relevance of Italian Renaissance tradition in his search for a true modern and 'humane' architecture.
Frank's reflection starts already in his years as a student at the Viennese Technische Hochschule, where he completes his doctoral dissertation about Leon Battista Alberti's religious buildings in 1910. It continues until the end of his career, and emerges overtly in his unpublished manuscripts of the 1950s and the 1960s. His reading of De re aedificatoria at the end of the 1920s, leads to an unconventional anthropocentrism that puts into question the formal, ethical, and theoretical principles of the Germanic Moderne. Frank's anthropocentrism has not to be read as a set of anthropometric rules, it has nothing in common with the anthropometric research at that time. Instead, it focuses on humankind and its 'imperfections' and is built on some categories de-rived from the reading of Alberti's treatise, such as varietas, mediocritas and Annehmlichkeit.
My contribution analyses Frank's particular reception of the Renaissance tradition, raises some issues about its Viennese context, its 19th century historiographical roots, and–above all–about the meaning of his optimistic 'classicism' at the end of the 1920s.
Periode26 nov 2020
EvenementstitelHumanismen. : Lecture series and discussions of the Ethics and Architecture-project and the Research Group Etho-Aesthetics of the Visual, organized by Hana Gründler and Albert Kirchengast.
LocatieFlorence, Italy
Mate van erkenningInternational