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Otto Wagner: Reflections on the Raiment of Modernity by Harry Francis Mallgrave

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Otto Wagner: Reflections on the Raiment of Modernity Edited by Harry Francis Mallgrave

4to. pp. 436. profusely illustrated in b/w. wrs. Santa Monica: Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities, 1996.

New in publishers shrink wrap.

ISBN-10: 089236257X / ISBN-13: 9780892362578

Part of The Getty Research Institute Issues & Debates series comprising of scholarship from Getty Research Institute programs and conferences.
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A traditionalist designer with imperial ambitions or an avant-garde general leading the charge of a modernist assault, a Secessionist architect with a penchant for iconography or a materialist proponent of realist values—Otto Wagner can be portrayed in many ways. As the ten essays in this volume argue, however, a more complete portrait is achieved when variant and seemingly contradictory aspects of his rich architectural and literary oeuvre are allowed to coexist and find their own historical balance. This book is focused less on the visually seductive aspects of Wagner’s creations than on the social, intellectual, and artistic framework within which the architect brought his works to fruition. The result is a broad but at the same time concentrated exploration of the parameters of Wagner’s tectonic expression—a canvas of a period in which the sensualist aesthetic tendencies of the late nineteenth century merged with the more sachliche vision of twentieth-century art.

Los Angeles is a city on the Pacific Rim where things appear on edge, for they lack a permanent footing even while occupying a specific locale. The city’s genius loci produce this dual vision of fixed place in a state of constant dislocation.

It is only appropriate for the edge-bound Getty Center to initiate a series of publications that aim to expose the historical study of artifacts to the oscillation of rigorous debate. Each of these books proceeds from a specific body of historical material, not because that material is in itself inherently imbued with controversy but because its exposure to different disciplinary approaches raises new questions of interpretation. In the realm of historical studies, issues often emerge at the intersection of the various perspectives scholars have constructed for the examination of their subjects. As their debate refracts and refocuses the material under scrutiny, it also invites reflection upon itself and thereby exposes the assumptions and tendencies of scholarship to no less assiduous criticism than it does the underpinnings of its subjects.

Volumes in the Issues & Debates series will result from symposia and lecture series, as well as from commissioned writings. Their scholarly editors are invited to frame highly focused essays with introductions, commentaries and/or sources, documents, and illustrations that further contribute to their usefulness.