Modernism 1900-1945

  • © ATOUT FRANCE/Emmanuel Valentin

Modernism 1900-1945

It was in Europe that the early architectural movements of Modernism (1900-1945) emerged. Big industry, mass housing and garden cities were then becoming an area of interest. France and Italy were looking at the new forms made possible by reinforced concrete.

In 1919, in Weimar, W. Gropius created the German Bauhaus movement involving, among others, artists such as P. Klee, W. Kandinsky and L. Feininger. Large volumes and white walls characterised these new housing developments. The Amsterdam school and the Russian school developed in the same enthusiasm.

An exceptional designer, Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, known as Le Corbusier, emerged on the architectural scene in Paris in 1908. His Houses (Maison Schwob in his native Jura, Maison Domino in Paris, Maison Savoye in Poissy, 1929) were designed as "architectural promenades". The "Art Deco" style appeared at the Exposition des Arts Décoratifs in 1925. In 1930, Le Corbusier, a friend of R. Mallet Stevens, presented his famous design for the "Ville Radieuse". Social housing became predominant. In France, garden cities flourished in the suburbs, under the direction of Henri-Sellier. The 1937 Universal Exposition is a key date, with the Palais de Chaillot in Paris. Followed by the Americans, European modern art was soon condemned by the Germany of Nazism. In 1943, the Athens Charter confirmed the four functions of the ideal town model: a place for "living, working, moving about and recreation". The Chapel of Ronchamp (1950) and the Dominican Friary of La Tourette (1956) were the last expressions of Le Corbusier's mystical message.