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The Ledoux Effect: Emil Kaufmann and the Claims of Kantian Autonomy

Author(s): Anthony Vidler


Source: Perspecta, Vol. 33, Mining Autonomy (2002), pp. 16-29
Published by: The MIT Press on behalf of Perspecta.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1567293
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16 / VIDLER

The idea of "architecturalautonomy,"the notion that architecture,together


with the other arts, is bound to an internal exploration and transformation
of its own specific language, has periodically surfaced in the modern period.
Whether as a way of classifying the qualities of architectural "form"as
opposed to "style,"or as a wayof defining the role of the architect in an increas-
ingly specialized professional world, the assertion of autonomy has been a
I identify Modernism with the intensification, almost leitmotif of modernism,from the end of the nineteenth century,if not earlier.
Art historians, beginning with Wofflin and continuing with Riegl; architects
thia exacerbation, of thia self-critical tendency
beginning with Loosand continuing with LeCorbusierand Mies van der Rohe;
that began with the philosopher Kant. Becauae he critics beginning with Fry and Stokes, and continuing with Greenbergand
was the first to criticize the meanrs itself of criticism, Krauss,all in different ways and with differing agendas have established their
grounds of debate on the relative autonomy of modernist aesthetic practices.
I conceive of Kant as thefirst real Modernidt.
More recently, in architecture, Rossi, Venturi, and Eisenman have, among
CLEMENT GREENBERG 19601 many others, laid claim to the autonomyof the language.
Of all the writers and architects who have contributedover a century or
more to the debate over autonomy,the Viennese historian, Emil Kaufmann,
stands out as a consistent reference point for all subsequent discussions.2For
while, in retrospect, Wofflin'sdevelopment of a formal method for character-
izing architecturalperiods,and Riegl'spropositionof a historical and cultural
specificity to the interplayof vision and space could be seen as setting up the
grounds for a modernist idea of autonomyin architectureand the other arts, it
was EmilKaufmannwhowas the first to join the analysis of historical architec-
ture to Kant'sphilosophical position, derivedfrom Kant,and who was the first
to coin the phrase "autonomenarchitektur"drawingon Kant'sown concept of
"autonomy"of the will. And it was Kaufmannwho served to introducethe twin
ideas of autonomy and modernism to successive generations of architects
and critics, beginning with Philip Johnson in the 1940S, but continuing with
Colin Rowe in the 195o0Sand Aldo Rossi in the 1950S and 6os. Morerecently
his work was at the center of a historical re-assessment of autonomyand the
avant-gardein the United States in an essay by the historian Deltef Mertens
presented at a symposium to honor Philip Johnson.3
MINING AUTONOMY / 17

ANTHONY VIDLER

Yet Emil Kaufmann'sthesis of the development of a modernism emerg- ment of Ledoux'slife andwork,VonLedouxbia LeCorbuaier- the first compre-
ing the work of Claude-NicolasLedouxin the 177os and culminating in the
in hensive monographicaltreatment of the Frencharchitect by any architectural
workof Le Corbusierin the late 1920S,has had many detractors since the pub- historian.8 Subsequently Kaufmann'sdiscoveries have inspired generations
lication of his polemically titled VonLedoux bLaLe Corbutierin 1933.4Since of scholars to work in the architecture of the revolutionaryperiod, whether
then, the Viennese historian's view of architectural progress has been casti- or not they agree with Kaufmannthat something "revolutionary"was to be
gated as simplistic by critics like EduardoPersico and Meyer Schapiro,used detected in the pre-revolutionaryandmonarchicalLedoux.His workhas posed
as a pathological symptomof the decadenceof modernismby conservativehis- questions to the historiographical treatment of the "origins"of modernism,
torians like Hans Sedlmayr,and deemed a travesty of historical scholarship and by implication to the entire construction of historicist history from Niko-
by researchers from Michel Galletto RobinMiddleton.5Castigated as having laus Pevsner to Sigfried Giedion. It interrogatedthe nature of abstraction in
"sufferedfrom an excess of generalization,"blamed for his "obsessive search relation to the geometrical forms employedby the Enlightenmentand the mod-
for underlying principles [... ] pursued to an extreme degree,"and "under- ernist avant-gardes,and thereby challenged the premises of anachronism in
mined" in David Watkin'swords by a host of researchers following the lead history and criticism. It opened up the imbricatedproblems of form and poli-
of Wolfgang Herrmann'sdebunking of the traditional Ledoux chronology in tics, architectureand society, in a waythat directlychallengedthe culturalide-
1960, Kaufmann is now largely forgotten.6 Indeed, he is perhaps the only ology of National Socialism in the 1930s. His sobriquet "revolutionaryarchi-
important historian associated with the so-calledVienna School of the 1920s tect,"in his book ThreeRevolutionaryArchitecta,published in 1952 as applied
whose work has not been comprehensivelyre-assessed for its scholarly and to the trio of architects Ledoux,Boullee, and Lequeu,a trio he had largely dis-
methodological qualities in the last decade. Hans Sedlmayr and Otto Pacht, coveredand, so to speak, "invented,"while much misunderstood,nevertheless
even GuidoKaschnitz von Weinbergand Fritz Novotny,have been translated succeeded in gaining them the attention of serious scholars.9His posthumous
and their work analyzed in its historiographical and theoretical context. Yet, book Architecturein the Age of Reoaonwas, on its publication, consideredthe
in ChristopherWood'srecent and important introductorystudy to his Vienna last word on eighteenth century Europeanarchitecture.'?Finally,Kaufmann's
School Reader,Kaufmannis relegated to a footnote.7 work set all these questions within a philosophical frameworkthat has not
His work has not always been denigrated however. Publishing signifi- ceased to inform critical theory:that providedby Kantin his insistence on the
cant contributions to the history of French eighteenth century architecture "autonomy"of the will as a fundamental premise of bourgeois freedom. The
throughout the 1920S, re-defining traditional "classicism"with the introduc- link established by Kaufmannbetween Ledoux and Kant,as HubertDamisch
tion of the idea of "neo-classicism,"Kaufmann,in the second volume of Hans has noted in the essay translated in this volume,is one that, whetheror not it is
Sedlmayr and Otto Pacht's flagship journal of Viennese "strukturanalyse," remains challengingto all interrogationsof the nature
historically "verifiable,"
published the first major assessment of the architecture of Claude-Nicolas of architecturallanguage and of the place of the discipline in modernsociety.
Ledoux - one to which Meyer Schapiro,despite his measured social critique Beyond this, Kaufmann'swork, unlike that of many historians, has had
of its formal approach, dedicated a large portion of his 1936 review of the a direct influence on architectural practice, and especially in the way that
Vienna School's methods. In his notes for the unfinished PaAAagen-Werk the modernism of the 1920s and 1930s was received, in the first instance, in
WalterBenjamin cited liberally from Kaufmann'sbrief, but trenchant, treat- the United States immediately after the War.Emigrating to the us in 1941,
Left to right
Vergleich Architektonischer
..........
t ft ft und Menschlicher
............. ..'.."'-.
.....
-:.i : Profile, J.F.Blondel, from
6"
Cours d'Architecture, 1771.
L ............. ' Haus "28".Louis Ambroise
,"
C?
Itn e-a- _
Dubut, from Architecture
Civile, 1800.
3~~~~~~~~rK-'J=

Kaufmannwas taken up by Philip Johnson,whose Glass House of 1949 was, ["DieArchitectkturtheorieder Franzosischen Klassik und der Kalssizismus"]
accordingto the architect, deeply indebted to a reading of VonLedouxbiALe established klassizismus as a period with a formalexpression, or ratherstruc-
CorbuAier.1 Later,Kaufmann'swritings, and especially his Architecturein the ture, of its own.'4Here,Kaufmannwas underlining what he saw as the distinct
Age of ReaAon,posthumouslypublished in 1955, were,when translated,strong difference between French developments and those in other "Baroque"coun-
influences on the theories of architectural"autonomy"characteristicof the Neo- tries. Between Classicism in the mid-seventeenth century and Neoclassicism
Rationalist school in Italy after 1971,and especially on the theory and design after 1750,there were,for Kaufmann,certain continuities of "clarityand truth"
of AldoRossi, who reviewedhis books in detail.'2Morerecently,Kaufmannhas but sharp differences in composition, which seemed to him to move from a
been re-interpretedas a theorist of an architectural"autonomy"based on lin- principle of "meaningfulharmony"inherent in the work itself towarda princi-
guistic and disciplinarycodes, as proposedby PeterEisenmanand others.'3 ple of expression or communication provokingsensations beyondthe work.'
Read today in the context of the detailed monographic research that In an "historical"confirmation of Nietzche's 1878 assertion that "Stone is
was to have modified his once seemingly over-simplifiedconclusions, despite more stone than before,"Kaufmannarticulated tis shift, as one that finally
the unearthing of other architects to the fore to counterbalance the image relinquished the natural values of physical materials ("thedemand that the
of the "threerevolutionaries,"and the contextualization of their work in the material be granted its own physical properties and life")in orderto privilege
light of new historical interpretations of "enlightenment"and "revolution," ideas alone.'6
Kaufmann'sanalyses can be seen to regain much of their original force, as
For it [Neocla&AiciAml the material iAdead. Formha. no otherfunction than
seeking to rise above stylistic differences and biographical details, to grasp
to be the bearerof idea+,the mediatorof moods, to arouse emotionAwhich are
the phenomenon of an "architecturalenlightenment" in all its dimensions,
diAtinctfromthe sen.uous material and which the material itAelfdoes not con-
intellectual and formal. At the very least, his theses bear re-examination as
tain. Thesymbol of NeoclasAiciAmiAthe non-AenrualAtone,the Atoneinhab-
representing a critical stage in the development of the discipline of architec-
ited by geniuA.17
tural history - as important in their own way as those of Riegl, Frankl,and
Giedion - at the same time as they challenge questions to our contemporary Kaufmannhere established two clear points of reference for his analysis
conceptions of architecturalform and our preconceptions of its political and of the period 1750 to 1800: what he would call later "theuniversal animism of
social significance. In retrospect, as I shall argue,his analytical and historical the baroque,"where inanimate material took on organic forms, and its antith-
approach,more subtle and resilient than critics have understood,acts as a fun- esis, post-Revolutionaryform,where the material itself has its own laws: "For
damental critique of the very "school"with which he has been associated, the architecture after the Revolution,"he wrote, "the stone is again stone."["Bau-
Vienna School, while it resonates with contemporaryattempts to see "modern- kunst ist der Stein weider Stein"]18
ism"no longer as a brief (and failed) avant-gardeexperiment in the 1920S,but In setting up in this way Classicism, on the one hand, and Neoclassi-
as a long process of political and aesthetic struggle, with intellectual roots in cism, on the other, as the conceptual beginning and end points of his research,
Enlightenmentand Kantianphilosophy. Kaufmannhas identified the period 1750 to 1800 as a site of transition from
one to the other; but more importantly as a site of struggle where the two
FROM NEOCLASSICISM TO AUTONOMY tendencies and their compositional and philosophical corollaries are inter-
Emil Kaufmannwas born on March 28, 1891 in Vienna; he studied first at nally and often inconsistently manifested as architects press the classical lan-
Innsbruck and then Vienna with the Renaissance specialist Hans Semper, guage of architectureto its limits in the search for a means to express Enlight-
with the Byzantinist architectural historian Joseph Strzygowski, the classi- enment and Revolutionary ideas. The paradigmatic figure in this struggle,
cal archeologist Emanuel Loewy (1847-1938), and the historian Ludwigvon for Kaufmann,was Claude-NicolasLedouxwhose architecture registered the
Pastor (1854-1928).He was especially drawn to the teaching of Max Dvorak, shift from Classicism to Neoclassicism in an especially dramatic, and ulti-
however,with whom he formed a close friendship. He was awardedhis doctor- mately productive way. For Ledoux, argued Kaufmann,architecture was the
ate in Vienna in 1920 and went on to forge an entire field by his "rediscovery" very expression of the social ideals of the new bourgeoisie and the political
of three generations of Frencharchitecturaltheorists and designers from the ideas of the Enlightenmentas developedin Rousseau'sideal of individualfree-
1750sto the182os, a field that he then expandedinto the generalexaminationof dom and its Kantiancounterpart,"autonomy.""9
"architecturein the age of reason"in Europe.As Schapironoted in his brief obitu- Kaufmann'sfirst direct referenceto "autonomenbaukunst"was to occur
ary in 1953,Kaufmannwas unableto obtain a regularacademicpost (nodoubta in a short study of Ledoux'schurch architecture, centered on the project for
result of rampantanti-semitism) and was obligedto workin a bank for much of the Churchof Chaux, (probablydesigned in 1785, and published in Ledoux's
his early career. L'ArchitectureconAidere'esouA le rapport de l'art,deAmoeurs et de la legi.la-
His first major article, written in 1920 and published in the Reperto- tion in 18o4).2 ContrastingLedoux'sscheme with Soufflot's design for Sainte-
riumfiir Kun.twisAenAchaftin 1924, (interestingly enough, side by side with Genevieve,to which it obviously was a response, Kaufmannidentifies it with
another ground-breakingarchitecturalstudy by Paul Zucker,"DerBegriff der the qualities of the new "neoclassicism"he saw emerging with Ledoux'sgen-
zeit in der architektur")outlined the bases for his study of late eighteenth-cen- eration. The Neoclassical, as opposedto the Baroque,churchwas organized as
tury architecture,by dividing a period generically known as "Classic,"albeit a solid geometrical block, with reduced decoration and a distinct separation
in a late moment, into two. As explicated by Georges Teyssot, Kaufmann's and identity of its functional parts - separate altars, for example,on different
essay, "The Architectural Theory of French Classicism and Neoclassicism," levels, for festivals and marriages,as opposed to funerals. As Kaufmannwrote,
Left to right
Barriere de Chaillot,
Claude Nicholas Ledoux.

Barriere de la Chopinette
Claude Nicholas Ledoux.

Barriere de Reuilly
__._....._. --ClaudeNicholas Ledoux.

' . . :
.. ........Haus
" "3"from Architecture
Civile, Louis Ambroise
Dubut, 1800.

"Inplace of the conception of architecturalform as living, organic nature,there aspirations of late eighteenth century architects to develop a truly social lan-
enters the feeling for strict geometry."21 guage of forms.27The "symbolicsystem"that Ledouxwished to deploy was, of
This theme is taken up again in the same year in the book-length article course, itself dependent on the separation of individual buildings into identi-
on "TheCity of the Architect Ledoux,"["DieStadt des Architekten Ledoux"] fiable masses, and their shaping as readable signs. Here, for Kaufmann,the
contributed to the second volume of the Vienna art-historical school's flag- pavilion system, the isolation of parts, and the articulation of the appropriate
ship journal, the Kurnstwi&en.rchaftliche ForAchungen.22 In this first sketch "character"of each structure, led naturally to what, in reference to Ledoux's
of what was to become, three years later, his first book, Kaufmanngives the design for the "Maisond'Education,"he finally named "thenew concept of the
idea of autonomy a fundamental place, with the subtitle: "Onthe Realization autonomous treatment of the materials."28
of Autonomous Architecture"["ZurErkenntnis der autonomen Architektur"]. In this way,Kaufmannestablished the complex developmentof Ledoux's
In this detailed study, Kaufmann,his critics notwithstanding, develops the design practice as leading to the "autonomoussolution"evinced in the series
argument for autonomy historically and with deliberate recognition of the of nine-squareplan houses deployedin the landscapeof the IdealCityof Chaux,
complexity inherent in architectural practice. Ledoux, for him, is after all a "all varied, all isolated,"as Ledouxstated.9 Such isolation, Kaufmannaverred,
transitional and pivotal figure in the shift from what he calls "Baroque"to marked the end of Baroque compositional practice, that of "concatenation"
what he has characterized as "Neoclassicism,"and it is precisely the mixed [Verbandlandthe beginningof the newbuildingform[dieneue Bauform],a form
nature of the work that allows him to comprehend the shift as an organic characterizedby the Enlightenmentpressure for "clarification"[Abklarung].30
and slow process of internalization and cognition on the part of the architect Kaufmannthus preparedthe analytical groundfor the syste-maticcomparison
as to the overall problemof architecture and its propermeans of expression of with the generalmethod of the Enlightenment- that developedby Kant:
in an epoch itself undergoing radical shifts in its intellectual, social, and
At the time when Kantrejects all the moralphilosophiesof the past and decrees
political forms. Thus Kaufmann'sargument moves slowly towards the "erken-
the "autonomyof the will as thesupremeprincipleof ethics,"ananalogous tranA-
ntnis" or "discovery"of autonomy,through a number of stages, represented
formation takes place in architecture.In the sketches of Ledouxthese new objec-
by detailed analyses of Ledoux's designs in roughly chronological order
tives appearfor thefirst time in all their clarity. HiAwork markAthe birth of
culminating in a long section devoted to "TheAutonomous Solution" ["Die
autonomousarchitecture.31
autonome Losung"].
First Kaufmannanalyzes the dramaticchange in plans for the Saltworks The theory of autonomywas given its fullest developmentin Kaufmann's
of Chaux between the initial project of 1771 and the final project of 1774, second book, a slim treatise entitled, polemically enough, Von Ledoux bis
from a unified, square, courtyard plan, to a number of separate pavilions Le Corbusier,published in 1933, and summarizing and developing the argu-
grouped around a semi-circle, as a sign of the move from "Baroqueunity" ments put forward in "Die Stadt."In the Preface, dated "Vienna,May 1933,"
[BarockenVerband]to the Pavilion-system of the nineteenth century [Pavil- Kaufmann outlined his methodological premise. This was to be, he wrote,
lionsystem].23The break up of the project into functionally defined and for- "something more than a monograph, and different to a mosaic of an artistic
mally expressed units was, for Kaufmann,an indication of the "principleof life."Rather it was to be seen as "a part of the history of architecture which,
isolation,"the emergence of an "architectureof isolation"[isolierneden Archi- through the interpretation of the work of Ledoux, appears in a new light"
tektur] that paralleled the emergence of the modern "individual"conscious- at the same time as demonstrating "the importance of the great movement
ness [Individualbewusstseins].24 of ideas around 1800 for the domain of art."32This theoretical aim was
The example of the Church of Chaux affords Kaufmann an example expressed in the subtitle to the book,no longer "ZurErkenntnisderAutonomen
of the transition from Baroquedynamic composition to Neoclassical "static" Architektur"but now the more dynamic "Ursprungund Entwicklung der
composition:the flattened, low dome andthe horizontal lines of the block rein- Autonomen Architektur."The substitution of "Originand Development"for
forcing a sense of calm meditation, as opposed to the upwardmovement of "Discovery"representedboth a firmer conviction in his own "discovery"and a
Baroque churches. Further,the articulation of the different altars - one for sense of its historical implications for later developments.
festivals and marriages on the upperlevel, with a second for burials and memo- Fromthe outset, Kaufmannmade it clear that he was seeing the French
rial services below in the crypt, with its own entrances and exits towards the architectureof the Enlightenment and Revolutionas equal or greaterin impor-
cemeteries, enunciates for Kaufmanna "principleof isolation"[Prinzip der tance to the already well-established tradition of GermanNeoclassicism as
Isolierung], one that corresponds to the sense of "distance"[Distanzierungl representedby Schinkel. His title, in fact, was a direct gloss on Paul Klopfer's
necessary for the communication of sublime effects.25 Von Palladio bis Schinkel, an argument for the primacy of Germanarchitec-
Kaufmannthen advances his argumentwith the analysis of the two sym- ture as it received the Renaissance tradition from Italy.33Kaufmann,by con-
bolic monuments, the "Panareteon"and the "Pacifere,"citing Ledoux'sstate- trast, is concerned to emphasize the role of the French and Latin traditions
ments that "the form of a cube is the symbol of immutability"and "the form in the continuation of Palladio'slegacy to the present. His work in Paris had
of a cube is the symbol of Justice"as a way of introducingthe concept of "archi- convinced him that it was the Latin countries that counted in the develop-
tecture parlante,"or "speakingarchitecture."26 Kaufmannhad discoveredthis ment of modernism.While philosophy,underthe aegis of Kant,and poetry fol-
term, not itself of eighteenth century origin, in a mid-nineteenth century arti- lowing Holderlin,could be seen to have constructed the intellectual and liter-
cle satirizing Ledoux'sattempts to communicate ideas through buildings and ary foundations of Romantic modernism, it was in Franceand Italy that the
immediately saw it as both positive and apt in its characterization of the work of the Enlightenment entered fundamentally into the visual arts, and
der Vorlesungen uber Baukunst.
3Ififi
D
-A
'ISL-f Wf
t f3Xttl '3B
t^lt%
i | E*41t
;2.4 =S AE . E
--- t *1 ,1ii 1m I- 11-I 1_X l -i -

especially architecture. This was accomplished, Kaufmann argued, by the The passage from the first to the second project reflects no less than one of
final break with Baroquemodes of composition ("heteronomous"as he called the most important events in the history of architecture:the dismembering
them) and the introduction in their place of modern forms of disposition of Baroque concatenation [Zertriimmerungdes Barocken Verbandes]. ...In a
("autonomous"or "free-standing"). Onceratifiedby the Revolution,and despite remarkable parallelismwiththegeneralhistoricevolution,concatenationis replaced
attempts to veil the radical nature of the shift by means of historical styles, by thesystem of pavilionnatecomposition,which,afterthat moment,becomespre-
autonomy survived to establish the abstraction of modernism as the apotheo- dominant:this is thefreeasaociationof autonomousentities.[PavillonsyAtem...die
sis of Enlightenment reason. He wrote: freie Vereinigungselbstondiger Existenzen][VLLC,16-17]

If we are well-informedabout the historic role of Italy as the initiatory land In this transformation of compositional techniques, the instrumental force,
of modern times in the domainAof art and .ociety, we remain, by contraAt, both for the productionof the buildings and their historical analysis, was the
ignorant of the role of France a. pioneer of a new art and creator of a new rational plan: it is the plan which as Kaufmannnoted "allowsus to discover
architecture.TowardA1800, as during the Gothicperiod, the deciAiveinnova- the fundamental reasons for the determination of forms,"no doubt a first
tionr comefrom the French architects. In the following work, I am first con- step that allowed for Kaufmann'shistorical connection of Ledoux with the
cerned to renderjtutice to the artiAtwho was thefirst, not with a vague intu- Le Corbusier of the "plan as generator."And this plan, as with the three-
ition of diAtantgoaLAbut with a clear and full self-conAciousneas,to traverse dimensional form of the pavilions, is constructed not by any reference to a
the long route from the Baroque to modern architecture: Claude-NicolaA Baroqueobserver,but purelygeometrically.Geometryoperates as a calculated
Ledoux. Placed at the frontier of two epochA,before and after the Revol- control of form for use; not only does the "rationalityof the plan" [die Ratio
ution, hiAwork iAthefirst to announce the new artistic aima; it ia the tangible des Planes] exercise "absolutesovereignty,"but it offers a neutral system of
witneas to the appearanceof a new world. But it iA aLAomy concern to Ahow order, entirely abstracted from the personal experience of a perspectival
how hiA ideaa and thoAe of hiA epoch are tranAmittedto ua, and how, in observer.Where "allbaroque architecturewas conceived as a function of the
a way, the unity of the laat hundred and fifty years iA reflected in archi- observer,"now "the center of the new buildings is no longer the heart of the
tecturalactivity. [VLLC,
5-61 whole... It is no more than a geometrical point to which all the parts relate.
Thenewbuildings are assembled and not intimately linked [Zusammen-gesetz,
Kaufmannwas immediately concerned to announce that it was the "revolu-
nicht zusammengewachsen].[VLLC, 19] In accordancewith the spirit of auton-
tionary" period as a whole - 1770 to 1790 - with which he was concerned;
omy, the new pavilions are entirely self-sufficient: as opposed to the Classical
precise dates, which for Ledoux were in any case hard to come by, were less
and Baroquesystem, inherited fromRenaissance aesthetics, where "todetach
important than a sense of the signification of the global shift in art and
a part is to destroy the whole,"the pavilion rejects parts and becomes "anasso-
philosophy, as in the social and political realm. The years that saw the prepa-
ciation of independent elements:"
ration of the "greatrevolution that was completely to transform the social
system of the west" were "the same years in which the work of Kantmatured." If one wishes to characterizethe architecturalsyAtems byformulae as reduced
He writes: "Globally,there was a profound (we could say today, definitive) as possible one could defineBaroqueassociation in these terms:one part dom-
denial of the past; a clear and self-conscious rupture, a decisive step toward inates all the otherz and nevertheless all the partAform a whole; the deep
a new autonomy."For Kaufmann, the interconnection between these move- sense of the pavilion system can be translated thus: the part is independent
ments and the workof Ledouxwas not accidental,but established by Kantand within the frame of the totality. [Der Teil ist frei im Rahmen des Ganzen]
Ledoux'scommon respect for and indebtedness to Rousseau: Between the two systems lies a Revolution.[VLLC,19]

At the moment when, with the Declaration of the RightAof Man, the rightAof Kaufmannwas far from claiming that Ledouxever threw off the Baroquesen-
the individual are affirmed,at the moment when, in place of the old heterono- sibility entirely - in different ways, all of Ledoux'swork exhibited its transi-
mous morality,Kant
irntituted the autonomout ethic, Ledoux laid thefounda- tional character- indeed Kaufmannstresses in his analysis of buildings from
tionAof an autonomous architecture.[VLLC,121 the 177os (the H6tel Montmorency,the pavilion at Louveciennes for the Com-
tesse du Barry)and the 178os (the Hotel Thelusson) that "the opposed prin-
The correspondencewas direct: if for Kant the Critiqueof Pure Reaaon had
ciples were living at the same time in the artist" - but he finds in Ledoux's
accomplished"whatnumerouscenturieshad been unableto realize,"forLedoux
"fanaticism"for geometry and rigorous planning an anticipation of the archi-
"themoment in which we live has brokenthe chains that shackle architecture."
tect's later, more abstract projects.[VLLC,20]
[VLLC,
12;Ledoux,L'Architecture,30] Froma study of Ledoux,Kaufmannaverred,
Here Kaufmann sees the influence of the desire of the Enlightenment
would emerge the answerto three critical questions:the reasons for the "aban-
for "clarification,"orAbklarung,which when appliedto architecturecalled for
doningof the aesthetics of Baroqueclassicism,"the "relationsbetweenthe Revo-
the use of "massive blocks"superimposed in compositions that, rather than
lution and architecture,"and the "profoundsignification of neoclassicism and
relying on the effect of a central, principal, motif, gained effect through the
the architectureof the end of the nineteenth century."[VLLC,
12].4
simple strength of masses themselves. And while Ledoux is still free in his
The general conceptof architecturalautonomy,was, for Kaufmann,repre-
use of Baroquemotifs to give his buildings character- the upturnedurns and
sented by a wide rangeof largeandsmall-scaleformalmoves.Thefirst,andmost
grotto in the Saltworks,for example - his preferencewas for the architecture
fundamental,because the most radical shift from Baroquemodes of composi-
to "speak"by means of its own stereometric forms, as in the designs for the
tion was the separationof buildings accordingto a quasi-functionalidentifica-
House of the Surveyors(a vast elliptical tube), or the Coopers'Workshop(with
tion, ratherthan their unified and hierarchicalmassing to include all functions.
its concentric rings and intersecting barrel-shapedform):
This step, taken by Ledouxat the beginning of his career as he jettisoned the
courtyardpreliminaryscheme for the Saltworksin favorof a groupingof pavil- Experimentawith formAthemselveacount among the most astonishing initia-
ions, was decisive: tiveAof this epoch. Thepreferenceforthe simplest stereometric configurations
iAindicative of the gravity of the spirit of the age. Thus one finda in the proj-
MINING AUTONOMY / 21

Barrikre de Pantin, Barribre de


I'Ecole Militaire, Barriere St.
Martin, C.N Ledoux.

^T_ gB'C"JNg
~~~
e~ , to
A
m
Lw^?l~li?^l

one sees for examnple in the Country HouAe of


ect, of Ledoux, -evere cubes (QaA appeal to the socialism of Hannes Meyer who, in 1942, lauded Ledoux for having
jarnac or the House for a Man of Letters), the HousAeof the WoodcutterA in the given the pyramid (previously reserved for the elite) to the masses.36
formt of a pyranlid, the cylirndrical Country HouAe (al,Aothe Barriere of the Bolu- But while the connection between Ledoux and Rousseau may be obvi-
levard of La Villette, -till standing, and the cylindrical HouAe of M. De Witt) ous, that between Ledoux and Kant remains uncertain. For, at first glance, the
andfinally Spherical Holtae of the Agricultural GuardA. IVLLC,301 question of "autonomy," posited by Kant as the basis for moral principle, and
taken up throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as the watchword
Building up his argument for Ledoux as an originator of modernism,
of bourgeois liberal politics, does not easily relate to architecture, either in
Kaufmann remarks on the fact that "our own epoch, linked to that of Ledoux,
theory or practice. First advanced in the Critique of Pure Reason as a "call to
is open to experiments of the same kind which, even if they are without issue
reason" to gain "self-knowledge" it presented the kind of paradox between law
from an architectural point of view, are no less very significant of the indefati-
and self-will that has haunted political reasoning ever since. In Kant the "cri-
gable research for new forms Ineuer Gestaltl." IVLLC,321
tique of pure reason" presupposes what he calls a "tribunal" that will ensure
Bringing together all these compositional innovations, is, as Kaufmann
the claims of reason; a tribunal that operates "not by despotic decrees" but "in
had intimated in his earlier writings, the project for the Church of Chaux. Com-
accordance with its own eternal and unalterable laws." As parsed bvAdofno,
bining the demand for a single, free-standing mass, horizontal and static, with WS.
A&3 pd b A y?r o noo^!1
this strange double imperative - the freedom to give oneselia[- represnts
the separation of functional elements such as the altars, on different levels,
the 'suR 'nor'atph
econ eptlit's sope~, "e[y a tin tn a&oiL
it also construed a new kind of neoclassical "sublime." This was a sublime o[ a .^>ifpAi hi ;
a'
rnW i1
iiff of 1
"calm meditation in a solemn immobility," a sublime of individual self-absorp-
tion and contemplation as opposed to the Medieval "sanctuary of unworld- a Odc ..nt
s
ereffiefnet^
toft
liness" or Baroque "spiritual elevation." It was also a sublime of "distance,"
reflecting the idea common to neo-Kantians from Wolfflin to Warburg, Adorno
to Karcauer and Benjamin, that objectivity and rationality requires a "keep-
ing one's distance." [distanzhalten] IVLLC,331 Finally, the entire effect of the
the philosophy of knowledge. It was historically and conceptually the found-
Church, its own enlightened spirituality, is gained not by the introduction of
ing principle of bourgeois society, a product, as Adornohad it, of "the enthu-
painting, sculpture, images, or symbols, but by "the autonomous means of
siasm of the youthful bourgeoisie which had not yet started its never-ending
architecture." [die autonomen Mittel der Architekturl IVLLC,341
complaints that reason cannot solve anything, b ut feels confident
which still
more than
of its ability to achieve atheby virtue
things powers ofreason."
its own Thus
FROM KANTTO LE CORBUSIER
the i
understood, of
nterrogatio n
autono was
my joi ned to t ihenterrogation
Autonomy of the will is the sole principle of all mnorallawsv and of dutiesA in ofbourgeois liberal democracy, under severe threat in the inter-warperiod.
keeping with them; heteronomy of choice, on the other hand, not only does not Inspired by the research of the Marburg school, under the leadership of Her-
grountd any obligation at all but is instead opposed to the principle of obliga- mann Cohen, many philosophers in the early twentieth century, including
tionl and to the morality of the will. Ernst Cassirer who studied at Marburg, were returning to Kant as the initiator
Immanuel Kant, Critiqlle of Practical Reason, 1788. of modern critical philosophy; Cassirer's two studies Freiheit und Form (1916)
Kants Leben und Lehre, the first modern comprehensive philosophical biogra-
The connection that Kaufmann sought between architecture and philosophy,
phy, was published in 1918 and became the reference point for a new genera-
and ultimately between Ledoux and Kant was provided and historically
tion, including Kracauer, Adorno, and Benjamin who saw Kant, for better or
grounded by Ledoux's reading of Rousseau. Rousseau was evoked explicitly
for worse, as the beginning point of an investigation necessary for the devel-
and implicitly in many passages of L'Architecture. The obvious interpretation
opment of a truly "critical" theory. Adorno, in particular, saw Kantian auton-
of "I'homme primitif" embodied in the plate illustrating the shelter of the
omy as a double-edged sword, much in the way that contemporary thinkers
poor; the enthusiasm for natural settings throughout the descriptions of the
were characterizing Rousseau's social contract as implicitly totalitarian. For
City of Chaux; the references to "le pacte social" and finally the overall adher-
Adorno, questioning the implications of appeals to "reason" that had, under
ence to a "return to origins," exhibited in Ledoux's theory and design. The key
the impetus of science and technology already begun to exhibit their "dark
passage for Kaufmann, joining this "return" to "autonomy" is that in which
side," autonomy in Kant, as the "kernel of his philosophy," articulated "a very
Ledoux justifies the separation of each function in pavilions in the second
dark secret of bourgeois society."
project for the Saltwor-ks: "Remontez au principe...Consultez la nature; par-
tout I'homme est isole."'VLLC, 43; LA 90g Kaufmann further draws parallels Thi, secret is tihe reality that the formal freedom of juridical subjects is actlu-
between Rousseau's social thought and the institutions designed by Ledoux ally the foundation of the depetndetncy of all upon all, that is to jay, it is tilhe
for-his ideal "natural" society. The strange phallic-planned brothel or "Oikma" foundation of the coercive character of Aociety, its cornformity iwith law. That
masquerading as a "Fragment of a Greek Monument," resonated for Kaufmann i,s what lies behitnd tihe very strange theory that in Kant reason ia a tribtunal
with the sensibility of Schlegel's "Lucinde," a witness to the "autonomy of which has to sit in judgement over reason as the accused. "37
the pleasure of the senses" typical of the epoch.35 Beyond this, Rousseau was
It was, of course, the paradoxical nature of this dichotomy that led many
behind Ledoux's emphasis on hygiene, physical exercise, education, commu-
humanists in the interwar period to interrogate their own objects of study,
nal living, and his more general preoccupation with the citizenry of his new
from philosophy to art history, at a moment when bourgeois autonomy, and
ideal state as a whole - a "universal citizenry" or Weltburgerlichkeit. If Ledoux
its supposed links to reason and liberalism if not social democracy, was chal-
was by no means an egalitarian along the lines of later revolutionaries such as
lenged by the movement from the "freedom" of law to totalitarian "coercion."
Gracchus Babeuf, he certainly believed in a "pacte sociale" that endowed the
Kaufmann, in Vienna, was equally exposed to this neo-Kantian revival.
poorest member of society with architecture - a characteristic that would later
but in taking up Kant as the founding father of modern bourgeois society, and
specifically in 1933, he was making a very different point to that of the Berlin
theorists. Wherethe Frankfurtschool sociologists were alreadylooking at the
paradoxes and problematics of Kantian idealism, and Cassirer himself was
struggling with the difficulties of reconciling Rousseau and Kant in essays
published in 1932, Kaufmannapparentlyblithely ignored such questions in
favor of a generalized appeal to Rousseau/Kant as signifying an Enlighten-
ment unified enough to providean intellectual base, both for Ledoux,and for
his interpretation.Such apparentsimplification, however,is explicable on two
grounds. Firstly, Kaufmannwas concerned to sketch the intellectual frame-
work for an architect who himself was anything but a systematic thinker, one
who readily appealed to a wide range of authorities in his attempt to justify
new forms. Kaufmann'sseeming confusion, in these terms, was historically
accurate in delineating the discursive breadth of Ledoux's sources, and its
impact on design. CertainlyCassirer'sstudy of The Philosophy of the Enlight-
enment published in 1932 had, together with his essay on Rousseau of the
same year, the aim of constructing such a unity of thought.38
Secondly, and equally important, Kaufmann'sown intellectual agenda
reached beyond a purely historical interpretation. Embeddedin the title of
Von Ledoux biMLe Corbtuier,and in its appeal to Kantian thought, was an
implicit challenge to the emerging cultural politics of Austria and Germany,
and a covert appeal to a "united"front based on the rule of law and reason as
the basis for the restatement of the ideal of a liberal, social democratic,state.
Published in May1933,two months after Hitler'stakeoverof powerafter
the March 5 elections, was seemingly deliberately calculated to assert the
social democratic values of Enlightenment, republicanism, and modernism,
values under severe attack not only from Nazi ideologues who had denounced
them, and the modernism that represented them as degenerate and Bolshe-
vik, but also from conservative Viennese art historians like Strzygowski and
Sedlmayr.The latter,who had joined the National Socialist party in 1932,then
to become a loyal supporterthroughout the occupation and War,was to wait
until Kaufmann'sflight to the U.S. before developing his own thesis of the
"loss of center"using Kaufmann'sown materialto set out a despairing thesis of
decline and fall where Kaufmannhad seen only progress and justice. In 1933,
however,as Damisch has pointed out, it was an act of real intellectual, if not
Title page, Von Ledoux bis le Corbus-
ier, by C.N. Ledoux, edition 1985. physical, courage to set out the continuities between the French Revolution
and Modernism,in a moment when Speer and his cohorts were finding monu-
mental solace in the gigantesque revivalof Germanneoclassicism.
Ledoux, in this context, was, more than a historical subject, a cover,
or metaphor for the explication of liberal bourgeois society, if not a kind of
utopian socialism in historical guise. The real subject of the treatise would
then be the architectureof Loos, WalterGropius,RichardNeutra, and Le Cor-
busier - the architecture of Modernism developed between 1900 and 1929.
Kaufmannwrote:

The continuity of the development of poAt-revolutionaryarchitecture can in


a way be traced through to the beginning of our own period, which opens
around 19oo with the Dutch Berlage and the VienneseAdolf Loo+,a period
one can usefully designate by naming its most aelf-conscious protagonist, the
leader of theyoung Frenchschool: Le Corbusier[den Fuhrerdes jungen Frank-
reich LeCorbusier].[VLLC,611

The first mention of Le Corbusierin Kaufmann'swritings is in a footnote to


the article "Die Stadt,"which points to the similarities between three state-
ments by Ledoux,and the text of VerAune architecture.39 The connection was
understood as obvious as Ledoux spoke of "the appreciablefeeling of a plan
as stemming from the subject, the site, and the needs of the building, of the
destructive effect of details on surfaces,"and of the "formsdescribed with a
single stroke of the compass,"the square and the circle as the "alphabetical
letters used by authors in the text of their best works."40
Twoyears later, VonLedouxbiALe Corbusierwasto elaboratethese anal-
ogies as systematicallyand historicallygrounded.Ledoux,Kaufmannarguedin
the last section of the book, was the progenitor of a modernism that was in no juxtapoAition, the Atrict delimitation of concept., of the donaioit of thought and
way formalist ("he did not confine his attention only to formal details, as did action, auch Aeemnto be the fundamental tendencieA of thiA developnment.4
the Secession a hundred years later" IVLLC,421);rather "in his research he envis-
It is, nonetheless, with Le Corbusier that Kaufmann concludes his little book,
aged the totality of the reorganization of the body of the building itself and of the
a Le Corbusier represented not only by Vera une architecture, but by the trans-
systems of large complexes of buildings." IVLLC,421 Considering Ledoux's later
lated version of Urbanisme, Stadtebau, and more recently still by the first
works, and especially his group of town houses designed after the Revolution
volume of his OeuvreA completeA, 9ti0 to 1929, published in 1930. Kaufmann
for Hosten, Kaufmann to introduced his first modernist comparison, not to Le
was thus able to refer to the already commonplaces of the "fascination for the
Corbusier, but to Walter Gropius: referring to Ledoux's late works, he notes:
straight line," or the "return to the "fundamental realities of the sphere, the
The principal artimtic quality of theAe projectA the the
"
a rn4e",
rat cube and the cylinder in great architecture" but also to extend his comparison
Ledoux looked for above all. The formal principi ... "l
'f:onM with Ledoux to the layout and projected monuments of the Cite Mondiale, with
were baAed correApondA to the leitmlotiff of our preAent architecture, a- Walter its already contentious pyramidal scheme for a Mundaneum or world museum,
GropiuA haA expreAAed it in thefirAt volume of the BauhauA bookA: "a variety reminiscent of the pyramids of Ledoux and Boullee. Kaufmann, as opposed to
Atarting with the Aame fundamental type obtained by the alternate juxtapoAi- the trenchant critiques of the Marxist Karel Teige, lauds the "idealism" of this
tion and AuperimpoAition of repetitive Apatial cells." v LLC, 481 utopia as directly relating to, if not influenced by, that of Ledoux:

It is clear that in tracing the development of autonomous architecture after The reAemblance between the epoch of Ledoux and our own iAnot limited (thiA
Ledoux, and through the nineteenth century, Kaufmann is aware of the dete- will be one of our concluAionA) to formal and thelmatic aspectA. ThiA reemn-
rioration in aesthetic content, and of the deleterious effects of the incessant blance doeA not only reat in the fact that in hii epoch a0 our own one AeeAthe
repetition of the "pavilion system." Thus he analyzes the teaching method niew anld imlportant problem of the mnasAeAemerge a0 the powerful motive of
and influence of lean-Nicolas Louis Durand, who systematized Ledoux's own AolutionA. Inidependenrtly of the new demanda of the real, one diAcernA nowva.
system for the Ecole Polytechnique, repeating the fundamental elements of at that epoch a nlew idealiJm. It appearA in L'Architecture of Ledoux a0 in the
architecture as if they were so many geometrical points, lines, and planes on writingA of Le Corbusier, in the project for the Ideal City a0 in the Cite Modiale.
graph paper, and sees this method's effects on architects like Dubut. But it is It iL in thia idealinm, founded on the rnewideaLaof ethicA and law, in which iA,in the
equally obvious that Kaufmann is here only attempting to demonstrate that end, rooted, it eemr. to us, before 18oo even a0 today, the renewal of archiitecture.
despite the overt historicist "clothing" of the pavilions in question, varied
Kaufmann concludes:
according to taste and stylistic revival through the century, the survival of the
pavilion, and its fundamentally geometrical/functional foundation, allowed BecauAe Le CorbuAier haA no leAAfaith in theAe than Ledoux. becaluAe in the
the principles of modernism to survive if not to prosper. one and in the other the intimate link between art and life ia a0 Atrong, one
His assessment of the effects of autonomy on urbanism is, for example, muAt cite, Aide by Aide, the maater whoAe work crownA the triumlph of the nrew
bleak enough, and parallel to that of Camillo Sitte at the end of the nineteenth principleA and he whoAe activity haa opened the way for theAe principleA.
century: castigating the pavilion structures around the Place de I'Etoile, the
Place Royale in Munich, or the Ringstrasse in Vienna, whose buildings STRUCTURAL ANALYSIS
Kaufmann's methods of analysis, as well as those of the Vienna School with
are set up, like iAolated blockA. In their iAolation, each one could, without
which he was to be loosely associated, have often been criticized for their incip-
hindering ita attractiveneA. be displaced to another Aite. It iA of little impor-
ient "formalism," and especially so from the left in the 1930S. Thus Meyer Scha-
tance that the partr have been realized and are of differenlt appearance, as in
piro, responding to the confused and contradictory "formalism" of the Vien-
Munich, or are contemporary and fit amongAt themAelveA aA in Vienna. The
nese School, in an incisive review of the publications of the "New Viennese
double aapect of the paAt century lwhicih, like Ja nu, lookA at once forward and
School" of art history, tried to redress the historical problem in terms of a less
backward, appearA even more clearly in that portion of the RingAtrasAe with
reductive political position. Assessing Emil Kaufmann's article "The City of
the mnonumental buildingA of the Parliatenlt, the City Hall, the UniverAity, and
the Architect Ledoux," and the later Von Ledoux biA Le Corbuier, Schapiro,
the Theater. Conceived according to an abAolutely heteronomouA inApiration,
while recognizing the merit of Kaufmann's rescue of Ledoux, pointed to the
the buildintlg are deAtinedfora how. In thiA intention, each of them carrieA an
limitations of the formal approach in relating architecture to its social context.
old Auit, paAAing for Greek, Gothic, or late RenaiaAance. But in thii diversity
Kaufmann had attempted to join what he called Ledoux's principle of architec-
there iA alAo a new trait: the total indifference to the effect of the whole. Each
tural "autonomy" - the derivation of an architectural aesthetic from internal
building remoains in a total iaolation, none is linked in an enaermble.IVLLC, 611
requirements of construction and use rather than from any external, imposed
Yet, despite the moribund, half heteronomous, half autonomous aspect of artistic conception - to a similar characteristic of emerging bourgeois soci-
the style-revival buildings of the Ringstrasse, the principle of autonomy sur- ety, - "which thinks of itself as composed of isolated, equally free individu-
vived to triumph in the younger generation of modernists following Berlage. als." Schapiro argued that Kaufmann, in fact, had succeeded only in joining an
Kaufmann is not inclined to enter into a detailed analysis of twentieth cen- architectural principle to a social principle, one found indeed in Ledoux's writ-
tury modernism as a conclusion to his Ledoux monograph; for him, the simple ings. "The correlation," Schapiro wrote, "is with bourgeois ideology, not with
"evidence" of Le Corbusier and his contemporaries is enough to make the point. the actual class structure and conditions of bourgeois society, and depends
Interestingly enough, it is Richard Neutra, the Viennese exile in California, more on quotations than on a study of social and economic history." In the
whose Wie baut Almerika had been published in 1927, who is selected as the light of our analysis of Kaufmann's theses of autonomy, we would have to con-
spokesman for modernism's continuity with the past, Roman, and Baroque: clude that Kaufmann might have readily agreed with Schapiro's critique: far
Neutra, quoted by Kaufmann, writes: from trying to develop a materialist history assuming the fundamental rela-
tions between base and superstructure, society and culture, Kaufmann's aims
It iL a long way from the plaotic formaliAm of tile Greek world to the twvited
were surely more modest and confined to demonstrating the relations between
facadeA of the Baroque, but thia routei4 not illogical, it alwayA cro.AeA Ao to
thought about social form, and thought about architectural form.
Apeak the aame region: that of a certain Apiritual attitude towardA architectural
But Kaufmann's method was not only attacked from the left. Like many
creationt. The general principle the developmlent of iwhichw1ehave Iwanted to deml-
social-democratic theses it was equally subject to criticism from the right.
onsAtratehere in archlitecture iA defined by Neutra in theAe termna:DiAAociation.
Indeed, Kaufmanndid not have to look so far for his enemies as the Berlin nothing morethan a badjoke or a very ordinarypiece of lunacy,while the more
of Hitler'sputsch: Hans Sedlmayr,another distinguished student of Wolfflin, charitablehave lookedupon it [and here he ia referringto the concluwionof hia
and an editor of the Vienna school's flagship journal,the KunAtwiLaenrtchaftli- sometime Viennese colleague Emil Kaufmann]a. an "experimentwith form."
che ForAchungen,in which Kaufmannhad published his breakthrougharticle, Thething iAcertainlyinsane enough,but if it wereno morethan that,we should
had, during these years taken sharp issue with Kaufmann'sdemocratic and hardly bejuAtifiedin wasting much time over it.
idealistic reading of the architecture of 1800, and precisely from a conserva- A nonsensical idea, however, need by no means be wholly with-
tive, soon to become fascist, commitment.It is in comparisonwith Sedlmayr's out Aignificance. . . uch abnormalities reveal very ApecificcharacteriAtics
approachthat Kaufmannseems less and less the ViennaSchool historian, and ... Thus the sphere when used as the shape of a building is a critical form
more and more the student of Dvorak. which ... iA a symptom of a profound criAiAboth in architecture and in the
It was Hans Sedlmayr,of all fhe Vienna School historians, who took seri- whole life of the human spirit. Here we are beginning to deal with the zone
ously the lessons of Riegl, in opposition to his dissertation advisor Julius of the unconscious ... [LC, 41
Schlosser, in conceptualizing a method of art history that completely inte-
Sedlmayr saw this non-architectural form as the fatal symptom of an
grated architecture; developing Riegl's concept of Kunstwollen, as reinter-
abstraction that had, with Le Corbusier,reached its most nonsensical and
pretedby his contemporaryPanofsky,into what he termed a "Strukturanalyse"
anti-architecturalend. Agreeing with Kaufmannthat autonomy was the key
or analysis of structural principles. These were not, of course, the principles
(it "implies that architecture under Ledouxhad as it were become conscious
of structure, as an architectural historian might understand them. His well-
of its own true nature - it was the same idea that animated Loos and Le
known treatise on Borromini'schurch, San Carloalle QuattroFontane,found
Corbusier"),Sedlmayr castigates the Maison Savoye at Poissy, the epitome
its structural principle not in the architectural structure, nor even in the
of Corbusianmodernism for Sigfried Giedion and perhaps for Kaufmanntoo,
"structural"organization of its intersecting spaces and volumes, but rather in
as it rested "uponits supports upon the lawn,"nothing more than the image
the decorative treatment of the wall. As ChristopherWood notes, "In other
of "a spaceship that has just landed."[LC,107]Le Corbusier'spictures, wrote
words, structure may reveal itself in apparentlymarginal or meaningless fea-
Sedlmayrin disgust,"are full of floating transparentthings." LC,101]
tures." [Wood,25] Here Sedlmayr relies on Gestalt theory to introduce the
Sedlmayr is here opposed to the "autonomous"nature of this geometri-
notion of "shapedvision," that in his terms formed an objective and rational
cal architecture- its apparentrepulsion for the earth, an architecturewishing
way of looking beneath appearances, of seeking out principles of form and
to fly,transparent,floating in the air; and thereby no longer holding to its tec-
organization not apparentin normal characterizations of function, style, and
tonic foundations, and dangerously open to the deleterious effects of what he
the like. Woodand MeyerSchapiro before him, have pointed out the entirely
calls "paperarchitecture." It is no coincidence that Sedlmayruses Kaufmann
"specious"nature of this "rationalism,"criticizing its intuitionist and implic-
as the scholarly source of every one of his critical description of the dreams,
itly racist undertones.
unhappyvisions, and "shadowvalues"of Boullee's and Ledoux'sarchitecture.
In Sedlmayr'sterms, while Kaufmannhad (the method after all was sci-
Indeed, Kaufmannis acknowledgedas the source of Sedlmayr'swhole study,
entifically correct) analyzed the formal shifts he had entirely misdiagnosed
as, in his postface, he admits:
the symptoms. Where Kaufmann saw renewal in revolutionary and modern
architecture, Sedlmayrsaw decay and decline; where Kaufmannsaw increas- The very beginnings of this work were inspired by the research of Emil
ing health in society and architecture, Sedlmayr saw decadence and death. Kaufmann on Ledoux, which came to my notice in 193o. I saw at once that
Architecture was but a sign of the "huge inner catastrophe"set off by the Kaufmann had Aucceededin making a discovery of the utmost importance
Revolution, a "loss of center"and stability imaged by what for Sedlmayrwas towards the understanding of our age, but that at the same time he had not
the most characteristic motif of 1800, the sphere, with all its implications wholly recognized the true ignificance of his own discovery,and that the phe-
of the destabilization - the literal deracination of traditional architecture. nomenaso clearly perceivedby him were not correctlyevaluated. [LC
Kaufmann'sheroes were Sedlmayr'sdevils: as the latter observed of Goya:
Of course, this does not prevent Sedlmayrfrom claiming almost equal credit,
"Themore we study the art of Goya,the more intense grows our conviction that,
as he recounts that he expoundedthe "thoughts... developedhere"in VerluAte
like Kantin philosophyand Ledoux'sarchitecture,he is one of the great pulver-
derMitte in a lecture given in 1934, and again in 1937 in a discourse that was
izing forces that bring a new age into being."[LC,117] Sedlmayr,sensing an
not published,"finally to set them down in 1941, and giving them "in univer-
ally in his fight against the demon of modernism, cites Ernst Jungerapprov-
sity lectures in 1941and 1944."42
ingly in characterizingthe muAealentrieb,the "faceturnedtowardsthe things
This debate between Kaufmannand Sedlmayrhas generally been seen,
of death,"of the contemporaryepoch.
in art historical circles at least, as the starting point for the reevaluation of
More specifically, explaining his so-called "Methodof CriticalForms,"a
Revolutionaryarchitecture,as well as the origin of many myths only recently
method he claims is "capableof separating the true fromthe false,"of "concen-
dispelled by less formalistic and morehistorically dispassionate research.But,
trating on that unconscious sphere of instinctive receptivity"and of "posses-
for the moment, I would want to hold such criticism, in order to follow up
sion"in which "the soul of the age stands naked before us"- a method that is
the fundamental distinction drawnby HubertDamisch between what semiolo-
commonto the pathologist and the psychologist - Sedlmayrfinds in the image
gists and their heirs over the last decades have spoken of as the "meaning
of Ledoux'sarchitectureone such apparentlybizarrebut fundamentallysymp-
of architecture,"considering architectureas a system of communication,and
tomatic form that describes the folly of the modern age: the Sphere House of
the question, posed by Damisch of "what architecture means" in a specific
the AgriculturalGuardsthat Kaufmannhad seen as a braveinnovation, a har-
moment. Accordingto these distinctions, when Kaufmannwrote in 1924 of
binger of modernist abstraction.
classicism as demanding a "harmony"that confined "signification... to the
Such a radical newform,for inAtance,iAinherentin the idea of uLinga Aphere intrinsic qualities of the subject and their expression,"and of neoclassicism
ao the bacLicformof an entire houAe.Moat people have treated thiUnotion as as seeing form as having "noother function than to be the supportfor thought,
Haus eines Holzfaellers ("House of the Woodcutters"),
C.N. Ledoux, from Architecture, 1847.

Kugelhaus fuer Flurwaechter ("House for the Meadow


Watcher"), C.N Ledoux, from Architecture, 1847.

Panareteon (Haus derTugenden) ("House of Virtue"),


C.N. Ledoux, from Architecture, 1847.

to transmit impressions, to provokesensations,' he was perhaps not so much ments. Indeed it is clear that Kaufmannintends us to see his "architectural
seeing these two architectures as accomplishing this goal within their particu- system" as on the same plane as and commensurate with intellectual devel-
lar societies and cultures, as aspiring to that goal in their theories and ideals. opments, as the manifestation, in other words, of the architect'sthought pro-
Thus, similarly, when he speaks of Ledoux in the same breath as Kant and cesses. This is what he means when he speaks of "peeringbehind the facade of
Rousseau, he was perhapsnot so much claiming that there is an inner essence architecturaldevelopment"to "discoverthe metaphysicalbackgroundof build-
in Ledoux'sarchitecture that is Kantian, nor certainly that Ledouxhad read ing" in a particularera. [jSAH, 18] This notion of the particularera was funda-
Kant or wished to be a Kantian architect, but more simply that there seemed mental to Kaufmann'sview of the specificity of history.As he noted in a review
to be a homology between, in their different realms, Ledoux'suse of separate, of Nils's study of the workof Louis-JeanDesprez,"eachepoch requires specific
independent,geometric forms, and say, Kant'sdesire for principlesof indepen- categories of treatment." New material should not be interpretedwithin the
dent criticaljudgement,and Rousseau'sreturnto the principleof "naturalman." categories "derived,originally,from the productionof another (as a rule prior)
I say "moresimply,"but in fact, such relations introduce a complexity in the period,"but rather according to "some new approachadequate to their novel
interpretativestructurethat is belied by the crudejuxtaposition,and that goes ways."He concluded:"Theidea of all-embracingcategories is a chimaera.Still
well beyondthe equally crude "social/economic/formal"postulations of Marx- worse, of course, is the sterile application of categories formed on the accom-
ist art historians of the period.Here,Kaufmannis less a followerof the psycho- plishments of a different period."45
logical formalismof the ViennaSchoolthan an adherentof the principlesof his Kaufmannelaboratedon this in a review article of 1946:
mentor,MaxDvorak's,concept of "thehistory of art as the history of ideas."43
Welive in a time in which the gathering and recordingoffactual data are often
Admittedly,Kaufmannhas been cast as a reductive systematizer in his
considered the unique end of art history. No doubt such activity is indiLpens-
attempt to construct an interpretative scheme derived from Riegl's kunstwol-
able. Yetone should not overlookthefact that it does not requiremuch original-
len that corresponded to architecture in particular. And yet his notion of
ity to transform a cardfile into a book, after having added just a few details
an "architecturalsystem" as developed in writings after his emigration to
to thefindings of many predecessors in afield labored,perhaps,throughcentu-
the United States offered a far more precise tool of analysis. As he defined it,
ries. Oneshould rate higher the biographerwho ventures out into unmapped
"attention is focused not so much on problemsof style, nor on descriptions of
territory,who discovers a forr proffers a new picture of a personality, and en
single features, nor even on the investigation into general form, but rather
era. Such a biographeris more likely to err in his evaluations and comments
upon the interrelation of the several parts of the composition, and especially
than the simple compiler,although the latter is by no menas infallible in his
the relationship between the several components and the whole architectural
attributions. Art history should not care less about the epiphenomenonthan
composition itself."44But here we have moved beyond a generic "willto form,"
the phenomenon.Thebiographerwho struggles to grasp the meaning of artis-
and even beyond Sedlmayr'sstatic "structuralanalysis,"to a flexible model
tic productionwill becomea source of stimulus and progres for the discipline
that approximates not only similar types in music and literature, as well as
even when he errs. Needless to say, these remarks apply still better to those
painting, but also, in this case, the architect'sown design procedures.
rarehistorians who,gifted with a keen vision, rediscoveror reinterpreta whole
The architectureof the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries has much in epoch as, e.g., did the scholars who about g1oo inaugurated the study of the
common with classical and Baroque art. But these common traits concern Baroque,or those who somewhat later broughMannerism to light. Intepreta-
only the surface. The continued use of clasical features creates a certain tive history alone is constructive history.4
superficial resemblance between these periods preceding and following the In this quasi-autobiographicaljustification, we sense no only the pathos
Revolution. Only by an analysis based on the concept of an "architectural
of the lonely explorer,the destitute scholar searching for his "California,"but
.system,"can we appreciatehowfundamentally the mode of architecturalcom- also the consciousness of the heroic role of scholarship itself as, building on
position was transformed. 1ISAH,131
its formativeachievements, has the courage to invent its own future. Moreor
The comparisonand matching of such a structure once identified with similar less penniless after his flight from Europe,Kaufmannhad eked out a living
structures in thought and social life was entirely flexible and always shifting: on grants from the FulbrightCommitteeand the AmericanPhilosophical Soci-
ety, finding in the AveryLibraryand numerous other collections more general
In the relationship betweenforms and system, each epoch establishes its own
material for his expanding studies of enlightenment and renaissance architec-
basic ideaa of disposition and interrelation of parts. Either olderforms are
ture. He died forlornly on his second journey to Los Angeles in 1953 in Chey-
remodeleduntil they are perfectly adjusted to the new system of arrangement;
enne, Wyoming.It was with characteristic humility that Kaufmannadmitted
or new forms profferedby new constructional methods are adopted if they
in his posthumously published book: "I do not believe that I have solved the
accordwith the new system; or naturalforms are reinterpretedin keepingwith
momentous problem of how the architectural transformation of about 18oo
the changed ideal of general disposition. Thesearchfor newforms is, therefore,
came to pass."47
a necessary consequence of the desirefor a newsystem. Formsthem.elves are
secondaryfactors; the system is the primary consideration. I SAH,18] VON KAUFMANN BIS JOHNSON UND ROSSI
Wemight characterizethis method, as opposed to the more psychologicaland
The cubic, "absolute"formof my gla1s house and the separation of functional
teleological "structuralanalysis" of Sedlmayr,as not so much structural as units into two absoluteshapes ratherthan a majoror minormassing of parts
"structuralist"paralleling similar contemporaryattempts to identify systems
comesdirectlyfromLedoux,the EighteenthCenturyfatherof modernarchitecture
of relationships in linguistics and symbols by, say, Cassirer and Panofsky in
(see EmilKaufmannsexcellentstudy VonLedouxbis LeCorbusier).Thecubeand
other domains.
the sphere,the pure mathematicalshapes, were dear to the hearts of those intel-
But again Kaufmann'sstructuralism has a history that grounds it in tem-
lectual revolutionariesfrom the Baroque,and we are theirdescendants.
porality,and even though his history falls short of Schapiro'sdesired social
Philip Johnson,ArchitecturalReview,i95o48
and economic enquiries, it is rigorously enough based in intellectual develop-
In retrospect, it was perhaps not entirely an accident, nor totally ironic, that of the Glass House was there following Kaufmann'sprinciples of autonomy
Kaufmann'sbelief that architecture's "autonomy"was held to parallel the almost to the letter. Revealing his deeper affinities with Germanneo-classi-
emerging "autonomy"of the bourgeois (modern)individual was to appeal so cism and Schinkel,but disguising them by a side-tripto Franceand liberal,ide-
stronglyto that paradigmof the high bourgeois architect PhilipJohnson.Some- alist classicist modernism, Johnson in fact produces a transparent "Ledoux"
time between 1938 and 1940, with perhaps a brief stay in Londonon the way, box, that "proves"Kaufmann'sthesis even more powerfullythan Le Corbusier
Kaufmannfled to the United States; in 1942,he was asked to present his work (too weddedto the horizontally open Domimodiagram)could have ever accom-
to the newly constituted Society of ArchitecturalHistorians at the Cambridge plished. Perhaps this was the fate of "latemodernisms,"to authorize already
house of Philip Johnson,whose visits to Germanywith Henry-RussellHitchcock written history ratherthan making it for themselves.49
had alerted him to the growing interest in eighteenth century neo-classicism.
The text of this talk, Kaufmann'sfirst English-languagearticle,was published RATIONALISM TO NEORATIONALISM
in the next year in the Journalof theAmericanSociety of ArtHiAtoriarn. Thirtyyears after the completion of the Glass House, the architect AldoRossi,
Based on Johnson'sown encounter with Germanhistory and theory, it also working out of concepts he derived from Kaufmann'sanalysis of Enlight-
was Kaufmannwho providedthe convenient link between the neoclassicism enment architecture, saw in the concept of "autonomy"a means of saving
of Schinkel, admired by both National Socialists and the then sympathetic architecturefrom an increasingly disseminated field of aesthetic, social, and
Johnson, and the modernism of Le Corbusierand Mies, as he had described political authorizations, andunderstoodthe wordto refer to the internal struc-
the trajectoryof modern architecturebeginning with the Enlightenment and ture of architectural typologies and forms, as they formed part of the sedi-
culminating in Le Corbusier.Johnson had read Kaufmann's1933 book Von mented structure of the historical city.
Ledoux biALe Corbuiier,and was easily able to reconcile Kaufmann'sformal ForRossi, however,as evinced by his reviews and critical writings from
linkage of Ledouxand Le Corbusierwith his own predilection for Schinkel and the late 195os on, "autonomy"also representedthe purest heritage of Enlight-
Mies - von Schinkel biAMieAseemed a natural corollary to Kaufmann'sVon enment, and thence the modern movement, for an age that had lost its sense
Ledouxbi. Le Corbusieras was the implied extension, "VonSchinkel, Ledoux, of roots in the eclecticism, and more to the point, in the adjustments required
Le Corbusier,und Mies, bis Johnson."But of course, the entire architectural by the post-fascist political struggles of the immediate postwarperiod. In this
career of Johnson,racing to keep up with the stylistic zeitgeist, seemed to cel- context, Rossi's fascination with the geometrical forms of late Enlightenment
ebratethe aesthetic autonomyof the discipline. architecturewas more than a simple attempt to recuperatethe sources of pre-
Writing on his Glass House in New Canaan,Connecticut,in the Architec- and modernist minimalism, but was grounded in his reading of Kaufmann's
tural Review of 1950, Johnson specifically cited Kaufmann'sbook in orderto writings, not only of Von Ledoux bia Le Corbuaier,but also of his post-war
link the geometrical forms of Ledoux to his own cubic design. Architectural books, Three RevolutionaryArchitecta:Boullee, Ledoux, Lequeu (1953) and
"autonomy,"by which Johnson meant variously: the free play of architectural the more general, posthumously published,Architecturein the Age of Reazon,
language as style, the independence of architecturefrom society, and the per- Baroqueand PoAt-Baroquein England,Italy, and France.(1955). It was these
sonal freedomto change style at whim,thence became a watchwordof his prac- books that Rossi reviewed for Casabella, taking note of the earlier 1930s
tice. Indeed the entire article was a neat and entirely unabashed collage of essays, and found in them a programmaticsource for his "neo"rationalism,
Kaufmann,Le Corbusier,and Mies van der Rohe, in eight easy stages. First, joining Ledoux,and Boullee (whose EAai.Aurl'architecturehe translated and
Johnson illustrates Le Corbusier's1933 plan for a village farm in order to introducedin Italian)not only to Le Corbusier,but equallyto his own modern-
describe the approachto his own house: "thefootpath patternbetween the two ist hero,AdolfLoos.Theearly critical writings of Rossi include ample evidence
houses I copied from the spiderweb-likeforms of Le Corbusier,who delicately of his study of Enlightenmenttheory by way of Kaufmann,thence to be trans-
runs his communications without regardfor the axis of his buildings or seem- lated into research into specifically Italian examples (Miliziato Antonelli)and
ingly any kind of pattern."Secondly,Mies's plan for IIT, 1939 is adduced for modernist parallels (Loos).
the formal layout of the two pavilions in New Canaan.This precedent is fol- Thus for Rossi, the idea of an "autonomousarchitecture"was quite natu-
lowed quicklyby Theovan Doesburg'spainting (the origin of Johnson's"asym- rally joined to that of a "rationalarchitecture."Thus, when in 1973Aldo Rossi
metric sliding rectangles"),August Choisy'splan and perspective of the Athe- as curator of the international section of the Milan Triennalesought to iden-
nian Acropolis, one already commandeeredby Le Corbusierto illustrate the tify those architects who, in ManfredoTafuri'swords espoused an "autonomy
dynamic force of non-rectilinear plans in VerAune Architecture,Schinkel's of language,"he collected them together under the banner of "RationalArchi-
Casino in Glienecke, and, as a prelude to Mies's glass-house idea, Ledoux's tecture."Thepremises of a "Neo-Rationalism"that became evident in the Bien-
spherical House of the AgriculturalGuards,so much loved by Kaufmannand nale represented the beliefs of many Italian and Frenchdesigners, from Aldo
hated by Sedlmayr.But now, in 1949-50 Johnsonhas cast aside any residual Rossi to Bernard Huet and Leon Krier,that architecture was in some sense
affection for National Socialist culture, and prefers to follow the progressive a discipline of its own, that its "language"was derived from former architec-
path of modernism, from Ledoux to Le Corbusier;thence to Kasimir Malev- tures, and that its form and role in the city was as much a productof an histori-
itch and the Suprematist painting that afforded the plan of the Glass House cal urbanstructure,as it was of social orpolitical concerns.Where,that is, in the
with a circle in a rectangle, and finally to Mies, who concludes the eight points politicized climate of the i96os, society hadbeen seen as the generatorof space
of Johnson'snew architecture with the FarnsworthHouse, 1947-1950. Such a and shelter, in the 1970s, perhapsin reaction to the evident loss of architecture
neat re-writing of history, a reversal in a sense of the progressive movement this implied, architecture asserted its own determinism. Fueled by Rossi's
described by the historians of Kaufmann'sgeneration, will be a leitmotif of Architectureof the City,a kind of "structuralism"in urbananalysis, and a semi-
"postmodernism"from the 196os on. otics of architecturalanalysis thus emerged as the equivalent of the revivalof
The paradox, of course, is that Johnson,often criticized for "betraying Russian Formalism,so-called "Cartesian"linguistics, and deconstruction in
Mies" in the obviously box-like and non-universal counter-horizontalspace literary studies. "Autonomy"of the text and of the building were seen as
^' Ledoux, from Architecture, 1847.

parallel and complimentary facets of the refusal of socio-political narrative, Johnson was endowed with an over-archingtheme that superficially at least
the vagaries of urban developmentplanning, and what Nikolaus Pevsner had made historical and critical sense of his otherwise eclectic work;postmodern-
alreadyidentified in 1960 as "thereturnof historicism." ism was definitively abandoned,together with the relativizing theories that
HubertDamisch, in his preface to the first (1981)Frenchtranslation of seemed to support it; and, in a nice turn of intellectual agenda, a new post-
Von Ledoux bis le Corbusierentitled "Ledouxavec Kant"with its echoes of theory,pragmatic era implicitly opened up.
Lacan'sown aleatory preface to the Marquisde Sade's La PhilohophiedanAle Beneath this often self-contradictorytrajectoryof the idea of "autonomy"
boudoir, "Kantavec Sade,"notes this peculiar fascination of the 1970S with in architecture,we can trace all the tensions evoked by the history of the con-
the idea of autonomy,as directly linked to the continuity of Kantianthought, cept of "Enlightenment,"in the twentieth century. Fromthe general assump-
asking what it would be to couple Kant'sanalysis of the origins of geometry tion of "progress"and "reason"common to the ThirdRepublicand its liberal
in the Critiqueof Pure Reason, with that autonomous geometry of Ledoux,in interpretationsof the Revolution,to the contested domainof social democracy
order to meditate on the special "autonomy"of architecture, from Ledouxto after the First WorldWar,to the defensive pro-modernistposture of the ideal-
Le Corbusierto Loos and thence to the autonomies claimed by the new Neo- ist avant-gardeand its PopularFrontallies in the 193os, to the despairing and
rationalism of the late 1970S: negative critique of Enlightenment developed by Adornoand Horkheimerin
exile, to the reassertion of democraticvalues in the post-WarFrankfurtSchool
At our present moment, when the history of architecture hesitates between
against the pessimism of a withdrawnand posthistorical conservatism, and
a renewedform of the history of styles and a form of institutional analysis
thence to the renewal of "form"and "structure"as a renewal tactic for archi-
which ignores everything that comprises the propermaterial of architecture,
tecture in the 1970s, and finally to the quasi-nostalgic revival of the idea of
the idea of autonomy, to take it in the philosophical sense, takes on the value
autonomy itself in the 199os; all this attests to the power of Kant'sidea that,
of a regulatingconcept.Tothink Ledouxwith Kant is to recognizethat in archi- both formal and political, implies at once freedomand order,collective reason
tecture understandingdoes not proceedsolely from history, or in other wordA,
and expressed individuality.
with Kant,that an understandingwhichsubjectively presents itself as history
with respect to the way in which it has been acquired,can participate, objec-
tively, in oneform or another of rationality49

Tothink of Ledouxwith Kant,Damisch concludes, is to ask what constitutes


architectureas an object, not only of history, but also of thought, and thought
that is constrained by conditions that are a priori formal,or in another sense,
internal to the discipline of architecture.

CONCLUSION

This is not thefirst time that the idea of an hiAtoricallangugage of architecture


as a condition of its autonomy has been debated in architecture.
Peter D. Eisenman, "Autonomyand the Avant-Garde," 1996.5

In a conference honoring the career of Philip Johnson, and entitled "Auton-


omy and Ideology,"the theme was resurrected,but now in a more distant, his-
torical, sense, as one that neatly joined the trajectory of Johnson'swork to a
newly aroused interest in the various "modernisms"of the 1940S, 50s, and 6os,
and this once more to a preoccupation with the discipline of architecture.5
As presented at the 1998 conference, the Johnsoniansaga was fundamentally
reliant on "autonomy"as it made its first appearancein the Glass House proj-
ects and building of 1948-9. This desired"returnto disciplinaryroots,"one that
has naturallyfollowedsimilar calls in the humanities and social sciences in the
wakeof the inter-disciplinaryexperimentsand criticalinnovationsof post-struc-
turalism,seems to answera numberof concernsin a generationunconvincedby
the pluralismof post-modernism.A returnto the fundamentalsof architecture,
in the moderntradition generallyrepresentedby abstraction,minimalism,the
pluralism of post-modernism,would counter architecture'salways suspect
relationsto the "societyof the spectacle"and its consumeristaftermath.
As evidenced by the papers given at the conference, historians, critics,
and architects agreed generally that "modernism"in some form,whether clas-
sic "high"modernism or the less polemical but more socially present modern-
ism of the immediate postwarperiod (corporatemodernism,domestic modern-
ism, suburban modernism), or even "counter-modernism"of the kind posed
by Kiesler,was decidedlypreferableto postmodernism,and more than this, to
the "deconstructivism"that, in the Johnsonitinerary,had supplanted it in the
1980s. Thus the conference proposedto satisfy a numberof questions at once:
NOTES
1 ClementGreenberg,"Modernist Painting,"TheCollected Kaufmann, 'Trois architectes revolutionaires,"' Bulletin Neoclassicism" and "Romantic Neoclassicism," which
Essaysand Criticismed. JohnO'Brian.In4 volumes, Monumental, 1979, 78-81. took off directly from Riegl's own attempt to revise the
Volume4 (Chicago:ChicagoUniversityPress, 1993),p.85. characterization of another neglected period, that of the
4 Emil Kaufmann, VonLedoux bis Le Corbusier: Ursprung
und Entwicklung der Autonomen Architektur (Vienna and Spatromische.
2 Thefollowingarticleis an expansionof argumentsmade
first in myClaude-Nicholas Ledoux: Architecture and Leipzig: Rolf Passer, 1933). 16 Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All TooHuman A Book for
Socialreformat theendof theAncienRegime(Cam- Free Spirits. Trans. R.J Hollingdale, Introduction by Rich-
5 For responses to Kaufmann in the 1930s, see Meyer
bridge,MA:MITPress, 1989)and developedintotwo arti- ard Schacht (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
Schapiro, "The New Viennese School," TheArt Bulletin
cles, "ResearchingRevolutionary Architecture," Journal xvii, 1936, 258-266; Eduardo Perisco, Scritti, critici e
1996), p.101[Menschliches, Allzumenschliches, 1878].
ofArchitectural Education,August(1991),206-211and polemici, ed. Rossa and Ballo (Milan), p.210; Hans Sedl- 17 Kaufmann, "Die Architekturtheorie," p.226,Translation
"FromLedouxto LeCorbusier, to Johnson,to . ."Pro-
mayr, Verlust der Mitte - Die bildende kunst des 19. Und GeorgesTeyssot, "Neoclassic and 'Autonomous' Archi-
gressiveArchitecture, May(1991).Since then,the con- 20. Jahrhunderts aid Symptom und Symbol der Ziet (Otto tecture," p. 24, slightly altered.
nectionsbetweenJohnsonand Kaufmannhavebeen
MuellerVerlag: Salzburg, 1948),Translated by Brian Bat- 18 Emil Kaufmann, VonLedoux bis Le Corbusier, p.45. See
elaboratedby DetlefMertensin "Systemand Freedom: tershaw in Art as Crisis: The Lost Centre (London: Hollis
also "Die stadt des Architekten Ledoux," p.146: "Stein ist
SigfriedGiedion,EmilKaufmannandthe Constitution and Carter, 1957).
of ArchitecturalModernity," in R.E.Somol,ed. Auton- weider Stein."
in 6 Allan Braham, TheArchitecture of the French Enlighten-
omyandIdeology:Positioningan Avant-Garde 19 After 1925, save for a slim book on the architecture of
America(NewYork: MonticelliPress, 1997),pp.212-231. ment (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980), p.7;
the city of Baden [Die Kunst der Stadt Baden (Vienna:
David Watkin, The Rise of Architectural History (Chicago:
Myinterestin EmilKaufmannwas initiated Osterreichischer Bundesverlag, 1925)] Kaufmann con-
byColinRoweat Cambridgeinthe Fallof 1959,as, in University of Chicago Press, 1980), p.180. centrated his research on the architects of the late eigh-
myfirstweekof architecturalstudy,at myfirstandter- 7 Christopher S. Wood, ed. The ViennaSchool Reader: Poli- teenth century, especially Ledoux. He contributed the
rifyingtutorialat his quasi-modernist apartmenton Fen tics and Art Historical Method in the 1930s (New York: entry on Ledoux to theThieme-Becker encyclopedia
Causeway,andfromthe depthsof his EamesDirector's ZONEBooks, 2000), p.69. and an article on the German painter, Ferdinand
chair,abruptlyswingingroundto face me, he handed Georg Walmueller.The concept of autonomous archi-
8 Meyer Schapiro, op. Cit., and Walter Benjamin, Das Pas-
me a copyof the recentlypublishedArchitecture in the tecture, however, was present in none of these early
sagen-Werk, ed. Rolf Tiedemann, Gesammelte Schriften,
Ageof Reasonwiththe question:"Well,andwhatdo you studies, save perhaps by implication, as when, in 1929,
Vol. 5 (1982).Translated Howard Eiland, Kevin McLaugh-
makeof concatenation?"Supportedbythis initiationI Kaufmann characterized Ledoux's architec-
lin as TheArcades Project (Cambridge, MA:Harvard Uni-
was ableto makethe relationsbetween Kaufmann's ture, with its geometrical play of masses, as "anti-
versity Press, 1999).
modernismand his ownthe subjectmatterof myfirst Baroque." [Emil Kaufmann, "Architektonische Entwurfe
discussionwith PhilipJohnsonin 1964.The longerterm 9 Kaufmann, ThreeRevolutionaryArchitects, Boulee, aus der zeit der franzosichen Revolution," Zeitschrift fur
consequencesof Rowe'sfirst questionare markedin Ledoux and Lequeu in Transactions of the American bildende Kunst, LXil,1929-30, p.45.]
my life-longinterestin Ledouxand LeCorbusier. This Philosophical Society Volume 42, Part 3 (October, 1952)
20 Emil Kaufmann, "C.N. Ledoux under der klassizistische
particularessay grewout of three invitations:topresent pp.431-564.
Kirchenbau," Kirchenkunst, III(1931), p.62.
a paperat the conference"TheLastThingsBeforethe 10 Kaufmann, Architecture in the Age of Reason: Baroque
Last,"organizedbythe PhDstudentsin the Schoolof and Post-Baroque in England, Italy and France (Cam-
21 Ibid., p.62.
Architectureat ColumbiaUniversity;to respondto a
bridge, MA:Harvard University Press, 1955). 22 Emil Kaufmann, "Die stadt des Architekten Ledoux: Zur
paperby BarbaraJohnsonat a conferenceorganizedby Erkenntnis der Autonomen Architektur,"Kunstwissen-
T.J.Clark at Berkeleyandthe San FranciscoMOMA under 11 See Franz Schulze, Philip Johnson: Life and Work(New
York:Knopf, 1994) pp.157-8; 194-6; 216. schaftliche Forschungen, II, Berlin (1933). p.131-160.
the title "Whatwas ModernismandWhyWon'tit Go
23 Ibid., p.133.
Away;"andto presenta paperat the conferencein Paris 12 Aldo Rossi, Scritti scelti sul'arcitettura e la citta,
organizedbyANYMagazinein 1999.A moredeveloped 1956-1972, ed. Rosaldo Bonicalzi (Milan: CLUP,1975), 24 Ibid., p.138.
versionof this paperwas readat a Gettyconferenceon pp.62-71 ("Emil Kaufmann e I'architettura 25 Ibid., p.142.
architecturalhistoryandart historyinthe Springof 2000, dell'llluminismo," Cassabella continuita, 222 (1958)).
andat a symposiumon the "Culture of Disenchantment" Kaufmann's influence is seen also in Rossi's "Intro- 26 Ledoux, L'Architecture, p.185, p.115.
hostedbythe CenterforModernandContemporary Stud- duzione a Boulee," [1967]The introduction to Rossi's 27 Kaufmann does not provide a note to this source until
ies UCLA, 2001.I havebenefittedfromthe responses,con- translation of Boullee's Architecture: Essai sur I'art the publication of his ThreeRevolutionaryArchitects.
versationsanddebatesat allthese conferences. (Scritti scelti, pp.346-364) and the article "L'architettura Boullee, Ledoux, Lequeu.
3 The best contemporarysummaryof Kaufmann'scon- dell' lluminismo," [1973] (Scritti scelti, pp.454-478).
28 Ibid., p.146.
tributionis by DetlefMertens,"Systemand Freedom: 13 R.E. Somol, ed., Autonomy and Ideology.
29 Ledoux, L'Architecture, p. 234.
SigfriedGiedeon,EmilKaufmannandthe Constitution
14 Emil Kaufmann, "Die Architectkturtheorie der Franzo-
of ArchitecturalModernity," in R.E.Somol,ed. Auton- 30 Ibid., pp.152-3.
sischen Klassik und der Klassizismus," Repertorium fur
omyand Ideology:PositioninganAvant-Garde inAmerica
Kunstwissenschaft, XLIV(1924), pp.197-237. This account 31 Kaufmann, "Die Stadt," p.153.Translation from Georges
(NewYork: MonticelliPress, 1997),pp.212-231.Fora
of "neoclassicism" was elaborated in the review article Teyssot, "Neoclassic and Autonomous Architecture," p.26.
briefsummaryof Kaufmann'slife,see MeyerSchapiro,
"Klassizismus als tendenz und als epoche," Kritische
"Obituary of EmilKaufmann," CollegeofArtJournal. 32 Kaufmann, VonLedoux bis Le Corbusier, p.3. All
Berichte zur Kunstgeschichtlichen Literatur(1933), pp.
Winter(1954),144.Forthe contemporaryassessment of future references to this work will be in the text in the
201-214, which considered reviewed concepts of "klas-
Kaufmann,see GeorgesTeyssot"Neoclassicand 'Auton- form [VLLC].
sizismus" from Riegl, Schmarsow, Paul Zucker, Frankl,
omous'Architecture:the Formalism of EmilKaufmann 33 Kaufmann was direct in his criticism of historians who
Brinckmann, Giedion [Spatbaroker und romantischer
1891-1953," in DimitriPorphyrios,ed., "Onthe Meth-
Klassizismus, 1922], Wilhelm Pinder, and Wolfgang Her- looked only to Schinkel and German Neoclassicism:
odologyof ArchitecturalHistory," ArchitecturalDigest "The 'Prussian Style' is no more than the German immita-
rmann [Deutschen Baukunst des 19. und 20. Jahrhun-
51 (1981), pp.24-29; Gilbert Erouart, "Situation d'Emil
derts, 1932-330]. See George Teyssot, "Neoclassic and tion of French Revolutionary architecture." Kaufmann,
Kaufman," in EmilKaufmann,Troisarchitectsrevolu- VonLedoux bis Le Corbusier, p.50.
Autonomous Architecture," pp.25-26.
tionaires:Boulee,Ledoux,Lequeu,ed. GilbertErouart
andGeorgesTeyssot(Paris,1978),pp.5-11.See also, 15 GeorgeTeyssot, "Neoclassic and Autonomous 34 Central to Kaufmann's analysis of Ledoux was the trea-

MoniqueMosser,"Situationd'EmilK.,"De Ledouxa Le Architecture," pp.25-26. Teyssot has effectively analyzed tise that Ledoux had published two years before his
Corbusier:Originesde I'architecturemoderne,Introduc- the debates over this stylistic and periodic ascription, death, the magisterial first volume of a planned five
tion,J.L.Avril,Arc-et-Senans:EditionFoundationC.N. noting Sigfried Giedion's 1922 thesis entitled Spat- volume work, L'Architectureconsideree sous le rapport
Ledoux,1987,84-89:DanielRabreau,"Critique d'Emil barocker und romantischer Klassizismus "Late Baroque de I'art, des moeurs et de la legislation. This work, with
its 416 folio pages of text and 125 engraved plates of designs and interpreted them as symptoms of their the architect Ludwig Hilberseimer, fellow exile with Mies
Ledoux's built and ideal projects, constituted the main period (Von Ledoux, p. 11, 25, etc.), I certainly do not van der Rohe in Chicago, as he asserted the language
evidence for what was, in the 1920s known of Ledoux; underrate what Sedlmayr terms kritische Formen. How- of the modernist avant-garde. In his book Contemporary
indeed, despite subsequent discoveries of original draw- ever, the large number of original and yet "normal"inven- Architecture of 1964, Hilberseimer joined together Rus-
ings for specific projects, and archival verification of tions reveals that the complex period with all its excite- sian Constructivism, Dutch Neoplasticism and Corbusian
the dates of certain commissions, L'Architecture,with ment was sound enough to bring about a true regenera- Purism under the heading "autonomous architecture," as
all its amphibolic excesses and architectural hubris still tion of architecture. In the Epilogue to his book, Sedl- if autonomy represented a kind of linguistic freedom,
remains central to any interpretation of Ledoux.The mayr points out that my rediscovery of Ledoux became 50 Peter D. Eisenman, "Autonomy and the Avant-Garde: the
two central post-Kaufmann studies of Ledoux remain, the starting point of his investigation into the formative
Necessity of an Architectural Avant-Garde in America,"
Michel Gallet, Claude-Nicolas Ledoux, 1736-1806 (Paris: forces of our era. Though he does not fully agree with
in R.E. Somol, ed. Autonomy and Ideology, p.73.
Picard, 1985) and Anthony Vidler,Claude-Nicolas Ledoux, my interpretation, he nonetheless adopts most of my
Architecture and Social Reform at the End of the Ancien concepts and observations, especially those of the new 51 R.E. Somol, ed. Autonomy and Ideology, p.73.
Regime (Cambridge, MA:MITPress, 1989), decentralization in composition ...the abolition of the
old aesthetic canons...the increasing hostility to decora-
35 Kaufmann is here quoting F. Gundolf on Schlegel's
tion ,..the new "mobility"of furniture ...the altered rela-
"Lucinde,""an importance witness to a historical ten-
tionship between structure and environment...the ideal
dency: the first expression of the profound demand for
of equality in architecture...the triumph of elementary
an autonomy of sensual pleasures" in "the series of phil-
geometry...the parallel phenomena in the graphic arts,
osophical petitions in favor of the independence of the
particularly the fashion of the silhouette...the end of
strengths and instincts of human nature, a series which
the Baroque anthropomorphisms and the new attitude
is opened with Kant's affirmation of the autonomy of
towards matter...the coming up of new architectural
morals." [VLLC,36].
tasks...the new sense of commodiousness ...the
36 Hannes Meyer, "Larealidad Sovietica: los arquitectos,"
presentation of new forms long before new materials
Arquitectura, n,9 (1942); in English in TaskMagazine, n.3 fitting them were found .. .the continuity of the develop-
(1942). Reprinted in Hannes Meyer, Scritti 1921-1942. ment after 1800.. .the struggle of antagonistic tenden-
Architettura o rivoluzione, ed Francesco Dal Co, Padua: cies in the nineteenth century...the appearance of a
Marsilio (1969), pp. 214-215. new structural order behind the masks of the various
37 Theodor W. Adorno, Kant's "Critiqueof Pure Reason," styles...and the typically nineteenth-century thought
ed Rolf Tiedemann. Trans Rodney Livingstone (Stanford: that perfect solutions of the past should be the stan-
Stanford University Press, 2001), pp.54-55. dards for all the future." Architecture in the Age of
Reason, Note 439, p.266. A few years earlier he was
38 Ernst Cassirer, "Das Problem Jean-Jacques Rousseau,"
no less nervous in reviewing the book by Marcel Raval
Archiv fur Geschichte der Philosophie, XLI (1932),
and J.-Ch. Moreux, Claude-Nicolas Ledoux (Paris: 1945),
177-213, 479-513. The intertwined histories of Kaufmann
where he summarizes his "serious charge of plagiarism"
and Cassirer were again to intersect with the publi-
in a long note. Art Bulletin xxx, no. 4, 1948, 288-291,
cation much later of the English edition of Cassirer's
note 3, p.289, Kaufmann was no less charitable to Helen
Philosophy of the Enlightenment, and Kaufmann's post-
Rosenau who had written on Lequeu and Boullee follow-
humously published Architecture in the Age of Reason
ing up the leads provided by the Viennese scholar.
(1955).
43 Max Dvorak, The History of Art as the History of Ideas,
39 Kaufmann, "Die Stadt," p. 41,
trans. John Hardy (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul,
40 Ledoux, L'Architecture, pp.65, 91,135: "Lesentiment 1984), Dvorak's Kunstgeschichte als Geistesgeschichte
apprecie d'un plan est a I'abri de toute domination. II had been published posthumously by his students
emane du sujet, it doit adapter a la nature des lieux (Munich: R. Piper and Co., 1924).
et des besoins," (65) "Toutdetail est inutile, je dis plus,
44 Kaufmann, "C N. Ledoux,"Journal of the American Soci-
nuisible, quand il devise les surfaces par des additions
ety of Architectural Historians, July (1943), p.13. Future
mesquines ou mensongres." (91) "Toutes les forms que references in the text [JSAH].
l'on decrit d'un seul trait de compas sont avouees par le
goet. Le cercle, le carre, voila les lettres alphabetiques 45 Kaufmann, "Nils G. Wollin: 'Desprez en Suede,"'
que les auteurs emploient dans la texture des meilleurs reviewed by E, Kaufmann, Art Bulletin xxVIII(1946), p.283.
ouvrages." (135). 46 Ibid,, p.283.
41 Richard J. Neutra, WiebautAmerika? (1927), pp.62, 69. 47 Emil Kaufmann, Architecture in the Age of Reason.
42 Paranoia seems to have been the common disease of Baroque and Post-Baroque in England, Italy, and France
both Sedlmayr and Kaufmann. Sedlmayr concludes his (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1955). I would
study of the loss of center in sullen resentment that Liketo think that Kaufmann on his first visit to Los
his formulation of Kaufmann's Ledoux had not been Angeles had the satisfaction of finally seeing the work
received as authoritative: "Whoever upholds the doc- of Richard Neutra as it had emerged in the conclusion
trine of "the lost center" can be certain from the outset of VonLedoux bis Le Corbusier as the ultimate destina-
to perceive the consequences of doing so personally, tion for modernism: the utopia of a modernist social
He will have against him not only those people who democratic California. I could even imagine the meeting
reject what is new because it is unaccustomed, but of the two Viennese in Silver Lake. Certainly the copy of
also those who only propagate what is new because it VonLedoux in the UCLAlibrary, bears Kaufmann's own
is "contemporary," "modern,"and therefore interesting" careful signature as donated by the author.
"worshippers of the past and futurists united against 48 Philip Johnson, "House at New Canaan, Connecticut,"
him." Kaufmann's footnotes in Architecture in the Age ArchitecturalReview, CVlii, 645, (Sept. 1950), 152-159,
of Reason are no less bitter: "Hans Sedlmayr, Verlust
49 By contrast, as Mertens has noted, Kaufmann's "auton-
der Mitte (Salzburg, 1948), p. 98. Having myself pointed
out the extraordinary significance of the revolutionary omy," already in the 1930s was adopted wholesale by