1902

Julien Guadet

Éléments et Théorie de l'Architecture

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There is a historical aspect to Kahn's concern for composition. Composition of elements was a preoccupation of the Beaux-Arts academic tradition at the turn of the century. Julien Guadet, the respected professor at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, wrote about it, and his famous pupil, Tony Garnier, may have set in motion forces and attitudes which, no matter how well disguised by subsequent events in architecture, may still be with us. This may explain the association which Kahn is supposed to have with the Beaux-Arts academic tradition. However, it was Auguste Choisy, a contemporary as well as an ideological antagonist of Guadet, who influenced Kahn more--not by his words and ideas (Kahn did not read French and was not a "reader" in the scholarly sense) but by the magnificent illustrations in his book Histoire de l'Architecture, which Kahn treasured.
Romaldo Giurgola and Jaimini Mehta, Louis I. Kahn (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1975), p. 184.


Naturally, his thinking has foundations in architectural history. As Joseph Esherick sees it, "There is a moral injunction and an ethical character about Kahn's pronouncements. It is familiar in the writings of Julien Guadet, whose Éléments et Théorie de l'Architecture in four volumes (1870-1880) posits that the elements of architecture are not the ancient orders but they are windows, walls, floors, and light. The idea that a wall wants to be a wall and the idea of master spaces and slave spaces are both in Guadet. I remember," Esherick adds, "that the prominent thing on Kahn's desk when I first went to meet him in the late 50s was a copy of Guadet's old testament."
C. Ray Smith, Supermannerism: New Attitudes in Post-Modern Architecture (1977), p. 82-3.


Vincent Scully, Jr., Louis I. Kahn (New York: George Brazillier, 1962).



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