RIETVELD. Theodore M. Brown: THE WORK OF G. RIETVELD ARCHITECT. Cambridge: The MIT Press, [1969].

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THE WORK OF G. RIETVELD ARCHITECT

Theodore M. Brown

Theodore M. Brown: THE WORK OF G. RIETVELD ARCHITECT. Cambridge: The MIT Press, [1969]. First English edition [originally published by A W Bruna & Zoon, 1958]. Quarto. Black fabricoid titled in white. Printed dust jacket. Red endpapers. 198 pp. 200 black and white illustrations. 2 color plates. Architectural historian’s bookplate to front free endpaper. Jacket marked by vintage tapes stains to upper and lower edges front and back, and a thumbnail-size chip to spine. Signature for pages 185 to 196 loose and laid in. Overall a very good copy in a good or better dust jacket: surprisingly uncommon.

7.5 x 10.25 hardcover book with 198 pages and 200 black and white illustrations and 2 color plates.. A comprehensive examination of Rietveld's approach to architecture, interior, industrial and furniture design and the cultural and historical contect for such designs.

  • Preface
  • I. European Background
  • II. 1900 – 1924
  • Biographical Data
  • Work
  • Relationship To European Events
  • III. Schröder House, Utrecht, 1924
  • Site
  • Patron
  • Design
  • Construction
  • Criticism Of The House
  • Painting And The Schröder House
  • Relationship To European Events
  • IV. 1924 – 1929
  • V. 1929 – World War II
  • VI.  World War II – Present
  • VII. Conclusions
  • Appendix
  • Notes
  • Essays By Rietveld
  • Selected Catalogue
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • Photo Credits

Gerrit Thomas Rietveld (1888 – 1964) seems possessed of two personalities, each so distinct that one might take his work to be that of more than one artist. The first personality is that seen in the craftsman cabinet-maker working in a primordial idiom, re-inventing chairs and other furniture as if no one had ever built them before him and following a structural code all of his own; the second is that of the architect working with elegant formulas, determined to drive home the rationalist and neoplastic message in the context of European architecture. The two activities alternate, overlap, and fuse in a perfect osmosis unfolding then into a logical sequence.

In 1918 Rietveld joined the “De Stijl” movement which had sprung up around the review of that name founded the year before by Theo van Doesburg. The group assimilated and translated into ideology certain laws on the dynamic breakdown of compositions (carrying them to an extreme) that had already been expressed in painting by the cubists: the “De Stijl” artists also carefully studied the architectonic lesson taught by the great Frank Lloyd Wright, whose influence was widely felt in Europe at that time.

Collaborating first with Robert van’t Hoff and Vilmos Huszar, then with Theo van Doesburg and Cornelius van Eesteren, Rietveld soon became one of the most distinguished interpreters of the neoplastic message. Rietveld broke with the 'De Stijl' movement in 1928 and switched to the Nieuwe Zakelijkheid. The same year he joined the Congrès Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne.

Among his most important works are: the Schröder house at Utrecht (1924, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000); the “Row Houses” at Utrecht (1931-34); the Dutch pavilion at the Venice Biennial (1954); the sculpture pavilion in the Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller at Otterloo and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam (1955). His furniture designs include the Red and Blue Chair (1917), the Dining Chair (1919), Chair for P. J. Elling (1920), the Cartridge (1922-24), the Schröder 1 (1923), the Wheelbarrow (1923), the Berlin Chair (1923), a Stool for children (1923), aDivan Table (1923), a Flat Stool (1923-24), aChair (1926), aMusic stand (1927), the Armchair for A. M. Hartog (1927), a Tubular Chair (1927), the Wouter Paap Armchair (1928-30), and the Zig-Zag Chair (1932-34).

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