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The early works of Victor Horta: The origins of art nouveau architecture. (Volumes I and II)

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Title: The early works of Victor Horta: The origins of art nouveau architecture. (Volumes I and II)
Author(s): Hanser, David Albert
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Franciscono, Marcel
Department / Program: Art History
Discipline: Art History
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): Art History Architecture
Abstract: In 1893 Victor Horta, a young Belgian architect who had built only a handful of relatively insignificant structures, designed the Tassel House. The popularity of the decorative style which Horta introduced in it and developed in the series of masterpieces which rapidly followed, has resulted in far more attention being paid to Horta's ornament than to his unprecedented and ultimately more significant architectural innovations. The most important of these was, as Henry van de Velde noted, "the first appearance of the 'open plan'... (which) spread rapidly and vanquished everything in opposition."$\sp1$Historians have suggested that exposure to developments in British architecture and design, which were introduced into Belgium at about the same time Horta designed the Tassel House, were the inspiration for his innovations, particularly for the decorations. Historians who have examined the architectural innovations have limited their studies almost entirely to his use of iron construction, which they suggest was inspired by the 1889 Paris Universal Exposition and illustrations in Viollet-le-Duc's Discourses on Architecture. Horta and his associates categorically denied any British influence, but he did recognize Viollet as one of his masters. In his memoirs, he identifies other influences on him at the time he designed the Tassel House: his appointment to the faculty at the Universite Libre de Bruxelles where he assumed the theory and construction courses of a suddenly deceased professor, and his activities in a Masonic lodge whose membership was largely composed of leading scientists and mathematicians from the University (including Tassel).Close analysis of Horta's earlier buildings, which have received little study, shows that the Tassel House may represent a rapid maturation which was precipitated by these events, but it was not a sudden change in direction. He had been consistently developing, prior to the Tassel House, a theory of architecture that was focussed by renewed contact with French Rationalist architectural theory and practice. In books, structures, and decorations, associated with the Rationalists can be found the essential components which have been missing in previous attempts to explain the genesis of Horta's mature style, architectural and decorative, and the beginnings of Art Nouveau architecture that the Tassel House represents. ftn$\sp1$Henry van de Velde, manuscript x/38, Archives van de Velde. "L'histoire de l'architecture contemporaine n'en inscrit pas moins a l'actif de V. Horta la premiere apparition du 'plan libre'. Cette audacieuse innovation s'entendra rapidement et des chances de triompher de tout ce qui pourrait lu etre oppose."
Issue Date: 1994
Type: Text
Language: English
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/19291
Rights Information: Copyright 1994 Hanser, David Albert
Date Available in IDEALS: 2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog: AAI9503207
OCLC Identifier: (UMI)AAI9503207
 

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