Sample Art Essay on Western Architecture Created in the 20th Century

Western Architecture Created in the 20th Century

Through design, architecture in the 20th century adopted a new look and incorporated several developments. The early 20th century marked a period in which there was a shift from rigid rules of classical architecture to incorporation of function and aesthetics in order to bring out beauty of raw materials and good design. This was summarized by a historic architect Henry –Russell who said “No better name than ‘modern’ has yet been found for what has come to be the characteristic architecture of the twentieth century.”

Architects thought about building, which was in a more than one design opinion that was the philosophy in the 20th century according to Jonathan Glancey who authored the book 20th-Century Architecture. It implied therefore that structures, which characterized the 20th century, put more emphasis on modernization as an attitude and not style. This was also an intention of breaking from the past architect requirements.

Architecture in the 20th century was characterized by modern development without ornamentation and allowed materials in the construction to be in their man made or natural form (Crouch n.p). The most common used materials include glass, concrete, steel, and wood. In addition, modern architecture incorporated a simple and streamlined approach, whereby in created spaces having very clean lines and angles or beautiful curves.

The styles used in the 20th century architecture were diverse. For instance, expressionism used concrete and was highly employed to give buildings a quality textual feeling. Another style employed in the architecture was futurism. This kind took into consideration employment of modern technology and the quick pace of life with linear styles and chromaticism.

The 20th century painting in architecture was characterized by graphics arts. This also took into consideration a wide multiplicity of movements, theories, that was to do away with historical conventions in order to keep up with current trend in the social, economic and intellectual forms.

The onset of paintings can be traced back to the 19th century in France. For instance, great paintings of Gustave Courbet and the impressionist has brought about a greater rejection on the prevailing academic situation and demanded a more natural representation of the visual world. In the late 1980s, several different movements and styles came about, which stood for high points in the western visual culture. These included Neo Impressionism, symbolism, and expressionism minimalism among many others. These characteristically expressed a response to a change of life condition in the 20th century. They were motivated by technological advancement and knowledge expansion and understanding. Modernization in architecture was mainly steered in the 20th century after the Second World War, and was adopted all over Europe and the United States.

Various contexts are viewed to have been the force behind architecture in the 20th century. The first one is social factor. In this case, it is viewed that modern architecture was developed because of social and political insurgencies. The other factor is as a result of technological advancements primarily driven by engineering advancements. The last factor was as a result of taste and reaction.

Expressionism, for instance, was an architectural organization, which was found on the northern part of Europe during the first years of the 20th century. They incorporated sculptural forms and use of concrete. Their style of construction mainly adopted novel materials, formal innovation, and natural biophormic forms through production of brick, steel, and glass. A good number of these architects took part in the First World War and this experience together with social and political heat after the German revolution brought about utopian outlook. The prevailing economic conditions affected construction commissions, thereby leaving them only to do more of paper work. This period was also characterized by temporary exhibitions.

The stylistic movement arose following the World War 1 that embraced and incorporated both the modern and traditional methods of architecture. This involved the use of aesthetic machine, technological advancement, and at the same time adopting traditional forms, such as ornaments. A case example is Art deco, which included both technological elements and drawing elements in the traditional forms. As time went by, more forms that had national imagery were incorporated in the architecture. In the United States, for instance, Federal buildings in the early 19th century took the form of neoclassicism, which were also found in local post offices and the pentagon.

The Second World War period was another significant time in the creation of architecture in the 20th century. After the war, there was a massive powerful factor driving innovation in the building sector, which automatically affected architectural advancements. The war time demanded more industrial supplies, such as steel and other materials used in war that created a shortage in their supply. This led to an adoption of other advancement materials in construction. Another effect that arose was that the existing material was in high demand in other sections like transport and infrastructure. The demand of structures was intense, especially for military and government facilities, private, and public housing after the war. Because of these demands, there were several experiments, especially with prefabricated buildings.

In the United States, there was an international exhibition of modern architecture after the Second World War in New York City, whereby several threads in architecture were identified and having a common purpose, they were amalgamated into a universal style accepted globally (Mark n.p). In as much as this marked a turning point for architects, several other modern styles came up in the interwar period that overshadowed the international style. Several high quality architectures were constructed in the European cities like Berlin, Frankfurt, Vienna and many others.

The Berlin housing estates built stood out of the rest, which set the world standards. These constructions were brought up during the early years of National Socialism, which are believed to play a vital function in political and organizational achievement part of the UNESCO World heritage list in 2008. Due to the difficult economic conditions in the Weimar Republic in the 20th century, the housing construction, which was mainly financed privately encountered several challenges and collapsed. This is because the rates of inflation were high for the citizens who were low-income earners. This resulted in housing becoming unaffordable.


Work Cited

Crouch, Christopher. “Modernism in Art Design and Architecture”, New York: St. Martins           Press.2000.

Mark Jarzombek. “Joseph August Lux: Werkbund Promoter, Historian of a Lost Modernity,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 63/1 (June 2004): 202–219.