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Tanner Lectures 2012: "The Viennese Interior: Architecture & Inwardness"

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Vienna took its interiors seriously. Between 1898 and 1938, many of this city’s greatest minds grappled with how to structure and appoint the inner spaces of everyday life. The result—the modern home—would possess an interior that (according to its creators) fitted another, more impenetrable interior: the subjective inwardness of the home’s inhabitants. Built architecture and psychic sphere, the Viennese interior was a contested matrix of human values. The novelist Hermann Broch portrayed fin-de siècle Vienna as a ‘value vacuum’. These lectures explore Viennese homemaking as attempts to fill that vacuum.

Lecture One, titled ‘The Kiss’ and focused on the 1902 Beethoven exhibition held in the Secession building, pays special attention to the innovative use of plaster in a new ‘art of space’ —what Viennese artists and designers termed Raumkunst.

Lecture Two, ‘The Burning Child’, considers Sigmund Freud’s apartment and offices at Berggasse 19, the house Ludwig Wittgenstein designed for his sister Hermine, Adolf Loos’s early residential projects, and the design reforms of Josef Frank and Otto Neurath.

The relevance of these utopian interiors today—it will be argued—rests on the condition of Vienna as an unhomely home. Already before the ruptures of 1918 and 1938 buried its imagined future, this European capital city had been the rehearsal space for exile. The Viennese interior thus continues poignantly to ask: what is home?

For more information, visit http://www.clarehall.cam.ac.uk/index.php?id=1163

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