Mies ‘ad usum Delphini’

60 Years in 60 Works

Luis Fernández-Galiano 

This is a Mies for minors; simplified and purged of tricky fragments, as the watereddown classics read by the Dolphin of France. Simplified, because the long creative career of Mies van der Rohe is summed up in 60 works taquigraphically described and briefly illustrated; and purged, because its succinct character forces to do without the most ominous fragments of his biography and the more damaging anecdotes of his constructions. All in all, this compact Mies fit for general audiences wishes to duly reflect the most relevant events of his life and the more significant projects of his career, and has tried not to exclude any of the basic references, any of the main collaborators, any of the essential interpreters. A mere mention, indeed, can hardly account for the complex attitude of Mies toward Schinkel or Berlage, the nature of his debt to Behrens or Bruno Paul, the importance of his relationship with Lilly Reich or Hilberseimer, the character of his link with Gropius or Johnson, the nuances of his dialogue with Le Corbusier or Wright: the absence of details transforms the intricate tapestry of Weimar’s Germany or postwar America into a squalid diagram, pale as a bloodless face, and schematic as a school text. It would have been desirable to cite in extenso the abject proclamation in support of the Führer that he endorsed along with the sculptor Kolbe and the painter Nolde, published by the Nazi organ Völkischer Beobachter; to carefully describe his parasitic and distant attitude toward his wife, daughters or lovers; or elucidate the details of his professional opportunism, self-interested support of manifests and movements, solitary indifference and abrasive contrast between a calculating pragmatism and olympic isolation; but these dark passages could shock those who ignore that art flourishes as roses in manure... [+]

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