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Bruno
Taut

Berlin, Land Berlin 
1880−1938
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Bruno Taut (Bruno Julius Florian Taut, May 4, 1880, Königsberg, East Prussia - December 24, 1938, Istanbul, Turkey) - German expressionist architect, adherent of "color construction". In the early twentieth century, built in Germany several thousand residential buildings. He was a staunch pacifist, categorically opposed the war. Having escaped from the Nazi regime, he lived and worked in Japan and Turkey. Taut was a supporter of utopian ideas about garden cities.

Features of the style of architect Bruno Taut: he opposed the construction of identical gray houses and advocated the use of different color finishes to give the buildings a personality. Designing “social” housing for workers, he equipped houses with green terraces and painted facades with bright shades. During the years of the economic crisis, Taut saw in color salvation from dullness and gloom and claimed that even cheap houses can look beautiful and joyful.

Famous works of Bruno Taut: Glass Pavilion, Hufayzen village, artist's house in Vorspeda, residential complex "Uncle Tom's Cabin", Falkenberg village.



In 1927, the Weissenhof residential complex was built for the German Werkbund exhibition in Stuttgart. Leading European architects designed the houses for him: Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier,Gropius and berens. But among the many similar white-painted concrete buildings with flat roofs, house number 19, the Bruno Taut project, stood out especially. Each surface of this building, including the internal walls and ceiling, was painted in one of the primary colors. This riot of colors caused Taut's colleagues to be misunderstood, irritated and ridiculed. According to eyewitnesses, when the sun bounced off the blood-red wall of Taut’s house, the neighboring building, designed by Mies van der Rohe, seemed to be engulfed in flames. The day before the opening of the exhibition, Mies, as her artistic director, expressed his doubts to Taut about his choice of colors. To which he replied: "If this seems inappropriate, perhaps the reason is not that the colors were not chosen correctly, but because the rest of the buildings were not completed."

This small house in Weissenhof fully corresponded to the design concept of Bruno Taut, who was a loyal and consistent supporter of "color construction". In the 1920s, he had already managed to build several dozen residential buildings for workers in Magdeburg and Berlin, using the same pure bright colors in their decoration. However, an unfortunate technical detail played a cruel joke with Bruno Taut: the photos at that time were mostly black and white, including in professional magazines, so the world architectural community could not appreciate his innovative ideas. So now some modern researchers call Taut "One of the most underrated and unfairly ignored modernist architects."

Color above all

On March 17, 1905, Bruno Taut wrote in his diary: “I am more and more absorbed in an idea that has not left me for two years now: to combine my talent in using color with my architectural abilities. Colorful spatial compositions and color architecture are areas that can allow me to say something personal. "Painting always brings me back to architecture, and the latter, on the contrary, always brings me back to painting, so I don’t need to be afraid to waste my strength."

Bruno Taut was born on May 4, 1880 in Königsberg (now Kaliningrad) in the family of a businessman. He received an art education, but pretty quickly realized that he wanted to devote himself to architecture. Taut graduated from the Konigsberg School of Civil Engineering, worked in various architectural bureaus, including under the supervision of renowned Berlin architect Bruno Mehring and professor of architecture Theodor Fischer. Already in 1906, Taut received the first order for the restoration of the church, and in 1908 he was able to carry out the first major architectural project. Nevertheless, Taut did not stop drawing - for the most part these were pastels with images of forest landscapes.

In 1912, Taut designed the residential village of Falkenberg in Berlin, which was dubbed the “paint box”. As in many of the architect's subsequent projects, the houses in Falkenberg had separate terraces and were painted in bright colors. Using green, brown, blue and pink colors, surrounding the buildings with trees and plants, Taut wanted to “bring nature to the city.” In addition, the different colors of the facades gave the houses more personality. However, as the architect himself recalled, the reaction to his ideas was, to put it mildly, ambiguous: “Colored houses cause a lot of surprise, since the earlier and ubiquitous tradition of color architecture was completely lost. Especially Berliners, immigrants from the gray profitable quarters, have repeatedly stated that the architect should be locked up. ”

War with war

Bruno Taut made a loud statement about himself in 1914 when he built the famous Glass Pavilion for the German Werkbund exhibition in Cologne. The bizarre structure, a monument to light and color, later came to be called the "paradigm of expressionism", a combination of functionality and imagination. Unfortunately, it is now almost impossible to appreciate the true beauty of the Glass Pavilion: it was built in May 1914, and the First World War broke out in August.

Taut was definitely a pacifist. He categorically opposed the war, calling it "evil spirit", "hopeless dullness" and "an epidemic of mental disorders." Unlike many young Germans hurrying to the recruiting stations in August 1914, Taut saw in the war only stupidity and madness. At the time the war began, Bruno was 34 years old, and he was fit for service, so he tried to avoid conscription by all possible means. Taut constantly moved from place to place to make it harder to find, hired to work in places where he would have brought more benefits than in military service. In 1916, he even went on a hunger strike to become physically unsuitable for the army and thus avoid conscription.

With the outbreak of war, young architects lost the opportunity to bring their designs to life. Taut turned to theoretical written works and unrealized architectural projects on paper. He invented ever more fantastic buildings to spiritualize and transform a war-torn society. In 1917, Taut published the book Alpine Architecture, in which he painted a utopian picture of the majestic crystal buildings erected in the Alps. In City Crown, he fantasized about super-cities, planted with greenery, with magical crystal buildings, which Taut considered as some kind of spiritual cathedrals.

Colorful utopia

After the war, Taut did not lose his former enthusiasm and utopian mood, but rather began to try to “revive” their buildings. Inspired by revolutionary ideas in post-war art, he created the “Art Work Committee”, which attracted many prominent artists and architects (including Walter Gropius, who transferred the spirit of this organization to the Bauhaus). However, Germany was soon seized by the economic crisis, due to which Taut again lost the opportunity to build. However, he again did not give up and in 1919 published one of his most important manifestos - "Call for color construction." In it, Taut wrote: “We no longer want to build joyless houses or see how others are building them. Color is not as expensive as moldings and sculptures, but color means a joyful existence. And since color architecture can be created with limited resources, we must especially insist on its use in new buildings under construction. <...> Let the blue, red, yellow, green, black and white shine with clear, bright shades to replace the dirty gray colors of the houses. "

From 1921 to 1923, Bruno Taut was the director of the municipal construction of Magdeburg. At this post, he not only showed his ability to carry out large-scale urban planning, but also was able to put into practice the ideas of his manifesto. Under the direction of Taut, the city, which many had previously called gray and dull, shone with bright colors. The principles of "color architecture" were applied not only to buildings under construction, but also to existing ones. Of course, this caused a lot of controversy, but, apparently, Taut's ideas found a response, and already from 1924 he began to build the village of Hufaisen in Berlin. One of the local journalists spoke about this residential complex as follows: “An example of the simplest modernity. Each street has its own face and color. <...> Although these houses themselves, of course, do not bring happiness, they nonetheless encourage one to become happy. ”

Escape and a great trip

In the period from 1924 to 1930, the Bruno Taut team built more than 12 thousand residential buildings. In 1930, Taut became a professor at the University of Berlin, where he taught for the next two years. However, when the Nazis came to power, he began to look for opportunities to emigrate. Taut spent several months in Moscow, and after returning he faced charges of "cultural Bolshevism" and lost his professorship. The architect decided to finally leave Germany, fled to Switzerland, and then settled for a while in Japan. In the absence of architectural orders, Taut again engaged in theoretical work, releasing three books on Japanese culture and architecture. In addition, he taught industrial design and designed furniture and household items that were sold in Japanese stores.

In 1936, Bruno Tautu was offered the position of professor of architecture at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Istanbul, and he moved to Turkey. Here the architect wrote another book and designed several educational buildings in Ankara and Trabzon. The last and most famous Turkish work of Taut was the hearse, which was used for the official state funeral of Ataturk. Just a month later, Bruno Taut himself passed away: he died at the age of 58 from asthma, from which he suffered for many years. He became the first and so far the only European and non-Muslim buried in the Edirnekapi cemetery in Istanbul.

Author: Evgenia Sidelnikova

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