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Gottfried Semper and the Problem of Historicism
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    Hvattum, Mari 2017. Heteronomic Historicism. Architectural Histories, Vol. 5, Issue. 1,

    Hvattum, Mari 2017. Companion to the History of Architecture. p. 1.

    Sunguroğlu Hensel, D. and Vincent, J.F.V. 2016. Evolutionary inventive problem-solving in biology and architecture: ArchiTRIZ and Material-Ontology. Intelligent Buildings International, Vol. 8, Issue. 2, p. 118.

    Schwarzer, Mitchell 2016. Companion to the History of Architecture. p. 1.

    2014. Ornament. p. 157.

    2013. Crisis and Correspondence: Style in the Nineteenth Century. Architectural Histories, Vol. 1, Issue. 1, p. 21.

    Poerschke, Ute 2012. Architecture as a Mathematical Function: Reflections on Gottfried Semper. Nexus Network Journal, Vol. 14, Issue. 1, p. 119.


    2004. Books Received. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 62, Issue. 4, p. 411.

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Book description

Using key texts by the German architect and theorist Gottfried Semper, Mari Hvattum offers a reinterpretation of historicism, which is here viewed both as a philosophical outlook and as an architectural problem. Hvattum focuses on Semper's two major concerns: an understanding of the ontological significance of art and architecture, and the rendering of art and architecture as the objects of scientific investigation and prediction. Hvattum investigates the background and implications of these conflicting concerns. By examining the historicist fusion of Romanticism and Positivism, the book seeks to understand the nature as well as the limits of the modern dream of a 'method of inventing'. More than an intellectual biography, Gottfried Semper and the Problem of Historicism explores historicism and its implications for modern architectural discourse and practice.


'It is a compelling thesis, well argues, and … very well written.'

Source: Architects Journal

'It is sophisticated, succinct, and crisply written. A splendid achievement.'

Source: Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians

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Selected Semper Bibliography
Selected Semper Bibliography
“Öffentlicher Lehrkursus über die allgemeine Geschichte der Baukunst”, Dresden Lecture (1834), MS 19. Published as Semper's “Dresdner Antrittsvorlesung” in Heidrun Laudel, Gottfried Semper. Architektur und Stil. Dresden: Verlag der Kunst 1991, pp. 221–34
Vorläufige Bemerkungen über bemalte Architektur und Plastik bei den Alten, Altona: J. H. Hammerich 1834. English translation: Preliminary Remarks on Polychrome Architecture and Sculpture in Antiquity. In Harry Francis Mallgrave and Wolfgang Herrmann (eds. and trans.), The Four Elements of Architecture and Others Writings, Cambridge University Press 1989, pp. 45–73
“Vorwort”, Vergleichende Baulehre (1850), MS 55, fols. 1–13. In Wolfgang Herrmann, Gottfried Semper, Theoretischer Nachlass an der ETH Zürich, Katalog und Kommentare. Basel: Birkhäuser Verlag 1981, pp. 180–4. English translation: “Influence of Historical Research on Trends in Contemporary Architecture”. In Wolfgang Herrmann (trans. and ed.), Gottfried Semper, In Search of Architecture. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press 1984, pp. 189–95
“Einleitung”, Vergleichende Baulehre (1850), MS 58, fols. 15–30. In Wolfgang Herrmann, Gottfried Semper, Theoretischer Nachlass an der ETH Zürich, Katalog und Kommentare. Basel: Birkhäuser Verlag 1981, pp. 185–90. English translation: “The Basic Elements of Architecture”. In Wolfgang Herrmann (trans. and ed.), Gottfried Semper, In Search of Architecture. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press 1984, pp. 196–203
“Assyrisch-Chaldäische Baukunst” (Chapter 10, Vergleichende Baulehre, 1850), MS 58, fols. 94–120. In Wolfgang Herrmann, Gottfried Semper, Theoretischer Nachlass an der ETH Zürich, Katalog und Kommentare. Basel: Birkhäuser Verlag 1981, pp. 191–204. English translation: “Structural Elements in Assyrian-Chaldean Architecture”. In Wolfgang Herrmann (trans. and ed.), Gottfried Semper, In Search of Architecture. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press 1984, pp. 204–18
Die Vier Elemente der Baukunst: Ein Beitrag zur vergleichende Baulehre. Brunswick: Vieweg und Sohn 1851. English translation: The Four Elements of Architecture: A Contribution to the Comparative Study of Architecture (1851). In Harry Francis Mallgrave and Wolfgang Herrmann (eds. and trans.), The Four Elements of Architecture and Others Writings, Cambridge University Press 1989, pp. 74–129
“Prospectus” Vergleichende Baulehre (1852). MS not given. In Harry Francis Mallgrave and Wolfgang Herrmann (eds. and trans.), The Four Elements of Architecture and Others Writings, Cambridge University Press 1989, pp. 168–73
“Neue Einleitung”, Vergleichende Baulehre (1852). MS 97. In Wolfgang Herrmann, Gottfried Semper, Theoretischer Nachlass an der ETH Zürich, Katalog und Kommentare. Basel: Birkhäuser Verlag 1981, pp. 205–16
Wissenschaft, Industrie, und Kunst: Vorschläge zur Anregung nationalen Kunstgefühles. Brunswick: Vieweg und Sohn 1852. English translation: Science, Industry, and Art:Proposals for the Development of a National Taste in Art at the Closing of the London Industrial Exhibition. In Harry Francis Mallgrave and Wolfgang Herrmann (eds. and trans.), The Four Elements of Architecture and Others Writings, Cambridge University Press 1989, pp. 130–67
Practical Art in Metals and Hard Materials; its Technology, History and Styles (1852). Unpublished manuscript, National Art Library, Victoria and Albert Museum, London
“Outline for a System of Comparative Style-Theory” (London lecture, November 11, 1853). MS 122, fols. 1–37 and MS 124, fols. 5–28. In RES, Journal of Anthropology and Aesthetics 6, Autumn 1983, pp. 5–32. German translation: “Entwurf eines Systems der vergleichenden Stillehre”, in Hans and Mannfred Semper (ed. and trans.), Kleine Schriften (Berlin and Stuttgart 1884), Mittenwald: Mäander Kunstverlag 1979, pp. 259–91
“The Development of the Wall and Wall Construction in Antiquity” (London lecture, 18 November 1853). MS 129, fols. 1–24. In RES, Journal of Anthropology and Aesthetics 11, Spring 1986, pp. 33–41. German translation: “Entwicklung der Wand-und Wandkonstruktion bei den antiken Völkern”, in Hans and Mannfred Semper (ed. and trans.), Kleine Schriften (Berlin and Stuttgart 1884), Mittenwald: Mäander Kunstverlag 1979, pp. 383–93
“On the Origin of Some Architectural Styles” (London lecture, December 1853). MS 138, fols. 1–23. In RES, Journal of Anthropology and Aesthetics 9, Spring 1985, pp. 53–60. German translation: “Ueber den Ursprung einiger Architekturstile”, in Hans and Mannfred Semper (ed. and trans.), Kleine Schriften (Berlin and Stuttgart 1884), Mittenwald: Mä228;ander Kunstverlag 1979, pp. 369–81
“On Architectural Symbols” (London lecture, autumn 1854). MS 142, fols. 1–19; MS 141, unpaginated. In RES, Journal of Anthropology and Aesthetics 9, Spring 1985, pp. 61–7. German translation: “Ueber architektonische Symbole”, in Hans and Mannfred Semper (ed. and trans.), Kleine Schriften (Berlin and Stuttgart 1884), Mittenwald: Mä228;ander Kunstverlag 1979, pp. 292–303
“On the Relation of Architectural Systems with the General Cultural Conditions” (London lecture, 29 November 1854). MS 144, fols. 1–39. In RES, Journal of Anthropology and Aesthetics 11, Spring 1986, pp. 42–53. German translation: “Ueber den Zusammenhang der architektonischen Systeme mit allgemeinen Kulturgeschichte”, in Hans and Mannfred Semper (ed. and trans.), Kleine Schriften (Berlin and Stuttgart 1884), Mittenwald: Mäander Kunstverlag 1979, pp. 351–67
Inventory of Semper's Dresden library (incomplete, date unknown). MS 148. Unpublished manuscript, Archiv Geschichte und Theorie der Architektur, ETH Höngerberg, Zurich
“Ueber die formelle Gesetzmäßigkeit des Schmuckes und dessen Bedeutung als Kunstsymbol” (1856). MS 163–4. In Hans and Mannfred Semper (ed. and trans.), Kleine Schriften (Berlin and Stuttgart 1884), Mittenwald: Mäander Kunstverlag 1979, pp. 304–43
“Vorwort”, Theorie des Formell-Schönen (1856–9). MS 178, fols. 1–29. In Wolfgang Herrmann, Gottfried Semper, Theoretischer Nachlass an der ETH Zürich, Katalog und Kommentare. Basel: Birkhäuser Verlag 1981, pp. 238–49. English translation: “A Critical Analysis and Prognosis of Present-Day Artistic Production”. In Wolfgang Herrmann (trans. and ed.), Gottfried Semper, In Search of Architecture; Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press 1984, pp. 245–60
“Einleitung”, Theorie des Formell-Schönen (1856–9). MS 179, fols. 1–46. In Wolfgang Herrmann, Gottfried Semper, Theoretischer Nachlass an der ETH Zürich, Katalog und Kommentare. Basel: Birkhäuser Verlag 1981, pp. 217–37. English translation: “The Attributes of Formal Beauty”, in Wolfgang Herrmann (trans. and ed.), Gottfried Semper, In Search of Architecture. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press 1984, pp. 219–44
First Prospectus, Der Stil (1859). MS 195. Unpublished manuscript, Archiv Geschichte und Theorie der Architektur, ETH Höngerberg, Zurich
Second Prospectus, Der Stil (1859). MS 196. In Harry Francis Mallgrave and Wolfgang Herrmann (eds. and trans.), The Four Elements of Architecture and Others Writings, Cambridge University Press 1989, pp. 174–80
Der Stilin den technischen und tektonischen Künsten, oder praktische Aesthetik. Ein Handbuch für Techniker, Künstler und Kunstfreunde. Vol. I and II. Verlage für Kunst und Wissenschaft, Frankfurt am Main 1860–3, Mittenwald: Mäander Kunstverlag 1977. Prolegomenon and vol. 1, §46–60, translated in Harry Francis Mallgrave and Wolfgang Herrmann (eds. and trans.), The Four Elements of Architecture and Others Writings, Cambridge University Press 1989, pp. 181–263
“Vergleichende Baukunde” (Zurich lecture, 1863). MS 264, fols. 1–77. Unpublished manuscript, Archiv Geschichte und Theorie der Architektur, ETH Höngerberg, Zurich
“Ueber Baustile” (Zurich lecture, 4 March 1869). MS 280. In Hans and Mannfred Semper (ed. and trans.), Kleine Schriften (Berlin and Stuttgart, 1884), Mittenwald: Mäander Kunstverlag 1979, pp. 395–426. English translation: “On Architectural Styles”, in Harry Francis Mallgrave and Wolfgang Herrmann (eds. and trans.), The Four Elements of Architecture and Others Writings, Cambridge University Press 1989, pp. 264–84
“Der Heerd und dessen Schutz” (Introduction to the third volume of Der Stil, ca. 1870). MS 183, fols. 1–42. In Wolfgang Herrmann, Gottfried Semper, Theoretischer Nachlass an der ETH Zürich, Katalog und Kommentare, Basel: Birkhäuser Verlag 1981, pp. 250–60
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