Peters and Schneider: The Drawing Board as Home

Part of the Studies in European Culture and History book series (SECH)


The émigré or exile experience vacillates, necessarily, between the extremes of pessimism and optimism. The former is admirably represented by Theodor W. Adorno’s assertion, made in Minima Moralia, that the émigré intellectual “lives in an environment that must remain incomprehensible to him, however flawless his knowledge of trade-union organizations or the automobile industry may be; he is always astray.…The share of the social product that falls to aliens is insufficient, and forces them into a hopeless second struggle with the general competition. All this leaves no individual unmarked.”1 An extreme opposite reading, in which strangeness is equated with novelty, positive challenge, and rebirth is offered by Vilém Flusser, who urges that the arrival of the exile “allows the natives to discover that they can only ‘identify’ themselves in relationship to him. At the point when the exile arrives, a splitting open of the ‘self’ takes place and an opening up towards others. A form of companionship. This dialogical disposition, which marks the state of exile, is not necessarily a sign of mutual respect, but is rather a polemical (not to say murderous) condition. For the exile threatens the ‘particularity’ of the native and questions it in his alienness. Yet even this polemical dialogue is creative, as it leads to the synthesis of new information. Exile, in whatever form, is the breeding ground for creative action, for the new.”2


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  1. 1.
    Theodor W. Adorno, Minima Moralia: Reflections from Damaged Life, trans. E. F. N. Jephcott (London: New Left Books, 1951), 33.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Vilém Flusser, Von der Freiheit des Migranten: Einsprüche gegen Nationalismus (Bensheim: Bollmann Verlag, 1994), 109.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Walter Gropius, letter to G. Hoeltje of June 5, 1958, quoted in Annemarie Jaeggi, Fagus: Industrial Culture from Werkbund to Bauhaus (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2000), 43.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Walter Gropius, “Die Entwicklung moderner Industriebaukunst,” Jahrbuch des deutschen Werkbundes, 2 (1913): 17–22.Google Scholar
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    Hugo Koch, “Hamburger Ausstellungshallen-Gesellschaft,” Die gelbe Posaune der Sieben (Hamburg: publisher unidentified, 1919), 4.Google Scholar
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    See Marcel Franciscono, Walter Gropius and the Creation of the Bauhaus in Weimar (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1971).Google Scholar
  10. 14.
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    Jaeger, “Von Altona nach Los Angeles” 145. On the Paramount Studio, see Donald Albrecht, Designing Dreams (New York: Harper Row, 1986), 79–84.Google Scholar
  15. 29.
    Ruth Asseyer, “Karl Schneider,” Karl Schneider: Leben und Werk, ed. Robert Koch and Eberhard Pook (Hamburg: Dölling and Galitz, 1992), 10.Google Scholar
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  18. 38.
    One of Wolff’s Greek photographs was used on the dustjacket of a book by a fellow exile, the architect Bernard Rudofsky, Are Clothes Modern? An Essay on Contemporary Apparel (Chicago: Theobald, 1947).Google Scholar
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    Ruth Asseyer, “Zwischen Erfolg und Exil,” Bauwelt, 25 (1988): 1078.Google Scholar
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    For more on this theme, see Iain Boyd Whyte, Modernism and the Spirit of the City (London: Routledge, 2003), 1–31.Google Scholar
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    Had he done so, he would probably have suffered the same, rather indifferent reception accorded by the British to Gropius. On architectural exile in Britain, see Charlotte Benton, “Continuity and Change: The Work of Exiled Architects in Britain, 1933–39,” Architektur und Exil: Kulturtransfer und architektonische Emigration von 1930 bis 1950, ed. Bernd Nicolai (Trier: Porta Alba Verlag, 2003), 75–85.Google Scholar
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    Quoted in Peter Behrens, “Zur Ästhetik des Fabrikbaus,” Gewerbefleiss 108.7-9 (July—September, 1929): 125–130.Google Scholar

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© Sabine Eckmann and Lutz Koepnick 2007

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