Fotoeins Fotografie

photography as worlds between words

Posts from the ‘Arts’ category

Before Bauhaus: Alfeld Fagus Factory, UNESCO WHS

Before Germany’s Bauhaus found its first footing in Weimar, there was the Fagus-Werk in Alfeld.

The Fagus factory building is looked upon as the first building in the world for the modern architectural age, and is the predecessor to the elegant 1926 Bauhaus headquarters building in Dessau. Fagus company founder Karl Benscheidt commissioned architect and future Bauhaus founder, Walter Gropius, to create and build a shoe-making factory as an artistic project. Gropius and his collaborator Adolf Meyer stuck with working floor-plans by architect Eduard Werner, and set their sights on new exterior and interior designs. Completed in 1911, the factory’s office building set a new standard for 20th-century industrial architecture with steel and glass construction and tall unsupported windows at the corners of the building.

“Fagus” is Latin for “beech tree”, and shoemaking began with shoe lasts or moulds constructed from beech wood, which were sold and distributed around the world to other companies for the productions of shoes. In the 1920s, Benscheidt developed the turning precision-lathe speeding up production, prompting growth and expansion and elevating the company to world’s top producer of shoe lasts. Today, the building is still a working factory: Fagus creates plastic lasts milled by automated machinery to precise specifications for specific designs by shoe companies. Also on-site is GreCon which produces systems for fire-detection and fire-extinguishing in industrial settings. The Fagus factory building was recognized as “unique living monument” and inscribed by UNESCO as World Heritage Site (Welterbe) in 2011.

With a population of over 20-thousand people, Alfeld is located in the German federal state of Lower Saxony. The town’s reach by train is 30-minutes from Hannover or 40-minutes from Göttingen, after which is a short 5- to 10-minute walk from Alfeld(Leine)1 train station to the entrance of the Fagus/GreCon complex. Visitors can walk around the working factory site, stop at the World Heritage Site Visitor Centre, sit in the neighbouring café for coffee or tea, and visit the museum dedicated to the building’s origins, the building’s century-long history of shoe-making, and a general history of footwear.

Walter Gropius and others would move to Weimar to establish a centre of art, design, thought, and attitude for Bauhaus in 1919, eight years after inauguration of the Fagus-Werk.

Die Baukunst soll ein Spiegel des Lebens und der Zeit sein. (Architecture should be a mirror to life and its time.) – Walter Gropius.

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Image by mohamed hassan on pxhere (CC0).

18 artists and togs I found on IG in 2018

A lot of ink, talk, discontent, and contempt has appeared regarding the uses and abuses on Facebook’s Instagram; see here and here. I discovered on Instagram the presence of the following 18 artists and photographers, some of whom I’d already been aware from print. It’s in many of their images where I’ve found stillness, inspiration, stimulation, and provocation, and that’s why you should get to know some of these people. I’ll continue to admire their work elsewhere when present forms of social media will (must?) inevitably disappear.

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Siegessäule, Grosse Stern, Tiergarten, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

My Berlin: bumper tracks in the capital

Above/featured: Siegessäule & Grosse Stern, at night – 13 Nov 2012 (HL).

I compiled a list of songs accompanying my travel, a soundtrack that’s full of meaning and memories. This is another set, a listing of 24 tracks I associate with the capital city of Germany. Music is always about personal selection, and every track fires a specific memory of time and place within Berlin. For example, watching “Lola rennt” (Run Lola Run) in a movie theatre in Toronto in the fall of 1998 planted the seeds for a move to Germany three years later. My first visit to Berlin soon after marked the beginning of my love affair with the “grand lady.”

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My Vienna: Disrupting Historicism with Modernism

Above/featured: Modernism at Steinhof Church: church by O.Wagner, sculptural angels by O.Schimkowitz, stained glass by K.Moser (HL).

Vienna is as much a present-day cultural capital city as she was for decades and centuries. Many will get a peek and taste of long-established aspects of the city by walking the streets of the Old Town for the atmosphere, chatting in cozy cafés with coffee and cake for the ambience, and swaying to the rhythms of the waltz under the spell of the (blue) Danube.

The early years of the 20th-century were troubled by greater calls for more autonomy from multiple ethnic groups within the patchwork of the Austro-Hungarian empire, by destruction and loss of life from The Great War (World War I), and by subsequent dissolution of the Empire. The capital city became an open theatre for socioeconomic and political changes across all class divisions within an environment where rebellion and revolution were the big talking points against the dogma of long-held traditions. Deep longing for the stability of the old and familiar mingled with equally enthusiastic desire for the radical of the new and mysterious.

Old Busted versus New Hotness

Many in the arts, design, and cultural scene were questioning the excessive persistence of past styles, and were seeking something new to better represent changes happening all around them in Vienna. In 1897, a group of artists and architects resigned from the established Künstlerhaus to form the Vereinigung Bildender Künstler Österreichs (Union of Austrian Artists), known also as the Vienna Secession. Architecture moved towards a sharper focus to geometry and abstraction, and art flowed to the decorative with organic floral-like designs in the Jugendstil, Art Nouveau’s chapter in German-speaking lands. To promote their new ideas, the Secession group produced an official magazine called Ver Sacrum (“sacred spring” in Latin, 1898) and constructed the Secession building (1897) as an exhibition hall to display their work. The Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshops) was created in 1903 as an association of artists whose thinking and applied arts creations were a precursor to the Bauhaus movement. Members of the Werkstätte worked with Vienna’s architects to broaden and unite the various concepts for a complete artwork, or Gesamtkunstwerk, as applied to a living space: the house, its rooms and furnishings, the interplay of light and space, and the tools and utensils for every day aspects of living.

Some of the key figures and influencers of the city’s “new modernism” in the art, design, and architectural scene include:

  • Josef Hoffmann,
  • Gustav Klimt,
  • Oscar Kokoschka,
  • Max Kurzweil,
  • Adolf Loos,
  • Carl Moll,
  • Koloman Moser,
  • Joseph Maria Olbrich,
  • Egon Schiele,
  • Othmar Schimkowitz, and
  • Otto Wagner.

Some of their work from various locations in Vienna are highlighted below. From the list above, four died in 1918: Klimt on February 6, Wagner on April 11, Moser on October 18, and Schiele on October 31. In the centenary of their deaths, Vienna has marked all of 2018 as the year of Vienna Modernism (Wiener Moderne).

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Tango, Resselpark, Karlsplatz, Wien, Vienna, Austria, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday: Tango evening at Vienna’s Karlsplatz

In this fifth and final installment, Vienna has been in the spotlight for Fotoeins Friday in August.

In my final hours in Vienna, I complete some of my goals regarding the Vienna Modernism centenary in 2018 with a visit to the Otto Wagner exhibition at the Wien Museum Karlsplatz. I stumble onto Karlsplatz and see a crowd has gathered around music which is unmistakably tango. The sounds pull me into the small open area where couples are dancing the tango. I sit down on a park bench, and even with my camera ready, I close my eyes and feel the “wash”, the breeze, the rhythm and melody, the warm late-spring evening, the rustling of leaves above, a buzz and halo from quiet chatter.

I’m glad this is a final memory from Vienna.

I made the picture above on 20 May 2018 with a Fujifilm X70 fixed-lens prime and the following settings: 1/500-sec, f/8, ISO4000, and 18.5mm focal length (28mm full-frame equivalent). This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins.com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-bWC.

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