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Ben Rebel

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Ben Rebel

Abstract

Although modern architecture was indicated with different terms such as Modern Architecture, Rationalism, Functionalism, Modern Movement, Neue Sachlichkeit and Neues Bauen, the Dutch modern architects had a strong preference for the translations of the last two: Nieuwe Zakelijkheid and Nieuwe Bouwen. The first one originated in German painting around 1925. It was introduced in Dutch modern architecture somewhere between the first CIAM congress in 1928 and 1930. The architect J.B. van Loghem (1932) used it in the subtitle of his book about modern Dutch architecture together with the German subtitle Neues Bauen, a term related to the CIAM congresses. From around 1929 de Nieuwe Zakelijkheid was already under attack from critics in newspapers and from traditionalist architects writing in the Roomsch Katholiek Bouwblad. They attacked the attitude of this movement for being materialistic. The focus in this article is on the year 1932 because in that year, only a few years after its appearance, the use of the phrase Nieuwe Zakelijkheid was rejected by the majority of Dutch modern architects. This occurred despite the publication that year of Van Loghem’s book on Nieuwe Zakelijkheid and despite the publication by the Amsterdam School architect J. Gratama of an eye-catching but critical article about the subject in the first volume of a series of twenty books about modern (in fact contemporary) Dutch architecture. Essential, however, was the attack of the ‘father of modern architecture in the Netherlands’ H.P. Berlage who reproached Nieuwe Zakelijkheid for being materialistic and capitalistic. According to him all emotion was absent in The Nieuwe Zakelijkheid. Berlage’s point of view was immediately published in the new founded Avant-garde journal de 8 en OPBOUW and fiercely disputed by two important representatives of de Nieuwe Zakelijkheid, J. Duiker and J.J.P. Oud. They reproached Berlage for ignoring that the zakelijke (‘matter-of-fact’) attitude was only meant to produce better living conditions (CIAM) and higher values (Oud) such as the cosmic laws of economy (Duiker). Thereafter the term Nieuwe Zakelijkheid was seldom used again within the circles of modern architecture. The traditionalist architects in the Roomsch Katholiek Bouwblad continued their attacks on Nieuwe Zakelijkheid but in the meantime the modern architects themselves gave preference to the expression Nieuwe Bouwen and some of the young architects of the Groep 32 even abandoned the CIAM related term Nieuwe Bouwen and propagated the high-flown phrase ARCHITECTUUR.

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Edited by Michael Müller and Ben Rebel

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Edited by Ralf Grüttemeier, Klaus Beekman and Ben Rebel

One of the aims of the book is to shed more light on the notion Neue Sachlichkeit in its appearance in a variety of fields as painting, architecture, music, photography and literature, in order to get a clearer idea of its scope. Several contributions will do so by analysing the heterogeneity in the use of the term concerning its function in the fight for recognition in the art-fields around 1930 - in other words, Neue Sachlichkeit will be analysed as a positioning strategy. Especially its participation in the broader discourse on modernity, as well as its international and intermedial dimension will be highlighted, often using the historical avant-garde as point of reference. From this perspective, the present volume wants to be read as a plea for a differentiated description of the many shared aspects and some differences between the avant-garde and Neue Sachlichkeit.