Erich Mendelsohn / časopis Prostor 1/2013


Prostor 1/2013, Ita Heinze-Greenberg , Richard Biegel Erich Mendelsohn … ze života str. 42–46

Recenze – Richard Biegel:

To write a book about architects and for architects is almost as difficult as to write a shallow book on any special subject providing we stick to familiar schemes and clichés. The most difficult thing is to write a specialized book for a reader who has encountered the given discipline or subject only peripherally or at random. Such a book can, at its best, become an unexpected gateway to a totally new world suddenly opening before an amazed reader in its wholeness, with all the colours, questions, mysteries and scents.

Ita Heinze-Greenberg’s book has a simple, in fact even unobtrusive title: Erich Mendelsohn … From Life. The amiable title seems to promise sketches, stories, or fragments offering an enjoyable portrait of the architect in period background and atmosphere. However, after the first couple of pages, the surprised reader learns that a modest and rather short book offers much more. Its language is readable and responsive, which makes much easier and maybe even more furtive the way to the heart of the matter and the essence of the drama, hanging ominously like lead-heavy sky over Mendelsohn’s life in Europe of that time. Both his inward and outward struggle for architecture is taking place against the backdrop of accelerated Middle European history that, in the end, turned the architect into a traveller against his will. Instead of strict historical fatality that could easily, for many authors, become the only theme of Mendelsohn’s life, the book presents an utterly different picture: each stage is a new beginning for him – a follow-up to his earlier contemplations, executed work and mental attitude. Family line of the story plays an important part here, too, not being a surplus literary temptation, but a key to many a situation and turn of events.

Ita Heinze-Greenberg succeeded in writing a book that contrives to open an exceptionally knotty and important subject in all its plasticity and complexity. The unprecedented ease with which she poses the most weighty questions and answers them via Mendelsohn’s own life and architecture is stunning. In a remarkably vivid way she opens the world of architecture, reverberating in readers long after they have finished the last page. The readably written book has, at the same time, the quality of highly specialized text that illuminates Mendelsohn’s work from new and often a surprise angle. Both comprehensive annotations and extensive list of literature are not only a brilliant ground for further research work, but also an evidence that the text of the book is firmly embedded in topical knowledge of Mendelsohn’s work and that it is more than respectable outcome of the author’s long-lasting research work.

PhDr. Richard Biegel, Ph.D.

Institute of Art History,

Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague

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