ERICH MENDELSOHN and the Architecture of German Modernism
di Kathleen James
Erich Mendelsohn's buildings, erected throughout Germany between 1920 and 1932, epitomised architectural modernity for his countrymen. This study examines his department stores, office buildings, and cinemas, counterparts to the famous housing projects built during the same years in Frankfurt and Berlin. Demonstrating the degree to which their dynamic presence stemmed from Mendelsohn's attention to their consumer-oriented functions, James shows Mendelsohn to be more than an Expressionist, as he is usually characterised. James recounts how his architecture closely reflects the controversies over modernity, including relativity, consumerism, and urban planning, that raged during the years of the Weimar Republic. She also illustrates how much Mendelsohn's thriving practice depended on the patronage of fellow German Jews, many of whom shared his commitment to creating alternatives to the nationalistic historicism of the late Wilhelmine period.