Review for Otto Wagner’s Modern Architecture: A Guidebook for His Students to This Field of Art (originally published in 1896), translated by Harry Mallgrave by Getty Center Publication in 1996.
Even though missing the notion of “space,” this book is important mainly because Wagner’s thinking and buildings reflected a goal analogous to Hermann Muthesius. According to Stanford Anderson, Wager paid homage to his younger German colleague by changing the title of the fourth edition of his book from Moderne Architektur to Die Baukunst unserer Zeit.
The ‘realist’ or materialist basis of Wagner’s teachings, first promulgated in his manifesto of 1896, Modern Architecture, was the assertion that new purposes and new materials must necessarily give rise to new methods of construction, which in turn lead to new forms that gradually acquire artistic value. The architect should not only utilize the new construction techniques but also draw artistic inspiration from them. “Well-conceived construction is not only the prerequisite of every architectural work,” wrote Wagner, “but it also, and this cannot be repeated often enough, provides the modern creative architect with a number of positive ideas for creating new forms—in the fullest meaning of this word.”