Chapter 2 of 24
Adolf Loos. Portrait By Oskar Kokoschka, Vienna, 1909
From his vantage point in the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, Loos' view of the English remained idealised, and his praise unqualified. Loos' dedicated Anglophilia was not for the 'vernacular' of the Arts and Crafts movement but for a deep love of nature, emancipated craftsmen, furniture, fashion, habits of eating and dwelling.
Equally, for Loos America was a myth of democracy attained, a Europe emancipated and a pragmatic culture free of hypocrisy. This was a view which many of his generation shared. He visited the Colombian World Exhibition in Chicago in 1893: he became familiar with the early skyscrapers of New York and of the Chicago School and with the writing of Louis Sullivan.
Loos disagreed profoundly on theoretical grounds with the Secessionists, with the Wiener Werkstätte, and with the Deutscher Werkbund. In the aftermath of the First World War and transition from a constitutional monarchy to a republic, the Social Democratic leaders of the City of Vienna tried to overcome the chronic shortage of housing. Loos was appointed as the chief architect of the communal housing. Failing to ward off the inflated iconography of the Hof (which was over-sized and unsuitable for living in), as his own alternative proposals were rejected, Loos became disillusioned.
In 1922 he moved to Paris. with his close friend Schoenberg and with the Parisian 'avant-garder' - in particular Marcel Duchamp, the group engaged in editing 'L'Esprit Nouveau', and the architect Charles-Édouard Jeanneret (Le Corbusier). Loos found a congenial personal environment, although not the ability to realise his larger projects.