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TAUT, BRUNO. - [Arupusu Kenchiku] Alpine Architektur.

Hagen, Folkwang 1919 [ie Tokyo, 1944]. Folio (35cm high) publisher's cloth; title page in Japanese and 37 leaves consisting of 29 monochrome mounted leaves (title and contents leaves, five section titles and 22 plates) and eight colour lithographs. Sometime recased with new endpapers; an uncommonly bright copy; without the booklet containing the Japanese translation. ¶ This might be the most curious Japanese book on western architecture. It's officially part of the collected works of Taut in Japanese (Tauto Zenshu) but while his other works were translated and collected into five solid sensible octavo volumes, here the original has been followed faithfully, lavishly. A translation was provided as a booklet inserted at the end. It has been sorted out thanks to the generous diligence of a librarian at the Art Institute of Chicago (the only library I could trace that had both versions) who, twice, compared them side by side and sent me a list of seven plates that vary in image size, that this isn't a re-issue of original sheets - once a common claim. But this is no photographic process reprint; the colour plates are proper colour lithographs of good quality. While there's no doubt that elaborate and fine printing could be and was done in war time it still doesn't make sense. The flimsy translation booklet is what we expect from wartime printing - why not do a better job with that? The binding is war time, the printing is not. So when were these plates produced? Were they prepared with Taut when he was in Japan - by 1936? The whole business of a collected edition of Taut in the middle of the war becomes something of a circular puzzle. Japan's ties with Germany are clear enough and the Japanese showed their appreciation of radical German modernists, or expressionists, like Taut and Mendelsohn pretty much even before Germany did, and Taut had spent years in Japan - but he was part of the exodus from Germany in 1933 and had died in Turkey in 1938. Still, a devoted band of fans did manage what seems unimaginable and got the job done. Visionary, the term mostly used to describe this book, is often just another word for lunatic and Taut's utopian scheme for these monumental crystal structures marching across the mountain ranges of the world is captivatingly nutty. If this were to be judged on its own we would have just another eccentric, if endearing, relic of a dead end dream. But, in place in a cohesive group of theoretical writing and extensive design, both built and unbuilt, possible and impossible, this book wielded influence beyond its limited circulation in advancing the notion that, for the architect, principle, theory and social concern were as important as tools as a T-square.
AUD 1250.00 [Appr.: EURO 801.5 US$ 929.76 | £UK 700.75 | JP¥ 102938] Book number 10459

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