Friday, July 9, 2010

Venice Sojourn 1927

In 1927, Shreveport architects Samuel G. Wiener (1896-1977) and William B. Wiener (1907-1981) traveled to Venice, Italy and recorded their journey in photographs and drawings. Guido Pellizarri, then Superintendent of Fine Arts of Venetia, introduced the brothers to buildings throughout the city, many located in what Samuel described as "obscure places." Drawing on the tradition of architectural pattern books, the elder Wiener designed his resultant book's baroque title page (image above) and included his delicate sketches of ornamental ironwork, stone cartouches and balusters. Affirming his modernity, he wrote in the Foreward:

"The illustrations contained in this book give some idea of what may have been the Venetians' attitude toward their building. The value of their architecture to the modern designer is not the offering of a wealth of curiously beautiful details to be copied that they may grace our modern buildings. Venetian architecture can teach us that buildings can be beautiful without being grave, and they can delight us with their delicate charm and flaunting disregard of established principles without becoming trivial."

Samuel Wiener returned to Europe in 1931, focusing his energies in Germany and the Netherlands, and visiting Walter Gropius' Dessau Bauhaus and Erich Mendelsohn's Einstein Tower.1

Image above: Samuel G. Wiener. Venetian Houses and Details. New York: Architectural Book Publishing Company, 1929. Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

1 Karen Kingsley. Modernism in Louisiana: A Decade of Progress 1930-1940. New Orleans: Tulane School of Architecture, 1984.

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