Riga's Capital Modernism

posted Jan 21, 2014, 10:07 AM by Bill Marzella   [ updated Jan 21, 2014, 10:13 AM ]
A Lecture by Professor Steven Mansbach - Tuesday, February 11, 2014


For the Baltic republics that emerged in the wake of World War I—as for other newly-established nations in Central Europe—modern art, design, and architecture served as effective means to assert a national identity. But the innovative forms and progressive styles that were so important to the nations’ self-understanding shifted in character over the course of time. This is especially true for Latvia’s architecture, where changes in local political, ethnic, and cultural circumstances constantly inflected the visual character and meanings of modernism. Riga’s own twentieth-century architectural history, beginning with a singularly rich and inventive Jugendstil and culminating in an indigenous authoritarian functionalism articulated in the 1930s, reveals how modernism could depart from a unitary stylistic imperative in order to serve the needs of divergent social, ideological, and economic interests. In fact, the Baltic metropolis’s inventive adaptations of competing expectations and shifting needs enable us to recognize in Riga the creation of a capital modernism that can serve as an interpretative paradigm through which to map cultural narratives materialized throughout the region. 

STEVEN MANSBACH, a Professor of the History of Twentieth-century Art, at the University of Maryland, College Park, focuses his research and teaching interests on the genesis and reception of “classical” modern art, roughly from the last quarter of the nineteenth century through the middle of the twentieth. In addition to holding fellowships and university professorships in the United States, Europe, and Africa, he served almost a decade as associate dean of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at Washington's National Gallery of Art and as the founding dean and director of the American Academy in Berlin.

The First Congregational United Church of Christ
Second Floor Meeting Room
945 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20001
6:30 pm – reception; 7:00 pm – lecture

Reservations are not required. $10.00 for Latrobe Chapter members, student members (full time) free with ID, $18.00 for non‐members. For additional questions, contact Christine Henry at (202)744‐8123 or christine.rae.henry@gmail.com.
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Bill Marzella,
Jan 21, 2014, 10:07 AM
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