Sigfried Giedion (1888-1968) was a Swiss art historian and designer. He was born in Prague.
He studied engineering, at the Technische Hochschule, Vienna. Between 1916-22, he was a student of art history, Zurich, Berlin, and Munich, under Heinrich Wolfflin.
In 1923, he met Walter Gropius at the Bauhaus, Dessau, and, in 1925, Le Corbusier in Paris. Between 1928-56, he was general secretary, CIAM (Congres Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne), of which he was a founder.
He published books Bauen in Frankreich, Eisen, Eisenbeton (Building in France, Iron and Reinforced Concrete) (1928) and Befreites Wohnen (1929). In 1931 (with Werner M. Moser and Rudolf Graber), founded the Wohnbedarf department store, Zurich, specializing in home furnishings. In 1932, he designed bronzeware in the BAG factory, Turgi (Switzerland), a firm that he helped to reorganize. He developed its indi lamp series with Hin Bredendieck. He created the tubular-steel furniture factory of Embru, Ruti (Switzerland). Between 1934-35, he was head of the technical division, Wohnbedarf department store.
His international contacts with designers, including Alvar Aalto, Le Corbusier, Marcel Breuer, Lázsló Moholy-Nagy, and Herbert Bayer, proved decisive in Wohnbedarf ‘s growth.
In 1938, Giedion delivered a paper in the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures, Harvard University. From the early 1940s, he published books in English, beginning with Space, Time and Architecture (1941). Under the tutelage of Heinrich Wolfflin, developed a theory of ‘anonymous’ history in his writings, best revealed in his speculative book Mechanization Takes Command (1948). Other books followed, including Walter Gropius, Work and Teamwork (1954), Architecture You and Me (1956), The Eternal Present: The Beginnings of Art (1962), and The Beginnings of Architecture (1964). His last book Architecture and the phenomena of Transition was sent to his publisher on the day of his death.
A Selection of his work
One of the twentieth century’s best-known architectural theorists examines the impact of mechanization on daily life First published in 1948, Mechanization Takes Command is an examination of mechanization and its effects on everyday life.
“The book opens with chapters on Gropius’ background, heritage and personality, followed by appreciations contributed by two of his greatest contemporaries, Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier.
Here, the famous author of Space, Time and Architecture and other books examines basic principles of architecture—as handmaiden to essential shelter and comfort, and as creative partner in the aspirations of the human arts.
Professor Giedion, well known as an historian of architecture, is concerned in this latest work with a problem that in his view has come more and more into the foreground: the dual concepts of constancy and change in many spheres, ranging from the creative to the philosophical