(updated 16 Jan. 2014


Leonardo to the Internet:

Technology and Culture from the Renaissance to the Present

Thomas J. Misa

Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011; 2nd edition
L2i 2nd cover

                          RiversideWWW sites:

  • Misa's "Materials of Modernism" bibliography
  • Science Museum-London "Making the Modern World"
  • Chapter 6. Materials of Modernism (1900-1950)

    What is Misa's view of the relation between "modernism" (a specific movement in art and architecture) and broader currents of scientific and technological change? 

    What characteristics of glass and steel (but not stone or bricks) appealed to modern architects? 

    "Our forebears drew their artistic inspiration from a religious atmosphere which fed their souls; in the same way we must breathe in the tangible miracles of contemporary life," the Futurists claimed in 1910.  What values did Futurists -- Marinetti, Boccioni, Balla, Sant'Elia -- associate with technology?  DISCUSS three specific Futurist works (manifestos, painting, sculptures, buildings). 

    De Stijl transformed Futurist thinking into a set of architectural theories about modern materials and cultural development.  What values did Doesburg, Mondrian, Oud, and Berlage associate with technology?  DISCUSS three specific de Stijl works.

    The Bauhaus synthesized theory and practice and created the most influential theory of modernism in architecture.  What values did Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, Lazlo Moholy-Nagy, Ernst May and Martin Wagner associate with technology?  DISCUSS two specific Bauhaus works.

    Discuss Lihotzky's "Frankfurt kitchen" (fig. 6.6) as an ironic "icon" of modernism.

    Using examples from Misa's chapter, explain how modernism offers a vivid instance of "how technology changes culture." 


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