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Christopher Long

Editor´s Introduction: Adolf Loos for Our Time

Over the course of his life, Adolf Loos was often in the public gaze, the source of both fawning admiration and virulent criticism. Even after his death, Loos remained a controversial figure, celebrated by his many devotees, while at the same time being savagely attacked by his detractors. This essay examines the nature and course of the reactions to Loos and his works, from the beginnings of his career at the turn of the last century to the present. It demonstrates the key shifts in the ways in which historians and other observers sought to evaluate Loos’s buildings, interiors, and writings, and it describes how the Loos literature developed over time. Through the 1960s, most of those writing about Loos had direct connection to him and his world; even those who rejected his approach did so with marked clarity. Beginning in the 1970s, a new view of Loos emerged, one that saw in his work and writings the basis of a concept of design that corresponded with the new tendencies in theory and criticism. Loos was often accorded the status of a seer, but one whose ideas were ‘difficult’ and opaque. This essay argues for the necessity of new interpretations of Loos, his thought, and his designs—less clouded by opinion and based more on sound historical research. It presents the articles in this issue as attempts in the on-going effort to reinvigorate and reframe the discourse around Loos.

Christopher Long:

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