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August Endell (German, 1871–1925)

About this artist

Source: Oxford University Press

German architect, designer, writer and teacher. After moving to Munich in 1892, he abandoned his plan to become a teacher, deciding on a career as a freelance scholar. He then studied aesthetics, psychology and philosophy, being particularly influenced by the lectures of the psychologist Theodor Lipps. He also studied German literature, art and music. In 1895 he intended to write a doctorate on the theme of ‘The Construction of Feeling’. In spring 1896 he met Hermann Obrist, who persuaded him to abandon his proposed academic career and become a self-taught artist. As well as book illustrations and decorative pieces for the art magazines Pan and Dekorative Kunst, he produced decorative designs for wall reliefs, carpets, textiles, coverings, window glass and lamps. In 1897 he designed his first furniture for his cousin, the historian Kurt Breysig. His first architectural work, the Elvira photographic studio in Munich (1896–7; destr. 1944), decorated on its street façade by a gigantic, writhing dragon, was a quintessential work of Jugendstil architecture. It was followed by a contract for a sanatorium in Wyk auf Föhr (1898).

At first Endell was heavily influenced by Obrist, his work characterized by an expressive ornamentation, the bizarre idiom of which seems to be derived from a microscopically observed world of submarine flora and fauna. In Munich, with Otto Eckmann, Obrist, Richard Riemerschmid, Otto Pankok, Bruno Paul and Peter Behrens, Endell was one of the founders of Jugendstil (see Art Nouveau). In 1897 he collaborated on two small rooms at the art exhibition in the Glaspalast. With Obrist he acted as spokesperson for the new Arts and Crafts Movement. At the same time, with texts such as ‘Um die Schönheit’ (1896), he paved the way for abstract art. In his new art theory based on a psychological aesthetic of perception, he proclaimed a purely formal art divorced from the imitation of nature, an art that evoked strong feelings through freely invented forms, as music does through sounds.

Endell’s move to Berlin in 1901 introduced a new phase to his creative work. The Buntes Theater (1901) built for the dramatist Ernst von Wolzogen in the Köpenickerstrasse was, however, still tied stylistically to the work of his Munich period. From then on he gradually evolved from the revolutionary ornamentist to the shaper of architectural space. In the Neumannsche Festsäle at 40 Rosenthalerstrasse (1905–6) a calming of forms is discernible with the emergence of geometrical elements in the interior decoration. In the Haus am Steinplatz (1906–7), an important work in the history of the Berlin apartment building, ornamentation was confined to the entrance, while the whole façade formed a cohesive unity. The villas in Westend, Berlin (e.g. the Pension Müller, Kastanienallee 32, 1908; Haus Nelson, 15 Eichenallee, 1910 and Haus Kühl, 14 Akazienallee, 1910), no longer achieved their overall effect through details, but through masses, a clear articulation of the whole structure. Simplicity, objectivity and utility are the dominant concerns in their design. This was still more true of the engineering structures of the trotting racecourse in Mariendorf, Berlin (1911–13), at which Endell created the first artistic racecourse architecture. In 1916 he took part in a competition for a German House of Friendship in Constantinople (now Istanbul), and in 1917 he produced plans for an imperial war museum in Berlin. He also taught at the Schule für Formkunst, Berlin, which he founded in 1904 and which survived until 1914. He achieved late recognition in 1918, when he was appointed Director of the Akademie für Kunst und Kunstgewerbe in Breslau (now Wrocław, Poland).

Gisela Moeller
From Grove Art Online

© 2009 Oxford University Press

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