Hermann Finsterlin Study for a House of Sociability, project, c. 1920

  • Not on view

Finsterlin, a painter, toy designer, and architectural visionary, is closely associated with the German Expressionist architecture of the 1920s, which privileged inspiration over rationalism. He was introduced to architect Bruno Taut and the Arbeitsrat für Kunst—a Berlin group of radical German architects, artists, and critics—when they invited amateurs to submit work for their 1919 Exhibition for Unknown Architects. Finsterlin, who resisted formal architectural training because he believed it would interfere with his creative vision, had a whole gallery to himself in the exhibition, and his biomorphic forms caused a sensation.

Molded or cast models played an important part in Finsterlin's design process, and in that of many Expressionists, who believed in a sculptural formation of material. Finsterlin rebelled against the predominance of crystalline forms in Expressionist architecture, viewing their regular structures as too akin to rationalism. He compared his biomorphic "dwellings" with rocks smoothed by glaciers.

Gallery label from 75 Years of Architecture at MoMA, 2007.
Polychromed plaster and paint
10 1/4 x 12 3/16 x 15 1/2" (25.4 x 31 x 39.4 cm)
Gift of D.S. and R.H. Gottesman Foundation
Object number
MC 52
© 2020 / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Germany
Architecture and Design

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