Marcel Breuer (1902-1981)

Hungarian-born American architect and designer, Marcel Breuer was one of the most influential figures Modern Design. Great innovator, he was eager to both test the newest advances in technology and break with conventional forms.

Portrait of Marcel Breuer, old picture

image source: http://www.design-museum.de/fileadmin/_processed_/csm_Kopie_von_breuer_sw.crop1024x1023_01_0065d3fc1a.jpg

About his life

Marcel Breuer was born on May 21, 1902, in Pecs, Hungary. He moved to Vienna with his family at the age of 18. He attended the Art Academy to pursue his studies as a painter. He then enrolled at Bauhaus, Weimar. During the next four years at Bauhaus, Breuer devoted himself to the study of architecture, he was much inspired and influenced by Walter Gropius. In 1925 He moved to Dessau, upon being commissioned to design the entire furniture for the recently constructed Gropius buildings. In 1928, Breuer established his own practice as an architect. In 1933, Breuer was forced to leave Germany, he moved to London. Then, Breuer accepted Gropius’ invitation to the United States, 4 years later. In 1976, Breuer decided to retire from active practice. He passed away five years later, in 1981.

info source: http://www.famous-architects.org/marcel-breuer/

Portrait of Marcel Breuer, Irene Bayer, 1928

image source: https://www.bauhaus100.de/bh100/export/sites/default/de/damals/koepfe/meister/marcel-breuer/marcel_breuer_310_0_0.jpg_670362114.jpg

What were his major works?

  • ARCHITECTURE

He realized several remarkable architectures: the Ameritrust Tower (1968-1971, Ohio, USA), a high-rise building in the brutalist style; the Cleveland Museum of Art (Ohio, USA), an art museum located in the Wade Park District, in the University Circle neighborhood on Cleveland’s east side; the Flaine Resort (1969, Flaine, France), a hotel and village played with snow and sun, supposedly including diamond-shaped facades that reflected the light; the Josephine M. Hagerty House (1938, Massachusetts, USA), the first building in the United States commissioned from Bauhaus architect Walter Gropius; the Murray D. Lincoln Campus Center (Massachusetts, USA), a high-rise building on the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus; the Saint John’s Abbey (1961, Collegeville, Minnesota, USA), a Benedictine monastery affiliated with the American-Cassinese Congregation;

Saint John’s Abbey, Breuer, 1961, Collegeville

image source: https://imgix.ranker.com/node_img/99/1961299/original/saint-john-s-abbey-building-attractions-photo-1?w=650&q=60&fm=jpg&fit=crop&crop=faces

the Breuer House (1948, New Canaan, Connecticut, USA), the first of his houses in New Canaan; the Seymour Krieger House (1958, Bethesda, Maryland, USA), a one story, steel-framed building constructed of all-stretcher coursed brick;the Robert C. Weaver Federal Building (Washington, D.C., USA), a 10-story office building owned by the federal government; the World Heritage Centre (1951, Paris, France), UNESCO Headquarters; Waldenmark, also known as the Edward Fischer House (New York, USA), a historic house, studio, garage, and guesthouse; the Whitney Museum of American Art, known as The Whitney (1964-1966, New York, USA) and the Atlanta Public Library (1980, Atlanta, USA).

info source: http://www.ranker.com/list/marcel-breuer-buildings-and-structures/reference

info source: https://www.dwell.com/article/design-icon-10-buildings-by-marcel-breuer-956d0193

Whitney Museum of American Art, Breuer, 1964-1966, New York

image source: https://www.yatzer.com/sites/default/files/article_images/3145/Marcel-Breuer-Cite-de-l-Architecture-et-du-Patrimoine-yatzer-2.jpg

  • FURNITURE

He was an outstanding furniture designer. In fact, he realized the legendary B3 Wassily club chair in 1925 (his most important work), which soon brought Breuer international renown. This was the first tubular metal chair. Another iconic was the B9 table (1925-1926). B3 and B9 were Breuer’s first commissions for Bauhaus. In 1928, he designed and built the Cesca Chair working with the steel tubes with the intention of creating a session that would ensure both comfort and elegance.

info source: http://www.archilovers.com/stories/2263/marcel-breuer-1902-1981.html

info source: https://www.yatzer.com/Marcel-Breuer-design-architecture

info source: http://www.bauhausitaly.com/bauhaus-furniture/marcel-breuer/cesca-breuer-bauhaus-chair+i67.html

Wassily chair, Breuer, 1925

image source: https://www.yatzer.com/sites/default/files/article_images/3145/Marcel-Breuer-Cite-de-l-Architecture-et-du-Patrimoine-yatzer-12.jpg

How can we identify Breuer’s style?

  • Breuer’s architectural vocabulary moved through at least four recognizable phases:
  1. The white box and glass school of the International style that he adapted for his early houses in Europe and the USA.
  2. The punctured wooden walls that characterized his famous house in New Canaan, with its balcony hung off a cantilever.
  3. The modular prefabricated concrete panel façades that he used in many of his institutional buildings plus the whole town at Flaine.
  4. The stone and shaped concrete that he used for the Whitney Museum of American Art, the St John’s Abbey or the Atlanta Public Library.

info source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcel_Breuer

Atlanta Public Library, Breuer, 1980, Atlanta

image source: https://d3df8ea8ea59eq.cloudfront.net/photos/6063391372700811264/6133462031451099136/large.jpg

  • He used the newest innovations in bending tubular steel for the entirety of the structural frame, thereby demonstrating the possibilities of modern industry applied to everyday objects.

info source: http://www.theartstory.org/artist-breuer-marcel.htm

Cesca Chair, Breuer, 1928

image source: https://www.knoll.com/media/898/899/cesca_prodstry,0.jpg