Space, Time, and Architecture Critical Context - Essay

Sigfried Giedion

Critical Context

(Literary Essentials: Nonfiction Masterpieces)

In its final pages, Giedion returns to many of the passionate themes with which he began Space, Time, and Architecture—the mission of the artist to “open up new spheres of the unconscious,” the need for a “unity of culture,” and the humanization of the environment. To the degree that he has established a firm basis for his aesthetic judgments about particular buildings and environments, Giedion successfully renews these generalizations, but only in their broad sense. The descriptive and historical elements of his text, taken together with the book’s illustrations, seem well integrated on a deeply intuitive level, but they are more a safety net for his weightier concepts than a demonstration of them. Many of Giedion’s conceptions of the individual in society are very reminiscent of those of the Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung, particularly with regard to the consequences of the “split” between thinking and feeling. Such ideas require the scope of investigation that Jung gave them and that Giedion, as an architectural historian, could not, but Giedion’s adaptation of them is both sincere and constructive.

Giedion shows little evidence of having wished to distill or refine the arguments in Space, Time, and Architecture, and he clearly wishes his affectionate advocacy for his subject to be the standard by which the book is judged. The success of his advocacy is shown by the fact that the book can continue to serve as...

(The entire section is 405 words.)