February 13, 2009
by Canadian Architect
“Be not afraid of being called unfashionable.” – Adolf Loos
The much-anticipated follow-up to Schindler’s Houses, Heinz Emigholz’s international festival hit and a quick sellout in the Toronto International Film Festival’s 2007 Wavelengths programme, Loos Ornamental (2008, Austria) is the latest and 13th installment in this leading German avant-garde filmmaker’s critically lauded Photography and Beyond series. Begun in 1984, this singular undertaking, which will ultimately amount to 25 films on art and design, has won Emigholz a solid place among the world’s pre-eminent artists. Meditations on the beauty of man-made works of art, his films employ a rigorous taxonomic approach to buildings –“architecture as autobiography,” as the filmmaker calls it. Loos Ornamental comprises 27 buildings and interiors designed by Adolf Loos (1870-1933), one of the most important and contentious pioneers of Modernist architecture. The façades, shops, houses, apartments and monuments, built between 1899 and 1931, are all presented in their present states, shot in their natural surroundings, from Vienna, lower Austria, Prague, Brno, Pilsen, Nachod, and Paris. The film thus provides a fascinating comparative study of Loos’s work which, to some degree, both surprisingly and pleasantly deviates from the austere tenets he put forth in his 1908 manifesto, Ornament and Crime – a turning point in architectural theory, much discussed and debated to this present day. Formal asceticism meets luscious materials (i.e., the innate “ornamentation” of striated marble, of rich and undulating wood grains, of sumptuous wall panelling), like in Vienna’s famous Kärtner Bar (1908), also known as “The American Bar,” or simply, the “Loos Bar,” a shimmering jewel box of a snug, romantic boîte. – Andréa Picard
The screening of this film takes place at 5:15pm on Sunday, February 15 at Jackman Hall in Toronto. Runtime is 72 minutes.
For more information, please visit www.cinemathequeontario.ca/filmdetail.aspx?filmId=1442