Ornament and Crime is an essay …

Loos quickly became well known around the city thanks to his U.S.-inspired fondness for functional design. The architectural style in Vienna around the turn of the century was very lavish, flowing, and ornamental. Loos had fallen in love with cutting-edge functional architecture and Sullivan’s skyscrapers in America; he had no patience for decadent Viennese tastes. This frustration was captured in Loos’ 1908 essay Ornament and Crime. He argues that “the evolution of culture is synonymous with the removal of ornament from utilitarian objects,” explaining how beauty should be expressed with natural materials and first-rate craftsmanship. Publishing and standing behind the paper was quite a statement – most Viennese citizens were very fond of their richly ornamented city.

Ornament and Crime: Selected Essays.

Ornament and Crime is an essay by Adolf Loos which doubles as an artistic mission statement. He outlines his views on ornamentation in society and why it should be abandoned in favor of a more functional style. The paper perfectly captures Loos’ stranger ideas and allows the reader to begin to understand just how extreme his view is: “The evolution of culture is synonymous with the removal of ornamentation from utilitarian objects.” Utilizing this source will provide first-hand insights into Loos’ life and hopefully help readers understand his bizarre worldview.

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Ornament and Crime: Selected Essays

Ornament and Crime contains thirty-six original essays by the celebrated Viennese architect, Adolf Loos (1870-1933). Most deal with questions of design in a wide range of areas, from architecture and furniture, to clothes and jewelry, pottery, plumbing, and printing; others are polemics on craft education and training, and on design in general. Loos, the great cultural reformer and moralist in the history of European architecture and design was always a "revolutionary against the revolutionaries". With his assault on Viennese arts and crafts and his conflict with bourgeois morality, he managed to offend the whole country. His 1908 essay Ornament and Crime, mocked by an age in love with its accessories, has come to be recognized as a seminal work in combating the aesthetic imperialism of the turn of the century. Today Loos is recognized as one of the great masters of modern architecture.