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RUDOLPH M. SCHINDLER
 
 
 
 
  Name Rudolph Michael Schindler (born Rudolf Michael Schlesinger)
     
  Born September 10, 1887
     
  Died August 22, 1953
     
  Nationality Austria and USA
     
  School  
     
  Official website  
     
 
BIOGRAPHY
   

Rudolph M.Schindler practiced in the Los Angeles area from 1920 until his death, producing a series of houses and apartment buildings that explored new concepts of form, materials, and space. Critical of the reigning machine-oriented orthodoxy of most advanced European and American modernists that became known as the International Style, Schindler’s work is highly personal and individualistic.

Born in Vienna, Schindler studied structural engineering at the technical university, architecture under Otto Wagner at the academy, and informally with Adolf Loos. Inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Wasmuth publications, Schindler immigrated to the United States in 1914, met Louis Sullivan, and after repeated attempts secured employment with Frank Lloyd Wright and worked on several projects, including the Imperial Hotel. Wright sent Schindler to Los Angeles to supervise work on the Barnstall residence, known as Hollyhock. Schindler contributed a number of designs to Wright’s project (studio residence A is generally credited to Schindler).

Schindler’s earliest work, from 1921 to 1928, initially contained certain Wrightian mannerisms, but he also explored the possibilities of concrete and southern California’s sybaritic living. His King’s Road, or Schindler-Chase House (1921–22) in Hollywood was designed for two couples who shared common living spaces but who each had their own room and an open sleeping porch. The house is a series of interlocked tilt-slab concrete forms (which he derived from the American architect Irving Gill) paired with large openings, originally covered in canvas and later with sliding glass. Built on a slab, the building was in a sense a neutral container for the life within and without, with large indoor and outdoor fireplaces.

The Lovell Beach House (1922–26) in Newport Beach was composed of five pouredin-place concrete frames that carried what Schindler described as “space trays.” Constructed of wood, the trays are multilevel and project beyond the end of the frames, creating a dynamic sense of space. With abstract forms that referred to pier pilings, Schindler’s Lovell house was probably his best-known work.

Beginning around 1928, Schindler began to use the wooden stud frame; his architecture grew more cubic with flat, stucco-covered wall surfaces. Typically, his houses are enclosed on the street elevation and open to gardens or views. Fenestration is eccentric with varying shapes and sizes. With the C.H.Wolfe House (1928–29) on Catalina Island, Schindler posed the building as a series of boxes with open porches on a hillside, whereas the J.J.Buck House (1934) in Los Angeles spread across a lot as a series of interlocked stucco-covered forms. As with all of Schindler’s work, the house was conceived as a total unit incorporating site, landscape, and furniture into the plan and the style.

Schindler’s final phase, from 1935 on, becomes more expressionistic, with roofs and walls placed at eccentric angles, often resulting in radically dynamic space. The Guy C.Wilson House (1935–38) in Los Angeles has floor-to-ceiling glass walls poised 50 feet in the air and a butterfly roof that goes off at two angles. The S.T.Falk Apartment Building (1940) in Los Angeles, also on a steep site, features a series of overlapping geometries and bent forms; its volumes resemble precariously arranged boxes held in equilibrium. The Ellen Jansen (1949) and Adolphe Tishler (1950) houses in Los Angeles appear almost unfinished with their collision of planes, forms, and beams. Spatially, Schindler’s late work defies verbal description, as color and a multiplicity of surfaces resound in different directions.

The eccentric character of Schindler’s work, his bohemian demeanor, and the Los Angeles location led to a dismissive attitude by eastern critics, who refused to acknowledge his contributions to modern architecture. Schindler pursued lectures, exhibitions, and publications of his work and was largely successful up to around 1949, when he was diagnosed with cancer. Since the mid-1960s, Schindler studies have blossomed, and his current status probably outranks that of his contemporary, Richard Neutra. Although critics and historians have attempted to define his work with reference to Wagner, Wright, Loos, De Stijl, and other movements, Schindler’s oeuvre escapes classification. Schindler’s major effect came at least three decades after his death in the work of Frank Gehry, Thom Mayne, and the Santa Monica School.

RICHARD GUY WILSO

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
TIMELINE
   

10 September 1887 Born in Vienna, Austria;

1911 Graduated with degree in structural engineering, Imperial and Royal Technical University, Vienna;

1911–1914 Worked for Mayr and Mayer architects in Vienna;

1913 diploma in architecture under Otto Wagner at the Academy of Fine Arts ;

1914 Arrived in New York March ;

1915 Toured New Mexico, Arizona, and California ;

until 1917 worked as draftsman and designer for Ottenheimer, Stern, and Reichert in Chicago ;

1917–ca. 1922 worked for Frank Lloyd Wright at Oak Park Studio, Taliesin, and Los Angeles;

29 August 1919 Married Sophie Pauline Schindler, one child Mark Schindler, born 20 July 1922;

December 1920 Moved to Southern California;

ca. 1926–ca. 1928 lived in Los Angles and later Hollywood; became part of Hollywood’s avant-garde community, securing patrons. Entered partnership with Richard Neutra under the name of Architecture Group for Industry and Commerce. Remained in independent practice until death;

22 August 1953 Died in Los Angeles, California, USA.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
FURTHER READING
    Gebhard, David, Schindler, New York: Viking Press, 1971; 3rd edition, San Francisco: William Stout, 1997 Giella, Barbara, R.M. Schindler’s Thirties Style: Its Character (1931–1937) and International Sources (1906–1937), Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, 1987 Koulermos, Panos, and Stefanos Polyzoides, Five Houses of R.M. Schindler, A+U 75 (Nov. 1975), 61–126 March, Lionel, and Judith Sheine (editors), R.M. Schindler: Composition and Construction, London: Academy Editions, 1993 McCoy, Esther, Five California Architects, New York: Reinhold, 1960 McCoy, Esther, Vienna to Los Angeles: Two Journeys, Santa Monica: Arts+Architecture Press, 1979 Sarnitz, August, R.M. Schindler Architect 1887–1953, New York: Rizzoli, 1989 Sheine, Judith, R.M. Schindler, Barcelona: Editorial Gustavo Gill, 1998 Smith, Elizabeth, Michael Darling, and Richard Guy Wilson, The Architecture of R.M. Schindler, New York: Abrams, 2001
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
RELATED
    Brutalism; Gill, Irving (United States); Loos, Adolf (Austria); Neutra, Richard (Austria); Wright, Frank Lloyd (United States)
 
 

 

 

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