Cambridge Catalogue  
  • Help
Home > Catalogue > Gottfried Semper and the Problem of Historicism
Gottfried Semper and the Problem of Historicism


  • 50 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 288 pages
  • Size: 247 x 174 mm
  • Weight: 0.817 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 720/.92
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: NA1088.S48 H89 2004
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Semper, Gottfried,--1803-1879--Criticism and interpretation
    • Historicism in architecture
    • Historicism

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521821636 | ISBN-10: 0521821630)

Using key texts by the German architect and theorist Gottfried Semper, Mari Hvattum offers a reinterpretation of historicism, which is here viewed both as a philosophical outlook and as an architectural problem. Hvattum focuses on Semper's two major concerns: an understanding of the ontological significance of art and architecture, and the rendering of art and architecture as the objects of scientific investigation and prediction. Hvattum investigates the background and implications of these conflicting concerns. By examining the historicist fusion of Romanticism and Positivism, the book seeks to understand the nature as well as the limits of the modern dream of a 'method of inventing'. More than an intellectual biography, Gottfried Semper and the Problem of Historicism explores historicism and its implications for modern architectural discourse and practice.

• Original reinterpretation of one of the most influential architectural theorists in the modern period • A broad and contextual exploration involving the history of science and philosophy • More than an intellectual biography, addresses problems of historicist thought and its influence on modern architectural discourse


Part I. Towards a Poetics of Architecture: 1. The cult of origins; 2. The doctrine of imitation; 3. Semper and the poetic of architecture; Part II. Practical Aesthetics: 4. Semper and practical aesthetics; 5. The comparative method; 6. Towards a method of inventing; Part III. The Aporias of Historicism: 7. Semper and the 'Style of Our Time'; 8. History and historicism; 9. Between poetics and practical aesthetics.


'It is a compelling thesis, well argues, and … very well written.' Architects Journal

'It is sophisticated, succinct, and crisply written. A splendid achievement.' Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians

printer iconPrinter friendly version AddThis