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The House for Tristan Tzara by Adolf Loos An attempt to reconstruct the collaboration between and artist and an architect

Part 1 Dissertation 2013
Pierre Blanc
London Metropolitan University, UK
In 1925, the Viennese architect Adolf Loos had been commissioned by the founding father of the Dada movement, Tristan Tzara, to design and build a house in Paris for him and his wife the Surrealist painter Greta Knutson.

Tristan Tzara and Adolf Loos worked with two diametrically opposed philosophies and world views and as such their collaboration appears rather complicated. Adolf Loos was not only an architect, but a radical and polemic thinker who was known for refusing to adapt to his clients wishes. On the other hand, Tristan Tzara, with the help of his Dadaist friends in Zurich, and later in Paris, was known for mocking reason and logic in every possible way. His art was taking the form of experimental writings and unexpected theatrical performances with a devotion to the absurd. He presented himself as the opposite of a rationalist, and we can only imagine that with such attitude he would be difficult partner to discuss the details of a house for him and his wife.

In this period of the aftermath of the First World War, it was difficult for Adolf Loos to impose his style in Paris. The Parisian society was still trying to leave behind the shocking memories of five years of atrocities and was finding refuge in excesses of all kinds. It was the period of années folles (The Crazy Years). Loos preferred an architecture which was gentle and refined, nevertheless provocative.

The relationship between Loos and Tzara eventually gave birth to an emblematic residence in Paris Montmartre. The Tzara House is the only built work realized by Loos in France. It became exemplary for modern architecture and became registered as a historic monument since 1975. In this essay I examine the house in detail and investigate how it became the home of the Dadaist poet. Through the spatial analysis of the house and the discussion of the ideas of these two dissenting characters, I would like to find out whether the building can tell the story of modernity and the visions about art and architecture of these two illustrious personalities.

Pierre Blanc

Ines Weizman
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