Berlin: Bauwelt-Verlag, 1932. First edition. The Berlin Sommerschau of 1932 was a large scale architectural exposition in Berlin which sought to present designs for small, affordable, and adaptable housing units and kleingartens, which could be extended according to the wishes and means of the inhabitants. The exposition grew directly out of Berlin city planner Martin Wagner’s effort the year prior, with the help of Walter Gropius and other architects, to set up a committee to conceive of designs for adaptable micro-houses to address the devastation which the Great Depression in America had wrought upon German building industry, which he had documented in his book Das Wachsende Haus the year prior. Wagner would go on to be influential in America in his capacity as professor at the Harvard School of Design, along with Gropius. Wagner has received renewed attention since last year’s expanded republication of Das Wachsende Haus by Spector Books, one of last year’s best architecture publications.
The catalog for the exhibition (a) includes numerous plans for small houses, including Walter Gropius on the Kupferhaus (Copperhouse), a diagram of which is included here. Ther is also a two page presentation of Otto Bartning’s Werfthaus (Shipyard House), so named because it was meant to be assembled from pre-fabricated materials in shipyards. Other contributors include Max Taut, Willi Zabel, Dirk Gascard, Bruno Taut, Alfred Gellhorn, Hermann Zweigenthal, Eiermann & Jaenecke, Phillip Holzmann, and many others. There is a longer text by Wagner (“Vom wachsenden Haus zur wachsenden Stadt?”) and even an essay by the artist Hans Baluschek on the relationship between art and the weekend. There is also an extensive directory for participants, as well as numerous period ads and a directory for local building supplies and furnishings. It is tempting to read this directory as a retort to Germany’s prior dependence on American building supplies, a leading factor in the collapse of the German building industry
The exhibition and its catalogue provides an essential counterpoint to Johnson and Hitchcock’s International Style exhibition at MOMA, which canonized certain architects of the new architecture, including Gropius, at the expense of the social democratic background which is amply displayed here. An essential work for any collection dealing with the small house movement or the New Objectivity, but very scarce in US institutions - OCLC locates ten holdings, but only two on these shores.
a. Amtlicher Ausstellungs-Katalog und Führer für die Berliner Sommerschau 1932 "Sonne, Luft und Haus für alle!" Ausstellung für Anbauhaus, Kleingarten und Wochenende.
Berlin: Bauwelt-Verlag, 1932. First edition. 8vo, VII, 149, XII-XXX pp, printed wraps illustrated by Karl Charal. Profusely illustrated in b/w with diagrams and drawings. Text in German.
b. Terrassengarten Der Berliner Sommerschau 1932. 3 9/16 x 5 1/2” postcard, illustrated in color with a drawing of the exhibition at recto. With the rubberstamp of the exhibition at verso. Not mailed or postmarked.
c. Two Reklamemarke, or non-postal “poster stamps” made to advertise the event, one of which reproduces Karl Charal’s design for the catalog. Item #24898