Modernism and the Posthumanist Subject: Architecture of Hannes Meyer and Ludwig Hilberseimer

Modernism and the Posthumanist Subject: Architecture of Hannes Meyer and Ludwig Hilberseimer
Library Shelf Location 10.HAYS
Publication Date 1992


Hannes Meyer and the radicalization of perception; Co-op Vitrine and the representation of mass production; contra the bourgeois interior - Co-op Zimmer; Co-op building between avant-garde and instrumentalization - the Petersschule; the Bauhaus and the radicalization of building; reproduction and negation - the cognitive project of neue sachlichkeit; Ludwig Hilberseimer and the inscription of the paranoid subject; the crisis of humanism, the dissolution of the object; hope beyond chaos - expressionism and Dadaism; Groszstadtarchitektur and Weimar-stimmung - the construction of the paranoid subject; conclusion - posthumanism and postmodernism.


  • Drawing on both the work of modern theorists like Georg Lukacs, Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, and Siegfried Kracauer, and more recent poststructuralist thought, K. Michael Hays creates a new method of reading architectural production. Challenging much of the traditional wisdom about modernism and the avant-garde, Hays argues that a rigorously articulated "posthumanist" position was actually developed in the modernist architecture of Hannes Meyer and Ludwig Hilberseimer. He reinterprets their buildings, projects, and writings as constructions of this new category of subjectivity. Posthumanism is an aesthetic and epistemological response to technological modernization. It embraces the anti-individualist consequences of technological progress and, in the case of Hannes Meyer, attempts to turn the perceptual effects of modernity to explicitly collectivist sociopolitical ends. But, as the case of Hilberseimer shows, posthumanism also harbours a contradiction - the ecstatic surrender of the subject to the very forces that assure its dissolution. Situating his analysis within the wider domain of artistic practices and the history of the subject - as well as in relation to architects such as Adolf Loos, Mies van der Rohe, Walter Gropius, and Le Corbusier - Hays raises questions of relevance to contemporary arguments about the ideological underpinnings of urban and architectural projects long rejected as antihumanist.
  • Review: In this original, rigorous, and sophisticated study K. Michael Hays draws on European theory to illuminate the philosophical and epistemological assumptions of the utopian and revolutionary architectural avant-garde of the 1920s and 1930s. Hays breaks new ground in identifying the gradual disappearance of the autonomous subject as a central motif of modern architectural history."- Anson Rabinbach, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art


ISBN 9780262581417
Quantity 1
Pages 336 p : ill ; 24 cm.
Author K Michael Hays
Format Paperback
Publisher MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.
Related Artists Hannes Meyer, Ludwig Hilberseimer
Categories Theory, Architecture (category)
Keyword Modernism
Language English

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