Without doubt, the “Frankfurt Kitchen” was Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky’s best beat assignment — today you can akin acquisition an archetype in New York’s Museum of Avant-garde Art. Measuring aloof 1.9 by 3.4 meters, it was the world’s aboriginal adapted kitchen, accepted for its blue-green cabinets, bunched workspace, and affordable price. Brash to accomplish the best of the bound allowance accessible in the workers’ apartments of the 1920s, it was so able in its blueprint that the time taken to move amid tasks could be abstinent with a stopwatch.
Yet Schütte-Lihotzky had no admiration to be accepted as an autogenous designer. In old age, aback bodies abandoned declared her as the artist of the Frankfurt Kitchen, she would insist, “I am not a kitchen.” In truth, the Austrian artist gave the apple abundant added over her 103 years — in particular, acknowledgment to her left-wing politics. Upon her bearing in 1897, in the canicule of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, women’s role was generally authentic as kinder, küche, kirche — children, kitchen, church. Yet Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky’s action followed a absolutely altered advance — bigger authentic in agreement of career, kitchen, and communism.
Margarete Lihotzky was built-in on January 23, 1897 and grew up in Vienna. She came from a accepted family: her ancestor was a chief civilian servant, and her mother, accompanying to the acclaimed art historian Wilhelm von Bode, was an associate of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Bertha von Suttner. This accomplishments fabricated it accessible for her to abstraction at Vienna’s University of Applied Arts during Apple War I — this actuality one of the scattering of universities at the time that accepted women.
Her abecedary there was the artist Oskar Strnad. Aback Lihotzky bidding absorption in accommodating in a architectonics challenge for workers’ apartments, he recommended that she appointment a banal adjacency so she could absolutely anticipate workers’ active conditions. Indeed, turn-of-the-century Vienna was a greatly absolute city. In the centermost the assembly of the Habsburg absolution and the affluent boilerplate chic lived in admirable buildings, while in the surrounding alien districts the afoot automated proletariat lived in dark, attenuated tenements.
This was a determinative acquaintance for Lihotzky. “I didn’t yet apperceive the abundant Heinrich Zille quote, ‘You can annihilate a being with an accommodation aloof as able-bodied as with an axe,’ but I acquainted it,” she anecdotal in her memoir. “I apparent anytime added acutely that in Vienna, abutting to my apple of accepted intellectuals and the lives of elites who saw themselves as continuing aloft the added classes, unbeknownst to me there existed an astronomic amusing chic of hundreds of bags of bodies active out their abounding lives. Though the sources of their ache were not yet bright to me, I basic to booty up a career area I could accord to abating their desperation. My accommodation to become an artist was assuredly fabricated for certain.”
Indeed, Lihotzky’s aboriginal able assignment afterwards admission in 1919 was adherent to the poorer sections of society. At the end of Apple War I, both artisan uprisings and the revolts by civic minorities led to the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Vienna was affected with ache and an acute curtailment of housing. Huge numbers of workers active the forested acreage about the burghal and congenital simple huts. As she afterwards recalled, “thus out of call they congenital an bulky adjustment with no planning permission.” The adolescent artist took a job with the city’s accommodation adjustment agency and formed to abutment the movement through her activity. She developed prototypes for easy-to-build houses, brash the aboriginal kitchens, and brash the “settlers” in their concerns.
That was article new: best architects beneath the Habsburg absolution formed for the elite, designing houses for the high classes with adhesive and baroque facades. But Lihotzky instead advocated “social architecture,” as she approved to advance the active altitude of the alive class. Summarizing the allegorical attempt for her assignment — a functionally aggressive access to architectonics — she insisted that the boilerplate artisan “benefits added from his kitchen bore than from the angel on his roof.”
By no agency was Lihotzky abandoned in this view. Aggressive by the revolts and revolutions at the end of the war, abundant architects and artists began to abode the needs of approved people. In Moscow, the assembly of the Russian beat brash posters and storefronts, corrective murals on agit-trains (trains touring about the country overextension the bulletin of the revolution), and brash workers’ clubs. At the aforementioned time, in Berlin — itself a hub of anarchy — there was a workers’ board for art. Its associates brash awe-inspiring accessible buildings, captivated exhibitions of abecedarian architects, and developed abounding of the account that were afterwards accomplished by the Bauhaus.
However, Lihotzky was aloft all shaped by developments in her home city, Vienna. In the basic of the anew accustomed Austrian Republic, the city’s left-wing government began to advance through a abolitionist ameliorate program, ambience up nurseries and kindergartens and accouterment chargeless bloom care. But the “Red Vienna” of the 1920s was particularly noteworthy for its all-encompassing accommodation projects. Anon the burghal government started architecture ample blocks of flats instead of baby distinct houses. By the alpha of the 1930s, the burghal had congenital sixty-four thousand apartments, accouterment accommodation to about two hundred thousand people. Lihotzky helped in the planning of one of the absolute four hundred accommodation blocks. This “communal socialism” was adjourned through acerb redistributive mechanisms including taxes on domiciliary servants, affluence goods, and high-end housing.
At the aforementioned time, cities over the bound in Germany were additionally alpha to body amusing housing, with projects such as Berlin’s “Horseshoe Estate,” congenital amid 1925 and 1933, and the “New Frankfurt.” Indeed, in the mid-1920s, Frankfurt’s new planning administrator Ernst May and his aggregation began to set a new artful standard. Not abandoned did they body bags of apartments, but they additionally brash a new covering of arms, neon signs, and tram-stop shelters. One of their best connected influences is the now all-over book “Futura,” which was brash for the action by a bounded firm.
This action additionally anon anxious Lihotzky. Meeting her during a cruise to Vienna, May assertive her to appear assignment with him. In aboriginal 1926, the twenty-nine-year-old artist began alive in the acclimation area of Frankfurt’s architecture department, area she adherent her time to accommodation architecture and the cause of domiciliary work. She gave abundant lectures, drafted designs for residential buildings, and developed her acclaimed kitchen design, which was installed in added than ten thousand new apartments.
Again, here, Lihotzky’s aim was to advance banal lives, by authoritative contributed bed-making easier: as she afterwards put it, “I was assertive that the bread-and-butter ability and self-realization of women would be a accepted good, and that accordingly the added cause of domiciliary action was an imperative.” She was heavily afflicted by Taylorism: the Frankfurt Kitchen was advised to be as applied as a avant-garde automated workplace. The blueprint was aggressive by the kitchens in train-dining cars, with the best important items consistently aural reach, and abounding accessories advised to advice abbreviate the assignment process. Surfaces were corrective blue-green because scientists claimed the blush repelled flies. To lower the cost, the Frankfurt Kitchen was brash as a modular arrangement that could be calmly mass-produced. Since it was installed anon into a new apartment, the copse that would accept been bare for the aback of a chiffonier was saved.
The Frankfurt Kitchen bound fabricated Lihotzky famous, and her adventure drew all-encompassing advantage in the all-embracing press. She afterwards wrote that “it fit with the accepted and petty-bourgeois account of the time that a woman essentially worked at home in the kitchen, so of course a woman artist would apperceive best what is important for cooking.” But she added that article wasn’t quite right here: “it formed able-bodied as advertising aback then, but to acquaint the truth, afore creating the Frankfurt Kitchen, I never managed a household, or cooked, or had any acquaintance in the kitchen whatsoever.”
But Lihotzky’s time in Frankfurt was not abandoned apparent by her career success — for she additionally began to be radicalized politically. She was already “impressed by the achievements of Social-Democratic Vienna in the areas of housing, health, education, and culture,” and anon abutting Austria’s Amusing Democratic Party. She was encouraged to do so by the arresting Austrian economist Otto Neurath, who had been complex in the brief Munich Soviet Republic but alternate to Vienna afterwards it was suppressed. Lihotzky had aboriginal met Neurath while alive for the Vienna accommodation adjustment commission, and they developed a abiding friendship.
Later in Frankfurt, the Austrian artist absent the abolitionist political ability of her own home city. She assorted the Viennese bearings to what she saw in her new German home, writing, “I [am] afraid and abashed by the political accord of my colleagues — approved agents and chief bureaucrats alike.” She didn’t acquisition Frankfurt’s Amusing Democrats abundant bigger than her colleagues, either, and she dodged the party’s attempts to recruit her. This additionally meant that opportunities to accommodated and barter account with agreeing bodies were rare. One notable barring was Wilhelm Schütte, a aide in Frankfurt whom she affiliated in 1927.
Schütte-Lihotzky nonetheless found addition aperture for political action in the alleged Frankfurt School — the Convention for Amusing Research. Neurath alien her to its director, the “distinguished old Marxist” Carl Grünberg, who was additionally from Vienna. Arresting Austro-Marxists including Max Adler, Otto Bauer, and Karl Renner were additionally afflicted by Grünberg; “during my bristles years in Frankfurt I spent abounding accomplished hours” at his house, she afterwards recalled.
This apparent a absolute about-face in Schütte-Lihotzky’s political engagement: she accepted in her account that afore acceptable complex with the convention her ability of abstract Marxism was bound to The Antipathetic Manifesto and some of Friedrich Engels’s writings, but she now began to assiduously altercate backroom with Grünberg. At the time, he had abutting acquaintance with the Soviet Union, and she afterwards wrote that it was he who “opened my eyes to the absoluteness of Austrian Amusing Democracy, and accepted to me that they would not advance the country to socialism.”
This change of affection was additionally afflicted by contest in Vienna. In summer 1927, the absolution of three far-right paramilitaries on annihilation accuse sparked a accepted bang and a anarchism that concluded in the torching of the Palace of Justice. But the Amusing Democrats refrained from acknowledging the arising beef movement — a attitude which affronted abounding on the Left, including Schütte-Lihotzky. These contest prompted her to address what she afterwards alleged a “pathetic letter” of abandonment from the party. Beneath the access of the institute, Schütte-Lihotzky now began to about-face to communism.
Indeed, as the Abundant Depression brought crisis to New Frankfurt, the “light from the East” anon began to flash in through Schütte-Lihotzky’s own windows. While Burghal Hall could no best armamentarium the action in Germany, its arch Ernst May was offered the befalling to go to the Soviet Union and plan new cities there as allotment of the aboriginal Five-Year Plan. In October 1930 he ancient for Moscow with a accumulation of German-speaking architects.
Schütte-Lihotzky and her bedmate were allotment of this team. Together, they formed on the architecture of the automated boondocks Magnitogorsk on the bend of the Urals, amid added projects. While abounding added adopted experts anon larboard the Soviet Union, the brace connected to adore their lives allowance body Soviet socialism. They backward until 1937, with the Abundant Terror and the alpha of the appearance trials. Some new analysis suggests that Wilhelm Schütte was himself starting to be targeted by the regime, accidental to their best to leave. But abrogation the Soviet Union did not beggarly abrogation communism behind. Afterwards alive in London and Paris, the brace confused to Istanbul, area they anniversary took up posts at the Academy of Accomplished Arts with the advice of their acquaintance Bruno Taut. In Turkey, Margarete and Wilhelm assuredly both became associates of the KPÖ, the Austrian Antipathetic Party.
Even as Nazi Germany continued its authority over Europe, Turkey was never anon fatigued into the conflict. Yet in 1940 Schütte-Lihotzky absitively to leave abaft this about assurance and accompany the antifascist attrition in her homeland. She catholic aback to Vienna as a bagman for the resistance. Unfortunately, her accumulation was exposed, and she was arrested and abandoned about able a afterlife sentence. She spent best of the war years confined in Vienna and Bavaria until she was absolved by US soldiers in April 1945.
But this new abandon brought new challenges. In Cold War Vienna, Schütte-Lihotzky was abandoned and rarely accustomed burghal architecture contracts. Her prewar able networks no best existed, and she was added marginalized as a woman, attrition fighter, and communist. “For years I was ‘persona non grata,’” she afterwards wrote, “as a KPÖ affiliate I was about banned from alive on accessible contracts.” Not atomic acknowledgment to this, she began to biking extensively: in 1958 she went on a continued abstraction cruise through Mao’s China and over the afterward decades she formed in Cuba and the GDR (East Germany).
Throughout Schütte-Lihotzky’s life, two things remained connected — her able charge as an artist and her abysmal political engagement. An antifascist, communist, and women’s activist, she was a affiliate of the KPÖ for added than sixty years, and for two decades she chaired the Federation of Democratic Women.
It was abandoned against the end of the Cold War that the artist assuredly accustomed some long-denied acceptance in her home country. For about three decades, the media and politicians abandoned the already world-famous architect. Finally, already she was over eighty years old, letters about her began calamity in. She accustomed several honorary doctorates and was awarded abundant prizes, including the “Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold with Star” for casework to the Republic of Austria.
She maintained her political aesthetics into old age, in 1985 publishing her book of Memories From the Resistance. At about one hundred years old, calm with four added survivors of the Nazi era, she sued the bourgeois agitator baby-kisser Jörg Haider for arena bottomward the Nazi annihilation camps. Herself a victim of animality by the Nazis, she was acutely abashed by the acceleration of Haider’s Abandon Affair (FPÖ). She would, however, not see the far appropriate access Austria’s federal government — but abandoned because she died on January 18, 2000, aloof two weeks afore the FPÖ ministers took office.
Describing her own life, Schütte-Lihotzky wrote that “For me it has consistently been fundamentally important, in my job and additionally alfresco of it, with every bit of access I have, to accord to creating a bigger apple than the one that I was built-in into.” Her near-103-year history is a cairn to that conviction.