Arne Jacobsen by Carsten Thau & Kjeld Vidum

This major monograph on the work of Arne Jacobsen includes not just an assessment of his buildings but sections on furniture, textiles and water colours.

Life and Work - the first part of the book with 12 chapters - covers Jacobsen’s early life and education and then looks at fairly contained aspects of how his work developed and organised around marked stylistic phases … so The Reception of International White Modernism is followed by Plastic Form and Space Versus a Two-dimensional Effect; Modern Monumentality and The Time in Sweden that, for instance, covers the period up to and including the Second War.

An analyses of selected works is similarly grouped with seven sections that includes Monumental Modernism; Regional Modernism: Post-War Modernism and The International Style. These are the headings as shown in the table of contents but in the book itself, where headings for each section are marked by a full title page, these headings are expanded in a much more informative way so those same sections titles are actually The Marble-clad Structure Part III Monumental Modernism; Bricks and Pitched Roofs Part IV Regional Modernism: Oblique Profiles Part V Post-War Modernism and The Box and Organic Form Part VI The International Style.

Within these sections, buildings are covered as a full page, a double-page spread or where appropriate, for the major buildings, more spaceThis gives a clear and rational layout with a good use of typography and graphics that forms an easy-to-search catalogue but also shows, in the choice of photographs and drawings, that there are themes or forms or ways of using materials that reappear and are explored by Jacobsen in a different way in subsequent buildings.

Furniture, textiles and architectural fittings are discussed alongside the buildings for which the pieces were designed. Furniture historians may feel this gives this area of Jacobsen’s design work short shrift but it does keep all the design work within its context.

Throughout are observations and quotations that reveal much about Jacobsen’s work method and the energy and drive that produced so much … when today, so many architects with an international practice head up a huge design studio, it is fascinating to learn that through the 1950s, perhaps Jacobsen’s most productive period, his office was only ten people and they were working in the studio in the lower part of Jacobsen’s own house in Klampenborg. And given the relatively small size of the practice … a team who more than many comparable practices designed every aspect of a building and its furniture and fittings … also seemed driven by the need to enter and compete fiercely in open competitions for major projects.

A chronological list of works; a personal chronology - so biographical events and personal awards - and lists of exhibitions and a bibliography complete the study.

Arne Jacobsen, by Carsten Thau & Kjeld Vidum, The Danish Architectural Press, 2001