“We will remake this”: On the reconstruction of a manifesto. Lina and Adolf Loos Bedroom
Soon after the remodel of Lina and Adolf Loos’s residence was completed in July 1903, Peter Altenberg published a frontal and an oblique view of the bedroom in his magazine Kunst [Art].
With their lapidary captions, the two photos take on the character of a manifesto. What was being demonstrated was a new way of thinking about space: Architecture as space swathed in diaphanous material. The publication of this room was to be the last Adolf Loos project to appear for a long time. The reality of Loos’s photographic manifesto “Bedroom of my wife” recedes behind the suggestive power of the photos which, by means of a reconstruction, can only be made to converge upon an approximation of a hypothetical, long-gone reality.
The few additional documents available for such an endeavor include:
A substantially retouched print of the frontal photograph (ALA 2389), showing the “precious ‘sleeping tent’” (so called by Ludwig Münz and Gustav Künstler, in whose 1964 monograph this version was published for the first time) with well-nigh ethereal radiance, in contradiction to Loos’s own emphasis on an almost ascetic frugality of the room’s furnishings; on the back of the photo, the instruction “Floor covering blue!”
An amateur photograph (ALA 2387) forms a counterpoint to the idealization of the overhauled print. Despite the worn-down and altered condition after the partitioning of the room, without fur and blue felt, it delivers important information about the closets, the drape of the curtains, and about the construction of the “rigging” and the other curtain rod mounts.
Speaking notes (ALA 670) that document a greatly altered condition of the room, as well as the idea of a reconstruction (“We will remake this”). Here, too, “blue felt on the floor” is mentioned, as are “rods” that were to have been “rigging”—an important indicator for the assessment of the amateur photo.
Quote by Ludwig Hevesi:
“I have now seen many residences furnished by Loos. Inexpensive and costly, for inhabitants of very different intellectual and physical requirements. He can handle simplicity as well as splendor, can do justice in his own way to manifold requirements. Even the lyrical note is not denied him. How charming is this completely snowy white bedroom, transformed into an appetizing slumber tent through hangings of airy striped batiste along all four walls, behind which the furniture is secreted.”
Ludwig Hevesi, Adolf Loos, in: Fremden-Blatt, Vienna, 22 November 1907, 15–16; reprinted in Ludwig Hevesi, Altkunst – Neukunst. Wien 189–-1908 [Old art – new art. 189- – 1908], Vienna 1909, 284–288.