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In 1914, when the First World War began,
the world into which modern art was born had begun to vanish.
The joyful sense of possibility
that was born of the machine was now cut down by other machines.
This hill is called the Butte de Warlencourt.
During the Battle of the Somme, tens of thousands of men died for it.
The place became a symbol of obsession,
first held by German machine gunners,
then captured by British and Australian troops,
then taken again by the Germans and finally stormed again
by the Allies and this went on from the autumn of 1916 for two years.
By the end of World War I, every yard of ground here
had been dug up by high explosive, mixed with human flesh and bone
and pulverised and buried again down to a depth of six feet.
In such places as this,
our grandfathers tasted the first terrors of the 20th century.
The life of words and images in art was changed radically and for ever
because our culture had now entered the age of mass produced industrialised death.
And at first, there were no words to describe it.
# We don't want to lose you
# But we think you ought to go. #
In 1914, not one man or woman in Europe had any real idea
what total mechanised warfare would mean.
Europe had been at peace for 44 years
and nobody of draft age remembered a war.
Their authorities sold the war to them
in a language of rhetorical cliches that descended from chivalry,
the language of the public school and the officers' mess.
# Kiss you when you come back again. #
"Those long uneven lines standing as patiently
"as though they were stretched outside the Oval or Villa Park.
"The crowns of hats, the sun on moustached archaic faces,
"grinning as if it were all an August bank holiday lark.
"Never such innocence. Never before or since.
"As changed itself to past without a word.
"The men leaving the garden tidy.
"The thousands of marriages lasting a little while longer.
"Never such innocence again."
GUNFIRE AND EXPLOSIONS
In the trenches, millions of young Englishmen, Frenchmen and Germans
found the idea that war was something between a joust
and a cricket match had been wrecked by inventions which industrialised death,
as they had industrialised life.
This was what they found and what they became.
and the summer catastrophes of the Somme battlefield,
a whole generation on both sides of the trenches was becoming aware that it had been lied to.
Its generals had lied about the nature and the length of the war.
Its politicians had lied about its causes.
Its journalists and propagandists
had lied about what it was like for the troops.
The flood of lies
was so great that it seemed to contaminate all official language.
And so a chasm opened between official language
and what the young knew to be reality.
The speech of the elders could not contain their experiences.
America would repeat this trauma in the '60s with Vietnam.
But Europe had it 50 years earlier
and the antennae of the crisis were the ones whose business
was language, the writers and artists mostly born between 1890
and 1900, who had been sucked into the vast statistics of the war.
"I knew a man, he was my chum, but he grew blacker every day,
"And would not brush the flies away,
"However fierce the hum of passing shells
"I used to read to rouse him random things from Donne
"But you could tell he was far gone for he lay gaping, mackerel-eyed
"And stiff and senseless as a post
"Even when that old poet cried,
"I long to talk with some old lover's ghost
"He stank so badly, though we were great chums, I had to leave him
"Then rats ate his thumbs."
World War I destroyed an entire generation.
We don't know and we can't even guess what might have been painted
or written if the war had never happened.
Its imagery of waste, repetition, irony, loss and pain are so built
into our whole idea of modernity that we simply take it for granted.
We can't see its alternative.
As for the waste of minds,
we know the names of some who were killed too soon. Among the painters
Umberto Boccioni and Franz Marc, the sculptor Gaudier-Brescha,
the architect, Sant'Elia, the poets, Isaac Rosenberg and Wilfred Owen.
But for every one of those whose name survives,
there must have been scores
and possibly hundreds of those who never simply got a chance to develop
and so, if you were to ask where is the Picasso of England,
or the Ezra Pound of France,
the probable answer is that they are here.
Above all, what the war produced in its survivors and onlookers
was a longing for a clean slate,
a sense of spiritual apocalypse.
In return, they would be pacifists, internationalists.
They would get out of the war if possible, but to where?
The closest neutral country was Switzerland.
Zurich attracted every sort of intellectual refugee from northern Europe.
Great ones like Lenin and James Joyce, but a host of others.
They had fled their natural homelands
but they had a cultural one, the cafe.
Today, the phrase "cafe intellectual"
is a mild obsolete insult, but then it was not.
Places like this one, the Odeon in Zurich, were cultural institutions.
They were, in an almost literal sense,
mediums of discourse, like magazines.
People that were separated from the patterns of their society,
whether by choice or not, still need a forum,
they need a place where they can go to meet and drink and talk,
preen themselves, or simply sit alone with a book.
They say that sex is the poor man's opera,
but the cafe was the opera of the dissenters.
It was also the marketplace of ideas for exiles.
And Modernism was very much the creation of exiles,
whether you're talking about Picasso the Spaniard,
or Joyce and Beckett, the Irishmen.
In the cafes of Europe,
the intellectuals got their sense of being a class.
The mandarins of change.
When Stalin declared war against what he called ruthless cosmopolitans in the '30s,
he was in effect attacking the Odeons and those who sat in them.
But even so, the revolution that brought him to power
was partly hatched in this very room by Lenin,
who was a regular at the Odeon in 1916.
Among the other denizens of the Odeon were a Romanian poet
named Tristan Tzara, a painter named Marcel Janco,
a sculptor from Alsace, Jean Arp,
and a German writer named Hugo Ball.
It was Ball who decided to start a cultural cabaret,
a club where they could all perform
and read their work and show their paintings.
He rented the ground floor of the building in the Spiegelgasse
and called it the Cafe Voltaire, and here a movement was born.
Its name was Dada.
A nonsense name.
Dada meant "yes yes" in Russian, it meant a rocking horse in Romanian.
In any language, it was one of the child's first utterances.
The word Dada signified the desire to go back to scratch,
the impossible project of starting culture all over again
from the beginning, uncontaminated by the language of the elders.
Marcel Janco made theatre masks for the evenings at the Cafe Voltaire,
gaudy primitive things, run up with cardboard and poster paint.
Hugo Ball conducted mock rituals on the cafe stage in costume
The strongest influence on the Dadaists in Zurich was Futurism.
In Italy before the war, Marinetti had already shown
how to grab an audience with manifestos and stunts.
His idea of a gratuitous art at the end of history whose full stop
had been written by the machine and the Great War was what Dada adopted,
along with the full range of publicity tricks.
Provocation was the essential business of Dada,
its claim to modernity. It was art's parody of revolution.
But Futurism wanted to abolish the past in the name of the machine
whereas the Dadaists wanted to produce
an innocence whose metaphor was childhood.
"We searched for an elementary art that would,
"we thought, save mankind from the furious madness of these times.
"We wanted an anonymous and collective art."
Arp offended all the conventions of sculpture by making simple jigsaw
reliefs of brightly painted wood, almost toy-like.
And he used chance by tearing out scraps of paper and dropping them at random onto a sheet,
glueing them down in the pattern that they fell in.
These simple experiments gave the lingering impression
that the Dadas were against art itself.
Now it's true that in the years before 1920, not only in Zurich
but also in Paris and New York, there were some very pointed jabs
at the cult of art and its priests, the dealers and critics.
Especially, they came from Marcel Duchamp,
and the best-known of them was his moustache on the Mona Lisa,
not only a jab at the middlebrow worship of the artist
as divine creator, but also a pun on Leonardo's own homosexuality.
Gioconda was another thing that I made in Paris in 1919
before going back to America.
And, well, it was one of these gestures
because I added a moustache and a little goatee.
And also wrote underneath something very risque.
The letters pronounced as the French pronounce them
mean "she's got a hot ass".
Then there was Duchamp's Urinal,
which he exhibited as a fountain and signed R Mutt.
When I sent that urinal to be shown, is one incident,
the jury, there was no jury,
but the people who were organising it
decided that it couldn't be shown.
That urinal. So instead of...
They didn't know I was concerned with it
because I didn't sign my name,
as you know.
R Mutt, the name instead.
So they just took the thing and threw it away.
Above the partition.
Like his bottle rack and bicycle wheel and other ready-mades,
it said, in effect, that the world was so full of interesting objects
that the artist need not add to them, instead he could just pick one
and this ironic act of choice was equivalent to creation.
When Dada moved to Berlin after the end of the war,
it took a very different form.
In Switzerland, it had been jokey and lyrical.
It exulted innocence and chance. It was an alternative to conflict.
But not in post-war Berlin.
To be modern here meant to be engaged in a theatre of politics
in a city torn by shortages and every other kind of post-war misery,
as the left battled the centre
and the right for possession of the streets.
And it was generally felt that an artist who spent his time
pulling words out of a hat at random or dropping little pieces
of torn paper on a table in accordance with the laws of chance
while other people were storming the Reichstag was not altogether
living up to the historical possibilities of his age.
In order for art to assert itself as radical,
it needed to take political sides in this atmosphere.
1918 brought the end of the German monarchy and a republic was proclaimed in the city of Weimar.
Between the assaults of the left and the right,
the Weimar Republic lasted 15 years until Hitler finally snuffed it out.
The first of its crises was a general socialist rising
in November 1918, a year after the Russian Revolution.
The left hoped to demolish
the Prussian war machine for good, but it rolled over them.
Strikes were answered by martial law
and there were many young and radical artists
who went with the rebels to the left of the Republic.
Now there already was a strong thread of protest against war
and authority in German art.
It came from Expressionism, one of whose tenets was
that there were no political solutions,
only spiritual ones which must be made by artists.
But to younger painters,
the Expressionists didn't seem objective enough.
To place one's sensitive ego above the whole of the world struck them
as arrogant self pity and that was what Expressionism tended to do.
When Ernst Ludwig Kirchner was in the army, he painted himself
with his painting hand cut off,
like a mutilated saint.
A man symbolically castrated by war.
In fact, he had never been wounded.
And so the Berlin Dadaists laughed at the inwardness of Expressionism.
It was becoming official culture.
They wanted a more realistic and sardonic tone of voice.
They wanted an art of the billboards and the streets,
not one of confession and self-searching.
And they said so in their manifesto of 1918.
"The highest art will be the part which has been visibly
"shattered by the explosions of last week,
"which is for ever trying to collect his limbs after yesterday's crash.
"Has Expressionism fulfilled our expectations of such an art?
"No, no, no."
"Under the guise of turning inward, the Expressionists have banded together into a generation
"which is already looking forward to an honourable mention in the histories of literature and art."
"Hatred of the press, hatred of advertising, hatred of sensations are typical of people
"who prefer their armchair to the noise of the street."
"The signatories of this manifesto have,
"under the battle cry Dada, gathered together to put forward a new art."
"What then is Dadaism?
"The word Dada symbolises the most primitive relation to the reality of the environment.
"Life appears as a simultaneous muddle. Noises, colours, and spiritual rhythm..."
"Which is taken unmodified with all the sensational screams and fevers
"of its reckless everyday psyche and with all its brutal reality."
The man who made this collage had been in the trenches.
His name was Max Ernst.
The image is called The Murdering Aeroplane,
half machine, half angel.
Half aggression, and half...
What would you say those arms suggest?
I don't know of another work of art
that speaks powerfully to me of the strangeness of the machine,
its alien character...
It's a world and a war away
from Delaunay and his joyfully spinning propellers.
Collage for Ernst was a way of rupturing one's grasp of the world.
He didn't make any overtly political statements,
but his work pointed to a way of making them
by cutting out immediate pieces of reality
and sticking them on a page.
The best political collagist among the Dadaists
was a woman named Hanne Hoch.
whose acrid little images from the '20s ARE Weimar.
She was never sentimental, never a party tub-thumper
and being a woman she has regularly been written off as a minor artist.
That she was not
and for a vision of a world that was at the same time clear,
estranged, bleakly funny
and poisoned at the root, nobody could touch her.
MUSIC FROM: "Threepenny Opera" by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill
Certain images haunted German Dadaism
and were its obsessive emblems.
One was the war cripples that were on every street corner.
this was the body reformed by politics,
half human half machine,
prosthetic men, painted here by Otto Dix
who had been through the trenches and never forgot it.
This to him was the very essence of the Weimar Republic.
With his mechanical parts,
the cripple was brother to the tailor's dummies
that the Dadaists had seen in the Italian artist
who also inspired surrealism,
Georgio de Chirico.
Raoul Hausmann took a wooden dummy head
and turned it into one of the great images of modern alienation,
The Spirit Of Our Time he called it,
mechanical man complete with a tape measure for making judgements,
a simpering industrial statistic.
But the master of radical sourness in Berlin was George Grosz.
One of his friends called him a Bolshevik in painting,
nauseated by painting.
Actually, it was not painting, but Germany that made him sick.
This one is called
One cripple waves a German flag,
and the other responds with a cheer
from his empty head.
As with politics, so with love,
Weimar man, in Grosz's view,
has no real passions,
but the system has programmed him
with certain desires
so that he will consume well.
Thus, the dummy's mechanical bride
was the whore.
Grosz drew prostitutes
with a degree of moral vindictiveness
that hadn't been seen in art since the late Middle Ages.
To him, the whore was the giftmadchen,
the poison maiden of German folklore,
the bringer of syphilis and ruin.
MUSIC FROM: "The Threepenny Opera"
His theatre of capitalism was as clear and memorable
as an old morality play.
In it, everybody and everything is for sale.
All human transactions, except the solidarity of workers
as a class are poisoned.
The world is owned by four breeds of pig...
the capitalist, the officer,
the priest and the hooker,
whose other form is the society wife,
since, in the end, Grosz didn't see much difference between the two.
It's no use objecting that there were some kindly officers
cultivated bankers and decent women in Berlin,
as pointless as telling Daumier
that there were honest lawyers in France.
The rage and the pain of the images
simply ignores that.
Grosz was one of the hanging judges of art
and his verdicts echo, whether you like them or not,
in every German street and cafe
and beer hall, now as then.
MUSIC FROM: "The Threepenny Opera"
Even though the '20s have gone and with them
the shared idea that the art of opposition
could have a real influence upon political events,
German Dada still remains one of the moral examples of our century.
For the last 30 years, the Brandenburg gate in Berlin
has stood as one of the main symbols of ideological division in Europe.
On this side, they generally don't put you in jail
for uttering the wrong opinions,
on that side, they generally do.
Over there, for the last 50 years, not one artist
has been able to claim the minimum freedom which the Dadaists
and the Expressionists took for granted,
which is the freedom to interpose one's art
between the official message and its audience.
Over there, Stalin is still rolling in his sleep...
But before Stalin, there was one moment in Russia
when advanced art served the power of the left,
not only freely, but with brilliant results.
It happened between 1917 and 1925
when the promise of Communism was new
and the newness of art fused with it.
This hope that the revolutions in art and politics would join
was a modern idea, but was also grounded
in the Russia that existed before the revolution.
with a tiny elite of aristocrats and a cultivated middle-class
sitting on top of a vast pyramid of illiteracy.
MUSIC: RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH CHOIR
One of the few ways of reaching the mass of the Russian people
was through visual images.
The Orthodox church had been doing this for 1,000 years with icons.
Without the European avant-garde,
Fauvism, Cubism, Futurism,
there could have been no modern art in Russia,
but before the revolution, both Moscow
and St Petersburg were truly cosmopolitan.
And some of the greatest collectors in modern history,
like Schukine with his Gaugins and Matisses,
lived in Russia.
When Russian artists reacted to Marinetti
and the Futurist gospel of absolute modernity,
they were not responding as provincials.
But, the Russian economy was mainly rural,
the life of its masses primitive
and machine production was so new there,
that the Futurist myths seemed doubly wonderful to Russian painters
and to poets like Alexander Shevchenko in 1913.
"The world has been transformed into a single monstrous, fantastic,
"perpetually moving machine and a sense of rhythm
"and mechanical harmony reflected in the whole of our life
"cannot but be echoed in our thought and in our spiritual life,
But it was the revolution
that gave the Russian avant-garde
its real vision of dynamism.
Here, was process and transformation,
the literal renewal of history,
sweeping everything before it.
MUSIC: LE DRAPEAU ROUGE
Artists and poets saw in it the image of the future,
not the real future of purges and terror
in which so many of them would end, but a future that never came,
one of equality, of collective energy,
in which the arts would act like a transformer
and this hope reached artists everywhere,
including some Russians who were working in Paris.
One of them was the sculptor Naum Gabo.
Like the rest of the population,
from the very beginning of this century,
we all were convinced
that only a total revolution
can change the situation, in which we lived,
during the absolute monarchy of the Czar.
The revolution had swept away the middle-class,
and from now on the only patron would be the state.
The new state artists
were encouraged to see themselves as social engineers.
They believed that art could act as directly on politics
as icons had on religion.
Material was short, but at least they got ration cards
and were employed on propaganda jobs.
They did street theatre with parades and masks.
They made propaganda trucks.
They even devised an agitprop train
that could travel the country, distributing leaflets,
screening films and bringing posters and drawings to the proletariat.
There was a man,
Lunacharsky, who was at that time, the people's commissar,
for people's education and enlightenment.
He said, "You must all know
"that what we need really, what the government need
"and think ought to be, is an art of five kopeks".
What he meant by that, not that the art should be cheap,
but he means the art, which every man and workman
and peasant could have bought.
Of all the tendencies in Russian art,
Constructivism seemed closest, at least as a metaphor
to the ideals of the October Revolution.
Naum Gabo explained it.
It is made of nothing and then,
the structure was built up.
So, it is a construction.
It has also an additional sense in the world,
a philosophic sense, you know.
We also demand
that we should not make images
which would increase the destructive spirit in man.
It should give the man
a sense of reason to live.
It should be mentally constructive,
Vladimir Tatlin was one of the Constructivists.
The collagist Raul Hausmann made a sort of icon of the man
called Tatlin At Home with his head filled with thoughts of machinery
and emblems of travel and industrial design.
He wanted, he said...
"To combine materials like iron and glass,
"the materials of modern classicism,
"comparable in their severity with the marble of antiquity."
In 1919, two years after the revolution,
the People's Commissariat for Education
asked him to design a monument to the Third International.
It was going to be 1,300 feet high,
about 300 feet taller than the Eiffel Tower.
And unlike the one in Paris,
this would actually move.
Inside it, three huge mobile units.
The lowest, a cylinder,
was the hall for the Soviet legislative council.
It turned round once a year.
Above it, a pyramid,
the executive block, turning once a month.
And next, another chamber,
an information block which spun once a day.
And finally, a half dome.
All encased in the great spiral,
an ancient Middle Eastern form,
but in steel, on its heroic diagonal, the symbol of dynamism,
of conversion of energy and of evolution
from lower states to higher,
dialectics in three dimensions.
It couldn't be built.
There wasn't enough steel in all Russia for that.
So, it remains one of the great hypotheses of modernism,
and Tatlin was the Leonardo of the Russian Revolution.
In his quest for a perfect wedding of art and technology,
he repeated some of Leonardo's own projects
from 400 years earlier, like the design for a flying machine,
a glider, a sort of cheap airborne bicycle
that every proletarian could have,
which he named the Letatlin
from the Russian word "letat", to fly.
"I have selected the flying machine
"as an object for artistic composition,
"since it is the most complicated, dynamic form
"that can become an everyday object for the Soviet masses.
"An ordinary item of use."
Which it wasn't and could not have been.
Without a highly abstract way of thinking creatively
about matter, there is no technology.
Likewise, there can be no science.
If this power to abstract was the common denominator
of a coming society whose modernity would depend on scientific progress,
then its proper art must be abstract, too.
Abstraction, for the Russians, was reality.
The whole century, the 20th century
and the end of the last century,
even the science has taken and become abstract.
Abstraction in science is the main foundation
of contemporary thinking, of scientific thinking.
And yet, in science,
it has never been a separation from life.
And that is what art must always remember.
That our abstraction, just as in science, is natural
and belonging to the development of the spirit of human beings.
This is our spirit.
It is abstract.
But it does not mean it should totally alienate,
separate itself from life. On the contrary,
it must go deeper in life,
and regard the laws of life and the laws of nature.
Gabo took part in the Constructivist International.
It extended from Holland to Moscow and as one of its members,
the Hungarian Laszlo Moholy-Nagy remarked,
"Constructivism is pure substance,
"it is the socialism of vision".
In this spirit, Moholy-Nagy made what he called
his light space modulators.
Another Russian artist, El Lissitsky,
also tried to marry abstract art with social use.
Through the '20s, he produced a flow of what he named Proun artworks,
the word "proun", pro unovis, meaning "for a new art".
They look like imaginary architecture
and so in a sense they were,
because he thought of them as way stations
between once rigid categories,
the building blocks of a new Socialist Jerusalem
in which all the differences between the older artistic professions
would be merged in one evolved creature, the artist engineer.
Is this Proun room sculpture or painting or architecture?
Impossible to say.
The artist engineer must also be able to work at anything
and here, Lissitsky redesigned a maths textbook
for Russian elementary schools.
He did posters which were meant to communicate with the masses
in a purely abstract way.
How do you incite people
against the White Russian army?
The message is, beat the Whites
with the Red Wedge.
One may doubt if this classic poster
was ever much use as propaganda,
but the work of Lissitsky's colleague Alexander Rodchenko
was more practical in its effect.
Painter, sculptor, poster maker, designer, photographer.
He even designed a leather reinforced workers' suit in 1925
and wore it himself.
And his emblem was the camera.
For the camera was objective, unsentimental.
Instead of symbolist dreams,
it gave the cheap, reproducible,
accessible poetry of fact,
In his posters and book covers,
Rodchenko combined that
with a brilliant, punchy sense of design.
His montages are not so much still images
as frozen cinema, like documentary film.
Constructivism demanded that every work should speak plainly
and not mystify anyone. This was true of architecture too.
The building as declaration.
This is a design for the offices of the party newspaper, Pravda.
The trouble was that Lenin wasn't much interested in the avant-garde.
He wanted a mass art.
And after him, Stalin, the terrible simplifier,
made anything that wasn't mass art a political crime.
The Constructivists were, from his point of view, bourgeois formalists,
little specks of useless, free imagination
in the great ocean of his new Russia.
Some he killed, some he starved and all of them he degraded
and state art went back to its traditional job
of reinforcing the narcissism of power.
And so, you might think, the one brave effort
to connect revolutionary art
to revolutionary politics
But not quite. Because although we like to think
that modern art is left wing, or at any rate, liberal by nature,
it certainly wasn't in Italy
where Futurism provided the first official style for Fascism.
Mussolini was enraptured by the rhetoric
of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, the leader of the Futurists.
His watchword, as it was Marinetti's, was modernity.
And he too loved what Marinetti loved...
Speed, dynamism, mechanical force, war,
contempt for women, the cult of masculinity,
the cult of youth.
MUSIC: "Giovinezza" by Giuseppe Blanc
In 1933, to mark his 10th year in absolute power,
Mussolini held an exhibition of the fascist revolution.
The catalogue proclaimed that it wanted to recall...
"The atmosphere of the times, all fire and fever.
"Tumultuous, lyrical, glittering.
"It could only take place in a style
"matching the artistic adventures of our time
"in a strictly contemporary mode.
"The artist had from Il Duce a clear and precise order
"to make something modern, full of daring.
"And they have faithfully obeyed his command."
Montage, collage, blow ups, Cubist figures,
constructivist devices, references to cinema and photography...
It was all there.
And very like the work of the early Russian revolutionaries.
Enrico Prampolini, one of the fathers
of abstract painting in Italy,
did this mural
of Mussolini's Blackshirts trampling
the red flags of Communism
during the Fascist rising of 1919.
If you switched the colour of the flags and the shirts, of course,
it would celebrate a Communist victory over Fascism.
By the mid-1930s, there was little real difference
between the official style of the Russian Proletarian Revolution,
as approved by Stalin,
and the official style of National Socialism as approved by Hitler.
Both sides thought there was and Hitler's architect, Albert Speer,
thought that his version was the best,
even though they all look much the same today.
It looks like nowadays, you know...
In this time, we thought there are worlds between it
because the Russians, in my opinion,
they were crude in their architecture.
I had a fine architecture, of course, but this was crude.
What Speer designed for Hitler over the years had little or nothing
to do with modernism, except for the crucial fact that he did it
in the 20th century and made it the most grandiose state architecture,
at least in theory, since the time of the pyramids.
Some of the ideas were actually Hitler's.
In 1925, as a penniless nobody,
Hitler was already making these sketches of giant domes and arches
for a remade Berlin to be the capital of the world.
Speer's job was to build these megalomaniac objects.
This dome would have been seven times the diameter
of Michelangelo's dome in St Peter's.
It would have held meetings
of 130,000 party members.
In such a huge building,
the man who is most important
of the whole thing,
for which the building is really done,
shrinks together to nothing.
One can't see him.
I haven't had any way to solve it.
I put a huge eagle with a swastika
behind him to say, "Here he is."
But he wouldn't have been really visible in the grandeur
he would have deserved with his position in the world.
Speer knew that authority
demanded not only size
but absolute regularity, like the rhythm of jackboots on concrete.
What was the average man meant to feel in the Nuremberg stadium?
It was not my aim that he feels anything.
I had only the aim to...
impose the grandeur of this building
to the people who are in this building.
And one can already read in Goethe's Voyage To Italy
when he saw the Roman arena in Verona,
he said, "If people who have different minds
"are in such a surrounding
"pressed together, they all get unified to one mind".
And I think this was the aim of those buildings
and not what the small man will feel personally.
Heil Hitler! Sieg Heil!
Of all the projects that he designed for Hitler,
the domes and the arches, the palaces, the stadiums and the tombs,
only one is left and this is it.
This was Hitler's reviewing stand at the Zeppelin field in Nuremberg.
Speer made a drawing of it to show what it would look like
as a ruin in the year 3,000.
Bigger than the Coliseum,
twice as long as the Baths of Caracalla in Rome,
the stone witness to the beginnings of the Third Reich
and to the end of history.
And so it is,
but not quite as they intended it.
I am a little bit sad that there's not much left,
the whole columns have gone.
And to my astonishment,
the stone we used was of a bad quality.
So I only can say thank goodness that I am no more together with Hitler.
He would have a very mad with me about this bad stone quality.
MUSIC: "An Alpine Symphony" by Richard Strauss
Today, only the ruins are left.
The epitaph for their builder and his client was written
by WH Auden 40 years ago.
"Perfection of a kind was what he was after
"and the poetry he invented was easy to understand
"He knew human folly like the back of his hand
"and was greatly interested in armies and fleets
"When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter
"And when he cried, the little children died in the streets."
Under Speer's influence, Mussolini too switched away from modernism
to a classical style of state architecture.
This was his Italian forum outside Rome
and its metaphor is continuity.
The past underwriting the present, the new Rome reborn from the old.
MUSIC: "Giovinezza" by Giuseppe Blanc
If Hitler had been impressed by the ruins of Rome,
Mussolini actually owned them and he got his architects to exploit them.
He wanted to build "La Terza Roma", a third Rome.
There had been the Rome of the Caesars and the Rome of the Popes
and now there would be the Rome of Fascism
halfway between Saint Peter's and the sea.
It's head architect was called Piacentini.
It was going to be finished in 1942.
It wasn't, but a good deal of it is still there.
This is the only piece of fascist town planning that still works.
They didn't need to tear it down after the war because it was
far enough outside Rome not to become a troublesome symbol.
The result is a set of buildings
that are the architectural equivalent of Mussolini's famous feat
of getting the Italian trains to run on time.
They're efficient, they're easy to clean -
you just run a damp rag over them -
but unfortunately, they're quite dead.
When Hitler made his first state visit to Rome in the '30s,
Mussolini lined the last couple of miles of railroad track
coming into the Stazione Termini with stage sets -
fake apartment blocks, just the front -
with hundreds of Italians leaning out of the windows
and cheering the Fuhrer.
And this provoked one anonymous wag to write the lines
which in translation run, "Rome of marble remade of cardboard.
"Salute the house painter who will be your next master."
Well, this is cardboard Rome.
MUSIC: "Il Canto Degli Italiani" by Michele Novaro
Classicism with a pastry cutter.
25 years later, a lot of southern Californian universities
were going to look just like this. Mussolini didn't like the style
just because he was a bully and a braggart -
he liked it because he had a jackboot in either camp,
one in the myth of ancient Rome
and the other one in the vision of a technocratic future.
So this kind of architecture seemed just right to him,
as it did to many an American corporate president
and University regent after the war,
like the Lincoln Centre in New York.
All the ingredients of an architecture of state power
as imagined by the totalitarian planners of our century
are also present in what used in the '50s to be called
"the architecture of democracy".
What grandeur came down to was history without the trim.
Not direct revival, certainly not ironic parody,
but solemn parody, high-minded kitsch,
the architectural equivalent of the world's hundred greatest books
bound in hand-tooled Naugahyde.
1950s television-set Renaissance.
Or like the Kennedy Centre for the performing arts in Washington.
This was the international power style of the '50s and '60s
as Art Deco had been to the '30s.
Scale-less, opaque and its metaphors running slightly out of control.
This is the scariest new monument that I know -
Albany Mall, the seat of government
of New York State.
It was designed for one purpose
and it does it very well -
it expresses the centralisation of power
and I don't imagine there's a single citizen
who's ever wandered on this plaza and felt the slightest connection
with the bureaucrats who live in their towers up there.
The place would make Albert Speer seem delicate.
Utter simplicity of meaning, no ambiguities.
And what comes out is not the difference between America and Russia,
but the similarities between the corporate
and the bureaucratic states of mind.
Any one of those buildings there you can imagine
with an eagle on top or a swastika,
or a hammer and sickle.
It makes very little difference
to the buildings.
If you forget about the projects and the manifestoes
and think about what it actually built,
there's no doubt that our culture has its language of political power.
It's not linked to any particular ideology -
it's value-free. It can mean anything.
The architecture of power and coercion is always with us,
but in the area of public building our century has not yet managed
to come up with an architecture of free will.
But on the other hand, what is left of the art of dissent?
Not a great deal.
Only one humane political work of art in the last 100 years
has achieved something like permanent fame and wide affect.
It was Guernica, painted by Pablo Picasso in 1937.
Its imagery was set off by an act of war -
the German bombing of a Basque town during the Spanish civil war.
I say "set-off" because although Guernica has certainly been taken
as the most powerful invective against violence in modern art,
it was not entirely inspired by the war.
These motifs of the weeping woman, the horse and the bull
had been running through Picasso's work for years
before Guernica brought them together.
Nor can you call this a very specific statement about politics.
It's more a general meditation on suffering
and its symbols are deliberately archaic, not historical.
The horse, the bull, the fallen warrior, the sword.
The only modern elements - apart from the late Cubist style -
are the electric light and the suggestion that the horse's body
is made of parallel lines of newsprint, like the newspaper
in Picasso's collages a quarter of a century earlier.
Otherwise, its heroic abstraction and monumentalised pain
belong as much to the world of the Greek pediment
as they do to the time of dive bombers and photography.
Since then, full dress-revivals of the old Dada spirit
of flat-out opposition to the world as it is
have been the exception rather than the rule.
Or, to be exact, ones that work convincingly as art
have been the exceptions.
Some have been produced by a Swiss artist, Jean Tinguely,
who makes sculptures that wildly parody
the rationalism of technology, of machines and interests they serve.
I'm involved by our civilisation,
in our technical civilisation,
and the problem of machine is the problem of an all-new world.
It is first of all a sculpture
and I have tried to give him new dimensions,
to give him the quality of a classical sculpture
and to let him, in the same time, to become a fantastic machine.
This has also the quality of a spectacle,
of a show, at the same time.
It has to have some different faces.
The noises and the sounds are very important - it belongs to it.
In art, perhaps the machine had nowhere to turn but on itself.
One cold spring evening in New York in 1960
in the courtyard of the Museum Of Modern Art,
a small invited audience of trustees, collectors,
critics and artists assembled to experience
what Tinguely called his homage to New York,
a machine which, with a little help from its friends,
succeeded in its intention of assassinating itself.
A self-destroying work of art
for an audience composed mainly of millionaires.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
MUSIC: "Happy End" by Kurt Weill
This was a long way from the original spirit of Berlin Dada in the '20s,
with its hope of changing society and to hell with amusing it.
It was as far as the Berlin railway station of the '20s -
when it was one of the hubs of a shuttling, changing European avant-garde -
was from its form today.
That particular hope -
of having political effect through painting or sculpture - is ended.
As far as today's politics is concerned,
art aspires to the condition of Muzak -
it provides the background hum for power.
If the Third Reich had lasted until today, the young bloods in the party
wouldn't be interested in old fogeys like Albert Speer or Arno Breker -
they'd be queueing up to have their portraits done by Andy Warhol.
It's hard to think of any work of art of which one can say,
"This made men more just to one another",
or, "This saved the life of one Jew or one Vietnamese".
Books, perhaps, but as far as I know, no paintings or sculptures.
The difference between us and the artists in the '20s
is that they thought that such a work of art could be made.
Perhaps it was their naivety that they could think so,
but it's our loss that we can't.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd