Ginzburg on essay


Proceeding from the following quote, briefly explain Ginzburg’s historical model of stylistic change, referring back to Volliet-le-Duc and Gottfried Semper wherever appropriate. “A Flower grows in the field because it cannot help but grow: thus it cannot contemplate whether or not it is appropriate to the field that existed before it. On the contrary, by its very appearance, the flower transforms the general image of the field” Ginzburg talks about the formal development of styles and how modern architecture is grown from the past but isn’t necessarily based on the past.

These ideas are very much shared by Semper. This growth is singular and linear, based on a preceding proposition, each outgrowing the latter, but not continuing the old. “…a person making use of the achievements in electricity cannot, under any circumstances, be forced to revert to steam power. Gottfried Semper explains this form of thinking very well in that, we learn from the past, we cannot copy it, as this is a waste but rather we cannot turn our backs on this existing knowledge, and previous epochs.

The development and changing of styles is a meshed concept. There is no end or beginning of styles. Ginzburg explains the life of a particular style as a growing organism in that it is born, “lives out its youth”, matures and lives out its old age, but never dies, but rather atrophies. This is why the actual timing of a style is impossible to track, for there is no death of a style, the life of the style atrophies. Styles cannot be erased because they are not physical elements to be knocked down and demolished.

So when an epoch forms, there is a trace of the old style, a marking, like a child would have of his parents. Each style has a genetic imprint of its parent, history. “A flower grows in the field because it cannot help but grow…” A flower germinates in the grown and is thus, it is born. This organism grows in its field, with no choices, and no alternatives, but it still grows.

This flower could wither and die, for what difference would it make? But does it know that its individual expression of color and aroma could be the single characteristic that beautifies its surroundings? A style that in its own being, transforms a hideous field into a breathtaking space. This theory of style stands true to the linear growth of architecture. The style will continue to grow and thrive, without its own predetermined plan.

Each bit of architecture is born and lives through maturity. This excerpt is taken from the given quote above. It assesses the revolution Ginzburg prescribed for Russia. Ginzburg talks about how the architects in Russia, like the flower, don’t have the choice of banishing the historical development of architecture. But that their styles can transform this field into a flowering spectacle.