George Matei Cantacuzino – a Hybrid Modernist
Book by Dan Teodorovici. Berlin/Tübingen: Ernst Wasmuth, 2014.
Dan Teodorovici, architect, author and curator, email@example.com
The Romanian cosmopolitan architect and public intellectual George Matei Cantacuzino (b. Vienna, 1899–d. Jassy, 1960) was the integrative figure of Modernism in that country. In view of the age of extremes of the 20th century, both his classical attitude, which links Modernism to Traditions and Aesthetics to Ethics, and his intellectual integrity are remarkable.
He was educated at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris; in Bucharest he also became professor of architectural history and theory, painter and curator, the first Romanian correspondent of L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui, honorary corresponding member of RIBA/London, and honorary citizen of New York. With his liberal political attitude being disapproved of by both fascists and communists, he experienced imprisonment, social exclusion, and an untimely death.
Offering a journey through his momentous life and work, this study tries to place it into a wide architectural, cultural, economic and political context. It also seeks to reveal the cornerstones of his classical attitude and to discern the “the springs which feed the river of his thought“ – from Vitruvius via Palladio and Schinkel to Loos and Perret, from Wölfflin via Wittkower to Gombrich, from Plotinus via Bergson to Camus, from Montaigne via Goethe to Rilke, Valéry and T.S. Eliot.