Lewis Mumford's advocacy of European Modernism in architecture was the result of his relationship with Walter Curt Behrendt, the editor of the German Werkbund's journal Die Form from 1925 to 1927. Before they met in 1925 Mumford and Behrendt each worked to encourage a new vernacular style, which would use rural values and regional planning to remake the industrial city. The two united in their critique of the unrestricted urban development and industrial standardization which dominated American culture in the 1920s, and which in Germany was mythologized as Amerikanismus. In 1925 Behrendt recruited Mumford to write on American architecture for Die Form from an anti-Amerikanismus point of view. Yet when Behrendt expressed a new optimism about the machine's role in architecture, in his book Der Sieg des neuen Baustils (1927), Mumford began to emphasize functionalist, standardized forms as the key to organic design. The Werkbund's "New Era" publicity campaign of 1928-1932 convinced Mumford that the Modern Movement combined a naturally evolving vernacular style with artistic vanguardism, both in the service of cultural evolution. On this basis he supported both functionalist housing and Philip Johnson's "International Style" aestheticism after 1930.
- Copyright 1996 The Society of Architectural Historians