Plecnik capitals you can see

IMG_6217IMG_6220IMG_6221IMG_6213IMG_6219IMG_6208IMG_6210IMG_6218IMG_6216IMG_6215IMG_6222IMG_6214IMG_6212IMG_6211IMG_6207Here is that page of column capitals disambiguated from the shot taken and sent to TradArch by Angelo Gueli yesterday and posted in a cropped and undisambiguated (I think that’s a word) by me. The photos were too small for readers to examine very helpfully with the naked eye. Angelo saw my post and shot each capital on those pages separately and sent them to me. Here they are.

But I cannot let the opportunity created by Angelo’s compassion pass without comment. Now that you can closely peruse each capital, you can see that all of them possess a uniquely expressive character that arises from features that would be purged by modernists, just as former Bauhaus founder and director Walter Gropius literally threw out Harvard’s famous collection of classical plasters, causing dumbkopf architecture-school deans around the nation and the world to do likewise, as if they were an unusually idiotic species of sheep.

Let’s shove the nasty modernists aside and focus our attention on enjoying the beauty of the Plecnik capitals. I tried to figure out which of them comes closest to the canonical. It’s a tough quiz, but I suppose the closest must be the sixth, which seems to be a regular column of the Tuscan order but with a large fasces, as I think it that scroll-like tubular feature is called, intervening between the Tuscan capital what would otherwise be the entablature above were it not that a coffered ceiling rests upon the fasces, an ornament that derives from the symbol for Roman authority.

Which is my favorite? That’s just as tough a nut to crack. Perhaps it is the second capital with the melancholy face between the two Ionic scrolls. Since, according to Cognitive Architecture, by Ann Sussman and Justin Hollander, our brains read faces as their number one job, maybe that explains my preference here. But I also like the capital forged from four columns arising to their own capitals at the top of a post.

It is almost impossible not to feel outrage at the meatheadedness that has robbed the world of the joy of classicism.

Here I leave readers to luxuriate alone in this heterodoxual display.IMG_6209







About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy,, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
This entry was posted in Architecture, Architecture Education, Architecture History, Art and design, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Plecnik capitals you can see

  1. Pingback: Plečnik capitals you can see | Architecture Here and There

  2. Oscar Gillet says:

    Hi, I am curious to know the name of this book, where you found this pictures of the Plecnik column


    • Oscar, I’m afraid that the images first came to me on a posting at the TradArch listserv. I think I have tracked down the book: “Joze Plecnik Architecte 1872 1957,” but have no idea whether it is available. Online searches are apparently unsuccessful. There is another book I own and purchased for $25 second-hand called “Joze Plechnik: Vienna, Prague, Ljubljana” (2007, I think), by Andrej Hrausky, Janez Kozelj and Damjan Prelovsek, and published by Cankarjeva zalozba. It is a large, beautiful volume with many photographs in black and white and in color, plus a well-illustrated biography of the man. That’s all the information I can muster. Good luck!


  3. David,

    Nothing to do with Plecnik, but this remark of yours caught my eye:

    “Dumbkopf architecture-school deans around the nation and the world to do likewise, as if they were an unusually idiotic species of sheep.”

    Those individuals, who played the determining role in destroying American architectural education, were not stupid. They were unscrupulous in selling out to an untried foreign “fad”, and totally unprofessional in not even thinking about possible devastating consequences. They betrayed their schools, their students, the profession, and the country in general. Strange, but I never read of any one of them repenting later on.

    Best wishes,


    • I entirely agree, Nikos. My use of the word stupid is here broadly defined. Stupidity can be highly intelligent, as in thought so silly that it must come from a college professor (present company excepted, of course). Unwise is a more accurate word than stupid, but lacks the semantic punch. But you are right. What Gropius and his allies did was not accidental. It was far more sinister.


  4. stevejcoyle says:

    Wonderful collection of beautiful, textural, functional artifact by the master artisan. thank you, David.
    Steve Coyle


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.