Jože Plečnik may perhaps be deemed the Antoni Gaudi of Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. Or vice versa. Both shifted the character of their principal cities (Barcelona in Gaudi’s case) toward a more animated, innovative and yet entirely classical character. Both architects proved that classicism can be as creative as modernism – far more so, since modernist creativity is mostly of the ridiculous “Look at me!” type. “Plecnik capitals you can see” originally ran March 25, 2015, and “Recapture Joze Plecnik!” the week before:
Here is that page of column capitals by Slovenian architect Jože Plečnik, disambiguated from the shot of many capitals on two pages 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 Harvard Graduate School of Design dean Joseph Hudnut 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 Plečnik 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 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.
[The original post, from 2015, erroneously attributed to Bauhaus founder and GSD faculty member Walter Gropius the destruction of Harvard’s classical cast collection, rather than dean Joseph Hudnut, who actually perpetrated the atrocity. Not that Gropius hadn’t already done quite enough to eradicate beauty in the world.]