Architecture and Interiors: Twentieth-Century
The central changes in living conditions in the twentieth century were the results of new technology.
The central change in society, meanwhile, was progress toward democracy and equality, progress seen in design as well as in government. And the central artistic development of the century – a development that progressed hand in hand with technology and democracy – was modernism.
Modernism was not the century’s only expression, but it was the one against which others were measured. It was not the only movement, but all others were judged by their relationships to it. As precursors to it in some cases, as reactions against it in others, as either participants in it or forces outside it. Many of modernism’s enthusiasts saw it as more than a style. In its most extreme example, modernism rejected all ornamentation, all allusions to earlier design, and all past styles.
Modernism was seen as having grown naturally from function and therefore to have abolished the very concept of style. Today we can see that modernism was not as unified, logical, or objective as its advocates once thought. It is a style, after all, but one of rare importance and continuing vitality.