PRINT Summer 1986


Taking Liberty with Symbols.

THE STATUE OF LIBERTY and Mies van der Rohe came into the world together one hundred years ago. What an odd birthday couple they make: the colossal present from France, a monument to the 19th-century belief that history, in this case the classical past, could be quarried for architectural forms appropriate for democracy, and the architect who revealed a Modern classicism by stripping away overt historical associations. Yet the two are fraternal twins. Both embodied ideas arising from the Enlightenment. The Statue stood for the freedom of the individual from despotism, for the protection of individual rights in a society governed not so much by men as by laws; Mies championed the liberation of architecture from forms associated with despotism and esthetic caprice. The recent show at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, reminded us that Mies’ cause was not a vain abstraction. In his great

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