Perhaps the attitudes which finally threatened architecture as conceived ever since the Renaissance sprang most immediately out of an interest in a new material, iron, viewed by most architects as profoundly un-architectural.
For someone used to arched stone, brick or concrete construction, familiar since the Romans, iron bridge appeared to defy basic rules and to take little notice of gravity. The resulting jump in scale is enormous.
Suddenly iron and glass are thinkable for the most monumental constructions. Railway sheds had already employed the new technology.
A crucial step in admitting the new materials to aesthetic respectability occurs with Eiffel’s design for a monumental marker for the Paris Exposition of 1889. His skeletal iron tower, which did nothing to clothe and little to prettify itself, caused shock and consternation but quickly imprinted itself as an unforgettable icon.Modernism was a revolt against the conservative values of realism.
Modernism rejected the lingering certainty of Enlightenment thinking and also rejected the existence of a compassionate, all-powerful Creator God. The modernist movement, at the beginning of the 20th century, marked the first time that the term "avant-garde“ (non elitist culture, no high design, no craftsmanship, trashy but with humour), with which the movement was labelled until the word "modernism" prevailed, was used for the arts (rather than in its original military and political context).
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