Gottfried Semper

Also found in: Wikipedia.
Gottfried Semper
BirthplaceAltona, Hamburg

Semper, Gottfried


Born Nov. 29, 1803, in Hamburg; died May 15, 1879, in Rome. German architect and art theoretician.

Semper studied in Munich from 1825 to 1826 and in Paris from 1826 to 1828. He was a professor at the Academy of Arts in Dresden from 1834 to 1849. A participant in the Dresden Revolt of 1849, Semper was forced to flee to Paris. He later worked in London (1851), Zurich (1855), and Vienna (1871–76). Semper’s buildings are rationally organized and employ eclectic decorative motifs from Italian Renaissance and baroque art. His buildings in Dresden include the Opera House (1838–41 and 1871–78) and the Semper (picture) Gallery (1847–49). In collaboration with K. von Hasenauer, he designed two museum buildings (1872–81), the Burgtheater (1874–88), and the New Hofburg (1881–1913) in Vienna.

Semper’s theoretical views, influenced by positivism, are expressed in his articles, lectures, and the treatise Style in Technical and Tectonic Art, or Practical Aesthetics (vols. 1–2, 1860–63). Semper criticized the capitalistic division of labor and its consequences. He attributed the decadence of 19th-century architecture and artistic crafts to the separation of art from technology and of decoration from construction. Viewing style as an organic historical phenomenon, he strove to restore the stylistic wholeness of the practical arts. He related laws of form (manifested in symmetry, proportionality, and tectonics) to the materials and techniques employed in creating a work of art and to the work’s ultimate function. Semper’s theory combines the principles of verisimilitude and expedience with an understanding of art as the symbolic “clothing” of constructions and materials. His views influenced many concepts of architecture, artistic crafts, and design at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century.


Prakticheskaia estetika. Moscow, 1970, (Translated from German.)


Quitzch, H. Die ästhetischen Anschauungen G. Sempers. Berlin, 1962.


References in periodicals archive ?
Los libros de Marc-Antoine Laugier, Gottfried Semper, Lewis Henry Morgan, Augustus Pitt Rivers, entre otros, marcan de manera indeleble una buena parte de las investigaciones que se desarrollan a lo largo del siglo XX y aun hoy en dia.
There he absorbed the theories of Karl Botticher and of Gottfried Semper, above all the latter's 'cladding theory', that architecture had evolved from structures hung with decorated fabrics.
Designed by Wagner's architect friend, Gottfried Semper, also responsible for the opera house in Dresden, it was to overlook the Isar River, quite close to the site of the Prince Regents Theatre.
Gottfried Semper, architecte allemand de grande renommee, fut designe pour y enseigner l'architecture, conferant au nouvel etablissement une reputation immediate.
For him, this project was a rare opportunity to focus on the themes of architectural representation and decoration, which he relished, having spent time researching the history and significance of the screen in architecture through the writings of Gottfried Semper and Karl Botticher.
Even Dresden's major synagogue had been designed by the same architect, Gottfried Semper, who was responsible for the famed opera house.
Franz Kugler's contemporary Gottfried Semper, far from agreeing with Kugler (or with Kubler) that the crafts and the "fine arts" should be maintained in separate categories, defined "art" as a universal phenomenon.
Keen to maintain Ludwig's patronage, however, Wagner recommended Gottfried Semper as the architect for the monumental theatre proposed by the king.
En ese orden de ideas, para abordar el estudio, inicialmente, se esclarece el sentido del muro desde Gottfried Semper, quien a mediados del siglo XIX contrapone a la triada vitruviana una teoria de la arquitectura determinada, en gran parte, por la comprension de la pared como cobertura de origen textil que delimita y conforma el espacio.
That was before architect Gottfried Semper designed the landmark opera house that bears his name, one of the first old public buildings restored under Communist rule to its former glory.
This is what Gottfried Semper found in the primordial knot, and what Paul Klee was seeking when he wrote in his diary in 1903:'I want to find a tiny formal motif, one that I can hold on my pencil, and from this a host of examples will follow.
Gottfried Semper designed a Pompeian theatre to be erected in the main transept at the Crystal Palace which, had it been built, might also have relied on Abbate's talents.