Art and Architecture, Books for the News

When Buildings Speak

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Yet another title in our art and architecture catalog has received some favorable press, this time in the Nota Bene section of the January 12 Chronicle of Higher Education. In Richard Byrnes’ piece on Anthony Alofsin’s recent book, When Buildings Speak: Architecture as Language in the Hapsburg Empire and Its Aftermath, he notes that the Hapsburg Empire “spoke… in many diverse languages in a highly politicized context…” but that—as Alofsin’s book demonstrates—this struggle for cultural authority was also “fought in bricks and blueprints.”
Byrnes article quotes Alofsin as he explains: “A rich architectural polyglotism in Austria-Hungary paralleled the varied languages of its people… not only were many architectural languages expressed simultaneously, but they reflected various and even opposing issues of ethnic and national identity, as well as conservative or liberal ideologies.”
Thus, in When Buildings Speak readers can see how the multiplicity of cultures living under Hapsburg rule sought to express their autonomy by tapping into the limitless possibilities of art and architectural styles. Lavishly illustrated with newly commissioned color photographs, When Buildings Speak is essential reading not only for students of architecture but for anyone wanting to better understand the complex history and politics of the Austro-Hungarian region under the Hapsburg’s reign.