AMONG THE EFFECTIVE contributors to the body of ideas that supported the Modern Movement, one must certainly number Adolf Loos. Yet his contribution was sporadic, personal and not always very serious in tone. As an architect he appears as one of the first to build in a manner that really valued simplicity of form as a virtue in itself, yet usually spoiled that simplicity by usages that wilfully departed from it, or materials that concealed it. As a writer he was prolific and usually well-informed, yet much of his influence depends upon one, or possibly two, of his most opinionated essays. As a person he was turbulent, combative, contradictory and capable of turning personal quarrels into public crusades, yet he was admired and courted, and people are still proud to claim his acquaintance,1 twenty or more years after his death.
His active career divides itself into three main parts. The first, down to his return from the U.S.A. in 1897 does not concern us immediately at this point. The second, of active building, teaching and journalism in Vienna, reaching a peak of productivity around 1910, produced his most influential writings, his most characteristic buildings. The third, which begins with his arrival in Paris in 1923 as an acknowledged celebrity, is the phase of his greatest personal influence, but one that is hardest to deal with historically --one has to accept the testimony of those who knew him then that they were pleased when they pleased him,2 and were flattered to be accepted into his circle of friends and admirers.
But this third phase was the product of the second. His celebrity on arrival depended only in part on his personal reputation, and hardly at all____________________