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Wintersemester 2019-2020

• Goethe University Frankfurt am Main
Seminarhaus SH 0.106, Campus Westend

Blockseminar + Kolloquium

Displacement and the Making of Modern Architecture: A Focus on Max Cetto’s Papers Preserved in the DAM Archives

Can the notions of displacement and home affect modern architectural history? Although this question may seem straightforward at first glance, answering it poses considerable demand and requires analysis.

This block seminar focuses precisely on this analysis. It intersects the ideas of displacement, modern architecture and the Atlantic World. Our purpose is not to provide maps of émigré architects. Instead, we will focus on a set of objects in order to adopt a point of departure for analysis.

We will explore German born architect Max Ludwig Cetto’s files preserved in the Deutsches Architekturmuseum and we will consider these files as a critical case to reflect upon the history of modern architecture in the transatlantic world as a history of zigzag movements of ideas, objects and people.

Max Cetto (1903-1980) was a student of the well-known professor Hans Poelzig in Berlin, a collaborator in Ernst May’s housing project for Das Neue Frankfurt and an active protagonist of the German chapter of the Congrès internationaux d’architecture moderne CIAM in the interwar period. In 1938 he left Europe and moved to Mexico in 1939 after a short stay in the USA.

How have Cetto’s experiences of displacement affected his intellectual work? How his own comparisons between here (Mexico) and there (Germany), may help us today to examine the historical constructs about Latin American architecture? And what his papers preserved in the DAM can tell us about displacement in architectural history? There are still questions to be answered. And this seminar is a first attempt of making new sense to these writings and debates.

The seminar includes reading sessions, a half-day excursion to visit Cetto’s projects, three-day workshop activities in the DAM library, and finally, a one-day symposium. Language of the Seminar: English/German.

Goethe University Frankfurt am Main | Art History Department

Winter Semester 2019 -2020 | Lecturer Dr. Daniela Ortiz dos Santos



Thursday 16.01.2020 (09.00-17.00)

Place: Seminar room SH 0.106, Campus Westend, Goethe University  Frankfurt am Main

Guest Critics: Susanne Duessel (Berlin) and Helen Barr (KGI/Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main)


09h00 – 10h30 : Excursion to visit the Umspannwerk (1930) by Max Cetto

10h30 – 10h45 : Coffee Break

10h45 – 11h00 : Welcome and Introduction by Daniela Ortiz dos Santos

11h00 – 11h30 : Presentation Group 1. Max Cetto’s Papers and the Frankfurt Period: Modern Movement, Propaganda & Politics

11h30 – 12h00 : Discussions

12h00 – 12h45 : Lunch Break

12h45 – 13h15 : Presentation Group 2.The Jueterborg-Damm Airport Album:Modern Architecture and Military Architecture

13h15 – 13h45 : Discussions

13h45 – 14h15 : Presentation Group 3. Cetto Correspondence and the Cold War

14h15 – 14h45 : Discussions

14h45 – 15h00 : Coffee Break

15h00 – 15h30 : Presentation Group 4. The Architectural Competition for the Museen-Tiergarten in Berlin

15h30 – 16h00 : Discussions

16h00 – 16h30 : Conclusions


Participants: Katharina Gewehr, Siyoma Dawit, Samira Berger, Vicky Christakopoulos, Hilla Nienke Griesemann, Pia Kuban, Lisa Bockius, Carina Bukuts, Arsiema Katharina Ghebrehiwet, Ebru Cagritekin

This Seminar could not be a reality without the support and generosity from the DAM. Special thanks to Katja Leiskau, Wolfgang Welker, Christiane Eulig, Heike Schuler, Christian Walter, Angela Tonner and Oliver Elser.