The Glasgow School

Charles Rennie Mackintosh: Glasgow: Haus eines Kunstfreundes. Preface by Hermann Muthesius. Darmstadt: Alex Koch, [ca. 1902].

Some of my fondest memories of Scotland are my  Mackintosh-Macdonald days.  Whenever I am overseas on my research trips, I always set aside one day to visit their works and take high tea in The Willow Tea Rooms. I first discovered The Glasgow School as a graduate student living in Glasgow.  I wandered into The Hunterian Art Gallery at the University of Glasgow and was enchanted by The Mackintosh House. I was struck by the use of line, curve, light, and color. I loved the details of the rose, repetitive tiny squares, & distinctive lettering. The ephemeral figures were haunting. No space was left undesigned and everything felt designed for that space. A gesamtkunstwerk. Whenever I am asked what is a must see on a trip to Scotland, The Mackintosh House, The Glasgow School of Art, and The Willow Tea Rooms are always on the top of my recommendation list.

I was thus delighted today to come across by chance Mackintosh’s entry for the Haus eines Kunstfreundes competition of 1901 (though the 1991 reprint issued by The Fraser Press, Glasgow). It was a treat to study the drawings made by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh.

If it be folly to try and interpret art, by the inexpressive medium of words, this must be especially the case with an art of such elusive qualities as that of the young Scottish designers. It has been laughed at and ridiculed by many who could discover no sense in it; but when one considers that this is the normal reception which the world accords to all new and import an art movements, the circumstances may be regarded rather as a tribute to their power than the reverse. The comprehension of their style cannot be communicated by the medium of words….And thus it is that we find suddenly in this Glasgow school something like an excess of individuality, and almost oppressively rigid style.  Hermann Muthesius, “Mackintosh’s Art Principles,” 1902.