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Marcel Lajos Breuer (1902-1981)

Marcel Breuer

Copyright: RIBA British Architectural Library Photographs Collection (1858)

Breuer's early work was at the Bauhaus in the 1920s, developing the relationship between art and technology. He later practiced in Berlin, designing houses as well as a number of furniture pieces, some of which are still in production today. His popular Wassily Chair, designed in 1925 was based on the curved tubular steel handlebars of his bicycle.


Due to the rise of the Nazi party in the 1930s, Breuer relocated to London, and was employed by the Isokon company, designing the Long Chair as well as being given the opportunity to experiment with plywood. Breuer moved to the United States, initially to teach at Harvard, then to design houses with Gropius before establishing his own practice in New York in 1941.


Breuer received the Paris commission for the UNESCO HQ in 1953 which was a significant turning point in his career. Breuer could focus on projects other than just residential, and return to Europe. It was also the beginning of Breuer's use of concrete as his primary medium. Breuer explored concrete by making it appear soft and curved, and his work became described as the Brutalism movement.


Breuer's work in the US included the Cleveland Museum of Art North Building expansion (1971), one of the earliest skyscrapers. Other work included the US Embassy at The Hague (1958), and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York (1966).


Breuer was nominated twice for the Royal Gold Medal.