Ivo Hammer
WHITE, EVERYTHING WHITE? JOSEF FRANK’S VILLA BEER (1930) IN VIENNA, AND ITS MATERIALITY IN THE CONTEXT OF THE DISCOURSE ON ‘WHITE CUBES’


A recent conservation-science study of the materials used in the construction of Josef Frank’s main work, the Villa Beer (1930) in Vienna-Hietzing, and of the building’s surfaces was an opportunity to find evidence indicating whether the contemporary description of the wall color as a noncolor white corresponded to physical reality. The notion “Weiss, alles Weiss” (“white, everything white”), celebrated as “an expression of values and of the times” (Hammann, 1930), has been identified as a cultural construct that stands in contradiction to the actual materiality of the buildings of the period. It has become necessary to rewrite the color history of Modern Movement architecture: the white cubes were never white.