ENDELL, August
(b. 1871, Berlin, d. 1925, Berlin)

Biography

German architect, designer, writer and teacher. After moving to Munich in 1892, he abandoned his plan to become a teacher, deciding on a career as a freelance scholar. He then studied aesthetics, psychology and philosophy. He also studied German literature, art and music. In spring 1896, he met Hermann Obrist, who persuaded him to abandon his proposed academic career and become a self-taught artist. As well as book illustrations and decorative pieces for the art magazines Pan and Dekorative Kunst, he produced decorative designs for wall reliefs, carpets, textiles, coverings, window glass and lamps. In 1897 he designed his first furniture for his cousin, the historian Kurt Breysig. His first architectural work, the Elvira photographic studio in Munich (1896-97; destroyed 1944), decorated on its street façade by a gigantic, writhing dragon, was a quintessential work of Jugendstil architecture.

At first, Endell was heavily influenced by Obrist. His work is characterized by expressive ornamentation, the bizarre idiom of which seems to be derived from a microscopically observed world of submarine flora and fauna. In Munich, Endell was one of the founders of Jugendstil (German Art Nouveau).

Endell's move to Berlin in 1901 introduced a new phase to his creative work. The Buntes Theater (1901, destroyed), built for the dramatist Ernst von Wolzogen in the Köpenickerstrasse, was, however, still tied stylistically to works of his Munich period. From then on, he gradually evolved from the revolutionary ornamentist to the shaper of architectural space. In the Haus am Steinplatz (1906-07), an important work in the history of the Berlin apartment building, ornamentation was confined to the entrance, while the whole façade formed a cohesive unity. His villas in Westend, Berlin no longer achieved their overall effect through details but through masses, a clear articulation of the whole structure. Simplicity, objectivity and utility are the dominant concerns in their design. This was still more true of the engineering structures of the trotting racecourse in Mariendorf, Berlin (1911-13), at which Endell created the first artistic racecourse architecture.

With texts such as 'Um die Schönheit' (1896), Endell paved the way for abstract art. In his new art theory based on a psychological aesthetic of perception, he proclaimed a purely formal art divorced from the imitation of nature, an art that evoked strong feelings through freely invented forms, as music does through sounds.