Idyll and Ideology

ISBN 978-3-98612-003-0

ISBN 978-3-98612-003-0

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<strong>Idyll</strong> <strong>and</strong> <strong>Ideology</strong><br />

Hermann Mattern <strong>and</strong> the<br />

L<strong>and</strong>scape to Live In<br />

Lars Hopstock

3<br />

This first English-language biography of Hermann<br />

Mattern (1902–1971), one of Germany’s principal<br />

twentieth- century l<strong>and</strong>scape architects, critically<br />

assesses the significance of his organicist-functionalist<br />

position while offering a new reading of<br />

German garden <strong>and</strong> l<strong>and</strong>scape culture during his<br />

lifetime. While focusing on the idiosyncrasies of<br />

a single man, the biography aims to contribute to<br />

a more holistic underst<strong>and</strong>ing of l<strong>and</strong>scape- related<br />

modernism in general – beyond the narrow limits<br />

of garden history, but without neglecting the<br />

specificities of the intellectual culture of l<strong>and</strong>scape<br />

architecture. Mattern embodies several themes<br />

of the German l<strong>and</strong>scape discourse <strong>and</strong> the central<br />

ambivalence of his generation: a life between the<br />

artistic avant-garde of the 1920s <strong>and</strong> the pitfalls<br />

of an allegedly apolitical career under the Nazi<br />

regime <strong>and</strong> in the postwar period. Based on comprehensive<br />

archival research, Hopstock’s richly<br />

illustrated study uncovers professional networks,<br />

discourses <strong>and</strong> rivalries that shaped the profession<br />

of l<strong>and</strong>scape architecture in Germany during its<br />

formative decades.

Content<br />

7<br />

Foreword<br />

Marc Treib<br />

219<br />

‘Politically Unsound’:<br />

Mattern <strong>and</strong> the Nazis<br />

11<br />

15<br />

Preface<br />

Introduction<br />

231<br />

‘Obsolete Individualism’:<br />

The Killesberg Park Between Reverence<br />

<strong>and</strong> Rejection<br />

23<br />

71<br />

83<br />

Tendencies in<br />

Modern Garden Art<br />

The Architectonic <strong>and</strong><br />

the L<strong>and</strong>scape Modes<br />

c. 1895–1933<br />

Part I<br />

Early Influences<br />

1902–c. 1930<br />

Learning to See:<br />

A W<strong>and</strong>ervogel Youth in the L<strong>and</strong> of Fables<br />

Becoming a L<strong>and</strong>scape Architect<br />

in Germany in the 1920s<br />

261<br />

283<br />

335<br />

349<br />

Working Towards the Führer (?):<br />

Mattern’s War Career<br />

Atmosphere of Departure <strong>and</strong><br />

Disillusionment: Postwar Art <strong>and</strong> Life<br />

Part III<br />

The New L<strong>and</strong>scape<br />

Consciousness<br />

c. 1950–1971<br />

The ‘L<strong>and</strong>scape for Living’ <strong>and</strong><br />

Its Limits of Resilience<br />

International Orientation <strong>and</strong><br />

Retrospection: The Later Years<br />

99<br />

121<br />

Confidante <strong>and</strong> Counterpart:<br />

Herta Hammerbacher<br />

Bauhaus, Expressionism <strong>and</strong> the Empathic:<br />

Early Influences <strong>and</strong> the Golden Twenties<br />

367<br />

Epilogue<br />

‘Freedom within<br />

Limitations’<br />

153<br />

Tête-à-Tête with Flora:<br />

Karl Foerster <strong>and</strong> the New Take on Plants<br />

Part II<br />

Continuities Across<br />

Systems<br />

1927–c. 1960<br />

384<br />

390<br />

391<br />

396<br />

416<br />

Appendix<br />

Glossary<br />

Acronyms<br />

Index<br />

Bibliography<br />

Imprint<br />

177<br />

Genesis of the New L<strong>and</strong>schaftlichkeit:<br />

The ‘Bornim’ Label in the Context of<br />

Interwar Garden Design<br />


Introduction<br />

Significance <strong>and</strong> research questions<br />

The common knowledge about Hermann Mattern<br />

is usually subsumed by the term Bornimer Schule –<br />

Bornim School, probably a self-proclamation –<br />

which refers to a group of l<strong>and</strong>scape architects <strong>and</strong><br />

horticulturists active in Bornim near Potsdam who<br />

were particularly influential with their notions of<br />

modern garden design as developed around 1930. 1<br />

For Mattern, the following aspects are widely<br />

considered as established facts: an ‘organic’ (curvilinear)<br />

formal language with an extensive use of<br />

mounds for space-making, usually mentioned in<br />

the same breath as his fellow l<strong>and</strong>scape architect<br />

<strong>and</strong> first wife Herta Hammerbacher’s (1900–1985)<br />

preference for hollows; informal, vegetation-based<br />

design concepts, inspired by the breeding achievements<br />

of his business partner Karl Foerster (1874–<br />

1970); a liberal stance, opposed to the Nazi regime;<br />

progressive concepts for l<strong>and</strong>scape planning; <strong>and</strong><br />

formative personal connections with the architect<br />

Hans Scharoun (1893–1972). This canon has been<br />

repeatedly referred to <strong>and</strong> often disseminated<br />

without the consultation of primary sources, which<br />

has led to the perpetuation of certain characteristics<br />

<strong>and</strong> to a broad-brush image of this group<br />

of professionals. This, <strong>and</strong> the view of Mattern as<br />

‘artist without a theory’ <strong>and</strong> progressive humanist,<br />

has prevented a differentiated <strong>and</strong> critical analysis<br />

from being developed.<br />

In 1982, an exhibition about Mattern was held<br />

at Berlin’s Arts Council Akademie der Künste, the<br />

successor to the Prussian Academy of Arts. This was<br />

one of the first such events dedicated solely to one<br />

twentieth-century garden designer. The exhibition<br />

was accompanied by a catalogue entitled Hermann<br />

Mattern: Gärten, Gartenl<strong>and</strong>schaften, Häuser, which<br />

for thirty years remained the only monograph<br />

about him. It was intended as an initial recollection<br />

of memories <strong>and</strong> comprised a tentative approach<br />

to reviewing his central ideas, without academic<br />

pretensions, while paying tribute to the wide scope<br />

of his work. Until then, most knowledge about<br />

Mattern’s life was passed on by word-of-mouth.<br />

Since the mid-1990s a small number of academic<br />

papers further explored aspects of his life <strong>and</strong><br />

work, often with a focus on his ideo logical stance.<br />

Mattern has for a long time been presented<br />

as a showcase liberal. However, after more information<br />

emerged about his involvement with<br />

the regime, in particular, with the Organisation<br />

Todt (OT), the civil <strong>and</strong> military engineering<br />

group that represented one of the power centres<br />


of the Nazi state, the feeling grew that there was<br />

more to be discovered. 2 This did not so much<br />

affect his ideological st<strong>and</strong>ing, which had been<br />

convincingly analysed <strong>and</strong> generally found to<br />

be non-Nazi. Instead, the most obvious research<br />

question sought a clarification of Mattern’s actual<br />

relationship with the regime in functional terms.<br />

In addressing this, his sometimes alluded-to, yet<br />

never widely recognised, willingness to cooperate<br />

emerges now more clearly than ever before.<br />

Another research question regards the generally<br />

vague conception of modernism in garden<br />

design, something that has been described as a<br />

mere ‘side-track’ of twentieth-century l<strong>and</strong>scape<br />

architecture. 3 It has even been stated that ‘[i] t is<br />

commonly held that there was no modernist<br />

movement in German l<strong>and</strong>scape architecture’. 4<br />

The line of reasoning on which such assess ments<br />

was based, however, reveals a general lack of<br />

research <strong>and</strong> a reductionist underst<strong>and</strong>ing of<br />

modernism itself. Therefore, one aim of the present<br />

study is a clarification of how to ask the question<br />

in the first place. How did changing social conditions<br />

<strong>and</strong> changing cultural concepts find expression<br />

in domestic <strong>and</strong> public garden design? In view<br />

of the turn towards question of the l<strong>and</strong>scape,<br />

how did the profession that we today refer to as<br />

l<strong>and</strong>scape architecture transfer its h<strong>and</strong>ed-down<br />

body of knowledge from the garden onto the<br />

l<strong>and</strong>scape? What notion of a garden could be<br />

discussed together with the artistic avant-garde<br />

or in the context of the Bauhaus? What was the<br />

garden equivalent to the architectural movement<br />

of Neues Bauen? Or did garden design rather<br />

follow a Freudian kind of compensatory mechanism<br />

to create in its ‘subdued lushness’ an enthralling<br />

complement to the ‘austerity of the built’,<br />

as one contemporary observer put it? 5 Regarding<br />

these questions, Mattern <strong>and</strong> the other l<strong>and</strong>scape<br />

architects surrounding the Foerster nursery in<br />

the village of Bornim – which I will refer to as<br />

‘Bornimers’– are observed sceptically, as a result<br />

of their perceived romanticism, <strong>and</strong> have even<br />

been written-off as ‘middle-of-the-road’ modernists.<br />

6 However, this assessment was based on facile<br />

aesthetic judgements <strong>and</strong> often on a wildly questionable<br />

equation of the geometric with the progressive.<br />

Concerning the artistic avant-garde, while<br />

a series of impressive, often unbuilt examples has<br />

been presented in the literature, today the search<br />

for a modern garden style in the sense of a ‘new<br />

building style’, as proclaimed in 1927 by Walter<br />

Curt Behrendt, seems anachronistic; so many<br />

other factors have come into view beyond formaesthetic<br />

questions, <strong>and</strong> in the light of discourses<br />

in the humanities there is no way one can avoid a<br />

multi- perspectival reflection, moving between the<br />

poles of social history <strong>and</strong> history of ideas. 7 The<br />

advantage someone studying Hermann Mattern<br />

has is that Mattern consciously <strong>and</strong> carefully verbalised<br />

the ideas on which his designs – concrete<br />

spatial artefacts – were based, <strong>and</strong> that he was<br />

self-reflective. Furthermore, there is a great wealth<br />

of visual material to analyse. This visual part of<br />

his legacy was intentionally produced to impart<br />

his ideas by visual means – first of all by means of<br />

photographs, skilfully taken by the photographer<br />

Beate zur Nedden, Mattern’s second wife. For<br />

good reasons, German garden <strong>and</strong> l<strong>and</strong>scape history<br />

has, to a large extent, invested in dealing with<br />

ideological-political questions; they continue to<br />

be dominant in the present text. However, aspects<br />

of formal-spatial evolution <strong>and</strong> artistic <strong>and</strong> designerly<br />

notions have, in the past, not been addressed<br />

with the same scholarly rigour. If form <strong>and</strong> idea,<br />

design vocabulary <strong>and</strong> intention are understood as<br />

mutually dependent <strong>and</strong> design is acknowledged<br />

as a medium of knowledge production, the significance<br />

of a designer can only be evaluated appropriately<br />

when considering an artefact as the formal<br />

expression of ideas <strong>and</strong> cultural influences. With<br />

this qualification, in the context of biographical<br />

research a formal analysis of a work is meaningful.<br />

After the question of Mattern’s relation with<br />

the Nazi regime <strong>and</strong> the unsolved relationship<br />

of l<strong>and</strong>scape architecture to ‘modernism’ in general,<br />

a third major subject to be considered is the field<br />

of the history of the profession, notably its education.<br />

While the chronology is fairly clear, <strong>and</strong> records<br />

the beginnings of the university curriculum<br />

for l<strong>and</strong>scape architects in 1929 at the Berlin College<br />

of Agriculture, as well as the foundation dates<br />

of other colleges after the war, the teaching content<br />

has not yet been systematically investigated. 8<br />

As a teacher at two of the few postwar universitylevel<br />

courses for l<strong>and</strong>scape architecture, Mattern<br />

had a prominent role in this field. On top of this,<br />

he was also responsible for the establishment of<br />

the only course ever to be taught at a German art<br />

college, at Kassel immediately after the war. This<br />

gains a particular significance through Mattern’s<br />

introduction of Bauhaus ideas into the sphere<br />

of l<strong>and</strong>scape architecture education, something<br />

that has never been clearly illuminated. 9<br />

16 Introduction

The scope <strong>and</strong> structure of this book<br />

The temporal foci of the main parts below become<br />

comprehensible by knowing more about the<br />

available sources. In this regard, some surprises<br />

were waiting along the way. The archival material<br />

presented a much richer source than initially<br />

expected. This was especially true for correspondence<br />

from the period of the Nazi regime, disclosing<br />

debates behind the scenes that explained<br />

aspects of the profession’s history as yet not so<br />

clearly understood. The relevance of findings from<br />

oral history, which certainly complemented the<br />

author’s image of Mattern’s character, paled in<br />

contrast to the significance of archival material.<br />

Another change in focus was due to the period<br />

from which this material originated. Correspondingly,<br />

a temporal focus emerged on the period<br />

1933–45. That Mattern’s inspiration in his youth<br />

appeared formative for his development added<br />

a second emphasis on the first half of Mattern’s<br />

life. For this period, never-before analysed private<br />

correspondence brought to light a wealth of detail<br />

that should encourage future researchers to look<br />

further into other aspects that have merely been<br />

touched on in the present text. This is also true for<br />

his artistic work as a whole, of which this book<br />

presents only a tiny fraction. Mattern’s influence<br />

in the postwar period could be delineated with<br />

considerable breadth, but some developments<br />

remain to be explored more in depth.<br />

Due to the lack of publications in English<br />

that might provide such a context, this text starts<br />

by recapitulating some of the main developments<br />

<strong>and</strong> dominant individual positions in German<br />

twentieth- century garden history, upon which<br />

the general lines of reasoning are then launched.<br />

This first part also provides an introduction to<br />

the relevant notions <strong>and</strong> personalities that allows<br />

for a tighter organisation of later chapters <strong>and</strong><br />

com prises a cursory classification of Mattern’s<br />

<strong>and</strong> Hammer bacher’s early work in form-histori<br />

cal terms. The timeframe from the late nineteenth-century<br />

reforms to the period around<br />

WWII was chosen to show the development of<br />

the geometric ideal that prevailed at the times that<br />

Mattern’s design approach was defined. The text<br />

deals with questions of ideology but tries to link<br />

these with questions of form. The latter, as will<br />

become obvious, are all-encompassing in garden<br />

history; many professional debates referred in some<br />

way to the two poles of a l<strong>and</strong>scape-like naturalism<br />

(l<strong>and</strong>schaftlich) <strong>and</strong> a geometric, architectonic style.<br />

This introduction necessarily had to draw upon<br />

primary literature, especially the journal Gartenkunst<br />

which was the most important publication<br />

for practicing l<strong>and</strong>scape architects at the time. 10<br />

The profound changes that took place after 1933<br />

will be briefly delineated, but the Nazi era will<br />

be dealt with later in greater detail in the chapter<br />

focusing on Mattern’s experiences in the period.<br />

For different chapters, different approaches<br />

have consciously been chosen, alternating between<br />

the explorative <strong>and</strong> more straight-forward historical<br />

descriptions of particular occurrences. In some<br />

cases, the relevance of the subject to Mattern is not<br />

made explicit, but should reveal itself indirectly.<br />

The historiography is complemented by occasional<br />

case studies, <strong>and</strong> all images should be understood<br />

as a separate, essential layer of meaning, not always<br />

entirely translated into text.<br />

For a complete list of works the reader is<br />

kindly referred to Vroni Heinrich’s biography<br />

of Mattern, which is available online, <strong>and</strong> compare<br />

its extensive annex with the bibliography in this<br />

book, which includes varied new sources. 11<br />

The sources<br />

Mattern’s estate is distributed across different<br />

locations. Firstly, there is his work – drawings as<br />

well as photographs of projects – which is kept<br />

at the Museum of Architecture at Berlin, fittingly<br />

located in a Scharoun-designed, run-down<br />

extension to the TU’s faculty of architecture at<br />

Ernst-Reuter- Platz. The online database lists over<br />

650 projects for Hermann Mattern, comprising<br />

well over 6,500 single files tagged with his name,<br />

though it has to be considered that this overlaps<br />

with Hammer bacher-related fonds for their<br />

collaboration over several years. In comparison,<br />

the estate of his colleague Walter Rossow at the<br />

Akademie der Künste, considered as an extensive<br />

collection, holds 2,500 plan drawings. Secondly,<br />

the property of his university chair went into the<br />

possession of the University Archive of the Technical<br />

University of Berlin, which forms a department<br />

within the main university library but is kept<br />

in a different building. This part of the Mattern<br />

fonds were first organised only after the main part<br />

of my research had been completed, so references<br />

mostly refer to documents without inventory<br />

numbers (e. g., ‘folder 1’).<br />

Part of Mattern’s private <strong>and</strong> professional<br />

legacy was h<strong>and</strong>ed over by his widow to her friend<br />

Vroni Heinrich, a former student of Mattern’s,<br />


some four or five decades ago. 12 Finally, Mattern’s<br />

daughter also kept parts of his property when she<br />

took over his Bavarian house, where, for example,<br />

his private book collection remains unchanged,<br />

now in the possession of a gr<strong>and</strong>son of Mattern’s. 13<br />

The estate of Hans Scharoun unexpectedly contained<br />

very little correspondence.<br />

The main body of sources for the time of<br />

Mattern’s youth <strong>and</strong> the start of his career during<br />

the Weimar Republic were found in the form of<br />

a shoebox filled with hundreds of letters written<br />

by Mattern between October 1926 <strong>and</strong> July 1927,<br />

when he lived in Magdeburg, where he had his<br />

first employment at the city’s parks <strong>and</strong> gardens<br />

department. These letters were all addressed to<br />

his beloved Herta Hammerbacher. The two were<br />

writing on a daily basis, occasionally sending two<br />

letters in a single day, <strong>and</strong>, as they are written<br />

in confidence, their discovery represented a biographic<br />

historian’s holy grail. Unfortunately,<br />

Hammer bacher’s corresponding letters are lost.<br />

Mattern’s letters were h<strong>and</strong>ed to the university<br />

archive by Vroni Heinrich, who appears to hold<br />

parts of this correspondence privately. 14 The private<br />

communication between Seifert <strong>and</strong> Mattern,<br />

as well as the circulars of the l<strong>and</strong>scape advocates,<br />

provide details about Mattern’s occupation under<br />

the Nazi regime; as will be shown, he owed his<br />

stabilising repute of irreproachability in these years<br />

to strong interventions made by Seifert. Crucial<br />

insights were also gained from looking at correspondence<br />

kept in the estate of l<strong>and</strong>scape architect<br />

Heinrich Friedrich Wiepking.<br />

With the intention to get first-h<strong>and</strong> impressions<br />

<strong>and</strong> to document surviving projects, a<br />

series of field trips were made. Apart from sites<br />

at Berlin <strong>and</strong> Potsdam, these field trips covered<br />

sites in Cologne, Étampes (France), Greimharting<br />

(the family property), Helmstedt, Hofgeismar<br />

<strong>and</strong> surroundings, Kassel, Magdeburg, Paris <strong>and</strong><br />

Stuttgart. Material was not always found, <strong>and</strong> often<br />

projects had not survived. Further archives were<br />

visited in Berlin, Freising, Munich, Osnabrück,<br />

Stuttgart, Wiesbaden <strong>and</strong> Magdeburg.<br />

After the downfall of the Nazi regime, many<br />

Germans had good reasons to clean their attics.<br />

After Mattern’s death in 1971, his widow would<br />

not have missed the opportunity to go through her<br />

husb<strong>and</strong>’s effects to decide which letters to give<br />

to the archive <strong>and</strong> which to hide or destroy. The<br />

same will be true for the personal correspondence<br />

consulted in other estates. We simply cannot say<br />

how objective archival fonds are. Good reputations<br />

want to be kept untarnished <strong>and</strong> missing material<br />

has as much potential to mislead an interpretation<br />

as manipulated material. The latter also has to be<br />

considered, for in times of active censorship even<br />

private letters had to be worded carefully – in<br />

particular if surveillance was likely. In addition to<br />

this, in Mattern we are also dealing with a person<br />

of both considerable pride <strong>and</strong> considerable wit,<br />

so particular precaution is advised.<br />

Literature overview<br />

Mostly with the help of his second wife Beate,<br />

Mattern produced the following three monographs:<br />

Freiheit in Grenzen (1938) <strong>and</strong> Gärten und<br />

Gartenl<strong>and</strong>schaften (1960), both documenting his<br />

work, <strong>and</strong> the environmentalist pamphlet Gras<br />

darf nicht mehr wachsen (1964). Die Wohnl<strong>and</strong>schaft<br />

(1950), a book Mattern edited, contains a seminal<br />

essay, <strong>and</strong> his lecture Flurl<strong>and</strong>schaft was published<br />

together with Ernst May’s lecture Stadtl<strong>and</strong>schaft<br />

(1964). 15 Besides this he wrote a vast number of<br />

articles <strong>and</strong> chapters of varying quality <strong>and</strong> significance.<br />

Prior to 1945 he published predominantly<br />

in the journals Gartenkunst <strong>and</strong> Gartenschönheit;<br />

after 1945 in the Werkbund journal baukunst und<br />

werkform (in the first editions he is listed as advisor<br />

to the editor Alfons Leitl), the garden <strong>and</strong> l<strong>and</strong>scape<br />

journals Garten und L<strong>and</strong>schaft (the postwar<br />

successor of Gartenkunst) <strong>and</strong> Pflanze und Garten<br />

(as its co-publisher), since 1970 known as Grün.<br />

In the relationship between l<strong>and</strong>scape architecture<br />

<strong>and</strong> architectural history it can generally<br />

be observed that the l<strong>and</strong>scape profession’s contribution<br />

is not always appropriately valued. Many<br />

monographs about architects who collaborated<br />

with Mattern do not mention him appropriately;<br />

occasionally he is referred to as an ‘architect’. A<br />

noteworthy exception are the writings about Hans<br />

Scharoun (1893–1972) by Peter Blundell Jones<br />

(1949–2016), who even suggested a fundamental<br />

influence Mattern may have had on the development<br />

of Scharoun’s organic architecture <strong>and</strong><br />

consideration of the terrain. 16 Other authors have<br />

dismissed Mattern’s role too easily. 17<br />

It should be noted that the published sources<br />

referred to in the following paragraphs are often<br />

low-budget, grey literature that has not received<br />

professional editing <strong>and</strong> will be difficult to find<br />

outside Germany.<br />

A special situation emerges from the fact<br />

that a great share of the biographic writing about<br />

18 Introduction

Mattern has been produced by one former student<br />

<strong>and</strong> admirer of his, the l<strong>and</strong>scape architect <strong>and</strong><br />

librarian at Mattern’s departmental library, Vroni<br />

Heinrich, who enjoyed the trust of Mattern’s<br />

widow Beate Maltusch, in the following referred<br />

to by her maiden name, zur Nedden. 18 Heinrich’s<br />

writings include an entry in the Chicago Botanic<br />

Garden’s Encyclopedia of Gardens, which is to<br />

date the only general introduction to Mattern<br />

in English, <strong>and</strong> she also worked on the already<br />

mentioned exhibition <strong>and</strong> catalogue of 1982. 19<br />

Thanks to her friendship with Beate zur Nedden,<br />

Heinrich has been given many private documents,<br />

parts of which she gave to the University Archive<br />

at the TU Berlin. On the one h<strong>and</strong>, her writings<br />

bear witness to a deep underst<strong>and</strong>ing of Mattern’s<br />

thinking <strong>and</strong> also draw attention to zur Nedden’s<br />

achievements which would otherwise be concealed.<br />

On the other h<strong>and</strong>, her work clearly<br />

betrays an apologetic bias. What is more, she freely<br />

admits to relying heavily on zur Nedden’s accounts<br />

without checking other sources, but completely<br />

fails to address the obvious potential pitfalls. 20<br />

One stark example shall suffice: even though<br />

Mattern’s membership in the National Socialist<br />

German Worker’s Party (NSDAP) is documented<br />

on easily accessible microfiches in the Federal<br />

Archive, Heinrich claims in all her publications<br />

that he did not join the party, simply because this<br />

was what zur Nedden had always said. 21 Heinrich<br />

also distorts quotes by quoting selectively or<br />

suggesting interpretations for which there is no<br />

evidence. Such shortcomings together with the<br />

inaccessibility of part of the estate certainly were<br />

a dis advantage for the academic engagement with<br />

the phenomenon of Mattern in the past. Heinrich’s<br />

long-awaited monograph was published in December<br />

2012 (revised edition 2013). 22 It provided<br />

rich material, as well as a catalogue raisonné,<br />

which helped evaluate my own findings.<br />

The greatest part of the present study relies<br />

on a literature review conducted in the context<br />

of the PhD thesis completed in 2015, upon which<br />

the text is based.<br />

In the context of twentieth-century German<br />

garden history, the first names that spring to mind<br />

are those of Gert Gröning (emeritus of Berlin’s<br />

University of Arts) <strong>and</strong> that of one of his students,<br />

Joachim Wolschke-Bulmahn (emeritus of the University<br />

of Hanover). 23 They are amongst the very<br />

few German garden historians to regularly publish<br />

in English <strong>and</strong> originally defined themselves with<br />

a ‘social science-oriented approach to open space<br />

planning’ (‘sozialwissenschaftliche Freiraumplanung’),<br />

based on a materialist conception of history. This<br />

should be seen in the context of Gröning’s academic<br />

initiation at the University of Hanover<br />

during the late 1970s, when sociology was a new<br />

<strong>and</strong> upcoming discipline upon which many hopes<br />

were set, which he exposed in an insightful essay<br />

(2010). Back then, a re discovery of the recently<br />

deceased founder of the school Heinrich Friedrich<br />

Wiepking’s past as a Nazi demagogue by a new,<br />

critical generation of students shocked the professional<br />

world. Gröning is known as a pioneer<br />

in discussing retrogressive ideological tradition<br />

lines in connection with the racist notion of the<br />

Nordic peoples’ special relationship to nature.<br />

He <strong>and</strong> Wolschke-Bulmahn drew attention to the<br />

edited-out, anti-democratic past of fashionable,<br />

allegedly new concepts such as the Naturgarten<br />

of the 1980s, <strong>and</strong> to the profession’s interconnection<br />

with the Nazi regime’s systems of power.<br />

With their sometimes feverish emphasis on moral<br />

questions, however, their work has also been<br />

criticised for its supposedly selective perspective<br />

<strong>and</strong> for an exaggerated scepticism regarding the<br />

ideological st<strong>and</strong>ing of garden designers <strong>and</strong> artists<br />

who are generally presented as humanists, such<br />

as Karl Foerster. 24 At the same time, they considerably<br />

widened the perspective of garden history<br />

research in Germany. While this, <strong>and</strong> the wealth<br />

of sources they have drawn attention to, have also<br />

contributed to the scope of the present text, in<br />

the light of Mattern’s role in the profession, he is<br />

con spicuously underrepresented in their writing. 25<br />

The reason may lie in the authors’ difficulties in<br />

pinning down Mattern with their categories of<br />

progressive versus conservative, as well as in their<br />

general suspicion towards neo-romanticism <strong>and</strong><br />

search for l<strong>and</strong>scape-relatedness, which is particularly<br />

palpable in Wolschke-Bulmahn’s work. 26<br />

Another circle in which important research<br />

has been completed is associated with the human<br />

geographer Ulrich Eisel (emeritus of TU Berlin)<br />

<strong>and</strong> the theoretical ecologist Ludwig Trepl (1946–<br />

2016, TU Munich) who almost exclusively published<br />

in German. These scholars st<strong>and</strong> for a more<br />

constructivist approach <strong>and</strong>, despite, or perhaps, as<br />

a result of largely shunning the st<strong>and</strong>ard academic<br />

culture of peer-reviewed journals, have been rather<br />

influential within German academic l<strong>and</strong>scape<br />

architecture. 27 Dealing with the history of ideas<br />

they hardly address questions of contemporary<br />


history, nor do they analyse specific designs. Taking<br />

into account the whole body of literature addressing<br />

Mattern, the Eisel- <strong>and</strong> Trepl-associated Stefan<br />

Körner (University of Kassel) has produced the<br />

most comprehensive (<strong>and</strong> complicated) analysis of<br />

Mattern’s thinking, which served as an inspiration<br />

for this text. 28<br />

Several theses have been dedicated to l<strong>and</strong>scape<br />

aspects of the autobahn projects of the 1930s<br />

with relevance for research about Mattern, 29 <strong>and</strong><br />

some monographs about other twentieth-century<br />

garden designers like those on Mattern’s colleagues<br />

Walter Funcke, Hermann Göritz <strong>and</strong> Alwin<br />

Seifert also include a few lines about Mattern,<br />

although mainly restricted to the Nazi years or<br />

the context of his working relationship with Karl<br />

Foerster’s nursery firm. 30 Sonja Dümpelmann,<br />

for example in her Flights of Imagination (2014),<br />

has also added some facets to our underst<strong>and</strong>ing<br />

of Mattern <strong>and</strong> Hammerbacher. One doctoral<br />

dissertation thesis to be gratefully referred to is the<br />

one published in 2001 by Jeong-Hi Go on Herta<br />

Hammerbacher, who was married to Mattern<br />

between 1928 <strong>and</strong> 1935. 31 It drew the author’s<br />

attention to some essential sources <strong>and</strong> helped<br />

contrast Mattern’s position with that of his first<br />

wife. With regard to Mattern’s role during the<br />

postwar decades, Andrea Koenecke has produced<br />

a valuable contribution with her dissertation thesis<br />

on Walter Rossow. 32 Finally, the March 2003 edition<br />

of Stadt+Grün should also be referred to, as it<br />

was dedicated to the 100th birthdays of Mattern<br />

<strong>and</strong> his contemporary Reinhold Lingner, with<br />

some well-researched contributions. 33 Last but not<br />

least, complemented later by Clemens Alex<strong>and</strong>er<br />

Wimmer’s related work, Swantje Duthweiler’s<br />

comprehensive study on trends of plant use in<br />

Germany between 1900 <strong>and</strong> 1945 has helped contextualise<br />

Mattern’s <strong>and</strong> his firm’s planting style. 34<br />

Merely weeks before this book went into print,<br />

Wimmer published the first comprehensive<br />

Karl Foerster biography. He kindly made some<br />

last-minute corrections to my book file. 35<br />

Questions of language<br />

One peculiarity of the present text is its dealing<br />

with entirely German sources. Sentences in German,<br />

<strong>and</strong> Mattern’s in particular, can be extremely<br />

long; in the interest of legibility, the longest sentences<br />

have been split up into shorter sentences in<br />

their translation. Quotes with a length above two<br />

lines in the original single- column manuscript<br />

have been indented. Unless stated otherwise,<br />

emphasis in quotes is found in the original source.<br />

All quotes from German sources translated by the<br />

author are given in footnotes, unless shorter than<br />

a full sentence. German texts retain their original<br />

orthography (e. g. ‘daß’ instead of ‘dass’).<br />

The topic deals with a German context not<br />

merely in a philological sense, but also a cultural<br />

one. Despite a long history of intense international<br />

exchange in garden design, key terms with a<br />

decidedly German context do exist. It is therefore<br />

necessary to present the most important German<br />

expressions <strong>and</strong> explain how they have been<br />

translated into English – or the reasons for not<br />

doing so. Thus, by recommendation of re viewers,<br />

a short glossary has been compiled. The term<br />

L<strong>and</strong>schaft has been discussed on many occasions,<br />

<strong>and</strong> the discourse of recent years suggest that its<br />

meaning is increasingly in flux. Without going into<br />

detail, it shall be mentioned that the author’s own<br />

studies were strongly defined by this discourse<br />

<strong>and</strong> the debate between proponents of culturalhistorical<br />

(l<strong>and</strong>scape as culturally defined <strong>and</strong><br />

aesthetically experienced), sociological-materialist<br />

(l<strong>and</strong>scape experience defined by social factors<br />

<strong>and</strong> as politically employed term) <strong>and</strong> scientistic<br />

materialist perspectives (l<strong>and</strong>scape as measurable<br />

environment). It must however be stressed that a<br />

modern perspective cannot ignore certain socioconstructivism;<br />

in everyday language as much<br />

as in the sphere of l<strong>and</strong>scape architecture, the<br />

adjectival term l<strong>and</strong>schaftlich is strongly connected<br />

with a cultural <strong>and</strong> aesthetic semantic field that is<br />

at least partly specific to the German context. This<br />

explains why the term l<strong>and</strong>schaftlich is typically<br />

left untranslated in the text; a translation would<br />

inevitably reduce its meaning.<br />

For the Bornimers, their designs tried to<br />

respect the character of the existing l<strong>and</strong>scape as<br />

much as express human nature; it was one of the<br />

main incentives for this research project to underst<strong>and</strong><br />

Mattern <strong>and</strong> Hammerbacher’s personal<br />

employment of the term. 36 Considered together,<br />

all research questions set out above delineate another,<br />

general underlying ambition: to contribute<br />

to a more holistic underst<strong>and</strong>ing of l<strong>and</strong>scaperelated<br />

aspects of twentieth-century culture <strong>and</strong><br />

to produce a piece of historiographical writing<br />

that may be of value to readers beyond the narrow<br />

limits of garden history, without neglecting the<br />

specificities of the intellectual culture of l<strong>and</strong>scape<br />

architecture.<br />

20 Introduction

1 See glossary for a definition of<br />

‘Bornim School’. More about this<br />

in the chapter on Karl Foerster,<br />

p. 151ff.<br />

2 The first author clearly<br />

addressing Mattern’s willingness<br />

to cooperate with the OT was<br />

Reitsam (2003).<br />

3 Poblotzki 2003: 17.<br />

4 Ibid.<br />

5 Heuss 1928: 50.<br />

6 See for example the popular<br />

monograph by Mader 1999<br />

(102–05; see also the chapter<br />

heading on p. 100).<br />

7 For impressive avant-garde<br />

examples see: Wolschke-Bulmahn<br />

2006, who also writes that the<br />

avant-garde was defined by the<br />

self-conception of the right angle<br />

(13–14). For another example<br />

that presents almost exclusively<br />

geometric gardens as modernist<br />

see: Bacher 1995.<br />

8 For a comprehensive overview<br />

of the beginnings of academic<br />

garden design teaching in Germany<br />

in English, see: Hopstock<br />

2022a; Hopstock 2022b.<br />

9 The author has published<br />

a short paper about this topic<br />

( Hopstock 2012).<br />

10 Gartenkunst was edited by<br />

the Deutsche Gesellschaft für<br />

Gartenkunst e. V. (German Society<br />

for Garden Art, DGfG), <strong>and</strong> unlike<br />

today, was the journal focusing on<br />

all matters of the profession, including<br />

garden history, questions<br />

of urban planning <strong>and</strong> contemporary<br />

garden design. During the<br />

1920s, the title was Gartenkunst,<br />

Monatsschrift für Gartenkunst und<br />

verw<strong>and</strong>te Gebiete (‘Garden Art,<br />

monthly for garden art <strong>and</strong> related<br />

fields’). In the 1930s the name<br />

changed to Gartenkunst, Zeitschrift<br />

für das gesamte Garten- und Siedlungswesen,<br />

L<strong>and</strong>schaftsgestaltung,<br />

Friedhofskultur, Gartentechnik<br />

(‘Garden Art, journal for the entire<br />

field of settlement, l<strong>and</strong>scape design,<br />

cemetery culture <strong>and</strong> garden<br />

technics’). At the end of the 1930s<br />

its subtitle was once more changed<br />

slightly, <strong>and</strong> it was now officially<br />

the ‘journal of the association<br />

of garden designers in the Reich<br />

Chamber for Fine Arts’, still edited<br />

by the DGG. Today’s Garten und<br />

L<strong>and</strong>schaft, not today’s Gartenkunst,<br />

is considered its successor.<br />

11 Heinrich 2013, available for<br />

download at: https://depositonce.<br />

tu-berlin.de/items/a6d1a7f4-<br />

8404-4ca5-964f-61c646fdfdad<br />

(accessed 18/09/2023).<br />

12 Heinrich refers to her collection<br />

as Archiv Vroni Heinrich<br />

(2013: 471).<br />

13 Mattern’s daughter Merete<br />

unexpectedly passed away in 2007,<br />

aged 77, shortly before a planned<br />

meeting with the author.<br />

14 While the correspondence in<br />

the archive material breaks off<br />

28/07/1927, Heinrich quotes from<br />

letters that represent the direct<br />

continuation (Heinrich 2013: 21–22).<br />

15 May <strong>and</strong> Mattern 1964.<br />

16 Blundell Jones 1995: 82, 84;<br />

Woudstra <strong>and</strong> Blundell Jones<br />

2002: 1.<br />

17 See p. 313.<br />

18 Zur Nedden, Beate’s maiden<br />

name, will be used to refer to her<br />

in the text, as she changed names<br />

several times, occasionally using<br />

her maiden name in combination<br />

with her husb<strong>and</strong>s’ names Mattern<br />

or Maltusch, from her second<br />

marriage after Mattern’s death.<br />

19 Shoemaker 2001: 859–62.<br />

There is also an entry in The<br />

Oxford Companion to the Garden<br />

(Taylor 2009: 301–02). In order to<br />

get a better idea of the context<br />

of Mattern’s work, readers<br />

without knowledge of the German<br />

language are also advised to<br />

take a look at the entries for Karl<br />

Foerster <strong>and</strong> Herta Hammerbacher<br />

in The Oxford Companion to<br />

the Garden (pp. 165 <strong>and</strong> 208, both<br />

written by Sonja Dümpelmann)<br />

<strong>and</strong> for Herta Hammerbacher<br />

in The Encyclopedia of Gardens<br />

(pp. 559–62, written by Joachim<br />

Wolschke-Bulmahn).<br />

20 Cf. Heinrich 2013: 10–11.<br />

21 NSDAP file (index MFOK O<br />

0044), file card Hermann Mattern,<br />

membership no. 7409839, applied<br />

for membership 02/12/1939,<br />

granted 01/01/1940, BArch. It is<br />

of course possible that he may<br />

have hidden his membership from<br />

his wife.<br />

22 Heinrich 2013. It was published<br />

around the time of completion<br />

of the dissertation thesis that this<br />

text is based upon, which is why<br />

only a part of the lecture manuscripts<br />

Heinrich presents from<br />

her private collection have been<br />

considered. It was published<br />

during the final reviewing stage<br />

of my dissertation thesis.<br />

23 Another representative<br />

of Gröning’s ‘school’ is Uwe<br />

Schneider, author of the seminal<br />

study on Muthesius’ influence on<br />

the garden reform around 1900<br />

(cf. Schneider 2000a; Schneider<br />

2000b).<br />

24 In a different context the<br />

environmental historian Frank<br />

Uekötter forcefully claimed a<br />

selective view of Gröning <strong>and</strong><br />

Wolschke-Bulmahn ( Uekötter<br />

2007: 70; Uekötter 2006:<br />

211–12). A research collaborator<br />

of Gröning’s, on the other<br />

h<strong>and</strong>, has shown considerable<br />

combativeness when accusing<br />

other scholars (such as Charlotte<br />

Reitsam, Stefan Körner <strong>and</strong><br />

generally the Eisel- Trepl-School,<br />

referred to below) of downplaying<br />

the responsibility of actors in the<br />

Nazi state, see Schneider (2001)<br />

<strong>and</strong> Reitsam’s response (2002).<br />

Wolschke-Bulmahn (2008) has<br />

also commented on this conflict<br />

from his perspective.<br />

25 This becomes particularly<br />

obvious in a chapter by Gröning,<br />

in which Mattern is merely<br />

mentioned <strong>and</strong> two photos of his<br />

seminal Killesberg park design<br />

of 1939 are the only illustrations<br />

in the chapter which are lacking<br />

clear attribution (Gröning 2002).<br />

At the same time the role (<strong>and</strong><br />

progressivism) of Georg Béla<br />

Pniower appears to be overemphasised.<br />

To be fair, it has to be noted<br />

that Gröning himself emphasises<br />

the character of his contribution as<br />

‘fairly selective’ (p. 145), pointing<br />

at the desiderate for comprehensive<br />

research on the historical<br />

phase it addresses.<br />

26 Wolschke-Bulmahn 1990;<br />

Wolschke-Bulmahn 2000;<br />

Wolschke-Bulmahn 2005.<br />

27 They are sometimes referred<br />

to as of the ‘Eisel-Trepl-School’,<br />

cf. Eisel 2011 <strong>and</strong> Prominski 2006.<br />

28 In his doctoral dissertation<br />

as well as his habilitation thesis<br />

(Körner 2001; Körner 2010). For<br />

a more accessible summary see<br />

Körner (2002). A publication<br />

with a related approach was<br />

produced some years earlier by<br />

Dorothea Hokema (1996) in form<br />

of her ambitious comparative<br />

graduation thesis on Mattern, Paul<br />

Schultze-Naumburg <strong>and</strong> Willy<br />

Lange. Another author obviously<br />

influenced by Eisel <strong>and</strong> Trepel’s<br />

teaching is Anette Voigt.<br />

29 The seminal study is by Zeller<br />

(2006), first published in German<br />

in 2002. See also Reitsam 2009;<br />

Strohkark 2001; Zutz 2009.<br />

Reitsam (2002) deals specifically<br />

with Mattern’s involvement.<br />

30 Karn 2004: 26–29; 59–60;<br />

Hiller 1997: 40–43; 49–50; 59–60.<br />

31 Go 2003: 22–33.<br />

32 Koenecke 2014.<br />

33 Körner 2002; Reitsam 2002;<br />

Zutz 2002.<br />

34 Duthweiler 2011; Wimmer<br />

2014.<br />

35 Clemens Alex<strong>and</strong>er Wimmer.<br />

2024. Gärtner der Nation. Die<br />

vier Leben des Karl Foerster<br />

(Ilmtal-Weinstraße: VDG Weimar).<br />

36 For a concise introduction to<br />

this topic, see Kühne <strong>and</strong> Antrop<br />

(2015). English translations of<br />

two of several classical German<br />

reference texts are: Simmel 1979<br />

[1913]; Lucius Burckhardt, ‘Why<br />

Is L<strong>and</strong>scape Beautiful? (1979)’,<br />

in: Fezer & Schmitz 2016: 133–41.<br />


Tendencies in<br />

Modern Garden Art<br />

The Architectonic <strong>and</strong><br />

the L<strong>and</strong>scape Modes<br />

c. 1895–1933<br />


If the tendency, to make the garden<br />

a naturally seeming l<strong>and</strong>scape<br />

scenery, represents an artistic<br />

derailment in itself, the unease<br />

grows upon learning about<br />

man’s desire to express with this<br />

arranged nature certain ideas<br />

<strong>and</strong> sentiments.<br />

August Grisebach, 1910: 106<br />

The l<strong>and</strong>scape garden signifies,<br />

seen from the perspective of<br />

the historiography of ideas,<br />

not disintegration <strong>and</strong> neglect,<br />

but a further development,<br />

i.e. the turning away from the<br />

‘I’ to the cosmos. The clear<br />

‘ratio’ of the symmetric gardens,<br />

which are strange to our nature,<br />

is here opposed to the ancient<br />

‘irratio’ of the Germanic soul,<br />

the limitedness <strong>and</strong> the formalism<br />

to the idea of infinity.<br />

Gerhard Hinz, 1937: 201<br />

24 Tendencies in Modern Garden Art

While the time of fundamental reform in garden<br />

design around 1900 is comparably well researched,<br />

there is only limited literature available about<br />

modernism in garden design in the 1920s. For<br />

those years, only primary literature conveys a nuanced<br />

impression, namely the journal Gartenkunst,<br />

as the most important organ for practicing l<strong>and</strong>scape<br />

architects in the period. The debates on form<br />

that took place within its pages – in those days still<br />

at centre stage – are the backdrop against which<br />

Mattern’s positioning becomes comprehensible.<br />

The changing dynamics at the end of the 1920s<br />

did not just spring from what is today generally<br />

referred to as the modernist movement <strong>and</strong> its<br />

social agenda; fundamental reforms of garden design<br />

had already been triggered at the end of the<br />

nineteenth century. 1 These defined essential points<br />

valid for the coming decades. The following cur s-<br />

ory overview is necessary knowledge to contextualise<br />

of Mattern’s <strong>and</strong> Hammerbacher’s early<br />

work in form-historical terms <strong>and</strong> to underst<strong>and</strong><br />

debates dealt with later that refer to these formative<br />

years.<br />

Around the turn of the twentieth century,<br />

within a few decades, garden design underwent<br />

radical changes of style accompanied by fundamental<br />

discussions about its social mission. During<br />

the Industrial Revolution, the l<strong>and</strong>scape garden,<br />

once a representation of Enlightenment values,<br />

became almost the opposite: a symbol of wealth<br />

<strong>and</strong> social hierarchy. The smaller plots available in<br />

urbanised areas resulted in a miniaturisation <strong>and</strong><br />

stereotyping of the original concept. L<strong>and</strong>scape<br />

gardeners with a lack of aesthetic education were<br />

largely blamed for this, but even renowned l<strong>and</strong>scape<br />

architects contributed to bad design practice.<br />

2 In 1894, Carl Hampel (1848–1930), Berlin’s<br />

municipal chief gardener <strong>and</strong> later garden director<br />

at Leipzig, produced a garden design book that<br />

presented one hundred st<strong>and</strong>ard patterns for small<br />

gardens, which was republished as an extended<br />

edition in 1902 (125 patterns) <strong>and</strong> again in 1905<br />

(150 patterns), with a sixth edition produced as<br />

late as 1921. 3 Such stencil books were popular to<br />

allow everyone with a little patch of l<strong>and</strong> to install<br />

the infamous Brezelwege – a derogatory term for<br />

the omnipresent entwined footpaths in the shape<br />

of a southern German pretzel. The Ge mischter<br />

Stil (Mixed Style) associated with the Royal<br />

Prussian Garden Director-General Peter Joseph<br />

Lenné (1789–1866) <strong>and</strong> his disciple Gustav Meyer<br />

(1816–1877) – also known as the Lenné- Meyer<br />

school – had not only become a formal stereotype,<br />

but gardens had also become an anachronism<br />

in terms of their social function. 4 Lawns were still<br />

not supposed to be used, <strong>and</strong> parks were generally<br />

intended for promenading <strong>and</strong> for the visual<br />

enjoyment of the ‘calm’ <strong>and</strong> ‘ harmonic’ scenery.<br />

Attractions were provided to foster patriotic<br />

sentiments. 5 Seemingly at r<strong>and</strong>om, carpet beds<br />

were inserted as decorative elements. The many<br />

path crossings were covered up by clumps of trees.<br />

Sample books such as Hampel’s showed endless<br />

variations on the same theme, copied over <strong>and</strong><br />

over again ↗ fig. 1.<br />

During the early 1900s, inspired by different<br />

publications <strong>and</strong> an influx of the ideals of the Arts<br />

<strong>and</strong> Crafts movement, a new type of public open<br />

space was sought after that corresponded with the<br />

changing dem<strong>and</strong>s of a healthy life as postulated<br />

by the Lebensreform movement. The l<strong>and</strong>schaftlich<br />

design principle, <strong>and</strong> with it the idealist concept of<br />

garden art st<strong>and</strong>ing behind it, began to be rejected<br />

in favour of a discussion of spatial clarity. This led<br />

to the triumph of the monumentalising geometries<br />

of the architektonisch, or the architectonic principle.<br />

6 In those days, battle lines were drawn that<br />

remained in place well into the 1920s <strong>and</strong> beyond.<br />

Although a more detailed look will reveal very different<br />

approaches between examples of historicism<br />

<strong>and</strong> those of an early modernism, both of which<br />

were combined under this garden-historical label,<br />

in the interest of brevity, ‘Architectonic Garden’ is<br />

used here as an established term. 7 The dichotomy<br />

of the two modes, architectonic <strong>and</strong> l<strong>and</strong>schaftlich,<br />

has also dominated garden historiography, <strong>and</strong><br />

contributed to the obscuring of progressive design<br />

concepts not so easily categorised. For Mattern,<br />

the conceptual pair ‘architectonic– l<strong>and</strong>schaftlich’<br />

was less important than the differentiation between<br />

a geometrical – especially symmetrical –<br />

preconceived formal idea that was imposed on<br />

a site, versus an organic idea that responded to<br />

the site’s characteristics <strong>and</strong> spatial configuration.<br />

While the Bornimers were arguably not the only<br />

ones declaring such an ambition for garden design,<br />

they were the ones realising it more consistently<br />

than others.<br />

When the term ‘organic’ is applied to the<br />

Bornimers, more misconceptions arise. Organic<br />

is often equated with curvilinear <strong>and</strong> naturalistic.<br />

The architectonic principle is identified as<br />

its opposite. Such a perspective ignores that<br />

an architectonic (geometrical) design can be<br />

25 The Architectonic <strong>and</strong> the L<strong>and</strong>scape Modes, c. 1895–1933

Fig. 1 A typical spread from Carl<br />

Hampel’s 150 kleine Gärten (1921:<br />

146–47, 1st edn 1894), 6th edition<br />

of the classic ‘stencil book’.<br />

Fig. 2 In his highly influential<br />

Das englische Haus, Muthesius<br />

discussed both historic (or historicist)<br />

examples like the gardens<br />

designed by R. S. Lorimer for<br />

the restored Earlshall Castle in<br />

Fifeshire, Scotl<strong>and</strong> (1908: 100) …<br />

Fig. 3 … <strong>and</strong> new gardens by<br />

modern architects, like the garden<br />

for Prior’s Field Comton, Surrey,<br />

by C. F. A. Voysey (1908: 84).<br />

26 Tendencies in Modern Garden Art

Fig. 5 One of the negative<br />

examples presented by Paul<br />

Schultze-Naumburg in the volume<br />

on gardens in his Kulturarbeiten<br />

series (1902: 195), ridiculing the<br />

type of ‘miniature lake Lucerne’<br />

that was also part of many examples<br />

shown in Hampel’s stencil<br />

book that was released in a second<br />

exp<strong>and</strong>ed edition in the same<br />

year (cf. fig. 1).<br />

Fig. 4 The name of Hans Markart,<br />

here shown in his atelier in a<br />

painting by Eduard Charlemont<br />

(c. 1880), stood symbolically for the<br />

exuberant, dark <strong>and</strong> exotic ‘Makart<br />

bouquets’ of the late 1800s that<br />

were a stereotypical feature of his<br />

popular portraiture <strong>and</strong> still lifes<br />

(Wien Museum, inv. no. 47260,<br />

CC BY 4.0, Foto: Birgit und Peter<br />

Kainz, https://sammlung.wienmuseum.at/objekt/1473/).<br />

Fig. 6 Garden furniture, positive<br />

<strong>and</strong> negative examples,<br />

from the volume on gardens<br />

in Paul Schultze-Naumburg’s<br />

Kulturarbeiten series (1902:<br />

224–25).<br />

27 The Architectonic <strong>and</strong> the L<strong>and</strong>scape Modes, c. 1895–1933

Fig. 29 Plan of a symmetric garden<br />

typical for Harry Maasz’s work<br />

in the 1920s (Maasz 1926: 218).<br />

Fig. 30 Photograph of the same garden by Harry<br />

Maasz. The informality of the rustic stones <strong>and</strong><br />

naturalistic planting contrasts with the symmetry of<br />

the general layout (Maasz 1926: 221).<br />

44 Tendencies in Modern Garden Art

Fig. 31 A design by Michael<br />

Mappes, referred to as ‘unusual’<br />

<strong>and</strong> ‘promising’ when it was<br />

published in 1925 in Gartenkunst<br />

(page from: Koch 1927: 301).<br />

Fig. 32 Gabriel Guévrékian’s<br />

famous garden for the Villa<br />

Noailles on Hyères at the French<br />

Côte d’Azure was discussed by<br />

the Austrian art historian Leopold<br />

Zahn in Gartenschönheit (06/1929:<br />

222–23).<br />

45 The Architectonic <strong>and</strong> the L<strong>and</strong>scape Modes, c. 1895–1933

Part I<br />

Early Influences<br />

1902–c. 1930<br />


Learning to See:<br />

A W<strong>and</strong>ervogel Youth<br />

in the L<strong>and</strong> of Fables<br />

[…] it is not essential to convey<br />

a specific theoretical knowledge,<br />

nor to enable the h<strong>and</strong> to perform<br />

certain external manipulations.<br />

But it is essential to train the<br />

artistic sensitivity, to make the<br />

h<strong>and</strong> <strong>and</strong> the eye a servant to<br />

the fantasy. 1<br />

Konrad Lange, 1901<br />

Mattern was born on 27 November 1902 as the<br />

sixth of eight children. 2 He grew up in Hofgeismar,<br />

a Protestant, Northern-Hessian town in<br />

the Prussian province of Hesse-Nassau, which<br />

until the annexation in 1866 was the independent<br />

L<strong>and</strong>graviate of Hesse-Cassel. Even today, Hofgeismar<br />

is embedded in a scenic l<strong>and</strong>scape, rich<br />

in both wooded <strong>and</strong> extensively cultivated l<strong>and</strong>,<br />

surrounded by the low, forested mountains of<br />

the Teutoburger Wald (Teutoburg Forest), Egge<br />

Hills, Habichtswald <strong>and</strong> Reinhardswald. It is a<br />

mystical l<strong>and</strong>scape famously steeped in history <strong>and</strong><br />

folk mythology. Not far from Hofgeismar, near<br />

Detmold, st<strong>and</strong>s the Hermannsdenkmal, a site<br />

of romantic-nationalist worship <strong>and</strong> memorial to<br />

the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest (Varusschlacht)<br />

in which united Germanic tribes destroyed three<br />

Roman legions led by the General Varus. Northern<br />

Hesse is also connected to the folk- <strong>and</strong> fairy<br />

tales written down by the brothers Grimm who<br />

lived in Kassel, a historically important city some<br />

twenty- five kilometres south of Hofgeismar.<br />

Mattern’s feeling for the l<strong>and</strong>scape <strong>and</strong> his ecological<br />

conscience were grounded in the beauty<br />

of the picturesque region in which he grew up.<br />

Thanks to his many expeditions with the local<br />

W<strong>and</strong>ervogel youth movement group, Mattern<br />

was extremely familiar with the detailed characteristics<br />

of this l<strong>and</strong>scape: years later, when he<br />

applied for a job in the road-planning project, he<br />

claimed to know Lower Hesse, Upper Hesse, the<br />

Harz area, the Rhön area, <strong>and</strong> Westphalia ‘completely’<br />

<strong>and</strong> ‘seen from the country road’. 3<br />

Another probable influence is his Protestant<br />

mother’s lovingly cared-for vegetable <strong>and</strong> flower<br />

garden. 4 His rather serious father, an armourer<br />

<strong>and</strong> devout Catholic, had worked hard to reach a<br />

position in the local postal administration to earn<br />

his family a decent living, but always felt slightly<br />

humiliated by his wife’s Protestant background. 5<br />

One particular protagonist of Mattern’s youth<br />

mentioned as influential in one of his first publications<br />

– without his name being disclosed – as well<br />

as in his last published curriculum vitae is his art<br />

teacher Adolf Faust (1882–1945) at the Hofgeismar<br />

Gymnasium ↗ fig. 52. 6 Several accounts profess to<br />

the effectiveness of this man’s teachings. 7 Mattern<br />

kept in touch with the Faust family even after his<br />

teacher’s death, <strong>and</strong> one of his first documented<br />

design sketches for a garden was for his teacher,<br />

somewhat reminiscent of Migge’s roughly contemporary<br />

May garden <strong>and</strong> probably the only perfectly<br />

71 Early Influences, 1902–c. 1930

symmetrical design Mattern ever produced<br />

↗ fig. 53; cf. 39, 40. 8<br />

Under the auspices of a ‘true artist’<br />

Some details of Faust’s tuition are documented <strong>and</strong><br />

his gr<strong>and</strong>son attests to their focus on ‘learning to<br />

see’. 9 In the morning, at the beginning of his class,<br />

Faust used to ask the pupils what they had seen on<br />

their way to school: ‘You surely did not come here<br />

blindly!’ 10 Or Faust entered the room covering his<br />

mouth asking if he had a beard or not. When the<br />

answer to such ‘tests’ came wrong, he urged the<br />

class to pay more attention to the details of their<br />

everyday environment. Thus he made clear that ‘to<br />

see’ does not always have the same meaning, <strong>and</strong><br />

that seeing consciously should be trained – this<br />

seems to have been the most cherished objective<br />

of his task as a teacher.<br />

Faust came from the Saarl<strong>and</strong> <strong>and</strong>, following<br />

his father’s example, went to Kassel to attend art<br />

college 11 from 1908 until 1911 to train as an artist<br />

<strong>and</strong> gain a certificate to qualify as a teacher for<br />

secondary schools. 12 His own artistic work was not<br />

fixed to one particular style. Instead, he seemed to<br />

have received a range of influences from romantic<br />

l<strong>and</strong>scape painting, via the Nazarene movement<br />

(or the Pre-Raphaelites) <strong>and</strong> impressionism to expressionism.<br />

13 He revered Caspar David Friedrich<br />

<strong>and</strong> intensely engaged with expressionists like<br />

Ludwig Meidner (1884–1966) <strong>and</strong> the Austrian<br />

illustrator Alfred Kubin (1877–1959), <strong>and</strong> with the<br />

impressionist Max Slevogt (1868–1932). New Objectivity<br />

also seems to resonate in his later work.<br />

Widely known in his home region are Faust’s<br />

woodcuts of rural scenes <strong>and</strong> more detailed nature<br />

studies of pieces of coarse wood debris or groups<br />

of old trees <strong>and</strong> suchlike, reproduced in the periodical<br />

of the local history society until today ↗ fig. 54.<br />

Some of them resemble medieval block illustrations,<br />

others show a more impressionistic manner.<br />

Faust was acquainted with the former military<br />

painter Theodor Rocholl, an influential professor<br />

at the Düsseldorf Art Academy, who in Northern<br />

Hesse is remembered for saving the nearby<br />

Hutewald around the Sababurg – a type of anthropogenic<br />

forest shaped by its former use as a wood<br />

pasture – which through his initiative in 1907 became<br />

one of Germany’s first nature reserves. This<br />

illustrates how special the regional woodl<strong>and</strong> surrounding<br />

Hofgeismar was considered even in the<br />

period of Mattern’s youth, rich in ancient trees <strong>and</strong><br />

atmospheric sites. One was the castle Sababurg,<br />

known as the setting of the brothers Grimm’s<br />

fairy tale ‘Little Briar Rose’ (in English, ‘Sleeping<br />

Beauty’), <strong>and</strong> another was Beberbeck, one of the<br />

five Prussian state stud farms. The nearby Reinhardswald<br />

is still one of Germany’s most expansive<br />

<strong>and</strong> least populated wooded l<strong>and</strong>scapes, home of<br />

a varied <strong>and</strong> elsewhere extinct flora <strong>and</strong> fauna<br />

including the wildcat (Felis sylvestris sylvestris) <strong>and</strong><br />

the black stork (Ciconia nigra). 14 Ancient woodl<strong>and</strong>,<br />

as in the unique Hutewald, home to 450 trees, 15<br />

bear witness to traditional forestry techniques <strong>and</strong><br />

other cultural uses. For Faust, however, retreating<br />

into a provincial country town also meant keeping<br />

aloof from the artistic avant-garde in the bigger<br />

cities.<br />

Faust never became a famous artist, <strong>and</strong> exhibitions<br />

of his work received mixed reviews, but<br />

amongst his students were several creative figures<br />

of considerable importance. Besides Mattern, there<br />

was the ceramicist Theodor Bogler, his younger<br />

brother Friedrich Wilhelm Bogler, a painter who<br />

did not survive the war, <strong>and</strong> the renowned glass<br />

painter Hans-Gottfried von Stockhausen, as well<br />

as several artists <strong>and</strong> architects of lesser importance,<br />

but known on a regional level. In the former<br />

district administration town of Hofgeismar, now<br />

incorporated into the district of Kassel, Faust’s role<br />

as artist <strong>and</strong> teacher for arts education – music,<br />

theatre <strong>and</strong> fine arts – was momentous enough for<br />

two commemorative events. The first was an exhibition<br />

of his work on the occasion of the opening<br />

of the new school building in 1953 at the edge of<br />

town, now named Albert-Schweitzer School. At<br />

that time, Mattern was commissioned to design the<br />

entire school grounds, but that project has disappeared<br />

almost completely under another extension<br />

of the school campus some fifty years later. At the<br />

first commemoration day, a h<strong>and</strong>written note from<br />

Faust’s sketchbooks was presented as a leitmotif of<br />

his career: ‘The school is a living piece of homel<strong>and</strong><br />

[Heimat], no coincidental background, in front<br />

of which school life takes place.’ 16 If descriptions<br />

of Faust’s work sound euphoric, his career as an<br />

artist was compromised by his dedication to teaching,<br />

to his engagement with the youth movement,<br />

to conducting several choirs, <strong>and</strong> to his function as<br />

church organist. 17 The modesty of his artistic career<br />

should be seen in this context, which limited<br />

his opportunity to elaborate a personal style. For<br />

an art educator artistic maturity could have been<br />

seen as ossification. He was rewarded with the<br />

respected title of Studienrat, but he struggled all his<br />

72 Part I

life with the conflict between his artistic <strong>and</strong> his<br />

pedagogical careers. 18 Nonetheless, by the end he<br />

had compiled an oeuvre vast enough to contain<br />

some paintings considered masterly, <strong>and</strong> which<br />

were gathered in the last exhibition of his work<br />

that he experienced himself, held in August 1944<br />

in the ballroom of Wilhemshöhe castle.<br />

At the second commemorative event, on the<br />

occasion of the new school’s fiftieth anniversary, a<br />

leaflet was produced containing insightful recollections<br />

of former students of Faust’s. They reported<br />

that he had focused on having students develop<br />

their own talents, while earlier teachers had merely<br />

let them copy by drawing. 19 Under Faust they<br />

learned to use their senses critically: 20<br />

He taught us to truly listen <strong>and</strong> to use our<br />

eyes for concentrated, corporeal <strong>and</strong> colouroriented<br />

seeing. The world of the third dimension<br />

was opened up to us. With devotion<br />

we drew isometrically <strong>and</strong> we foreshortened.<br />

Often singing at the same time.<br />

We learned to take in, to invent <strong>and</strong> to<br />

develop spatial <strong>and</strong> colour compositions. 21<br />

Faust taught his students various etching, drawing<br />

<strong>and</strong> painting techniques. The classes were often<br />

held outside at the Sababurg or in the villages,<br />

where the traditional Lower-Saxon half-timbered<br />

houses provided colourful motifs. 22 ‘He also respected<br />

all those rural h<strong>and</strong>crafted shapes in the<br />

household <strong>and</strong> the building, as long as they spoke<br />

of a pure sentiment or displayed a werkstoff gerecht<br />

(true to the material) kind of individual gestalt.’ 23<br />

Such objects, which he found in old attics or<br />

farm houses, Faust used as models for his drawing<br />

classes. 24 All this adds to the impression that he<br />

must have felt drawn to the ideals of the Heimatschutz<br />

movement; <strong>and</strong> he thus implemented<br />

educational aims that had become national educational<br />

policy around 1900, namely to foster in students<br />

a feeling of being at home in their local<br />

l<strong>and</strong>scape. 25 Faust’s own notes, kept by his family,<br />

enable us to reconstruct his teaching programme<br />

in considerable detail:<br />

I. Free creative production 26<br />

a) Objectification of an idea<br />

b) Free rhythmic creative production<br />

with line <strong>and</strong> plane<br />

c) Free learning with volumes<br />

d) Linoleum cut<br />

II. Training of the faculty of imagination<br />

The form elements will be sought in nature.<br />

Structuring of the l<strong>and</strong>scape by paths;<br />

space, village <strong>and</strong> house.<br />

The human body with its proportions <strong>and</strong><br />

means of expression. Machines, inoperative<br />

<strong>and</strong> in movement, buildings <strong>and</strong> parts of<br />

buildings, household appliances <strong>and</strong> furniture.<br />

III. Training of the faculty of observation<br />

The Lower-Saxon farmhouse (house gable,<br />

beam order, gate, door, window, roof, wood<br />

carvings, interior spaces, vestibule, staircase,<br />

railing). Parts of the l<strong>and</strong>scape (bridge, clump<br />

of trees, bank border, stone quarry, sunken<br />

lane, avenues)<br />

IV. Drawing from the microscope. Symmetrical<br />

representation. Light <strong>and</strong> shade. Intersections<br />

<strong>and</strong> foreshortenings.<br />

Still life: The objects will be assembled following<br />

certain laws, <strong>and</strong> the student searches<br />

to find these laws <strong>and</strong> to represent them.<br />

Human, animal, machine.<br />

While drawing, the colours of the subject’s<br />

appearance will be sought.<br />

V. Type-font after own re-creation, under<br />

particular consideration of its significance as<br />

surface decoration <strong>and</strong> its use for book printing<br />

<strong>and</strong> in advertising. Decorative work.<br />

VI. Reflection on art<br />

Architecture: basic forms <strong>and</strong> particulars of<br />

the building: column, plinth, frieze.<br />

Arrangement of the windows, the moulding,<br />

door <strong>and</strong> gate, bay <strong>and</strong> balcony, profiles, column<br />

shaft <strong>and</strong> capital, the round arch <strong>and</strong> the<br />

cross vault, pointed arch <strong>and</strong> buttress, transept,<br />

crossing <strong>and</strong> cupola/ground plan. 27<br />

The study of real <strong>and</strong> natural objects had been an<br />

essential part of any reformist art pedagogy from<br />

around 1900 onward. While the artistic means<br />

of expression in school classes were, until the<br />

1920s, still focused almost exclusively on drawing,<br />

progressive tendencies moved towards a ‘close<br />

connection with nature’ <strong>and</strong> consideration of an<br />

‘artistic individuality’. 28 Well into the twentieth<br />

century, the copying of classical ornamentation –<br />

above all, elements from Renaissance decorative<br />

art – <strong>and</strong>, before that, formalist, mathematically<br />

73 Early Influences, 1902–c. 1930

Fig. 52 The centre of Hofgeismar<br />

today, with the building that used<br />

to house Mattern’s school in the<br />

background.<br />

Fig. 53 Mattern’s axonometric drawing of a garden<br />

design for his former art teacher <strong>and</strong> W<strong>and</strong>er vogel<br />

group leader at Hofgeismar, Adolf Faust, July 1927.<br />

This is Mattern’s only known strictly axisymmetrical<br />

design (Heinrich 2013: 77).<br />

Fig. 54 Sketch of wood debris<br />

by Adolf Faust in the Heimatjahrbuch<br />

Hessen 1940.<br />

74 Part I

Fig. 55 View of the Hohe Meißner<br />

in 1923; it was the mountain near<br />

Mattern’s home town that was<br />

revered by the youth movement<br />

(AdJb, F 1, no 112/23, postcard /<br />

photo Julius Groß).<br />

Fig. 56 Speech by the pedagogue<br />

Gustav Wyneken (1875–1964) at<br />

the Hohe Meißner meeting of 1913<br />

(AdJb, F 4, no. 182_8).<br />

Fig. 57 The Monument to the Battle of the<br />

Nations, inaugurated in 1913 for the centenary<br />

of the Battle of Leipzig <strong>and</strong> at the time the<br />

tallest monument in Europe (Leipzig city<br />

archive, 0563, inv. no. 1988/26692 / photo<br />

Alfred Gruber, 1913).<br />

75 Early Influences, 1902–c. 1930

Part II<br />

Continuities Across Systems<br />

1927–c. 1960<br />


Atmosphere of<br />

Departure <strong>and</strong><br />

Disillusionment:<br />

Postwar Art <strong>and</strong> Life<br />

Silently the soaring ruins stare<br />

at us, not as if they had collapsed<br />

in the din of explosions, but as<br />

if they had slumped down from<br />

an internal cause. Can we, do<br />

we want to rebuild all this cruel<br />

unmasked machinery of our<br />

engineered existence […] ?<br />

No, says the inner voice. 1<br />

Otto Bartning, 1947<br />

After the war was over, Mattern tried to secure his<br />

belongings at Bornim <strong>and</strong> retreated into his old<br />

farmhouse south-east of Munich. 2 Disillusioned,<br />

for a short while it looked as though nothing<br />

could entice him away from the place that had<br />

already served as a peaceful retreat during the<br />

turbulent years. The loss of dear friends caused<br />

him much grief. Schlemmer’s tragic end in 1943<br />

will not have left Mattern cold. Then his brotherin-law<br />

Henner Röse, born 1911, committed<br />

suicide in 1945. 3 The same year came the notice<br />

of the death of Mattern’s oldest friend, Friedrich<br />

Wilhelm Bogler, who had died in a field hospital<br />

in Zell am See in Austria. Yet Mattern had a<br />

rather privileged position around the time of the<br />

Zusammenbruch. Neither of his houses was affected<br />

by bombing. At Graimharting, during the last<br />

years of the war, he <strong>and</strong> his wife had even retained<br />

the capacity to provide refugees with lodging. 4<br />

Contacts were sought to hear if friends were well.<br />

In late 1946, Ferdin<strong>and</strong> Möller wrote to Foerster<br />

at Bornim from his summer house at Zermützel,<br />

eighty kilometres to the north:<br />

From the Matterns we recently received a<br />

lengthy letter. He dedicates himself wholeheartedly<br />

to agriculture <strong>and</strong> is regaining his<br />

strengths. There will be enough to do for<br />

all of us here, once the waters have cleared. 5<br />

Soon the sorrows stepped into the background as<br />

all were confronted with such urgent work. Shortly<br />

after the capitulation of the Germans in May 1945,<br />

Hans Scharoun had been named planning councillor<br />

by the Soviet administration of Berlin. In 1946,<br />

he headed a municipal planning collective with<br />

six specialised architects <strong>and</strong> Reinhold Lingner as<br />

l<strong>and</strong>scape architect that presented the infamous<br />

‘Kollektivplan’ for central Berlin: a ribbon-like<br />

reorganisation of Berlin’s urban morphology along<br />

the Berlin glacial valley <strong>and</strong> with almost no consideration<br />

of the historically grown city ↗ fig. 237. 6<br />

The same year, the Deutsche Werkbund was reestablished<br />

at Berlin; its first symposium took place<br />

at Berlin on 5 December 1946. Amongst others,<br />

Scharoun, Lingner <strong>and</strong> Mattern were strongly<br />

involved; minutes of the meeting document that<br />

Mattern insistently dem<strong>and</strong>ed a better consideration<br />

of l<strong>and</strong>scape-related matters in future planning<br />

legislation. 7 Mattern’s skills were needed,<br />

especially as he was considered politically unburdened.<br />

It would have seemed uncharacteristic for<br />

283 Continuities Across Systems, 1927–c. 1960

Fig. 237 ‘Kollektivplan’, 1945–46,<br />

by the planning collective around<br />

the new planning councillor for<br />

Berlin, Hans Scharoun, suggesting<br />

a reconstruction of Berlin based<br />

on an east-west orientation along<br />

the glacial valley (Geist <strong>and</strong><br />

Kürvers 1989: front endpaper).<br />

Figs. 238, 239 Reconstruction<br />

concept for Kassel, Hermann<br />

Mattern with Paul <strong>and</strong> Arnold<br />

Bode, 1949–51. Note, above the<br />

orangery castle, the positioning<br />

of the box-shaped theatre,<br />

moved to the side in order to<br />

open up the Friedrichs platz<br />

towards the l<strong>and</strong>scape garden<br />

below (AMTUB, 26972; 26984).<br />

284 Part II

Figs. 240–242 Three drawings<br />

for the Hinrichssegen settlement<br />

Mattern designed between<br />

1945 <strong>and</strong> 1953 (AMTUB, 26250;<br />

F 2686; F 25241).<br />

285 Continuities Across Systems, 1927–c. 1960

Figs. 267–269 Three sketches of the situation at the Friedrichplatz, Kassel, comparing<br />

the baroque square (top), the Wilhelmine theatre (centre) <strong>and</strong> the proposal by Hans Scharoun<br />

with Hermann Mattern, 1949–52 (AMTUB, 26967; AMTUB, 26968; AMTUB, 26969).<br />

304 Part II

Figs. 270, 271 Situations found<br />

at the ‘Rosenhang’ (‘Rose Slope’),<br />

showing the l<strong>and</strong>scape view<br />

from the top <strong>and</strong> the stone walls<br />

<strong>and</strong> stairs (photos taken May<br />

2008 <strong>and</strong> March 2012).<br />

Fig. 272 Mattern with Karl Foerster in front of<br />

the war memorial from 1928 that is part of the<br />

slope beneath Schöne Aussicht, Kassel, 1955<br />

(StArchKssl, 0.516.021 / photo: Carl Eberth).<br />

Fig. 273 Overall plan for the Federal Garden<br />

Show Kassel 1955 , including the delineation<br />

of the unusual shape of the planned theatre<br />

by Scharoun <strong>and</strong> Mattern. Canals <strong>and</strong> general<br />

spatial structure are relics of the baroque<br />

garden destroyed in the war bombings. The<br />

drop shaped flower beds may be read as a<br />

memory of the former broderie parterre<br />

(AMTUB, 28540).<br />

305 Continuities Across Systems, 1927–c. 1960

Fig. 274 Aerial view of the<br />

Karls aue at Kassel at the time<br />

of the first documenta <strong>and</strong> the<br />

Bundes gartenschau in 1955<br />

(StArch Kssl, 274 E1K Bugal a).<br />

306 Part II

307 Continuities Across Systems, 1927–c. 1960

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ISBN 978-3-98612-059-7 (e-book)<br />


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