Today we use the word “modernism” when we refer to modern architecture or the Modern Movement, or to what German and Dutch practitioners used to call Neues Bauen or Nieuwe Bouwe. Now, we even say “early modernism” (pre-World War I) and “late modernism” (post-World War II), and even occasionally “high” and “classic” modernism (a seeming oxymoron), echoing the terms that art historians commonly use to characterize certain styles, such as early and late Renaissance. The question is why. Although this shift in vocabulary seems to have occurred almost unconsciously, it might be seen as indicating how the notion of modern architecture itself changed during the twentieth century: from a living movement committed to speci c values and aspirations to a codi ed style and cultural period of the past, usually the two decades between the world wars.
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