Ornament And Crime


In his essays, Loos used provocative catchphrases and is noted for the essay/manifesto entitled Ornament and Crime, given in a lecture in 1910 and first published in 1913. He explored the idea that the progress of culture is associated with the deletion of ornament from everyday objects, and that it was therefore a crime to force craftsmen or builders to waste their time on ornamentation that served to hasten the time when an object would become obsolete.

Throughout the history, mankind has expressed their artistic senses through different ways. It changes into another one when humanity got stuck in the last one. Ornament is one of those expressions, and it was the value that people only cared about it. Even, non-ornament products were nothing but thrash. This expression got stuck at the lates of 18th century, and people got into a worry that how plastic art can be expressed by another way because ornament has contained a massive scale part of human history. Actually, the concern was irrelevant because not being able to ornament means that mankind outgrown. Maybe, it was the progression which pass through art. In modern century, Adolf Loos claims that simplicity and smooth should have been the new concern about sense of plastic expression, even at the beginning. Ornament is an insult to plastic because it is all about using unneeded materials and defining the product as plastic. According to Loos, it is a certain crime because it is an unneccessary struggle in the modern century. For instance, a person rather choose a plate which is produced in sense of smooth and simplicity over an product with ornament. Also, when it comes to compare those products, product with ornament is about wasted labour and wasted health. Process of making it many many times more than the other one. In converse, people can buy many plates that made in sense of simplicity because it is cheap. That is why people are more likely to become more wealthier and a person of 18th century is unlikely to do. All the way, ornament is an illogical tendecy, and it’s always been so, Loos says. Another argument has been given by Loos is that ornament is no longer related to culture so that it is no longer expression of it. In the modern century, we already over the ornament which is linked to mankind’s previous cultural expressions. Humanity is always on process of evolotion steps and we always get over the situation that we are in. Hence, why should ornament be our concern, and the cultural expression that ornament is related as well? After all, “Freedom from ornament is a sign of spiritual strength”.

Although, I am not totally capable of commenting on the text, I don’t quite agree (or maybe I don’t understand well) on the part that Loos explains how ornament is not our concern because irrelevance of its cultural expression is no longer connected to modern century. I think we don’t suddenly change our lives and mostly culture. Maybe, we can do it in a small extent but mostly we just add something on it, basicly gathering. What I’m just saying is that we are not seperated from the ones before us. Despite the idea, it does not mean that I disagree about that ornament is an illogical tendecy.



Adolf Loos


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