Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (160.32 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biographical/Historical Note
  • Administrative Information
  • Related Materials
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Erich and Luise Mendelsohn papers
    Date (inclusive): 1894-1992
    Number: 880406
    Creator/Collector: Mendelsohn, Erich
    Creator/Collector: Mendelsohn, Luise
    Physical Description: 22 Linear Feet (43 boxes, 2 flat file folders)
    The Getty Research Institute
    Special Collections
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles 90049-1688
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10020/askref
    (310) 440-7390
    Abstract: The archive, from the estate of Luise Mendelsohn, comprises the personal correspondence and documents of the Mendelsohn family. Includes transcripts or originals of correspondence between Erich and Luise Mendelsohn (1910-1953) reflecting Erich Mendelsohn's architectural, aesthetic, and political development. Other papers concern Erich's architectural legacy and include manuscripts of Luise's unpublished autobiography and biographical notes on her husband, photographs of family life and architectural projects, microfilm copies of typescripts and drawings, audiotapes of lectures, and five drawings by Erich's students.
    Request Materials: Request access to the physical materials described in this inventory through the catalog record  for this collection. Click here for the access policy .
    Language: Collection material is in German and English.

    Biographical/Historical Note

    1887: Erich Mendelsohn is born on March 21st in the East Prussian town of Allenstein (now Olsztyn, Poland).
    1907-1909: Begins his studies in national economics at the University of Munich; in 1909 transfers to the Technical University in Berlin to begin his study of architecture, which he continues in Munich.
    1910: Meets his future wife, Luise (Luise) Maas (born 1894), a young cellist.
    1911-1914: Passes his final examination in architecture; designs costumes, stage sets, and window displays; begins his relationship with the Expressionist artists Wassily Kandinsky, Franz Marc, Paul Klee, and Hugo Ball, and the astrophysicist Erwin Freundlich. Marries Luise (Maas) Mendelsohn.
    1915-1918: Volunteers for the Engineering Corps, serves at the Russian Front. Executes his first sketches for the Einstein Tower. Birth of only child, Esther, on May 4, 1916.
    1918-1922: Transferred to the Western Front in 1918. Returns to Berlin and opens his architectural firm; mounts his first public exhibition "Architecture in Steel and Concrete," Paul Cassirer Gallery, Berlin, and executes his "Dune Architecture" series and the Einstein Tower, Potsdam.
    1923-1925: Lectures in Amsterdam, makes first trip to Palestine, the United States and Russia, and co-founds the Modern architecture group, the "Ring."
    1926-1929: Executes a series of major department stores, designs for competitions, and the Metal Workers' Union Administration Building, Berlin.
    1930-1932: Travels to Greece, Spain, England, and France. Executes the Columbus House, Berlin and becomes a member of the Prussian Academy of Arts.
    1933-1935: Leaves Germany for Holland, establishes "European Mediterranean Academy," forms a partnership with Serge Chermayeff in England, and executes the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill, England, and Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
    1936-1940: Executes several projects in Jerusalem, becomes a British citizen and volunteers for the British army.
    1941-1945: Immigrates to the United States, lectures extensively, eventually settles in San Francisco and begins work on his book, "Architecture in a Changing World, or a Philosophy of Architecture," and exhibits his work at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
    1946-1948: Becomes a US citizen, executes several commissions, and is appointed lecturer in the Department of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley.
    1949-1953: Executes architectural commissions in the US and dies in San Francisco on September 15, 1953.
    1952: Publication of Il contributo di Mendelsohn alla evoluzione dell'architettura moderna , by Mario Federico Roggero (Milan, 1952).
    1954: Retrospective exhibition, "The Palestine Period in Erich Mendelsohn's Work," Milan Triennale.
    1956: Publication of Eric Mendelsohn, by Arnold Whittick (2nd ed., London, 1956; 1st ed. published 1940).
    1960: International traveling exhibition, "100 Sketches," Venice Biennale, and publication of Eric Mendelsohn, by Wolf von Eckardt (New York, 1960).
    1967: Publication of Eric Mendelsohn: letters of an architect, Oskar Beyer, ed., with introduction by Nikolaus Pevsner (London, 1967).
    1968: International traveling exhibition organized by the Verein Deutsches Bauzentrum, and Akademie der Künste.
    1969: Exhibition, "The Drawing of Eric Mendelsohn," University Art Museum, Berkeley, CA.
    1970: Publication of Erich Mendelsohn: opera completa, by Bruno Zevi (Milan, 1970) with biographical notes by Luise Mendelsohn.
    1975: Sale of the Erich Mendelsohn collection of drawings and manuscripts to the Kunstbibliothek, Berlin.
    1980: Death of Luise Mendelsohn, San Francisco, CA.

    Administrative Information


    Open for use by qualified researchers.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    Erich and Luise Mendelsohn papers, 1894-1992, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Accession no. 880406.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired in several acquisitions in 1988 from the estate of Luise Mendelsohn.

    Processing History

    The Erich and Luise Mendelsohn papers (880406) comprise materials from the Luise Mendelsohn papers (880398) and the Erich Mendelsohn papers (880406), together with five smaller acquisitions. The archive was processed and described by Scott Wolf in December, 1996. In September 2009 item counts were added to the container list for boxes 3-6. In 2010-2011 selected correspondence was cataloged by Isabella Zuralski and Alexis Adkins as part of a collaborative digitization project with the Kunstbibliothek, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. The digital Erich Mendelsohn Archive is available on the Kunstbibliothek website: http://ema.smb.museum/en/home .

    Existence and Location of Copies

    Selected correspondence between Erich and Luise Mendelsohn was digitized in 2011 and contributed to the digital Erich Mendelsohn Archive, organized and hosted by the Kunstbibliothek, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin: http://ema.smb.museum/en/home .

    Related Materials

    The bulk of the Erich Mendelsohn papers is held by the Kunstbibliothek, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Erich and Luise Mendelsohn Papers include personal family correspondence, photographs, and documents from the estate of Luise Mendelsohn, spanning the period from her early correspondence with Erich Mendelsohn in 1910 until her death in 1980. Materials include letters and manuscripts by Luise Mendelsohn, her personal diaries, autobiography and correspondence with scholars concerning exhibitions and publications on her late husband. Her personal correspondence with Erich Mendelsohn provides rare insights into his architectural projects and his views on modern art. The papers of Luise Mendelsohn demonstrate how she managed her late husband's architectural estate and maintained a broad correspondence with leading architectural historians. This material also documents her contribution to architecture, in particular her support for a national museum dedicated to modern architecture - a notion she credited to her husband.
    Individuals represented in the Mendelsohn Papers include: Felix Ben Ari, Oskar Beyer, Ralph Beyer, William Bruck, Wolf von Eckardt, Walter Gropius, Marianne Hahn, Hugo Häring, Armin Hermann, Richard Hunter, Erich (Eric) Mendelsohn, Luise Mendelsohn, Maria Luise Esther Mendelsohn, Lewis Mumford, Dione Neutra, Victoria Ocampo, Ariel Parkinson, Thomas S. Politis, Giovanni Ponti, Julius Posener, Nikolaus Posener, Mario Federico Roggero, Hans Scharoun, Hans Schiller, Joost Schmidt, Salmann Schocken, Henry van de Velde, Arthur Voyce, H. Th. Wijdeveld, Arnold Wittick, Bruno Zevi.
    Selected correspondence between Erich and Luise Mendelsohn has been digitized and contributed to the digital Erich Mendelsohn Archive, organized and hosted by the Kunstbibliothek, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin: http://ema.smb.museum/en/home .

    Arrangement note

    The Erich and Luise Mendelsohn Papers are organized in 11 series. Series I. Correspondence and manuscripts, Erich and Luise Mendelsohn, 1910-1953 Series II. Family correspondence and documents, 1903-1992 Series III. Manuscripts, lectures, and publications by Erich Mendelsohn, 1919-1955 Series IV. Collected documentation, articles, and publications about Erich Mendelsohn, 1924-1992 Series V. Correspondence and printed material related to exhibitions on Erich Mendelsohn, 1942-1980 Series VI. Luise Mendelsohn correspondence, 1924-1980, bulk 1953 Series VII. Luise Mendelsohn travel diaries, biography of Erich Mendelsohn and autobiography, 1934-1980 Series VIII. Disposal of the Erich Mendelsohn archive, 1966-1987 Series IX. Family and architectural photographs, 1894-1988 Series X. Audio and video recordings, microfilm and slides, 1952-1980 Series XI. Architectural drawings and exhibition poster, 1950, 1978

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Names

    Mendelsohn, Erich
    Mendelsohn, Luise
    Feininger, Lyonel
    Wright, Frank Lloyd
    Kandinsky, Wassily
    Lissitzky, El
    Le Corbusier
    Velde, Henry van de
    Gropius, Walter
    Worringer, Wilhelm
    Wagner, Otto
    Neutra, Richard Joseph
    Oud, J. J. P. (Jacobus Johannes Pieter)
    Mies van der Rohe, Ludwig
    Poelzig, Hans
    Picasso, Pablo

    Subjects - Topics

    Architectural criticism
    Expressionism (Art)
    Architecture, Modern -- 20th century
    Architecture, Modern -- Exhibitions
    Neo-impressionism (Art)
    Futurism (Art)

    Subjects - Places

    Presidio of San Francisco (Calif.)
    Soviet Union -- Description and travel
    United States -- Description and travel
    Asia -- Description and travel
    Europe -- Description and travel

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Photographic prints
    Photographs, Original
    Architectural drawings (visual works)


    Meier, Günter
    Maas, Rosa
    Mendelsohn, Erich
    Mendelsohn, Luise
    Mendelsohn, Esther
    Eckardt, Wolf von
    Hahn, Marianne
    Hunter, Richard M.
    Beyer, Oskar
    Wijdeveld, H. Th.
    Zevi, Bruno
    Velde, Henry van de
    Posener, Julius
    Roggero, Mario Federico
    Whittick, Arnold
    Mumford, Lewis
    Ponti, Gio
    Pevsner, Nikolaus