Saturday, 8 December 2012

Pauline Gibling and Rudolph Schindler: Firebrand Wife and the Suffragette

Pauline Gibling, 1919

Sophie Pauline Gibling was a refined rebel, much like her avant-garde husband. By 1915, she had received a four-year liberal education at Smith College.  It gave her a privileged authority which she used to its maximum capacity. After completing her studies in music there, she went to work in the slums of Boston and at Jane Addam’s Hull-House in Chicago.  Pauline met Schindler in Chicago in early 1919, during an orchestra performance. She had immediately charmed him with her characteristic intensity. Their first conversation about the war had delighted Schindler due to Pauline’s open nature with criticism. Schindler was new to America, just recently acquainted with circumspection, thus it was relieving to him to hear someone speak so unguardedly in public at last.

They formed their relationship on the basis of this free-thought sharing process they had. Both were progressive individuals and this was clearly illustrated in Schindler’s design of the house. He divided the spaces in such a way that each of the four cells for the four occupants were of equivalent size and importance. 
The floor plan had represented Schindler’s ideal marriage in this sense: equality. 
Instead of differentiating the habitants with gender roles, he viewed them all as artists who needed their own studios to work in; Pauline was a music composer, Chace was a painter, and his wife was a ceramicist. The kitchen also embedded the same belief as it was never indicative of women's presence. It was simply a place of producing meals utilized by both genders. This was perhaps the first plan that spoke so blatantly of equality and a respect for identity. 

It should be noted that such idealistic thinking was still considered radical for its time. Women’s suffrage had begun early in 1893 and escalated until 1920, when the nineteenth amendment was ratified. While women were finally casting their votes on a national level, Schindler was making his own contribution to the movement with his designs. Whether it was a conscious effort or not, he had become another important suffragette in this way.

Works Cited:
Zeigle, Lisa. California Moderne, World Monuments Funds, 2003.
McCoy, Esther. Vienna to Los Angeles: Two Journeys. Santa Monica, California, Arts + Architecture Press, 1979.
Darling, Michael, and Smith, Elizabeth A. T. The Architecture of R. M. Schindler. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2001.
California: Women Work for Wages, Votes and Visibility, WOW Museum: Western Women's Suffrage - California

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