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Anthony Vidler

Anthony Vidler is Dean and Professor of the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at The Cooper Union, New York. He is the author of Warped Space: Art, Architecture, and Anxiety in Modern Culture (2000), and The Architectural Uncanny: Essays in the Modern Unhomely (1992), both published by The MIT Press, and other books.

Titles by This Author

Inventing Architectural Modernism

Architecture, at least since the beginning of the twentieth century, has suspended historical references in favor of universalized abstraction. In the decades after the Second World War, when architectural historians began to assess the legacy of the avant-gardes in order to construct a coherent narrative of modernism’s development, they were inevitably influenced by contemporary concerns. In Histories of the Immediate Present, Anthony Vidler examines the work of four historians of architectural modernism and the ways in which their histories were constructed as more or less overt programs for the theory and practice of design in a contemporary context. Vidler looks at the historical approaches of Emil Kaufmann, Colin Rowe, Reyner Banham, and Manfredo Tafuri, and the specific versions of modernism advanced by their historical narratives. Vidler shows that the modernism conceived by Kaufmann was, like the late Enlightenment projects he revered, one of pure, geometrical forms and elemental composition; that of Rowe saw mannerist ambiguity and complexity in contemporary design; Banham’s modernism took its cue from the aspirations of the futurists; and the “Renaissance modernism” of Tafuri found its source in the division between the technical experimentation of Brunelleschi and the cultural nostalgia of Alberti. Vidler’s investigation demonstrates the inevitable collusion between history and design that pervades all modern architectural discourse--and has given rise to some of the most interesting architectual experiments of the postwar period. Anthony Vidler is Dean and Professor of the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at The Cooper Union, New York. He is the author of Warped Space: Art, Architecture, and Anxiety in Modern Culture (2000), The Architectural Uncanny: Essays in the Modern Unhomely (1992), both published by The MIT Press, and other books.

Art, Architecture, and Anxiety in Modern Culture

Beginning with agoraphobia and claustrophobia in the late nineteenth century, followed by shell shock and panic fear after World War I, phobias and anxiety came to be seen as the mental condition of modern life. They became incorporated into the media and arts, in particular the spatial arts of architecture, urbanism, and film. This "spatial warping" is now being reshaped by digitalization and virtual reality.Anthony Vidler is concerned with two forms of warped space. The first, a psychological space, is the repository of neuroses and phobias. This space is not empty but full of disturbing forms, including those of architecture and the city. The second kind of warping is produced when artists break the boundaries of genre to depict space in new ways. Vidler traces the emergence of a psychological idea of space from Pascal and Freud to the identification of agoraphobia and claustrophobia in the nineteenth century to twentieth-century theories of spatial alienation and estrangement in the writings of Georg Simmel, Siegfried Kracauer, and Walter Benjamin. Focusing on current conditions of displacement and placelessness, he examines ways in which contemporary artists and architects have produced new forms of spatial warping. The discussion ranges from theorists such as Jacques Lacan and Gilles Deleuze to artists such as Vito Acconci, Mike Kelley, Martha Rosler, and Rachel Whiteread. Finally, Vidler looks at the architectural experiments of Frank Gehry, Coop Himmelblau, Daniel Libeskind, Greg Lynn, Morphosis, and Eric Owen Moss in the light of new digital techniques that, while relying on traditional perspective, have radically transformed the composition, production, and experience--perhaps even the subject itself--of architecture.

Essays in the Modern Unhomely

The Architectural Uncanny presents an engaging and original series of meditations on issues and figures that are at the heart of the most pressing debates surrounding architecture today. Anthony Vidler interprets contemporary buildings and projects in light of the resurgent interest in the uncanny as a metaphor for a fundamentally "unhomely" modern condition. The essays are at once historical and theoretical, opening up the complex and difficult relationships between politics, social thought, and architectural design in an era when the reality of homelessness and the idealism of the neo-avant-garde have never seemed so far apart.