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Modern Architecture

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Historian of the Immediate Future

Reyner Banham (1922-88) was one of the most influential writers on architecture, design, and popular culture from the mid-1950s to the late 1980s. Trained in mechanical engineering and art history, he was convinced that technology was making society not only more exciting but more democratic. His combination of academic rigor and pop culture sensibility put him in opposition to both traditionalists and orthodox Modernists, but placed him in a unique position to understand the cultural, social, and political implications of the visual arts in the postwar period.

The Elusive Margins of Belgrade Architecture, 1919–1941

Modernism in Serbia is the first comprehensive account of an almost forgotten body of work that once defined regional modernism at its best. The book reconstructs the story of Serbian modernism as a local history within a major movement and views the buildings designed in Belgrade in the 1920s and 1930s as part of a larger cultural phenomenon. Because so many of the buildings discussed are disintegrating or have been destroyed or altered beyond recognition, the book serves not only as a documentary and critical study but also as a preservation resource.

Travels in the Land of the Timid

Le Corbusier's first trip to the United States in 1935 is generally considered a failure because it produced no commissions. The experience nevertheless had a profound effect on him, both personally and professionally. Sponsored by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Le Corbusier promoted his ideas through a lecture tour, exhibition, and press conferences, as well as in meetings with industrialists, housing reformers, New Deal technocrats, and editors. His lectures were watershed events that advanced the cause of European modernism.

Bernd and Hilla Becher have profoundly influenced the international photography world over the past several decades. Their unique genre, which falls somewhere between topological documentation and conceptual art, is in line with the aesthetics of such early-twentieth-century masters of German photography as Karl Blossfeldt, Germaine Krull, Albert Renger-Patzsch, and August Sander.

CIAM (Congres Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne), founded in Switzerland in 1928, was an avant-garde association of architects intended to advance both modernism and internationalism in architecture. CIAM saw itself as an elite group revolutionizing architecture to serve the interests of society. Its members included some of the best-known architects of the twentieth century, such as Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, and Richard Neutra, but also hundreds of others who looked to it for doctrines on how to shape the urban environment in a rapidly changing world.

Toward a Theory of the Event in Modernist Culture

In Architectures of Time, Sanford Kwinter offers a critical guide to the modern history of time and to the interplay between the physical sciences and the arts.

Most histories of twentieth-century architecture cite Peter Behrens' influence on three of his protégés—Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Le Corbusier—and mention the turbine factory and arc lamp he designed for the German electrical firm AEG. Now Behrens' full contribution to the history of twentieth-century architecture is finally told, in Stanford Anderson's indispensable guide to one of the great designers of our century.

Karel Teige (1900-1951), one of the most important figures of avant-garde modernism of the 1920s and 1930s, influenced virtually every area of art, design, and urban thinking in his native Czechoslovakia. His Minimum Dwelling, originally published in Czech in 1932, and appearing now for the first time in English, is one of the landmark architectural books of the twentieth century.The Minimum Dwelling is not just a book on architecture, but also a blueprint for a new way of living.

Edited by Eve Blau and Nancy J. Troy

A fundamental tenet of the historiography of modern architecture holds that cubism forged a vital link between avant-garde practices in early twentieth-century painting and architecture. This collection of essays, commissioned by the Canadian Centre for Architecture, takes a close look at that widely accepted but little scrutinized belief.

The Fashioning of Modern Architecture

In a daring revisionist history of modern architecture, Mark Wigley opens up a new understanding of the historical avant-garde. He explores the most obvious, but least discussed, feature of modern architecture: white walls. Although the white wall exemplifies the stripping away of the decorative masquerade costumes worn by nineteenth-century buildings, Wigley argues that modern buildings are not naked. The white wall is itself a form of clothing—the newly athletic body of the building, like that of its occupants, wears a new kind of garment and these garments are meant to match.

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