Photo of beautiful trees

In Memoriam: Annette Michelson, Robert Venturi, and Paul Virilio

It is with deep regret that we acknowledge the passing of three MIT Press authors this month: Annette Michelson, Robert Venturi, and Paul Virilio.

Annette Michelson (1922-2018) was a champion of the avant-garde whose essays on film are credited with helping to establish the field of cinema studies. She cofounded the art criticism and theory journal October in 1976, writing in the inaugural issue that the purpose of the journal was “to reopen an inquiry into the relationships between the several arts which flourish in our culture at this time, and in so doing, to open discussion of their role at this highly problematic juncture.” Over the next thirty years, her collaboration with the MIT Press resulted in numerous books, most recently On the Eve of the Future, a collection of her influential writings on film, with essays on work by Marcel Duchamp, Maya Deren, Hollis Frampton, Martha Rosler, and others.

Robert Venturi (1925-2018) was not only a Pritzker Prize winning architect, but an influential writer, artist, scholar, and teacher.  He has been credited with saving modern architecture from itself through a combination of verbal and written eloquence and and visually challenging buildings. His distinctive designs, ranging from beach houses at the Jersey shore to iconic college campus buildings to the Seattle Art Museum and a government complex in Toulouse, France, force viewers to see the “extraordinary in the ordinary,” according to the New York Times architectural critic Ada Louise Huxtable. We are honored to have published two of his seminal works, Learning from Las Vegas (coauthored with his wife Denise Scott Brown and colleague Steven Izenour) and Iconography and Electronics Upon a Generic Architecture: A View from the Drafting Room.

Paul Virilio (1932-2018) was one of the most significant French cultural theorists of our time. A philosopher, urbanist, teacher, and writer, he was the author of more than a dozen books at the intersection of philosophy, technology, warfare, cinema, and architecture for Semiotext(e), as well as an early contribution to our Writing Architecture series. As John Armitage wrote, “the importance of Virilio’s theoretical work stems from his central claim that, in a culture dominated by war, the military-industrial complex is of crucial significance in debates over the creation of the city and the spatial organization of cultural life.”

To lose three such brilliant lights in a matter of days is devastating, but there is some consolation in knowing that their ideas will stay alive for generations to come through their teaching and writing.  We are honored to have published their books and remain grateful for their friendship and support.