Synopses & Reviews
Anthony Vidler, an internationally recognized scholar, theorist, and critic of modern and contemporary architecture, is widely known for his essays on the most pressing issues and debates in the field. This volume brings together a collection of such writings—including the iconic, long unavailable “Scenes of the Street”—into one volume. Scenes of the Street and Other Essays
showcases Vidler’s engaging and accessible expertise on both contemporary and historic subjects that are relevant to today's concerns.
“Scenes of the Street,” a multi-faceted analysis of city planning is one such example; other essays in this volume include “Unknown Lands: Guy Debord and the Cartographies of a Landscape to be Invented,” “Transparency and Utopia: Constructing the Void from Pascal to Foucault,” and “The Modern Acropolis: Tony Garnier from La Cité Antique to the Cité Industrielle.”
Vidler writes in his introduction:
In the following essays, I have interrogated the struggle for an urban architecture in the modern period, its critiques and aspirations, in the belief that understanding the historical dimensions of the debate will lead to a renewal of interest in an architecture calculated to redeem, if only partially, our “planet of slums” and its deteriorating environment; an interest that will not simply reject “utopia” out of hand or fall back into the complacencies of nostalgia. Written during a period in which the debates themselves were actively engaged by critics and supporters of modernism, they reflect contemporary issues as they search for their prehistory. As historical inquiries, they inevitably also engage the transformations in history writing itself since 1970, intellectual responses to the social and political conditions of postwar modernity.
This fascinating series of essays on issues and figures is an invaluable resource for architects and art historians and enthusiasts of structure and substance alike.
In his Columns of Smoke
series, Juan Josandeacute; Lahuerta takes on the enormously ambitious task of re-reading modernity, offering us fresh ways of looking at it while drawing new links between the ideas of architecture and ornamentation, with a special focus on how they have been treated in print.
While the first volume of Columns of Smoke considered epoch-making architect Adolf Loosandrsquo;s relationship with photography, here Lahuerta turns to the Classical strand in Loosandrsquo;s architecture and to his written workandmdash;and specifically his engagement with architectural and artistic theory. Lahuerta pays particular attention to Loosandrsquo;s seminal andldquo;Ornament and Crime,andrdquo; the essay that established disornamentation as the signal feature of twentieth-century architecture. Through close analysis of that essay he unearths the racially charged, pseudoscientific ideas from early anthropology that underpin Loosandrsquo;s thinking. Sure to be controversial, this new reading of Loosandrsquo;s landmark writings calls the whole disornamentation project into question, and in the process, it reveals a radically new perspective on a major turn in modern design and culture.
About the Author
Anthony Vidler, dean of the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union, is a historian and critic of modern and contemporary architecture. His books include James Frazer Stirling: Notes from the Archive, The Writing of the Walls: Architectural Theory in the Late Enlightenment, Claude-Nicolas Ledoux: Architecture and Social Reform at the End of the Ancien Régime, The Architectural Uncanny: Essays in the Modern Unhomely, Antoine Grumbach,
and Warped Space: Architecture and Anxiety in Modern Culture.
Vidler received his B.A. in Architecture and Fine Arts and his Diploma in Architecture from Cambridge University, England, and his Ph.D. from Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands. He has been on the faculty of the Princeton University School of Architecture and the University of California, Los
Angeles. Vidler has received awards from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and he was a Getty Scholar at the Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities in 1992–93.