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Article

Göran Schildt

(Henrik)

(b Kuortane, Feb 3, 1898; d Helsinki, May 11, 1976).

Finnish architect and designer, active also in America. His success as an architect lay in the individual nature of his buildings, which were always designed with their surrounding environment in mind and with great attention to their practical demands. He never used forms that were merely aesthetic or conditioned by technical factors but looked to the more permanent models of nature and natural forms. He was not anti-technology but believed that technology could be humanized to become the servant of human beings and the promoter of cultural values. One of his important maxims was that architects have an absolutely clear mission: to humanize mechanical forms.

His father was a government surveyor working in the lake district of central Finland and became a counterforce to his son’s strong artistic calling. Instead of becoming a painter, which tempted him for a long time, Alvar chose the career of architect as a possible compromise. He never became a planner dominated by technological thinking, however, but always gave his creations an artistic, humanistic character. He studied at the Technical College in Helsinki (...

Article

Kathryn O'Rourke and Ramón Vargas

(b Mexico City, Mar 29, 1915; d Mexico City, May 25, 1959).

Mexican architect, theorist, and writer, of Japanese descent. The son of a Japanese ambassador in Mexico, he studied philosophy, espousing neo-Kantianism and becoming politically a socialist. He became a supporter of Functionalism, with its emphasis on the social applications of architecture, and was a founder, with Enrique Yañez, of the Unión de Arquitectos Socialistas (1938), helping to draw up a socialist theory of architecture. He was one of the most active participants in the Unión and attempted to put his socialist theory into practice on two unexecuted projects in the same year: the building for the Confederación de Trabajadores de México and the Ciudad Obrera de México, both with Enrique Guerrero and Raúl Cacho. Later, when Mexico opted for a developmental policy, Arai became a standard-bearer for nationalism in architecture. He re-evaluated traditional building materials, such as tree trunks, bamboo, palm leaves, and lianas, using them in a plan for a country house that was adapted to the warm, damp climate of the Papaloapan region. The building of the Ciudad Universitaria, Mexico City, gave him his greatest architectural opportunity when he designed the Frontones (...

Article

Roberto Pontual

(b Fortaleza, May 26, 1922; d Paris, Oct 6, 1967).

Brazilian painter. In the first half of the 1940s, while still in his native state of Ceará, he was very active in the introduction of modernist ideas. In 1945 he moved to Rio de Janeiro and in 1946 to Paris, where he spent most of the rest of his life. In Paris, where he studied at the Ecole Supérieure de Beaux-Arts and at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, he first painted landscapes and portraits (e.g. Self-portrait, 1947; Rio de Janeiro, Gilberto Chateaubriand priv. col.) that combined elements from Surrealism and Expressionism. He later adopted a gestural abstraction that maintained its links with the outside world through analogies established in poetic titles (e.g. Flowing like a Waterfall, 1964; Rio de Janeiro, Roberto Marinho priv. col.). At the beginning of his stay in France he was briefly part of an informal association with two other artists sharing a similar artistic language, ...

Article

(b Guadalajara, Mar 9, 1902; d Mexico City, Nov 22, 1988).

Mexican architect. Recipient of the Pritzker Prize, he was the most celebrated of Mexico’s modern architects, known for his regionally inflected designs. Born to a wealthy, devoutly Catholic family, he earned his degree in civil engineering from Guadalajara’s Escuela Libre de Ingenieros in 1923, and soon after completed his course in architecture (though the school closed before his degree could be awarded). On trips to Europe and the USA in 1924–1925, 1930, and 1931 he was impressed by the Alhambra and by the work of Le Corbusier; he also made important contacts with muralist José Clemente Orozco, Architectural Record editor Lawrence Kocher, French author, artist, and architect Ferdinand Bac (1859–1952), and Le Corbusier himself, whose lectures he attended in Paris in 1931. Barragán is best known for a small group of gardens, houses, and subdivisions built around Mexico City between 1945 and 1976 that blend Modernist minimalism with brilliant colors and elements drawn from Mexican colonial and vernacular buildings. Called ...

Article

Kathleen James-Chakraborty

After the closure in 1933 of the Bauhaus in Berlin, its staff and students dispersed. Many found their way to the USA, where they became highly influential teachers as well as artists and architects. The pedagogical methods developed at the school, particularly in the preliminary course, became commonplace in all levels of art education, as the former centrality in America of life drawing to instruction in the visual arts was now challenged by experimentation with abstract principles of composition and the qualities of individual materials.

Josef and Anni Albers family were the first Bauhäusler to immigrate to the USA. They arrived in 1933 and quickly took up positions at Black Mountain College, NC. In 1950 Josef became chair of the department of design at Yale University, New Haven, CT, from which he retired in 1958. His increasingly rigorous investigations into geometry and colour culminated in a series of paintings entitled ...

Article

Robert Winter

(b Seattle, WA, Aug 8, 1902; d Los Angeles, CA, Jan 16, 1969).

American architect. Although Becket was based in the Los Angeles area, he also had an international reputation. His work was in the modernist mode and he was important in popularizing the style in public buildings throughout Southern California and elsewhere.

Becket studied architecture at the University of Washington (1927) and for a short time at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. His early work was for established architecture firms in Seattle and then Los Angeles, where he joined the firm of Charles F. Plummer, and, when Plumber died, he teamed up with his classmate Walter Wurdeman to form the firm of Wurdeman and Becket.

Their first major building was the Pan-Pacific Auditorium (1935) in North Hollywood, CA, an assertive structure in the Streamlined Moderne style. It was enormously successful and led to further commissions. One of the best was Bullock’s department store (1944) in Pasadena, again in the Streamlined Moderne (then called ‘modernistic’) style. It is now partially obscured by a harmonious recent building erected in its former parking lot. The interior, though remodeled several times, retains a great deal of its original décor, including a tapestry by Jean Lurçat (...

Article

Felipe Chaimovich and Roberto Conduru

Brazilian art after 1980 developed a growing dialogue with international contemporary art, sometimes challenging the latter’s hegemony. The revision of constructive modernism and its criticism in Brazilian art since the 1960s were at stake when young artists faced the globalization of the art world during the 1990s. During the 2000s, a more political concern reinforced collective alliances.

In the early 1980s, Brazil experienced the euphoria of the waning moments of dictatorship, which lasted from 1964 to 1985, and the beginning of a new democratic regime. Dictatorship had compromised the collective project of the avant-garde of the 1960s, as advocated by Hélio Oiticica in the catalog text of the group exhibition Nova Objetividade Brasileira (Brazilian New Objectivity) at the Museu de Arte Moderna of Rio de Janeiro in 1967. Brazilian New Objectivity aimed at a transformation of the national culture by means of experimental art, but dictatorship had prohibited group meetings since ...

Article

Anna Rowland

(Lajos)

(b Pécs, May 21, 1902; d New York, July 1, 1981).

American furniture designer and architect of Hungarian birth. In 1920 he took up a scholarship at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Vienna, but he left almost immediately to find a job in an architect’s office. A few weeks later he enrolled at the Bauhaus at Weimar on the recommendation of the Hungarian architect Fred Forbat (1897–1972). Breuer soon became an outstanding student in the carpentry workshop, which he led in its endeavours to find radically innovative forms for modern furniture. In practice, this meant rejecting traditional forms, which were considered symbolic of bourgeois life. The results of these experiments were initially as idiosyncratic as those of other workshops at Weimar, including the adoption of non-Western forms, for example the African chair (1921; see Rowland, 1990, p. 66) and an aggressively castellated style inspired by Constructivism.

Breuer was impressed by De Stijl, whose founder Theo van Doesburg made his presence felt in Weimar in ...

Article

Experimental architectural program that ran from 1945 to 1966 and involved the building of Modernist houses, largely in California. John Entenza (1903–84) hit upon the idea just after World War II of spreading the word of the Modern Movement in architecture through an actual building program. As editor of the left-leaning journal California Arts and Architecture (later Arts and Architecture), he was concerned that the aftermath of wars was usually a period of conservatism in which progressive ideas were set aside. He wished to keep the spirit of the New Deal of the 1930s alive in architecture.

Entenza used the journal to promote interest in a program in which he would choose a major Modernist architect to design a house which, when built, the general public would be invited to tour. After such exposure, he would sell the house and use the proceeds to build another house designed by a Modernist. It would also be open for inspection—and so on. Needless to say, his plan was based on faith alone. Surprisingly, the idea worked. Entenza’s first six houses were toured by 368,554 people, all of them curious if not approving. Thirty-eight commissions were proposed and twenty-six were actually built, giving such architects as ...

Article

Sandra L. Tatman

American architectural competition held in 1922 by the Chicago Tribune newspaper for its new corporate headquarters. The competition changed American views of European modernism and the course of American Skyscraper architecture. The 1922 Chicago Tribune Competition’s call for competitors attracted more than 260 architects from 23 countries with the offer of a $50,000 prize for the winning design. Although the company may have issued this competition as a way of attracting attention to its newspaper, competitors from around the world, drawn by what was in 1922 an astronomical sum, submitted entries that varied from the very traditional revival styles to cutting edge European modernism. In the end, the winners were Americans John Mead Howells and Raymond Hood (Howells & Hood) with their neo-Gothic skyscraper influenced by the Tour de Beurre in Rouen Cathedral (see Rouen, §IV, 1). However, the second place entry from Saarinen family, §1 of Finland took America by storm, encouraging the architect to immigrate to the United States. In fact, some American architects and critics, such as Louis Sullivan, preferred the Saarinen design to the Howells & Hood tower, and Saarinen’s stepped-back tower with little applied decoration certainly influenced later skyscraper design (...

Article

Sylvia Ficher

(b Toulon, Feb 27, 1902; d Rio de Janeiro, July 13, 1998).

Brazilian architect, urban planner, architectural historian, teacher and writer of French birth. Son of Brazilian parents, he moved to Brazil in 1917 and entered the Escola Nacional de Belas Artes, Rio de Janeiro, graduating as an architect in 1923. From 1922 he worked with Fernando Valentim, adopting the style favoured by the Traditionalist movement, which took its inspiration from 18th-century Brazilian colonial architecture in an attempt to develop a national style. He designed several houses and won two important competitions, both with neo-colonial designs: the Brazilian Pavilion at the International Exhibition (1925) in Philadelphia, and the headquarters of the Argentine Embassy (1928), Rio de Janeiro (neither of which was built).

In December 1930, following the installation of the new revolutionary government in November, Costa was appointed to direct the Escola Nacional de Belas Artes in Rio and to reform its teaching system. At first his nomination was seen as a victory for the supporters of the neo-colonial style over the academics, but Costa broke with both and created a course, given by specially invited Modernist teachers including ...

Article

Robert M. Craig

Architectural partnership formed in 1946 by Nathaniel (Cortlandt) Curtis Jr. (b Auburn, AL, Nov 29, 1917; d New Orleans, LA, June 10, 1997) and Arthur Quentin Davis (b New Orleans, LA, 1920), American architects.

Curtis and Davis was the most prominent early modern architecture and planning firm in New Orleans, designing some of that city’s most notable modernist landmarks, including the Rivergate (1968; Port of New Orleans Exposition Center, destr. 1995), the Louisiana Superdome (1971–5), the Hyatt Regency (1976) and Marriott (1972) hotels and the Milton K. Latter Library. Curtis was the son of noted architect, artist and writer, Nathaniel Cortlandt Curtis Sr. (1881–1953), who was head of the architecture schools first at Auburn and later at Tulane University, New Orleans. Curtis Jr. and Davis were classmates at Tulane during the late 1930s when Beaux-Arts education was giving way to Bauhaus design methodologies there. After graduation, Davis was apprenticed to ...

Article

Sidney K. Robinson

(b Midland, MI, April 10, 1904; d Aug 20, 1983).

American architect. Alden B. Dow was an architect who worked in the mid-century context of Modernism, not as part of a European revolution, but as an American alternative established by Wright family, §1. Having been an apprentice at Wright’s Taliesin in 1933, after graduating from the Beaux-Arts curriculum at Columbia University, Dow’s contributions were primarily located in Midland, MI, where his father, Herbert Henry Dow, had built the Dow Chemical Company. As the principle architect in town, Dow was able to design residences, civic and religious buildings, as well as recreational and industrial facilities. He designed furniture, including chairs of magnesium (a material his father’s company produced), plastic building units, stained glass and murals, and took special interest in photography and film, producing an evocative tour of his own studio and home.

Dow’s home and studio (1934) in Midland, MI, are the most accomplished and comprehensive of his creations, providing a beautiful combination of landscape and architecture stretching out along a pond at the edge of his father’s picturesque garden. His home and studio are a perfect balance between artifice and nature. The pond, at first contained by a dam, was eventually made part of a circulating stream driven by a pump. Dow developed a concrete block that produced a beveled, foot-square grid for walls and paving, including stepping stones in the pond. The sloping copper roofs, with their standing seams, continue the striations as they hover over terraces and walks. The studio slips into the water while the residence is raised on a platform for privacy....

Article

Lauretta Dimmick

(b Fargo, ND, April 7, 1895; d New York, Jan 6, 1942).

American sculptor. An important proponent of modernism in America, he began studying painting in 1914 at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. In New York he met the painter Arthur B. Davies, who suggested Flannagan try wood-carving. By 1927 Flannagan had abandoned both painting and wood-carving and, essentially self-taught, settled on direct carving in stone, although he did later experiment with metal casting. Flannagan preferred natural fieldstone to quarried material, favouring its rude and basic qualities. Similarly, he eschewed academic art, preferring simplified and abstracted forms. He chiselled as little as possible from the stones that he chose, seeking solely to release in his small-scale works the pantheistic image he believed existed in every rock. Often he made only shallow incisions to delineate his generalized animal and human figures. He dealt particularly with mother and child themes, such as Woman and Child (1932–3; Poughkeepsie, NY, Vassar Coll. A.G.), and with concepts of birth and rebirth, as seen in ...

Article

Robert M. Craig

[New Formalism]

Architectural movement of the 1950s and 1960s. New Formalism was a reaction to the so-called “Miesian” aesthetic of corporate America during the 1950s; the architecture of the glass curtain wall. Rejecting the modernist generation’s abstract functionalist design based on volume and surface skin, Formalist architects instead sought a more articulate, representational, and expressive language of architecture. They reshaped building elements, both structural and formal, and reintroduced historic references and styles to the design of buildings. When fashionably adorned with a “new ornamentalism,” the more stylized Formalist buildings became Mannerist in expression.

In 1961, Nikolaus Pevsner recognized a “return to historicism” in architecture, which demonstrated that even pioneer modernists had become sources for revivalist interest and architectural form-making by the third quarter of the 20th century. Stimulated by New Formalism, a younger generation soon brought forth a “post-modern” language of design, sometimes disturbingly artificial and weak, sometimes “complex and contradictory,” but always seeking to be newly validated by history. Its best expressions constituted a “new classicism”; its worst evidenced by what Charles Jencks described as the “carnivalesque” in architecture....

Article

Carlos A. C. Lemos

revised by Alana Hernandez

(Acciolly)

(b Rio de Janeiro, Oct 6, 1928).

Brazilian architect. Fragelli studied Architecture at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and graduated in 1952. After completing his studies, he went to work for M. M. M. Roberto, one of the largest modern architectural firms in Brazil. Fragelli adopted some design elements brought up by the Roberto brothers such as the idea to develop structures that transcended the static forms of early functionalism. However, once he formed his own practice in São Paulo in 1961, Fragelli retained an individual approach to design, straying away from the popular Brutalist style of João B. Vilanova Artigas that dominated São Paulo at the time.

Fragelli’s work was characterized by his skillful use of materials such as reinforced concrete, brick, timber, and glass and by the delicate detail of his finishes. His best-known works include several stations on the northern section of the São Paulo Metro, most notably the Ponte Pequeña Metro Station (...

Article

Despina Stratigakos

(b Riga, Latvia, March 12, 1901; d Washington, DC, April 19, 1978).

American architect of Latvian birth, active also in Palestine. Gidoni was a Berlin-based architect who was among those who fled Nazi persecution and helped to bring European modernism to Palestine and the USA. She attended the Academy of Arts in St Petersburg in Russia and received further training at the Berlin Technical University, but did not graduate with a degree. In 1928 she opened an office for interior design in Berlin. When Adolf Hitler seized power in 1933, her Jewish background put her at peril. Hearing that people with technical skills were needed for the construction of new cities in Palestine, she resettled in Tel Aviv, where she maintained her own architecture office from 1933 to 1938. Both her design skills and the vision of a modern architecture that she had brought with her from Berlin were in demand. Tel Aviv was not only growing rapidly, but also developing a new style....

Article

Richard Longstreth

(John)

(b Tully, NY, April 26, 1870; d Carlsbad, CA, Oct 7, 1936).

American architect. The son of a building contractor, he was trained in Chicago in the offices of the architects Joseph Lyman Silsbee and Adler & Sullivan. Health considerations prompted his move to San Diego in 1893. Establishing an independent practice there, Gill remained in southern California for the rest of his life. Most of his commissions were for houses, apartment complexes, and institutional buildings in residential districts.

Much of Gill’s early work follows popularized conventions for American middle-class suburbs; it is commodious, efficient and picturesque but seldom inspired. He produced more distinctive work after 1900 as a result of pursuing the rustic simplicity advocated by proponents of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Sizeable dwellings such as the Marston House, San Diego (1904), possess a clear, purposeful order in their composition and detail. On the other hand, modest dwellings such as the Cossitt House, San Diego (1906), are often imbued with a studied casualness....

Article

Ellen G. Landau

(b Allegheny, PA, May 11, 1894; d New York, NY, April 1, 1991).

American dancer and choreographer. Graham is widely considered a major pioneer and exponent of modernism. Her collaboration with American sculptor Isamu Noguchi, who designed costumes and sets for the Martha Graham Dance Company from 1935 to 1966, and the extraordinary photographs of her in performance by Imogen Cunningham, Soichi Sunami (1885–1971), Philippe Halsman (1906–79) and especially Barbara Morgan, link Graham’s revolutionary accomplishments in dance to experimentation in the visual arts. During the late 1930s and 1940s, her belief in the ability of dance to tap the power of myth and the unconscious anticipated and was analogous to the tenets of Abstract Expressionism.

Brought up in California the daughter of a physician, in 1916 at age 22, Graham began studying dance under Ruth St Denis (1879–1968) and Ted Shawn (1891–1972). Ten years later she formed the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance in New York. While her own performances were initially based on the Denishawn style, by ...

Article

Gilbert Herbert

(Adolf Georg)

(b Berlin, May 18, 1883; d Boston, MA, July 5, 1969).

American architect, industrial designer and teacher of German birth. He was one of the most influential figures in the development of the Modern Movement, whose contribution lay as much in his work as theoretician and teacher as it did in his innovative architecture. The important buildings and projects in Gropius’s career—the early factories, the Bauhaus complex at Dessau (1925–6), the Totaltheater project for Berlin, the housing estates and prefabricated dwellings—were all more than immediate answers to specific problems. Rather, they were a series of researches in which he sought prototypical solutions that would offer universal applicability. They were also didactic in purpose—concrete demonstrations, manifestos, of his theories and beliefs. His theories sought to integrate the individual and society, art and industry, form and function and the part with the whole. He left Germany for England in 1934; three years later he emigrated to the USA, where he continued to teach, write and design for the rest of his life....