From Bauhaus to Our House
His doctrine found fertile soil in America, where it was time to adopt a clearly defined and suitable representative architecture.
Tom Wolfe, author of THE PAINTED WORD and THE RIGHT STUFF, treats us to a chronicle of the t...more
This is Tom Wolfe, biting, sarcastic and cutting through to the core.
The book is basically concerned with american architecture - and how in the pre-WWII era the infusion of banished or fleeing European architects stopped the evolution of what american architecture could have been in its tracks. On the way Wolfe also does a great job of distilling the ideas of the different a...more
Now, I'm not a big fan of glass & steel & concrete office buildings, but Wolfe is absolutely virulent on the subject. And therein lies the rub. He detests Bauhaus-inspired work so much that he has no perspective. He is guilty of the same pretentiousness and arrogance of which he accuses the architects whom he dislikes.
There is a great deal to be said agains...more
This delightful li...more
Through most of the book Tom Wolfe comes off as whiny, complaining about everything he doesn't understan...more
While I can get behind much of criticisms (the architects respected in academia often could count the number of their buildings actually constructed on their fingers, that the "glass box...more
His screed on the 'Yale box', its relations/derivations and their prolific propagation is unmitigated disgust. He also takes his shots at architects/designers themselves, in a number of asides and direct bullet-points.
This same topic is handled with far more care and context in Richard Sennett's The Conscie...more
He states his thesis in the first sentence of the first page, "O beautiful, for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain, has there ever been another place on earth where so many people of wealth and power have paid for and put up with so much architecture they detested as within...more
However, there is a cloying constant attack on the politics of the architects that Wolfe d...more
Wolfe goes on a bender of sarcasm to deflate the pompous, supposedly Marxist philosophies behind "glass box" modernism. He traces the rise & sanctification of men such as Le Corbusier, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe & Phi...more
Things that offend Wolfe: architects that aren't simply sketchers for the design ideas of their wealthy clients; new ideas; change. Yes, some of the artists and architects of the early 20th century were pretentious blowhards. Some of what was avant garde was also impractical. There is a way to critique this without throwing it all away. Why categorically dismiss the simplicity of modern design in favor of the same old quoins and trim and ornamentation?
As it is, W...more
This book is pretty much about Bauhaus Architecture. You know, the "white cubes" from the 1920's & 30's. He covers the lives of the many Architects in that gendre, especially Walter Gropius, the founder of the movement. The thing that's great about this...more
I found myself quickly bored by his one-side ranting, feeling that his argument was weak compared to the academic texts on Modernism that I'd tackled in art history. They also might be critical of the dominance of certain schools such as Bauhaus but did so with a more balanced perspective rather than it just being a tirade.
This really should have been an essay as at 143 pages i...more
Educational and biting polemic on 20th century "stark" architecture, (my interpretation) as imported from Europe to the US, and rejected by intellectually regular people, but taken as gospel the enlightened theorists.
1. Glass, steel, and concrete are bad.
2. Simplicity is bad.
3. Architects who band together into compounds are bad.
Tom Wolfe spent his early days as a Washington Post beat reporter, where his free-association, onomatopoetic style would later become the trademark of New Journalism. In books such as The Electric Koolaid Acid Test, The Right Stuff, and The Bonfire of the Vanities, Wolfe delves into...more