Constructivism Consumed by Capitalism

Recent calls to arms have raised awareness of impending doom, or at least major life transitions, for many modern landmarks, from the Orange County Government Center to a whole cadre of mid-century modern homes. Unfortunately, several have resulted in mourning the passing of Prentice Women’s Hospital, Mummers Theater, and the American Folk Art Museum. Abroad, the clock is ticking on Tokyo’s Nakagin Capsule Tower, and, as the “Avant-Garde Heritage at Risk” panel discussed, Moscow’s Constructivist landmarks are under threat as well. Continue reading “Constructivism Consumed by Capitalism”

Oculus Book Review: “Architecture in Uniform” by Jean-Louis Cohen

Mid-way through Jean-Louis Cohen’s lecture at the Center for Architecture regarding his most recent book Architecture in Uniform, he dropped his notes. With a gallant flourish of the hand he pronounced, “It’s okay, I know the story.” And that he does. Cohen’s text is an impressive account of the missing entry of architectural history – the Second World War. Cohen adeptly fills this gap with account after account of not so much the impressive architecture or engineering that went on during the mobilization on all fronts, but the architectural thinking that was manifested during this time. Architects were in all facets of the conflict, at the top, bottom, and in-between. After a number of dormant years for building during the Depression, the act of war seemed to unleash architects’ imagination. Continue reading “Oculus Book Review: “Architecture in Uniform” by Jean-Louis Cohen”

Suprematism Revisited

Suprematism, an art movement of the early 20th century conceptualized by Kazimir Malevich, still rankles many skeptics of modern art. But the key to appreciating these pieces is that they are theory manifested; they are born of a way of seeing that is inextricable from a social philosophy. In the case of Malevich, the famous “Black Square” rejected materialism, instead embracing a “pure feeling.” For him, the making of art was a spiritual experience, and that feeling couldn’t be contained for the cursory glances of the casual observer. Continue reading “Suprematism Revisited”