Page C1.1 . 21 February 2001                     
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    The Glamour of Simplicity: American Modernism

    by Sabine von Fischer

    A review of Modernism Rediscovered, by Pierluigi Serraino and Julius Shulman. Taschen Books, 2000, ISBN 3-8228-6415-3.

    The modern genre of floating cubes in glass, wood, and stone has not received much attention in the architectural press in the last decade. But with the recent publication of Modernism Rediscovered, the architecture of the 1950s and 60s has received a new platform for exploration.

    The modern ideal of bringing the outside in and the drawing the inside out speaks from the featured buildings, many of them residential projects of various scales in California.

    The buildings of the better-known Richard Neutra, Charles and Ray Eames, Albert Frey, and John Lautner are not represented in this book. However, many of their contemporary architects who did not make it into the history books are now given another glance.

    If American Modernism is to be respected and understood, this should become "a history-altering book," according to the ambition of the publisher.

    The Spencer Residence in Malibu, designed by Richard O. Spencer in 1955, was the third in a series of variations on a "module-plan" steel construction system. It emphasized the hilly site and sported a view from an 18-foot (5.4-meter) cantilever.

    The building was published three times, but none of these journals appears in bibliographical indexes. Because the house was not listed in any architectural guide and has since collapsed, there was virtually no record of it in the architectural press before it was chosen to be on the book cover of Modernism Rediscovered.

     

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    ArchWeek Photo

    The Spencer Residence in Malibu, designed by Richard O. Spencer in 1955, sported an 18-foot (5.4-meter) cantilever until its eventual collapse.
    Photo: Julius Shulman

    ArchWeek Photo

    The Haddad Residence,1958, Los Angeles, was designed by David Hyun.
    Photo: Julius Shulman

     

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