A Critic Writes: Essays by Reyner Banham

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University of California Press, 1996 - Architecture - 351 pages
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Few twentieth-century writers on architecture and design have enjoyed the renown of Reyner Banham. Born and trained in England and a U.S. resident starting in 1976, Banham wrote incisively about American and European buildings and culture. Now readers can enjoy a chronological cross-section of essays, polemics, and reviews drawn from more than three decades of Banham's writings.

The volume, which includes discussions of Italian Futurism, Adolf Loos, Paul Scheerbart, and the Bauhaus as well as explorations of contemporary architecture by Frank Gehry, James Stirling, and Norman Foster, conveys the full range of Banham's belief in industrial and technological development as the motor of architectural evolution. Banham's interests and passions ranged from architecture and the culture of pop art to urban and industrial design. In brilliant analyses of automobile styling, mobile homes, science fiction films, and the American predilection for gadgets, he anticipated many of the preoccupations of contemporary cultural studies. Los Angeles, the city that Banham commemorated in a book and a film, receives extensive attention in essays on the Santa Monica Pier, the Getty Museum, Forest Lawn cemetery, and the ubiquitous freeway system.

Eminently readable, provocative, and entertaining, this book is certain to consolidate Banham's reputation among architects and students of contemporary culture. For those acquainted with his writing, it offers welcome surprises as well as familiar delights. For those encountering Banham for the first time, it comprises the perfect introduction.
  

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A critic writes: essays by Reyner Banham

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A leading British architectural critic, Banham wrote for architectural journals as well as more popular media. The more than 50 essays in this collection derive from Banham's 35-year career, from 1955 ... Read full review

Contents

The 1950s 1 1 Vehicles of Desire
3
The New Brutalism
7
The Decisive Contribution of Adolf Loos
16
Ungrab That Gondola
24
Machine Aesthetes
26
Unesco House
29
The Glass Paradise
32
Primitives of a Mechanized Art
39
The Master Builders
166
Rank Values
175
Paleface Trash
180
Power Plank
184
lron Bridge Embalmed
188
Sundae Painters
192
Bricologues a la Lanterne
196
Lair of the Looter
200

The 1960s 47 9 1960Stocktaking
49
Alienation of Parts
64
Design by Choice
67
Carbonorific
79
Big Doug Small Piece
82
Old Number One
84
Kent and Capability
87
The Dymaxicrat
91
The Style for the Job
96
How l Learnt to Live with the Norwich Union
100
Peoples Palaces
105
The Great Gizmo
109
Aviary London Zoological Gardens
119
Unlovable at Any Speed
122
Roadscape with Rusting Nails
124
History Faculty Cambridge
129
The Wilderness Years of Frank Lloyd Wright
137
The 1970s 149 26 Powerof Trent and Aire
151
The Crisp at the Crossroads
157
The Historian on the Pier
161
Valley of the Dams
203
Grass Above Glass Around
208
SummaGalactica
212
Pevsners Progress
216
Taking lt With You
223
Hotel Dejaquoi?
227
Simply Filed Away
231
The 1980s 235 44 The Haunted Highway
237
Dead on the Fault
242
0 Bright Star
246
Stirling Escapes the Hobbits
251
The Phantom of Order
256
Modern Monuments
261
Building lnside Out
265
ln the Neighborhood of Art
270
On the Wings of Wonder
276
The Secret Profession of Architecture
292
lndex
341
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About the author (1996)

Reyner Banham (1922-1988) was Sheldon H. Solow Professor of the History of Architecture at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, and Professor of Art History at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His many books include Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies (1973), Theory and Design in the First Machine Age (1980), and A Concrete Atlantis: U.S. Industrial Building and European Modern Architecture (1986). Mary Banham is an artist, editor, and curator who collaborated with her husband on his books and articles. Paul Barker, for many years editor of New Society, writes and broadcasts on social, environmental, and cultural issues. Sutherland Lyall, Literary Advisor to the Banham estate, has written seven books on architecture, design, and building. Cedric Price is an internationally acclaimed architect. The editors currently live in London.

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