Dictionary of Art and Artists



History of

Architecture and Sculpture



















Part I. ARCHITECTURE - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,
Part II. ARCHITECTURE - 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20,
Part III. ARCHITECTURE - 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29




Post-modernism in art was first coined to denote an eclectic mode of architecture that arose around 1980. Because it is a style, we shall capitalize it to distinguish it from the larger phenomenon of post-modernism, to which it is intimately related. As the term implies, Post-Modernism constitutes a broad repudiation of the mainstream of twentieth-century architecture. Although it uses the same construction techniques, Post-Modernism rejects not only the vocabulary of Gropius and his followers, but also the social and ethical ideals implicit in their lucid proportions. Looking at the Seagram Building (fig. 1196), we can well understand why: as a statement, it is overwhelming in its authority, which is so immense as to preclude deviation and so cold as to be lacking in appeal. The Post-Modernist critique of the International Style was, then, essentially correct: in its search for universal ideals, it failed to communicate with people, who neither understood nor liked it. Post-Modernism represents an attempt to reinvest architecture with the human meaning so conspicuously absent from the self-contained designs of High Modernism. It does so by reverting to what can only be called pre-modernist architecture. The chief means of introducing greater expressiveness has been to adopt elements from historical styles rich with association. All traditions are assumed to have equal validity, so that they can be combined at will; but in the process, the compilation itself becomes a conscious parody characterized by ironic wit. This eclectic historicism is nevertheless highly selective in its sources. They are restricted mainly to various forms of classicism (notably Palladianism) and some of the more exotic strains of Art Deco, which, as we have seen, provided a viable alternative to modernism during the 1920s and 1930s. Architects have repeatedly plundered the past in search of fresh ideas. What counts is the originality of the final result.


"Now they're decorating the box." Such or similar words opened many of the articles written after the completion of the new office tower of American telephone company AT&T in New York. Architect Philip Johnson employed 1 32,000 metric tons of pink granite to give the 195-metre-high building a magnificent, individual facade. Above the publicly-accessible ground floor, behind whose huge arched portal reigns the gilded genius of electricity, rise 28 identical floors of offices, fused by slim, profiled pillars into a dynamic, soaring gesture. However, the climax is a rounded notch in the pointed roof, a self-confident departure from the convention of the flat roof. After many long and lean years, the New York skyline was thereby given a striking new landmark, in which Johnson revived Louis Sullivan's idea of an articulated skyscraper featuring "base, shaft and capital".

Thus the lobby of the AT&T Building corresponds to the two massive bottom floors of the Guaranty Building built by Adler and Sullivan in Buffalo in 1894 to 1896. Similar, too, is the "office pile", the stack of identical office floors above, although here three times as high. The Guaranty Building concluded with a crowning wreath of oculi, behind which were hidden a variety of technical systems. The exploded gable contours of the AT&T Building further served to promote corporate identity by making an unmistakable contribution to the skyline. In their analysis of buildings by the Johnson and Burgee partnership, Marc Angelil and Sarah Graham described the characteristic division of technical and formal specifications: "Building volume, supporting structure, elevator shafts, installations, ceiling heights and other matters are determined on the basis of economic factors. Articulating volume at a formal level in an interesting manner and defining the design of the outer covering is the architect's role."

In the public area at street level, Philip Johnson
- like Edward Larrabee Barnes in his almost contemporaneous IBM Building, and the Trump Tower by the Swanke, Hayden, Connell partnership - adopted the new building regulations for midtown Manhattan which came into force in 1982. For installations serving the public interest, owners are thereby permitted to increase floor surface area and thus their usable office space. In order to preserve unbroken the continuity of avenue walls, plazas such as that in front of the Seagram Building are no longer approved. Buildings must extend as far as the development limit but are thereby required to incorporate subway station entrances. Covered squares, inner courtyards and passages bring bonuses in terms of site use. Complicated calculation procedures are designed to guarantee adequate lighting in the narrow streets, since schematic regulations have, in the past, led to undesirable ziggurat solutions. By exploiting all their options, clients can now obtain a total commercial area which is approximately 22 times the surface area of the property. Meanwhile, provisions for pedestrian precincts in Manhattan are out of the question; against the background of increasing competition between motorized traffic and pedestrians, however, increasing importance is being assigned to freedom of movement for people on foot. Public space is incorporated into buildings as winter gardens, shopping malls and covered walkways. Architects respond with arcades, generous portals and advancing base zones.

One of the buildings approaching the new concept of urban space is the headquarters of the Humana Corporation. Michael Graves designed an eight-storey loggia combining areas of private and public use, with its frontal arcades forming a "part of the city". Their height is matched to that of neighbouring houses, while the line of the street is continued in three upper floors. Behind these soars the office block proper. The distinctive helmet of the roof, with its projecting bay and gable, offers an interesting response to the axes determined by Main Street and the avenues crossing it. The scale of the elements employed gives the facade an almost anthropomorphic appearance, without denying its classical borrowings. Many comparable buildings share the preference here revealed for expensive materials, in particular granite, for the emphasis upon windows recesses instead of their concealment in continuous grids and glazed surfaces, and for clear structural articulation. Unattractive cities in economic decline have become the particular object of attempts to synthesize city culture with elaborate building projects, not least in order to attract further investment. The competition for capital between America's communities allows for many a successful experiment, as demonstrated in Richard Meier's Bridgeport Center, for example. The town now imprints itself upon the memory with a striking piece of architecture, turned with its "best side" to the highway, which passes through Bridgeport on stilts. The site is filled not by a single body but by a complex addition of volumes subtly differentiated by colour, which intersect and overlap each other and incorporate a small historical museum building with tower and onion dome. From the welcoming forecourt in front of the semicircular, concave main facade facing downtown, the visitor enters a brightly lit atrium, whose ramps and vistas invite exploration. Sadly, they reveal only a bank.

With European cities generally governed by different conditions, American solutions cannot simply be adopted without intruding on mature urban structures. Nor have they yet addressed adequate attention to the design of housing, an area in which deficiencies in urban planning emerge particularly clearly. In Germany, nevertheless, the new developments built for the 1987 Internationale Bauausstellung in Berlin offered examples of identificatory housing, not least because their planning phase coincided with the discussion on Post-Modernism and the return of visible historical references. Sadly, many subseguent projects, while attempting to capture the same spirit, remained uninspired apartment blocks deploying decorative elements to evoke a superficial sense of homeliness. There was one sphere, however, in which Post-Modern ideas and urban planning were frequently married with dazzling results - the museum. The site on which pieces of historical evidence assemble to speak to the visitor of the past, or where avant-garde works of art exude their aura, naturally communicates identity in a particularly elegant fashion. And when it interfaces with its surroundings as intelligently as James Stirling's Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart and Hans Hollein's Museum Abteiberg in Monchengladbach, it establishes, at least at the level of lavish civic architecture, a model for successful urban repair.



Robert Venturi.

The immediate antecedents of Post-Modernism can be found in the work of Robert Venturi (born 1925) and his wife, Denise Scott Brown (born 1931). They realized that architecture in America had become so laden with pictorial and commercial imagery that they advocated overturning the modernist credo of "form follows function" by divorcing the symbolic quality of a facade from the building's purpose and structure. To accomplish that end, they created an architecture of banality, whose very triteness was proclaimed by ironic paraphrases of historical cliches from both the recent and distant past. Although few architects followed their lead in design, the theories of Venturi and Brown were important for opening the debate that led to Post-Modernism.


Robert Venturi

Robert Venturi, in full Robert Charles Venturi (born June 25, 1925, Philadelphia, Pa., U.S.), American architect who proposed alternatives to the functionalist mainstream of 20th-century American architectural design. He became the unofficial dean of the eclectic movement known as postmodernism.

Venturi studied at the Princeton University School of Architecture in New Jersey (1947–50). After further study at the American Academy in Rome (1954–56), he worked as a designer in the architectural firms of Oscar Stonorov (Philadelphia), Eero Saarinen (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.), and Louis I. Kahn (Philadelphia). After holding partnerships in several firms, he opened a longer-lasting architectural firm with John Rauch in 1964. Venturi’s wife, Denise Scott Brown, became a partner in the firm in 1967. From 1957 to 1965 Venturi was a member of the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania School of Architecture in Philadelphia.

Venturi’s own architectural philosophy, set forth in the influential book Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (1966), called for an eclectic approach to design and an openness to the multiple influences of historical tradition, ordinary commercial architecture, and Pop art. He championed the ambiguity and paradox, the “messy vitality” of the great architecture of the past over the simple, unadorned, cleanly functional buildings of the International style. Venturi’s manifesto had a profound impact on younger architects who were beginning to find similar constraints and limitations in the Modernist architectural aesthetic.

In Learning from Las Vegas (1972), Venturi and coauthors Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour took this critique several steps further and analyzed with wry appreciation the neon-lit urban sprawl and the automobile-oriented commercial architecture of Las Vegas. They questioned the Modernists’ rejection of the use of applied ornament and decoration and ended the book with a discussion of their own work. In the second volume of the Supercrit series, which is based on live debates, Venturi and Brown revisited the work (2007).

Venturi’s buildings frequently exhibit the ironic humour of his theoretical pronouncements. His early buildings incorporated materials and visual references standard to the shopping centre and subdivision but previously shunned by so-called serious architects. During the late 1970s and ’80s he turned to historical precedent in his work, which often makes studied allusions to building styles of the past. Formal and stylistic elements are combined with a willful inconsistency that can seem playful, quirky, or even bizarre. Among Venturi’s more important commissions were various buildings for Yale University, Princeton University, and Ohio State University. He designed several museums, notably the Seattle Art Museum (1985), the Sainsbury Wing (1986) of the National Gallery in London, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego (1996). In 1991 Venturi won the Pritzker Architecture Prize.

Encyclopædia Britannica


Robert Venturi.
Guild House Retirement Home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1960-1963

Guild House Retirement Home in Philadelphia. Plan of the ground floor

Robert Venturi.
Vanna Venturi House in Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, 1962-1964

Robert Venturi.
Brant House in Greenwich, Connecticut, 19702-19734

Vanna Venturi House in Chestnut Hill. Plan of the ground floor

Robert Venturi.
Dixwell Fire Station, New Haven, Connecticut, 1967-1974




The Public Services Building in Portland, Oregon (fig. 1247), by Michael Graves (born 1934) is exemplary of Post-Modernism. Elevated on a pedestal, it mixes classical, Egyptian, and assorted other motifs in a whimsical building-block paraphrase of Art Deco, which shared an equal disregard for historical propriety. In this way. Graves relieves the building of the monotony imposed by the tyranny of the cube that afflicts so much modern architecture. Although the lavish sculptural decoration was never added, the exterior has a surprising warmth that continues inside. At first glance, it is tempting to dismiss the Public Services Building as mere historicism. lo do so. however, ignores the fact that no earlier structure looks at all like it. What holds this historical mix together is the architect's personal style. It is based on a mastery of abstraction that is as systematic and inimitable as Mondrian's. Indeed, Graves was a skilled Eate Modernist who first earned recognition in 1969 at the same exhibition held by the Museum of Modern Art in New York that showcased Richard Meier.

Today Post-Modern buildings are being erected everywhere. They are instantly recognizable by their ubiquitous reliance on keyhole arches, round "Palladian" windows, and other relics from the architectural past. They are also marked by their ostentation. Post-Modernism may be characterized as architecture for the rich that has since been translated downward to the middle class, surrounding it with an aura of luxury bespeaking the egocentricity and hedonism that spawned the "me" generation of the 1980s, one of the most prosperous and extravagant decades in recent history. Nevertheless, the retrospective eclecticism of Post-Modernism soon became dated through the repetitious quotation of standard devices that were reduced to self-parodies lacking both wit and purpose. In a larger sense, however, this quick passage reflects the restless quest for novelty and, more important, a new modernism that has yet to emerge to replace the old.

1247. MICHAEL GRAVES. Public Services Building, Portland, Oregon. 1980-82

1247. MICHAEL GRAVES. Public Services Building, Portland, Oregon. 1980-82


Michael Graves

Michael Graves, (born July 9, 1934, Indianapolis, Ind., U.S.), American architect and designer, one of the principal figures in the postmodernist movement.

Graves trained to be an architect at the University of Cincinnati (Ohio) and at Harvard University (Cambridge, Mass.), earning a master’s degree at Harvard in 1959. He then studied in Rome from 1960 to 1962 and upon his return to the United States took a teaching position at Princeton University (N.J.), becoming a full professor there in 1972.

Graves began his career in the 1960s as a creator of private houses in the abstract and austere style of orthodox Modernism, his compositions influenced by the work of Le Corbusier. In the late 1970s, however, Graves began to reject the bare and unadorned Modernist idiom as too cool and abstract, and he began seeking a richer architectural vocabulary that would be more accessible to the public. He soon drew remarkable attention with his designs for several large public buildings in the early 1980s. The Portland Public Service Building (usually called the Portland Building) in Portland, Ore. (1980), and the Humana Building in Louisville, Ky. (1982), were notable for their hulking masses and for Graves’s highly personal, Cubist interpretations of such classical elements as colonnades and loggias. Though somewhat awkward, these and other of Graves’s later buildings were acclaimed for their powerful and energetic presence.

By the mid-1980s Graves had emerged as arguably the most original and popular figure working in the postmodernist idiom. He executed architectural and design commissions for clients around the world. In the early 1980s he created a playful and iconic teakettle (as well as a number of additional products) for the Alessi design firm, and he later created a line of household items, including kitchenware and furniture, for the discount retailer Target.

Among his later large-scale projects were the restoration of the Washington Monument (2000) and the expansion of the Detroit Institute of Arts (completed 2007). In 2001 Graves was awarded the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal (AIA) for lifetime achievement.

Encyclopædia Britannica


Michael Graves. Hanselmann House in Fort Wayne, Indiana, 1967

Michael Graves. Hanselmann House in Fort Wayne, Indiana, 1967

Plan of the second floor

Michael Graves. Humana Building in Louisville, Kentucky, 1982-1986




In its playfulness and complexity Post-Modernism has rightly been compared to Mannerist architecture, which similarly introduced a note of decadence into the classical vocabulary inherited from the Renaissance. Both share an element of self-conscious burlesque as well that reaches a climax in the designs by SITES Inc. for Best Stores, such as one in a Houston mall
(fig. 1248) that looks for all the world to be crumbling into ruins (compare fig. 698). This droll takeoff on standard commercial architecture is enhanced by the bleakness of the location itself.

The differences are equally profound, however. Post-Modernism arises out of the general sense of disillusionment that bedevils our age and prevents the architect from seeing either the past or the present with innocent eyes. Such a claim might well be made of Mannerist architecture, of course. But because architects today must design for different "taste-cultures," the eclecticism of Post-Modernism is intended as a reflection of our "social and metaphysical reality." Historicism, then, is part of the new pluralism, which can even incorporate a parody of modernism itself. But such parodies also change old meanings into new ones through "double-coding," which combines modernist techniques and traditional styles to communicate on a new plane with the public and architects alike. The result is a content that is entirely up-to-date, despite the apparent familiarity of its hybrid style.

SITES PROJECTS INC. with MAPLE-JONES ASSOCIATES. Best Stores Showroom. Houston. 1975

Notch Showroom in the Arden Fair Shopping Center, Sacramento, California, 1977

Peeling Project in Richmond, Virginia, 1972




The Post-Modernist critique of Late Modernism is that the latter is committed to the tradition of the new and therefore maintains modernism's integrity of invention and usage. Moreover, it lacks both pluralism and a complex relation to the past, so that it fails to transform meaning. We may test this for ourselves by comparing the Pompidou Center (fig.
1211) with the Neue Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart (fig. 1249), which was immediately recognized as a classic of Post-Modernism. The latter has the grandiose scale befitting a "palace" of the arts, but instead of the monolithic cube of the Pompidou Center, English architect James Stirling (born 1926) incorporates a greater variety of shapes within more complex spatial relationships. There is, too, an overtly decorative quality that will remind us, however indirectly, of Garnier's Paris Opera (fig. 935).

The similarity does not stop there. Stirling has likewise invoked a form of historicism through paraphrase that is far more subtle than Garnier's opulent revivalism, but no less self-conscious. The primly Neoclassical masonry facade, for example, is punctured by a narrow arched window recalling the Italian Renaissance (compare fig.
605) and by a rusticated portal that has a distinctly Mannerist look. At the same time, there is an exaggerated quoting of modernism through the use of such "high-tech" materials as painted metal. This eclecticism is more than a veneerit lies at the heart of the building's success. The site, centering on a circular sculpture court, is designed along the lines of ancient temple complexes from Egypt through Rome, complete with a monumental entrance stairway. This plan enables Stirling to solve a wide range of practical problems with ingenuity and to provide a stream of changing vistas that fascinate and delight the visitor. The results have been compared not inappropriately to the Altes Museum of Karl Friedrich Schinkel (fig. 924), among the most insistently classical structures of the nineteenth century. By comparison, the Pompidou Center is arguably a far more radical building!

Neue Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart, Germany. Completed

Timothy Hursley, courtesy
House and Garden
(The Arkansas Office)


Sir James Stirling

Sir James Stirling, in full Sir James Frazer Stirling (born April 22, 1926, Glasgow, Scot.—died June 25, 1992, London, Eng.), British architect known for his unorthodox, sometimes controversial, designs of multiunit housing and public buildings.

Stirling received his architectural training at the University of Liverpool’s School of Architecture (1945–50). He began practice in the early 1950s in London and from 1956 to 1963 was in partnership with James Gowan. From 1971 he worked with Michael Wilford. His early work was mainly low-rise housing projects in the New Brutalist style, which emphasized exposures of raw steel and brick and the conscious avoidance of polish and elegance. Stirling’s Engineering Department building for the University of Leicester (1959–63) is perhaps his most important work in this idiom.

After dissolving his partnership with Gowan in 1963, Stirling evolved a rather playful variant of postmodernism, making use of unconventional building axes, complex geometric shapes, and brightly coloured decorative elements. His New State Gallery, or Neue Staatsgalerie (1977–84), in Stuttgart, Ger., a combination of classicism and geometric abstraction, is considered by many to be his finest achievement. Among his other works are a building for the Fogg Museum (1979–84) and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum (1985), both at Harvard University, and the Clore Gallery of Tate Britain, London (completed 1987). In 1981 Stirling was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize. He was knighted shortly before his death.






Michael Wilford

Michael Wilford CBE (born 1938) is an English architect from Hartfield, East Sussex. Wilford studied at the Northern Polytechnic School of Architecture, London, from 1955 to 1962, and at the Regent Street Polytechnic Planning School, London, in 1967. In 1960, he joined the practice of James Stirling and in 1971 together established the Stirling/Wilford partnership.

In 1960 Wilford joined the practice which James Stirling created in 1956. The Stirling/Wilford partnership was established in 1971 and continued until James Stirling's death in 1992. From 1993 to 2001 Michael Wilford worked in partnership under the name of Michael Wilford and Partners. In England Michael Wilford now practices under the name of Michael Wilford architects and in Germany has established Wilford Schupp, based in Stuttgart.

Wilford's work has gained international renown and includes significant public buildings such as performing art centres, art galleries, museums and libraries located around the world. These projects have won many architectural awards, the most recent including The Royal Fine Art Commission Building of the Year Award in 2001 for The Lowry performing and visual arts centre in Salford, England.

He teaches extensively in schools of architecture including posts at Yale, Harvard, Rice, the University of Cincinnati in USA, the University of Toronto, McGill University Montreal in Canada, University of Newcastle, Australia, the Architectural Association in London, and the University of Sheffield, England. He has been an external examiner at many UK schools of architecture and sits on juries for numerous international architectural competitions and architectural awards.

Wilford is a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects, the Singapore Institute of Architects, Royal Institute of Arbitrators, Fellow of Royal Society of Arts, and an Honorary Member of Bund Deutsche Arkitecten. In 2001 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.


Sir James Stirling with Michael Wilford. University of Leicester Engineering Department, England, 1959-1963

Sir James Stirling with Michael Wilford. Cambridge University History Faculty, England, 1964-1967

Sir James Stirling with Michael Wilford.
History Faculty building on the Sidgewick Site of the University of Cambridge

Sir James Stirling with Michael Wilford.
Extension to the Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart, 1977-1984


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