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25 of 27 found the following review helpful:
nice condensed volume Jun 11, 2000
What I found most appealing was Curtis's frequent inclusion of the ideational content of the architecture, a view of architecture as a result of so many cultural forces, which explains why some formal expressions enjoyed popularity in certain eras.
For an author aiming to take the 20th century in a single book, I think he has been guilty of few major omissions. His treatment of Mexican and Indian architects does seem to be outside the flow of content which envelopes the remainder of the book; He does not, however, attempt to unite all of the programs of the twentieth century into one attractive and finely packaged narrative.
In this book you will find lengthier treatments of Wright, Corbu, and Russian Constructivists to name a few. His thorough approach and keen insight appear to waver in the final chapters, as more modern figures are discussed, but in all honesty, a detailed analysis often requires a historical distance that has not yet come to pass.
His breakdown of chapters is, at times, not so clean as would be expected.
It is a demanding and involving book, requiring effort from the reader. It is not a volume that can be lightly perused. But again, it is highly rewarding.
19 of 20 found the following review helpful:
A very impressive survey of Modern Architecture Dec 04, 2002
By James Ferguson
Modern Architecture since 1900 is an impressive overview, delving into the late 18th century and 19th century roots as well. Mr. Curtis approaches the subject thematically which makes it easier for the reader to understand the many currents in modern architecture. As one would expect Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius and Mies van der Rohe figure prominantly in this work. However, the author examines the influences on their work, as well as the impact they had on modern architecture, providing many intriguing links, such as the one between Wright and Mies.
The chapters which particularly stood out in my mind were "Architecture and Revolution in Russia" and "Totalitarian Critiques on the Modern Movement." In the first mentioned chapter, Curtis charted the rise of the avant-garde in Russia, its leading figures, and its confrontation with the Constructivists. In the second mentioned chapter, Curtis examined the attitudes toward modern architecture by Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini, who was the only one of the three to accept modern architecture. Like all his chapters, Curtis presents the information in a clear cogent format.
Most illucidating is the widespread influence of modern architecture in Asia, Central and South America. He focuses primarily on India, Mexico, and Brazil, illustrating how modern architecture has been adapted to suit the cultural as well as climactic concerns of these countries. Le Corbusier looms large. But Curtis also notes the regional influences that led to counter movements, such as that inspired by Hassan Fathy.
Curtis is critical of the current trends in contemporary architecture. He questions the integrity of the latter-day modernists, post-modernists and deconstructionists. He is drawn more to the individual works of Norman Foster, Renzo Piano and Frank Gehry, which he feels express a deeper understanding of modern architectural principles.
One couldn't ask for more in this book. It is the most impressive survey of modern architecture since Giedion's "Space, Time and Architecture."
12 of 13 found the following review helpful:
Changed my life - literally Jul 29, 2003
By Jennifer L. Nightingale
During sophomore year at a small liberal arts college, I was an art history major who just happened to take "The History of Modern Architecture." Our literature for the 20th century was this book. May I add that by the end of the semester (and the book, I DARE you to read all of it) I decided to become an architect? This sort of critical survey changes the way you look at buildings, especially in the United States where so much of our architecture IS relatively modern or somehow fits into the grand scheme of modern architecture. Its a tough read at times, but it has been my Bible to use as a reference, as inspiration. The thing weighs a TON and you can bet I lugged it with me all the way to Italy when I studied there for a year! So if think architecture might be interesting to you but you don't know much about it, PLEASE buy this book. It is a fantastic resource and a very rewarding read. Thorough, with lots of pictures and a great flow and organization. If anything, it will give you an incredibly new appreciation of the architecture around us.
15 of 17 found the following review helpful:
Stylish, authoritative and stimulating. Oct 31, 1999
This is indeed a substantial volume, yet quite unlike many others of its magnitude, stimulating and readable at the same time. William Curtis provides a detailed overview of very numerous architects and assesses the extent of their influence in a very even-handed manner, avoiding the arbitrariness one frequently observes in other literature of the ilk. It has been asserted that the publication is directed at Architecture undergraduates. I must comment, as an outsider to this field of study, that Curtis has written a book that is not only accessible to the uninitiated, but one which serves to encourage further interest, reading and involvement in the great school of modern architecture. This is a compliment which one can pay to only a very limited number of authors, in whatever domain their authority may lie.
3 of 3 found the following review helpful:
It's provoking. It's breath taking. It's excellent !!! Jun 17, 2007
By Joong Won Lee
It's extremely difficult, if not impossible, task to write a review on
Mr. Curtis's book on Modern architecture. Scope of time/space/subject
is just so wide and deep to write down on a single page.
However, the reason why this book stands out is that Mr. Curtis's
writings are based on first hand experience of actual buildings.
One can easily grasp that because he points out nitty-gritty aspects of
Unique construction process and its critical position as "A"rchitecture.
What impressed me personally was his stance on the tectonics of structure.
He gives more credit (or may be it's just my reading of him) on the "visual structure"
Than "actual structure." Issues of veiling, hence, comes to the foreground.
Given his on-going interests in Spanish architects and his recent interviews and essays in
El Croquis, it comes as no surprise.
Mr. Curtis is extremely objective and logical in his analysis and his subject
matter. However, what makes his book extremely tantalizing to read
is that he takes a position that architecture could be more than just a composition of
materials. Architecture should tell more than just its story. The intervention of the materiality and
anti-gravitational nature of higher order puts architecture on a higher dimension
Moreover, through the struggle between architect and client, and through
The clash of public wantings and ambition of an architect,
there is a moment that uplifts normative expression of construction
into a higher and symbolic level. This sort of revealing of invisible or pervasive metaphors
are ultimately achievable only through accuracy and precision
This is only one aspect of the book. Grab it, you'll know what I mean.
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