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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover
If you are familiar with the esteemed history of paper architecture, the unrealized visual fantasies of artists like Piranesi, with his carceri series, of Etienne Boullee, Ledoux and Lequeu, and into the modern era with such talents as John Hejduk and Raimond Abraham, then you are likely to be impressed by this great collection of etchings, done by the talented Russians Brodsky and Utkin. As students in Moscow, they created these amazing drawings, often as competition entries for Japan Architect's yearly conceptual design competitions. But there really was no competition; this work is in a class by itself.

Like Brodsky and Utkin, I too was educated in the dark and confused time of 'postmodern' architecture, and it has left a legacy most would like to forget. There is very little left of lasting value from this era, and most of it is intellectual, theoretical. Robert Venturi's Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture is one important book, Aldo Rossi's Architecture of the City and A Scientific Autobiography some others. Rem Koolhaas' Delirious New York and Massimo Scolari's drawings also. After that, there is a yawning chasm of real quality, sad to say. But Brodsky and Utkin's work stands as a great contribution to paper architecture AND postmodern thought. Let me try to parse out why this is so.

The postmodern condition was one of self conscious awareness, a mode of production deeply aware of its historical context. Venturi's catalog of his favorite architecture detailed many subtle formal aspects of space the moderns ignored; spatial ambiguity, different scales of formal intent in one composition, and more subtle attitudes about symmetry. He also discussed the value of signs in space, with his 'duck' and 'shed' polemic. Recent modern architecture has coopted many of the formal and iconographic lessons from Venturi's work and drained it of kitsch, often producing far more interesting results. Aldo Rossi's thesis about the persistence of the monument as a fixed sign in the city, a marker that helps define the city despite its internal functional transformations, is perhaps not as well understood and appreciated by today's modern crowd, although Dietz Jioppen's UFO building in Frankfurt seems a perfect example of what Rossi was on about in his architecture. Brodsky and Utkin occupy a dystopian space of forlorn imagination, spaces made more fantastical by their inability to be realized in the 'real' world. Most of these projects were never intended to be built; like much of the best paper architecture, its value lies in its articulation of the gap between our reality and our dreams, the space of the world and the unbridgable distance from our imagination. Sometimes the drawings are more like fairy tales or theatrical fantasmagoria. The value of Brodsky and Utkin's work in relation to the postmoderns is parallel to Italo Calvino's masterpiece Invisible Cities. Both attempt to describe architecture through the city's turbulent efforts to understand and define itself. These visions of life put architecture in the forefront of human expression. As a pawn or king of this process architecture acts as a sort of martyr of the city's need to signify, to BE something other than a dense cluster of buildings and people. Brodsky and Utkin capture this invisibility, shine a brief light on it, before it disappears back into oblivion. Take a look. Something profound is going on in this work. Highly recommended.
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on March 12, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
The size of the book is perfect for showing the beautifully rendered projects and illustrations done by this little known duo ( at least in South America ).

Quality wise the book is very well crafted, reminiscent of some of Piranesi and Boulleé compilations i've seen on my school library. The only thing that detracted this print from a 5 star score is that there's not much text in it, although the one written contextualizes very well the period and the tone of Brodsky & Utkin work. Definitely a must have on any collection that aspires for a wider catalog on ''paper'' and speculative/ fictional architecture.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 2009
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I first heard about Brodsky and Utkin from a professor in Architecture school. My interest was piqued and I sought out books in print featuring their print work. This one will not disappoint, and although it is thin, there is a comprehensive volume of work inside.
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