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Histories of the Immediate Present: Inventing Architectural Modernism (Writing Architecture) Paperback – April 18, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0262720519 ISBN-10: 0262720515

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Histories of the Immediate Present: Inventing Architectural Modernism (Writing Architecture) + The Possibility of an Absolute Architecture (Writing Architecture) + Architecture's Desire: Reading the Late Avant-Garde (Writing Architecture)
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Product Details

  • Series: Writing Architecture
  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (April 18, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262720515
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262720519
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #486,749 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Most recent critiques of the histories of Modernism in architecture have tended to focus on overlooked sources or to fault historians on their documentation and their loyalties. Anthony Vidler breaks with this now conventional genre as he depicts the ballet of ideals and illusions shaped by the trajectories of three generations of authors. The role models essential to the intellectual affirmation of Emil Kaufmann, Colin Rowe, Reyner Banham, and Manfredo Tafuri are unmasked, while secret inspirations such as Le Corbusier's Toward an Architecture are revealed. A fascinating, epic, conversation across the seas, which has shaped the discourse of contemporary architecture."--Jean-Louis Cohen

About the Author

Anthony Vidler is Dean and Professor of the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at The Cooper Union, New York. He is the author of Warped Space: Art, Architecture, and Anxiety in Modern Culture (2000), and The Architectural Uncanny: Essays in the Modern Unhomely (1992), both published by The MIT Press, and other books.

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Elie G. Haddad on August 23, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This may come down as Vidler's best critical work on Modern Architecture and the historicization of the Modern Movement. Through a critical discussion of the parcours of these four major historians [Kaufmann, Rowe, Banham and Tafuri], and by default theoreticians of modern architecture, Vidler effectively focuses on the 'faultlines' of the current architectural 'crisis', arguing, like Habermas before him, for a renewed engagement with the architectural project of Modernity, based on these critical readings that reaffirm the role of history. The conclusion may appear to some as a bit too optimistic, suggesting for instance that the work of Corbusier and Koolhaas come under the same umbrella, but this does not take away from the importance of this book as one of the few significant recent theoretical publications.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The goal of Anthony Vidler's book Histories of the Immediate Present: Inventing Architectural Modernism is to demonstrate that our understanding of modern architecture has been constructed by historians. In particular, Vidler demonstrates that our perception of what constitutes modern architecture is a product of the scholar by means of the creation of their respective "master narrative" or genealogy that serves to prioritize specific characteristics of modernist architecture. Within Histories of the Immediate Present, Vidler organizes his analysis regarding the construction of architectural modernism by focusing on Emil Kaufmann, Colin Rowe, Reyner Banham, and Manfredo Tafuri. Each section examines the manner in which the individual architectural historians scoured the past to find precedence that proved the master narrative they wished to construct or their individual take on architectural modernism to demonstrate the indeed modernism did not reject history, but rather embraced it. Additionally, Vidler seems to emphasize the relationship between the constructed versions of architectural modernism and the practice of architecture suggesting that architects, even those stringent modernists, are themselves engaged and part of a historical discourse. In doing so, Vidler debunks the myth of architectural modernism, as both an intellectual concept and architectural practice, as an anti-historical movement. Moreover, he implies that the post-modernist "return" to historicism is, in the end, no return at all. Rather, it is part of the same continual engagement with historical precedence that was forged by modernists. While, the notion that history is a function and construction of scholarly discourse is not entirely new, it is interesting to see a systematic deconstruction of the process of "inventing" history through several case studies.
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