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Carrere & Hastings: The Masterworks Hardcover – October 11, 2011
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"This gorgeous volume shows us a bygone age when creating beauty in the built environment was a main desideratum – and Beaux-Arts scientific rationalism provided the tools for achieving that lofty goal." ~Traditional Buildings
About the Author
Laurie Ossman is director of the Woodlawn Plantation and Pope-Leighey House in Mount Vernon, Virginia, and author of Great Houses of the South. Heather Ewing is an architectural historian and a research associate of the Smithsonian Institution, and is a coauthor of The Castle, a history of the Institution's first building, and author of The Lost World of James Smithson: Science, Revolution, and the Birth of the Smithsonian. Steven Brooke is a fellow of both the American Academy in Rome and the Albright Institute, Jerusalem. His work has been widely published and exhibited.
Top Customer Reviews
I have read so many first rate books on Beaux-Arts Architecture and its architects that I believe it has spoiled me into assuming all such books will be of similar top drawer quality.
Therefore, I opened "Carrere and Hastings, The Masterworks" assuming I would be as equally pleased as with the prior books. At first view it appeared that it would fulfill the standards of the other books; yet, as I flipped through the pages something was wrong with what I was not seeing. The photographs are exceedingly crisp and magnificent in their portrayal of the exterior and interior work of Carrere and Hastings. Perhaps their work is slightly too much a confection of architectural styles on steroids than some of their contemporary architects; but, nonetheless their architecture displays a spectacular use of their creative imagination. But, alas in this sea of glowing photographs, the authors Ossman and Ewing did not see fit to provide the reader with a single plan or layout of any of these masterworks. It is as though they denied us a very important dimension necessary to fully understand the work described and photographed. The authors could have taken a well placed layout clue from Samuel G. White's book "McKim, Mead & White, The Masterworks" or Michael Kathren's book "American Splendor, Horace Trumbauer's Residential Architecture"; two books that were filled with well drawn plans that were essential to enlightening the reader on the depth of each project. Absent plans, "Carrere and Hastings" still remains an excellent book; but, in my opinion its omission of plans makes it unworthy of including into one's library.
Through individual essays on some of the firm's most well known masterpieces, such as the Ponce de Leon Hotel in Saint Augustine and the New York Public Library building, as well as lesser known and rarely seen homes of Gilded Age elites, the book demonstrates the designer's capacity to subtly integrate artistic decorations, high style, and exquisite materials and treatments within a rational and comprehensive program that was the hallmark of Beaux Arts planning. The proud hopefulness and positivism that they infused in their work saw America's future as one that could take the best of the past from Europe and Asia and advance it in new and yet seemingly historic ways to represent the shining opportunity of the new land.
The book clearly set the social history of the principals and their clients within the context of the buildings, painting a picture of a time when great wealth and public- and private ambition combined to produce edifices that expressed a uniquely American confidence, a statement that is particularly pertinent in the current climate. I think the authors balanced their vast knowledge of the formal aspects of the structures and histories with this personal and social perspective to produce a vision of not only the buildings, but the lives and aspirations that they express and have produced a volume that would appeal to both architecture aficionados as well as those interested in the time and people of the worlds of Henry James and Edith Wharton. It is also beautifully photographed and printed to the Rizzoli standards of excellence.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Well written and beautiful book on Carrere & Hastings, two great architects who are long...Read more