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The International Style Paperback – February 17, 1997
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This book is a landmark in American history, and a unique and historical document which should provide general readers, critics, and historians with a time machine through which to view our changing perspective on modern architecture.
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Also really good follow-up articles in the Feb 1982 issue of Progressive Architecture.
Not surprisingly, nearly all the buildings included in this catalog for the 1932 MoMA exhibit date from 1927. This was a pivotal year in the Modern Movement. Le Corbusier's "Toward a New Architecture" first appeared in English. The new improved Bauhaus opened its doors in Dessau, in Gropius' newly constructed complex. The International Competition for the League of Nations building was held with Le Corbusier losing out on a technicality. A building exhibition, laid out by Mies van der Rohe, was sponsored by the Deutscher Werkbund in Stuttgart. Modern Architecture had come of age.
The selections are interesting for their range of architects but have several notable omissions. Among them Rudolf Schindler, who dismissed the idea of an "International Style," in a letter to Johnson. Modern architects then and now hate the idea of a "style," believing their works to be based on a set of constructive and compositional principles which transcend the notion of style.
Nevertheless, the name stuck. Hitchcock and Johnson are widely credited for bringing the International Style to America, even though some early works by Neutra, Hood, Howe and Lescaze were included in the exhibition. Most importantly, Johnson lured Mies to America, where he would achieve his most lofty aspirations. The book makes for an interesting read but has long been superceded by more insightful and penetrating books on the subject.