Casa Modernista: A History of the Brazil Modern House
Text by Alan Hess, Photographs by Alan Weintraub
(Rizzoli International, $75)
As an ardent communist, Oscar Niemeyer has always preferred to build in the public realm rather than design houses for affluent individuals, though he did create a gem for himself in the hills above Rio. The same is true for Paulo Mendes da Rocha and Lino Bo Bardi; as a result, most of the houses in this nine-decade survey are unfamiliar. What’s remarkable is how well even the earliest examples have survived the shifts of fashion and the ravages of a sub-tropical climate. One admires the author’s industry in tracking down and gaining entry to so many private domains, and delights in the variety and the way that they have been cherished. Most are footnotes to the history of modernism in Brazil, but this is a handsome and welcome addition to the growing number of English-language books on the Latin American legacy.