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Michael Webb
writes on modern architecture, design, and travel. He is the author of 26 books, most recently Modernist Paradise: Niemeyer House, Boyd Collection (Rizzoli) and Venice CA: Art +Architecture in a Maverick Community (Abrams). He travels widely in search of new and classic modern architecture and contributes to magazines around the world. Michael lives in the Neutra apartment that Charles and Ray Eames once called home.

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Tuesday
May172011

BOOK REVIEW: Tomorrow’s Houses: New England Modernism 

Tomorrow’s Houses: New England Modernism
by Alexander Gorlin
Rizzoli New York ($65)

The finest collection of midcentury modern houses outside of southern California is located at the opposite corner of the U.S. “Why did modern architecture take root in this region of colonial homes and entrenched tradition?” asks Gorlin. He traces its roots to the Puritan cult of honesty and simplicity that was echoed in the writings of Emerson and Thoreau. Harvard was the crucible of revolution. Walter Gropius radicalized the GSD; Marcel Breuer and Philip Johnson moved to New Canaan and built model houses there. Sadly, Gorlin falls into the same trap as Elizabeth Gordon and Tom Wolfe in explaining the decline of modernism. He trots out the familiar cliches about dictatorial architects trying to brainwash the public, with no mention of the vulgarity and crass materialism of the new rich. It’s the striving for status and the retreat into the cozy womb of the past that blocks rational construction and it has been that way for a century or more. Twenty-five houses, ranging in date from 1930-1967 (plus a Prairie Style forerunner of 1912) are illustrated, and they include the usual suspects along with many unfamiliar examples.



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Reader Comments (1)

This is a book primarily of all new images- the text is actually a very small part of the book. The images are extremely powerful and as such the text is unnecessary to underastand the development and evolution of Modernism i n New England. Yet the reviewer totally ignores the imagery of the book.

May 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChester Ludlow

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