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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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Michael Webb

Entries in Iwan Baan (1)

Tuesday
Feb082011

REVIEW: Brasilia-Chandigarh: Living with Modernity

Brasilia-Chandigarh: Living with Modernity
Photographs by Iwan Baan
Essays by Cees Nooteboom and Martino Stierli
(Lars Muller Publishers, $60)

Le Corbusier planned and designed the civic core of Chandigarh, the new capital of India’s Punjab region, and Oscar Niemeyer designed the buildings that fleshed out Lucio Costa’s plan for Brasilia. Both cities represented the last mad thrust of modernism as a revolutionary force that would sweep away the past and start anew on a clean slate. Carefully composed images dazzled the world and then became a familiar part of modernist iconography. Fifty years on, these two cities have grown explosively and taken on a character that has little to do with their founders’ vision.

Iwan Baan, the flying Dutchman who photographs the latest iconic buildings around the word, has captured the surreal juxtaposition of monuments and everyday life. People, parked cars, and a torrential downpour upstage the architecture. An improvised game of cricket, an Indian passion, is played on a scrubby field beside the Chandigarh parliament building. Children play in dusty streets and bureaucrats doze over stacked papers that may never be read. The images are soft and hazy—a deliberate choice by one of the world’s most accomplished photographers and one of its most exacting publishers.