A New York architect who specializes in the restoration and reinvention of historic buildings has written the best book to date on adaptive re-use. What marks it off from earlier surveys is the critical intelligence of her writing and the freshness of her choices. "An old building is not an obstacle but rather a foundation for continued action," she writes, and every paragraph conveys her passion for enhancing the beauty and utility of found structures, ranging from a ruined pigsty to the noblest monuments. In each, an architect who shares her skill has devised an appropriate strategy for creative intervention. And each building is explored in detail, with an image from Google Earth to show its surroundings, plans and drawings, and close-ups of finishes and details.
Entries in MoMA (3)
It’s ironic that MoMA presented one of the finest architectural exhibitions in years just as Barry Bergdoll, its widely admired curator of architecture, was stepping down, and its director was threatening to demolish the American Folk Art Museum—an architectural gem. Clearly, the gulf between the suits and the creatives yawns wide. If you missed the exhibition (and who wants to suffer New York in summer) you can catch it in Barcelona and Madrid next year. However, this companion book may prove more rewarding. A major reappraisal of a 20th-century master demands patient study of pictures, drawings and text, rather than abbreviated glimpses in a crowded gallery. From the seductive images of Richard Pare to the many essays that chart Corbu’s travels and his response to landscapes, this is a compelling, beautifully produced study that far outshines most books on the architect.
Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Modern Century
By Peter Galassi
(Museum of Modern Art, $49.95 in paperback)
MoMA is touring a retrospective of 300 photographs spanning Cartier-Bresson’s entire career. This companion book contains many of those images in a rather cramped layout, but is chiefly
remarkable for a brilliant essay by curator Peter Galassi. His insights will deepen and change your understanding of an artist you thought you knew. As an example, he likens the early photographs to “collages ripped from the fabric of the streets. The model of his postwar style is the opposite…
the image functions like a well-proportioned stage on which a few figures have gathered to enact a tableau vivant.”