Despite the recent signs of a decline linked to the book crisis, the architect’s monograph seems to remain the dominant representation of the architectural work today. As a matter of fact this literary genre has been the object of a funding programme of the Graham Foundation, the American body connected to the study of architecture and the built environment which has recently financed an entire book collection devoted to young and emerging architectural firms in the US. How can we explain this persistent success of architectural biographies? What are the origins of this narrative? In what way have architects themselves contributed to its popularity? The history of architecture as a narrative of the individual reposes on a long lasting tradition that begins with Vasari’s Vite and goes down to the early 20th century architectural monographs published in Germany by Wasmuth and Hübsch. Moreover, other factors have accentuated this tendency. As is well known, autobiography has always played a crucial and highly influential role in the writing of architectural history: in the attempt to promote their professional success, architects have often speculated about their own work. From Palladio’s Quattro Libri sull’Archittetura down to Le Corbusier’s Vers une architecture, this kind of professional self portrait has taken on several forms ranging from the complete catalogue of works to the theoretical essay or poetic manifesto. To make this clear one has only to mention the emblematic case of Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret’s 1929 edition of the Oeuvre complète where the whole phase of Jeanneret’s first professional outputs at La Chaux de Fonds is the missing tile of a highly incomplete mosaic. Whereas omissions and manipulations have naturally helped architects to disseminate a distorted image of their respective works, journalists and historians have nonetheless contributed to the construction of myths around them: this is the case of some already over investigated figures of the history of modernist architecture that have recently become the subject of endless series of biographies and exhibitions. The emphasis on the individual as reflected in today’s political discourse only partially explains the contemporary insistence on the figure of the architect as author. On the other hand, a closer look at the state of the discipline from the point of observation of the most recent scholarship reveals a totally different scenario: far from being pictured as the unique mind behind the building, the architect, along with the client, the contractor, the user and the critic, merely appears as one of the many figures involved in the complex process of the conception, construction and reception of architecture.

Architettura come vita, opera come persona: l'architetto-autore tra storia dell'architettura e divulgazione / Rosso, Michela. - In: RASSEGNA DI ARCHITETTURA E URBANISTICA. - ISSN 0392-8608. - STAMPA. - 139:(2013), pp. 76-92.

Architettura come vita, opera come persona: l'architetto-autore tra storia dell'architettura e divulgazione

ROSSO, Michela
2013

Abstract

Despite the recent signs of a decline linked to the book crisis, the architect’s monograph seems to remain the dominant representation of the architectural work today. As a matter of fact this literary genre has been the object of a funding programme of the Graham Foundation, the American body connected to the study of architecture and the built environment which has recently financed an entire book collection devoted to young and emerging architectural firms in the US. How can we explain this persistent success of architectural biographies? What are the origins of this narrative? In what way have architects themselves contributed to its popularity? The history of architecture as a narrative of the individual reposes on a long lasting tradition that begins with Vasari’s Vite and goes down to the early 20th century architectural monographs published in Germany by Wasmuth and Hübsch. Moreover, other factors have accentuated this tendency. As is well known, autobiography has always played a crucial and highly influential role in the writing of architectural history: in the attempt to promote their professional success, architects have often speculated about their own work. From Palladio’s Quattro Libri sull’Archittetura down to Le Corbusier’s Vers une architecture, this kind of professional self portrait has taken on several forms ranging from the complete catalogue of works to the theoretical essay or poetic manifesto. To make this clear one has only to mention the emblematic case of Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret’s 1929 edition of the Oeuvre complète where the whole phase of Jeanneret’s first professional outputs at La Chaux de Fonds is the missing tile of a highly incomplete mosaic. Whereas omissions and manipulations have naturally helped architects to disseminate a distorted image of their respective works, journalists and historians have nonetheless contributed to the construction of myths around them: this is the case of some already over investigated figures of the history of modernist architecture that have recently become the subject of endless series of biographies and exhibitions. The emphasis on the individual as reflected in today’s political discourse only partially explains the contemporary insistence on the figure of the architect as author. On the other hand, a closer look at the state of the discipline from the point of observation of the most recent scholarship reveals a totally different scenario: far from being pictured as the unique mind behind the building, the architect, along with the client, the contractor, the user and the critic, merely appears as one of the many figures involved in the complex process of the conception, construction and reception of architecture.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11583/2525157
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