Makers of Modern Architecture, Volume 1From Frank Lloyd Wright to Frank Gehry
Everyone knows what modern architecture looks like, but few understand how this revolutionary new form of building emerged little more than a century ago or what its aesthetic, social, even spiritual aspirations were. Through his illuminating studies of the leading men and women who forever changed our built environment, veteran architecture critic Martin Filler offers fresh insights into this unprecedented cultural transformation. From Louis Sullivan, father of the skyscraper, to Frank Gehry, magician of the post-millennial museum, Filler emphasizes how their force of personality has had a decisive effect on everything from how we inhabit our homes to how we shape our cities.
Why was the sudden shift in architectural fashion that wrecked the career of the Scottish designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh not enough to destroy the indomitable spirit of Frank Lloyd Wright, who rose from adversity to become America's greatest architect? Why was Philip Johnson, "dean of American architecture" during the 1980s, so haunted by the superior talent of his less-fortunate contemporary Louis Kahn that he could barely utter his name even at the peak of his own success? How did Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's dictum "Less is more" give way to Robert Venturi's "Less is a bore"?
Surveying such current urban design sagas as the reconstruction of Ground Zero and the reunification of Berlin, Filler also trains his sharp eye on some of the biggest names in architecture today, puncturing more than one overinflated reputation while identifying the true masters who are now building for the ages.
There is only one regular critic in the American press who writes consistently well about architecture and whose pieces are a guaranteed pleasure to revisit—or to read for the first time. He is Martin Filler, whose collection of essays is entitled Makers of Modern Architecture...by far the most intelligent and shapely writing on architecture done in recent years. Filler's opinions are direct, subtle, written with clarity and intense feeling, and (not least in importance) clean of hidden interests: in a field often disfigured and muddied by undeclared allegiances, he is a highly trustworthy critic.
—Robert Hughes, The New York Review of Books
Filler writes elegant prose that captures the feeling of these buildings in a way that makes illustrations almost unnecessary. He also discusses architecture in a way that will be satisfying both to specialists or practitioners and accessible to nonspecialists. No matter the level of previous experience with architecture, anyone with an interest in the subject will find Filler's work rewarding.
The most valuable critical works are those that allow us to see another side of something we supposedly know. And this is what Filler does in this bold and meticulously documented work.
—Anatxu Zabalbeascoa , El Pais (Madrid)
Martin Filler's book is liberating. ... For those seeking a brilliant if potted guide to modern architecture, Filler fills the bill. His book bristles with bracing insights, incisive judgments and wicked lines.
—Robert Zaretsky, The Houston Chronicle
Martin Filler is held in high regard by fellow professionals, and Makers of Modern Architecture justifies that esteem.
—Franz Schulze, Art in America
Martin Filler's writing demonstrates his lucidity and independence of mind....Filler is an elegant writer, clearly committed to thinking hard about his subjects, and working hard to engage his audience. He seeks to place architecture in a wider cultural context, rather than leave it trapped in the self-regarding discourse of criticism. He is not afraid to express his opinions.
—Deyan Sudjic, The Architect's Newspaper
Filler's assessments in The New York Review stand apart, eschewing fashion and offering polished, carefully edited and backed-up, though highly personal, assertions.....Filler's razor-sharp mind and sharper tongue set him apart. We gobble up what he thinks, as well as how he serves it up.
—Robert Ivy, Architectural Record