15 April 2008

ungers and pasolini

Last week at MoMA, I looked at one of the newer books in the regular backlog, i.e., O.M. Ungers: Kosmos der Architektur (Hatje Cantz, 2006). When I checked our catalog, I discovered that NYU didn't have it but NYSID had the English translation. It has some wonderful photos of the library space that Ungers built on his brutalist house in Berlin as well as the recent house that he had built in the countryside. The library space is very central in plan and has those great classical proportions that Ungers does so well. The space also includes busts by Ian Hamilton Finlay. Really a beautiful space. The exterior of the house in Berlin is fine too and, according to the book, was so exemplary that Reyner Banham included it in his The new brutalism.

When I started this, I wasn't thinking of the connection on the word brutal but the other interior space that rose from my reading in the last few days was an article in the Times style magazine on design from a couple weeks ago. It describes how Manuela Pavesi has bought and is refurbishing the Villa Zani outside Mantua which served as a setting for Pasolini's "Salò" which I saw not too long ago at Lincoln Center. The setting is deliciously decadent, the action is brutal though the thought action speaks more loudly than the physical action. It's about some Italian fascists who kidnap some young women and men and torture them emotionally and bodily while also listening to Sade-like tales and esoteric songs. For pictures of the house: http://www.nytimes.com/indexes/2008/03/16/style/t/index.html#pageName=16pavesi

New brutalist architecture was in high swing in the mid-late 1960s when I was in college. Davis Brody designed a wonderful science building for the New Paltz campus that was rather in the style of Le Corbusier's Convent of La Tourette. I was dumbstruck by the beauty of the materials: raw concrete, staircases sticking out from the main block of the building. That brutalist concrete, alas, didn't always age well. The Ungers house is more brick than concrete and in the book looks rather like a deconstructivist predecessor with cubic shapes. More like other Corbusier works of the brick and concrete style.

1 comment:

MrsHarris said...

Handsome blog Mr. Clarke