SAH Blog

Postmodernism again: Goldhagen on Stirling at Yale by Jonathan Massey

| Dec 27, 2010

 One of the most interesting developments in current        architectural scholarship is the emerging    reconsideration of postmodernism. Several recent  books by architects and scholars--ranging from  practitioners of architectural postmodernism to scholars  who began their training just as its influence was  waning--are reopening debate. While some of these  accounts reassert familiar positions, others are finding  in the buildings, ideas, and practices of the 1960s, '70s,  and '80s what Reinhold Martin describes as "new tools  for new problems."

Architecture on the Edge of Postmodernism is an anthology of period essays by Robert A.M. Stern, one of postmodernism's leading architects and critics and now dean at the Yale School of Architecture. Architecture's Desire is Michael Hays's renewed assessment of touchstones among the "critical" practitioners of the 1970s. Jorge Otero-Pailosexamines the role of phenomelogy in authorizing aspects of postmodernism in Architecture's Historical Turn. Felicity Scott in Architecture or Techno-UtopiaReinhold Martin in Utopia's Ghost, and Pier Vittorio Aureli inThe Project of Autonomy trace new paths through the architecture of what we once called "late capitalism." Monographic studies of key figures are also beginning to appear.

Archives new and old provide material for this work, and one is the James Stirling/Michael Wilford Archive at the Canadian Centre for Architecture. An exhibition of work from the archive, curated by Anthony Vidler, closes at the end of this week at the Yale Center for British Art before reopening at the CCA. Accompanying it is a show of work by architects who studied with Stirling at Yale. 

There is much to say, in book and exhibition reviews, about the divergent readings developed in the new books and exhibitions--as well as about the institutional agendas that motivate and inflect them. As a start, take a look at the review of the Stirling exhibition that Sarah Williams Goldhagen has published in The New Republic.

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