Modernism After World War II

Modernism After World War II, a lecture class, addresses the question of what happened to modernism after its initial synthesis and codification in the late 1920s. Picking up the story of an already-international, modernist architectural culture after the catastrophe of World War II, we will explore the major debates in modernist architecture and architectural theory from 1945 to the 1990s. We will focus on critical themes and moments in the development of postwar modernism, studying the work and ideas of selected key figures. The course is organized around the principal themes that dominated modernist debates after World War II: monumentality, place and everyday life, technology and representation. The first part will focus on the postwar work and ideas of the founders and theorists of modernism, such as Mies, Le Corbusier, and Frank Lloyd Wright, examining how they dealt with the problematic issue of modernism and monumentality. The second part will focus in detail on the work and ideas of Team Ten and related movements (Alison and Peter Smithson; Candilis, Josic & Woods; Aldo van Eyck, the Situationists), examining how these figures dealt with the problematics of place and everyday life in modern life. The third part will look at figures who combined the problematics of monumentality and place in their work (Louis Kahn, Oscar Niemeyer). We will then examine postwar reconceptualizations of early modernist ideas about technology, representation, and monumentality in the Archigram Group, Robert Venturi, and James Stirling. Finally we will look at the work and ideas of Rem Koolhaas as an example of a contemporary architect who continues to address these critical themes in postwar modernism.