Review by Choice Review
Commencing with Emil Kaufmann's Von Ledoux bis Le Corbusier (From Ledoux to Le Corbusier) in 1933, the history of modern architecture has been perpetuated by scholars as a history of abstraction interrupted by the historicist preoccupations of the 19th century. In this extraordinary revisionist study, Levine (Harvard) proposes a new way of thinking about modern architecture as a continuous historical development based not on style but on the question of representation in architecture (with representation understood not as symbol but as "the form and structure of rhetoric rather than its outward effects"). Using eight case studies focused on specific works by Vanbrugh, Hawksmoor, Laugier, Boullee, Soane, Schinkel, Pugin, Labrouste, Viollet-le-Duc, Sullivan, Wright, Mies van der Rohe, and Louis Kahn, Levine brings to his subject a close reading of historical texts, buildings, and images of buildings; judiciously selected pairings (such as Pugin and Labrouste); a remarkable linguistic precision; and uncanny insights into the thought processes of the architects of modernism. If modernism has been simplified over 75 years, Levine reveals its true complexities in a book that challenges, fascinates, and rewards. Summing Up: Essential. Upper-level undergraduates and above. J. Quinan University at Buffalo, SUNY
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