THE REHABILITATION OF BRUTALISM? Martin Filler, the architecture critic, reviewed eight new books about Brutalism in the New York Review (December 22) (link here via arts and letters daily). The books, he says, “indicate that the rehabilitation of yet another once-reviled phase in the building art is underway”. Filler then traces a history of architectural movements in which critics in the 1920’s rediscovered the Victorian buildings their parents rejected and the 1970’s saw a rediscovery of the Art Deco architecture that had been rejected in the 1930’s. Filler presents Brutalism as a rejection of the International Style’s steel-skeleton-and-glass-skin conformity that followed World War II.
Filler looks at changes in fashion as business as usual for architecture, which changes just as literary and philosophical tastes change—and, on occasion, because of changes in those tastes. He says, for example, that “Brutalism…reflected the bleak worldview of existentialism so pervasive in the 1950’s….”
I had commented here about Brutalism in 2012 (after pointing out that wikipedia said that Brutalism flourished from the 1950s to the mid 1970s): “It is strange to me that buildings that were considered to be representative of prestigious modern architecture when I was young are now so out of fashion.”
Now, it seems remarkable that Brutalism should be coming back into favor after the passage of only forty years.