Compiled by Claudia Stauble and Jonathan Lee Fox
Prestel, London and New York, 2009
Reviewed by MICHAEL SPENS
Most architectural publishers would not entertain such an ambitious and superlative book project. The buildings selected for 365 days of the year are a significant revelation, and as well covered in every case by a single detail as by a full view. In a very clever embellishment each day also has on page a quotation, historical or contemporary. For each deeply focussed detail of carving, rustication or construction the photographers draw out the poetry in every case. This ranges from the elaborate Gothic roof structure of the Hotel de Cluny (1485) to the immaculate elevation of the riveted zinc-clad Jewish Museum, Berlin, by Daniel Libeskind (1996), glowing alive in the evening sun. The beautiful full West elevation of the Romanesque Monastery Church of Santa Maria del Patire at Rossano, Italy, is cleverly scaled and conveyed by the seemingly casual presence of a single chair from the choir. For every such diaristic day of the year this standard of excellence is maintained.
The buildings represented run from Castel del Monte (accompanied by a quotation from the late mediaeval Sir Francis Bacon), to Rem Koolhaas’ China Central Television Headquarters, Beijing (2007-2008); to Norman Foster’s Wembley Stadium exterior by night; to Zaha Hadid’s tempting double room commission at the Hotel Puerta America, Madrid. Then there are both the late twin towers of the World Trade Center, New York, and the sublime scheme by Daniel Libeskind for the Freedom Towers project (unbuilt) to replace these. There is Eric Mendelssohn’s Potsdam Einstein Tower (1917–1922), and as a relief from Rudolf Steiner’s dream there, the idyllic Casa Malaparte, on its island off Capri, by Adalberto Libera (1938–1943), The contemporary Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, by Steven Holl with Juhani Pallasmaa shows its best face (1992). From St Moritz, there is Norman Foster’s modern baroque apartment block Chesa Futura (2002). For the last word on the present causes of economic recession, Frank Gehry’s atrium for the DZ Bank Pariser Platz, Berlin, seems provides a hint of Hades with its reddening glow, right on cue for 2010
This masterly publication cannot be faulted. The selection of works is both original and scholarly to a skilfully matched set of quotations So many might buy it as a present for an exceptional friend, or to persuade a client, or someone with an obsession for architecture itself (not necessarily an architect); and then on further thought, keep it for themselves.
Egon Schiele: Self-Portraits and Portraits
The short life of Egon Shiele (1890–1918) has fascinated historians, critics and artists for many years, so it comes as no surprise that a new publication on Schiele, which focuses on the artist’s development as a portraitist through four principal chronological phases, from 1906 to 1918, is another superb publication.
The Deconstructive Impulse: Women Artists Reconfigure the Signs of Power 1973
This excellent catalogue, a survey of leading women artists from the late 20th century that examines the crucial feminist contribution to the deconstructivist movement, accompanies the exhibition that started at the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, State University of New York
Book review: Brunelleschi, Lacan, Le Corbusier
Subtitled Architecture, Space and the Construction of Subjectivity, this book is an important new addition to the discourse, and theory of architecture, art, and visual studies, as the publisher rightly avers, and not merely architecture.
Book review: Ben Johnson. Foster in View
This volume is a rare compendium and covers primarily the growing success of the painter Ben Johnson, well renowned for paintings and photographs of contemporary buildings.
Book review: Architecture in Times of Need. Make it Right. Rebuilding New Orleans
This volume represents a unique documentation of an aid venture led by actor/philanthropist Brad Pitt, a long time lover of the