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Behind The Postmodern Facade: Architectural Change In Late Twentieth-century America
by Magali Sarfatti Larson
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From Library Journal
This book's major contribution to architectural theory and sociology is Larson's analysis of the development, acceptance, and influence of postmodernism as discerned through its adherents' beliefs. The author delves deeply into the philosophical tenets of major architects and offers a penetrating analysis of how these major practitioners think, talk, and work. Larson portrays the architect as participant in the drama of postmodernism and chronicles these people's struggles as they attempt to come to terms with this new encroaching philosophy and the wants and needs of their clients. This book's approach makes it a welcome addition to the field of philosophy as well as sociology and architecture. Recommended for academic libraries.
- Glenn Masuchika, Chaminade Univ. Lib., Honolulu
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Judith R. Blau, Contemporary Sociology
"[A] superbly written book. . . . Larson will convince even the most skeptical sociologist that . . . there is much that is exciting in contemporary postmodern aesthetics and literary theory and is relevant for sociology. This is a work that we should applaud."
Magali Larson's comprehensive study explores how architecture "happens" and what has become of the profession in the postmodern era. Drawing from extensive interviews with pivotal architects--from Philip Johnson, who was among the first to introduce European modernism to America, to Peter Eisenman, identified with a new "deconstructionist" style--she analyzes the complex tensions that exist between economic interest, professional status, and architectural product. She investigates the symbolic awards and recognition accorded by prestigious journals and panels, exposing the inner workings of a profession in a precarious social position. Larson captures the struggles around status, place, and power as architects seek to redefine their very purpose in contemporary America.
The author's novel approach in synthesizing sociological research and theory proposes nothing less than a new cultural history of architecture. This is a ground-breaking contribution to the study of culture and the sociology of knowledge, as well as to architectural and urban history.
From the Inside Flap
"I am intrigued by Magali Sarfatti Larson's sociological take on the art of architecture. She is the only one, that I know, to come up from the gobbledygook able to discuss aesthetics."--Philip Johnson
"I rank among those who think that there is no clearcut connection between postmodernism in architecture, in literature, and in philosophy. The same term covers different ideas and ideologies. But a term cannot become an interdisciplinary shibboleth without suggesting some imperceptible connections. Thus, before giving a definite anwer to such a question, I think one should first read a book like this one, which says what modernism was and what postmodernism is in architecture."--Umberto Eco
From the Back Cover
"I am intrigued by Magali Sarfatti Larson's sociological take on the art of architecture. She is the only one, that I know, to come up from the gobbledygook able to discuss aesthetics." (Philip Johnson)
About the Author
Magali Sarfatti Larson is Professor and Chair of Sociology at Temple University and author of several books, including The Rise of Professionalism (California, 1977).
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