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Magazine    October 2002


Who is this Le Corbusier, and why is he written about so frequently? Le Corbusier, whose real name was Charles-Edouard Jeanneret (1887-1965), was one of the greatest modernist architects of the 20th century. He created a new architecture, that of reinforced concrete and open floor plans; roof gardens in urban dwellings; horizontal windows. His work, from individual buildings and houses to urban plans for entire cities, such as Chandigarh in India, is chronicled in an eponymous book by Kenneth Frampton, professor of architecture at Columbia University, and photographer Roberto Schezen, who has rephotographed many of Le Corbusier's buildings for this 208-page volume with 150 illustrations.

Just like disco, Santa Fe style has managed to survive, despite many examples of bad taste. Santa Fe: Houses & Gardens shows some important historical and museum houses in New Mexico, along with a few significant private homes. The Curtin-Paloheimo house, for one, is an example of European design influences such as an early Jacobean settle, Oriental rugs and painted screens easily mixed with Spanish Colonial and western furniture, Native American artifacts and Southwestern paintings. The book contains little narrative text; long captions adequately describe each picture. Some of the interior views are very captivating, but expect some pictures of funky garden pots, doorways and walls painted in psychedelic patterns or just plain bright colors, and lots of images of crucifixes, santos and Madonnas, which makes the book all-the-more interesting.

"Half of Barcelona, it is said, was in mourning on June 12, 1926," Rainer Zerbst writes in the introduction to Antoni Gaudi: The Completed Buildings. That was the day Gaudi, a talented and inventive Spanish architect who had become a national folk hero, died. Gaudi designed villas, palaces and houses for the bourgeoisie, a large public park with a pavilion, recreation center, porter's lodge (pictured on book cover) and other buildings that today is open to the public, and a famous Gothic church that was begun more than 100 years ago and still has not been completed. Most of his structures are an orgy of flowing patterns of tile or mosaic and organic shapes. The book is amply illustrated and offers a comprehensive portrayal of the great Spanish architect's artistic genius.

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Le Corbusier: Architect of the Twentieth Century
Kenneth Frampton
Abrams, $65

Santa Fe: Houses & Gardens
Sue Daley and Steve Gross
Rizzoli, $50

Antoni Gaudi: The Complete Buildings
Rainer Zerbst
Taschen, $13
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