As happens so often, one man’s junk is another’s man treasure and the scenery decried in God’s Own Junkyard is glorified in Learning from Las Vegas.
He is best known for his book Bunker Archeology (1975), a book I discovered one lonely night in Brussels spent with a young woman at her place. She had acquired it that same afternoon.
One of the bunkers of the Atlantic Wall was photographed by myself in 2007 .
I’v yet to hold a copy of this book in my hands.
The Jamnitzers were a family of goldsmiths who lived in the 16th century. They worked for very rich people and filled the ‘Schatzkammer‘ of Northern Europe with highly luxurious items, fuelling the general economy.
However, it is their works on paper which interest us here.
First there is the father, Wenzel Jamnitzer (1507/08 – 1585). He is the author of Perspectiva Corporum Regularium (1568), a fabulous work on perspective and geometry. Of special interest in the Perspectiva is a series of architectural fantasies of spheres, cones and tori.
Second there is the grandson, Christoph Jamnitzer (1563–1618). Where his grandfather favoured mathematical precision and the sounding voice of reason, the grandson, author of Neuw Grottessken Buch (1610), favoured sweeping curvilinearity, abject grotesqueries and feasts of unreason. The most famous print of Neuw Grottessken Buch is the Grotesque with two hybrid gristly creatures, shown left.
If you see the work of grandfather and grandson side by side, both Jamnitzers seemed to have been plagued by the sleep of reason, the grandfather suffering from nightmares of abandonment and the grandson challenged by nightmares of being overwhelmed by the dark forces of nature.
Cover illustration for Subsidia Pataphysica, no.1, 19 December 1965
Stanley Chapman (1925 – 2009) was a British architect, designer, translator and writer. His interests included theatre and pataphysics. He was involved with founding the National Theatre of London, was a member of Oulipo of the year 1960, founder of the Outrapo and a member also of the French Collège de ‘Pataphysique, president the London Institute of ‘Pataphysics and the Lewis Carroll Society. His English translation of Hundred Thousand Billion Poems was received with “admiring stupefaction” by Raymond Queneau.
The Eiffel Tower @120
The Eiffel Tower is an iron tower in Paris, France. It is one of the tallest structures in Paris and one of the most recognized and visited monuments in the world. Named after its designer, engineer Gustave Eiffel, it stands as a symbol to the modernity of Nineteenth century Paris.
The tower was met with criticism from the public when it was built, with many calling it an eyesore. (Novelist Guy de Maupassant — who claimed to hate the tower — supposedly ate lunch at the Tower’s restaurant every day. When asked why, he answered that it was the one place in Paris where you couldn’t see the Tower.)
One of the great Hollywood movie clichés is that the view from a Parisian window always includes the tower. In reality, since zoning restrictions limit the height of most buildings in Paris to 7 stories, only a very few of the taller buildings have a clear view of the tower. The relationship Eiffel Tower/Paris is metonymical.
The Eiffel Tower was the second instance of modern architecture after the Crystal Palace, modern architecture understood to be driven by technological developments, a celebration of the aesthetics of iron, steel, concrete and glass.
Iron, steel, concrete and glass
I see modern architecture as primarily driven by technological and engineering developments, rather than artistic and social developments) and that the availability of new building materials such as iron, steel, concrete and glass drove the invention of new building techniques as part of the Industrial Revolution. The first example in this category is the Crystal Palace which used iron, steel, concrete and glass to house the Great Exhibition of 1851.
About 40 years later in France, the Eiffel Tower was inaugurated. It broke all previous limitations on how tall man-made objects could be—and at the same time offered a radically different environment in urban life.
- “The house of concrete, glass and steel, stripped of paintings and sculpture, rich only in the innate beauty of its lines and relief, extraordinarily “ugly” in its mechanical simplicity, higher and wider according to need rather than the specifications of municipal laws. It must soar up on the brink of a tumultuous abyss: the street will no longer lie like a doormat at ground level, but will plunge many stories down into the earth, embracing the metropolitan traffic, and will be linked up for necessary interconnections by metal gangways and swift-moving pavements. ”
Haussmannwas a French urbanist who called himself an “artiste démolisseur,” literally translated as artist destroyer, a concept with a political equivalent of creative destruction. I’ve mentioned Haussmann and Haussmannization here  and here.
The notion of creative destruction is found in the writings of Mikhail Bakunin, Friedrich Nietzsche, and in Werner Sombart‘s Krieg und Kapitalismus (War and Capitalism) (1913, p. 207), where he wrote: “again out of destruction a new spirit of creativity arises”. In Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter popularized and used the term to describe the process of transformation that accompanies radical innovation. It contrasts with various tactics of preservation and embalming the past.
Interestingly, Flaubert’s friend Maxime du Camp said:
- “Paris, as we find it in the period following the Revolution of 1848, was about to become uninhabitable.” — [Paris Arcades] quoting from Maxime du Camp, Paris, vol 6 (Paris, 1875), p.253.
- “Its population had been greatly enlarged and unsettled … and now this population was suffocating in the narrow, tangled, putrid alleyways in which it was forcibly confined.” — [Paris Arcades] quoting from Maxime du Camp, Paris, vol 6 (Paris, 1875), p.253.]
It was Jules Ferry who wrote “Les Comptes fantastiques de Haussmann,” his indictment of the bold handling of public funds for the Haussmannization. It was published in 1867, its title being a play on words between contes, stories or tales – as in Les contes d’Hoffmann or Tales of Hoffmann, and comptes, accounts.
His best known works include the titanium-covered Guggenheim Museum in Spain, Walt Disney Concert Hall in the United States, Dancing House in the Czech Republic, and his private residence in California, which jump-started his career, lifting it from the status of “paper architecture“, a phenomenon which many famous architects have experienced in their formative decades through experimentation almost exclusively on paper before receiving their first major commission in later years.
One I forgot:
I hope they never “clean” this. No matter how dirty, I always prefer it to the restauration.
Andrea Palladio (November 30, 1508 – August 19, 1580), was an Italian architect. The Palladian style, named after him, adhered to Roman architecture principles and a search for classical perfection. The Palladian villa format was easily adapted for a democratic worldview, as can be seen in Thomas Jefferson‘s commissioned buildings. Palladian motifs made a comeback during the postmodern era, the American architect Philip Johnson frequently used them in his doorways.
Some Office Baroque footage, Some footage similar to Office Baroque
Gordon Matta-Clark died thirty years ago today. He stayed in Antwerp for a while in 1977, just before his death, working with Florent Bex, creating Office Baroque, which he called anarchitecture. Pieces of his “building cuts” were sold around the world.