Monumental Era

Franco Borsi, Author Rizzoli International Publications $45 (207p) ISBN 978-0-8478-0805-2
Borsi's overstated thesis is sure to stir controversy. After pointing out striking parallels between the monumental architecture of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Stalinist Russia, he argues that the same drive for monumentality overtook architects in the democracies of Europe as well. He identifies a ""Novecento'' style of the 1930s marked by rhetorical flourishes, nobility of expression and formal purism. Next, he shows how architects throughout Europe interpreted this style to create their own nationalist versions of classicism. As if this weren't unsettling enough, Borsi, an Italian critic and author of Vienna 1900, analyzes the ``return to order'' that swept interior decorators, furniture makers, jewelry designers, sculptors and theater and fashion designers who flirted with monumentality. In a final affront to those who prefer to keep stylistic concepts in neat compartments, he asserts that modern architects like Philip Johnson, Louis Kahn and I. M. Pei are monumentalizers at heart. (December 28)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1987
Release date: 10/01/1987
Genre: Nonfiction
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