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What's New on the Bookshelves? February 2016 edition

February 18, 2016 /

On the bookshelves this month, you'll find a fascinating portrait of Ginzburg's emblematic Narkofim building as well as a retrospective Niemeyer monograph. Also, investigations on the role of landscape in terms of urbanism and a study of the visual representations of urban spatial interventions. Finally, the dubious heritage of modernism documented photographically and Hans Ulrich Obrist on the art of curating.
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Moisej J. Ginzburg, Ignatij F. Milinis: Narkomfin

by Danilo Udovicki-Selb

Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Ernst Wasmuth Verlag (1 Mar. 2016)

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The House of the Narkomfin was built, or better, 'montage' - as the Constructivist Moisej J. Ginzburg (1986-1946) preferred to call it - between 1928 and 1931. It is therefore contemporaneous with Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye, as well as with Le Corbusier's visit to Moscow.

On a superficial level, they both share a common aesthetic that in France was nicknamed 'le style paquebot,' while the Narkomfin was soon called the 'The Steamer,' or even the 'Agit-Steamer' in a symbolic reference to the boats of the Agit-Prop movement that carried the message of the Revolution along the rivers of the Soviet Union. On a deeper level, the Narkomfin is more than a housing block with a recognizable style.

It is the converging point of the history of Constructivism. It is the most sophisticated expression of a 'social condenser,' in Ginzburg's words, where purposefully reassembled functional spaces are given an active role in transforming everyday social life. 

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Niemeyer

by Philip Jodidio 

Hardcover: 96 pages
Publisher: Taschen (25 Feb. 2016)

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A uniquely sensual modernism in Brasilia and beyond. Until his death at age 104, Oscar Niemeyer (1907-2012) was something of an unstoppable architectural force. Over seven decades of work, he designed approximately 600 buildings, transforming skylines from Bab-Ezzouar, Algeria, to his homeland masterpiece Brasilia. Niemeyer s work took the reduced forms of modernism and infused them with free-flowing grace. In place of pared-down starkness, his structures rippled with sinuous and seductive lines. 

In the futuristic federal capital of Brasilia, he designed almost all public buildings, and thus became integral to the global image of Brazil. With rich illustrations documenting highlights from his prolific career, this book introduces Niemeyer's unique vision and its transformative influence on buildings of business, faith, culture and the public imagination of Brazil.

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Landscape as Urbanism: A General Theory

by Charles Waldheim

Hardcover: 216 pages
Publisher: Princeton University Press (22 Feb. 2016)

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It has become conventional to think of urbanism and landscape as opposing one another-or to think of landscape as merely providing temporary relief from urban life as shaped by buildings and infrastructure. But, driven in part by environmental concerns, landscape has recently emerged as a model and medium for the city, with some theorists arguing that landscape architects are the urbanists of our age. In Landscape as Urbanism, one of the field's pioneers presents a powerful case for rethinking the city through landscape.

Generously illustrated,  Landscape as Urbanism examines works from around the world by designers ranging from Ludwig Hilberseimer, Andrea Branzi, and Frank Lloyd Wright to James Corner, Adriaan Geuze, and Michael Van Valkenburgh. 

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Modern Forms: A Subjective Atlas of 20th Century Architecture

by Nicolas Grospierre et al.

Hardcover: 488 pages
Publisher: Frame Publishers; 1 edition (18 Jan. 2016)

At once a reference work and a personal exploration of modernist architecture, this fascinating collection of Nicolas Grospierre's photography covers structures built between 1920 and 1989 in Europe, North and South America, the Middle East, North Africa and Asia. These images range from iconic buildings, such as the Gateway Arch in Saint Louis and the Ukrainian Institute of Scientific Research and Development in Kiev, to little-known structures such as the Balneological Hospital in Druskininkai, Lithuania or Oscar Niemeyer's unfinished International Fair Grounds in Tripoli.

While many of the buildings in this archive often go unrecognised, their forms are prominent in the landscape of modern civilization. Grospierre's keen eye and enthusiasm for the mundane as well as the sublime will motivate readers to look at the buildings around them in new and exciting ways. This book reveals how modernist architecture is the embodiment of political and social ideologies, especially in public institutions such as banks, churches, libraries and government buildings. 

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Cities Interrupted

by Shirley Jordan and Christoph Lindner

Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic (25 Feb. 2016)

Cities Interrupted  explores the potential of visual culture in the form of photography, film, performance, architecture, urban design, and mixed media to strategically interrupt processes of globalization in contemporary urban spaces. Looking at cities such as Amsterdam, Beijing, Doha, London, New York, and Paris, the book brings together original essays to reveal how the concept of interruption in global cities enables new understanding of the forms of space, experience, and community that are emerging in todays rapidly transforming urban environments.

The idea of interruption addressed in this book refers to deliberate interventions in the spaces and communities of contemporary cities interventions that seek to disrupt or destabilize the experience of everyday urban life through creative practice. Interruption is used as an analytic and conceptual tool to challenge and explore alternatives to the narratives of speed, hyper-mobility, rapid growth, and incessant exchange and flow that have dominated critical thinking on global cities. 

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Ways of Curating

by Hans Ulrich Obrist

Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (15 Mar. 2016)

Drawing on his own experiences and inspirations - from staging his first exhibition in his tiny Zurich kitchen in 1986 to encounters and conversations with artists, exhibition makers and thinkers alive and dead - Hans Ulrich Obrist's Ways of Curating looks to inspire all those engaged in the creation of culture.

Moving from meetings with the artists who have inspired him (including Gerhard Richter and Gilbert and George) to the creation of the first public museums in the 18th century, recounting the practice of inspirational figures such as Diaghilev and Walter Hopps, skipping between exhibitions (his own and others), continents and centuries, Ways of Curating argues that curation is far from a static practice. Driven by curiosity, at its best it allows us to create the future.

Last updated: February 19, 2016

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