Archetypes and Simulacra in Postwar American Architecture


M. David Samson, Associate Professor of Art History, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Tuesday, 1 November 2016. 5.30pm reception; 6.00-7.00pm talk.

Boston University, CAS Room 303A, 725 Commonwealth Ave.

Was “late modernism” merely the warm-up act for Postmodernism? This talk argues that the seeming return to the past in much postwar formalism—Philip Johnson’s evocation of Schinkel, Louis Kahn’s “Roman” piazzas—was intended as a forward thrust toward a “true” modernist architecture. It considers how the pavilion, or landscape folly helped modern architects pinpoint truly essential forms and experiences of architecture, arguing that the pavilion as archetypal form shaped spaces of civic ritual, suburban retreats, and roadside drive-up stands in postwar America.