A novel exploration of the idea of nonlinear time and its place at the heart of modern art and architecture
“This book joins the growing body of 21st-century research that successfully unpacks accepted histories to offer fuller, more nuanced interpretations of specific times, places, and concepts. As Pelkonen demonstrates with Untimely Moderns, such reevaluation proves quite timely.”—A. Krista Sykes, Architectural Record
Through much of the twentieth century, a diverse group of thinkers engaged in an interdisciplinary conversation about the meaning of time and history for modern art and architecture. The group included architects Louis Kahn, Everett Victor Meeks, James Gamble Rogers, Paul Rudolph, and Eero Saarinen; artists Anni and Josef Albers; philosopher Paul Weiss; and art historians Henri Focillon, George Kubler, Sibyl Moholy-Nagy, and Vincent Scully. These figures were unified by their resistance to the idea that, to be considered modern, art and architecture had to be of its time, as well as by the pivotal role that Yale University held as a backdrop to their thinking.
These thinkers sponsored a new kind of approach, one that Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen terms “untimely,” emphasizing a departure from a sequential course of events. Ideas about temporal duration, new tradition, the presence of the past, and the shape of time were among the concepts they explored. With an interdisciplinary focus, Pelkonen reveals previously unexplored connections among key figures of American intellectual and artistic culture at midcentury whose works and words would shape modern architecture.
Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen is assistant dean and professor at the Yale University School of Architecture. Her many books include Alvar Aalto: Architecture, Modernity, and Geopolitics; Kevin Roche: Architecture as Environment; and Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future.
“A fascinating and polyphonic group portrait, Untimely Moderns has repercussions for the historiography of architecture schools across the western world.”—Mari Lending, author of Plaster Monuments. Architecture and the Power of Reproduction
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