Text, lies and architecture: Colin Rowe, Robert Venturi and Mannerism

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Abstract

Colin Rowe's few published statements about Robert Venturi from 1967-76 convey a distance reinforced by their frequent association with two opposing architectural camps during this period (the Whites and the Grays). Yet their interests and priorities overlapped to a remarkable extent; both applied the lessons of architectural history to contemporary design and shared intense interests in early modern Italian architectural traditions. Perhaps most unusually, both consistently asserted the relevance of Mannerism to modern architecture. In retrospect, it appears curious that Rowe and Venturi were not allies, and seldom (if at all) acknowledged their many parallels and intersections: a lacuna mirrored in scholarship, which rarely considers them as a pair. However, Rowe's three direct discussions of Venturi during this period, all of which mention Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture, its impact and its manifestation in Venturi's design work, provide insights into their distinct but related approaches to Mannerism, history and architectural authorship. They also suggest why these seemingly natural allies kept each other at arms' length, despite their tightly intertwined interests. The parallels and divergences in their writing invite a consideration of the means and ends of presenting architectural history to an architectural audience, and how historians learn from architects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)455-473
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Architecture
Volume18
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Architecture
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts

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