Saul Steinberg's 'Graph Paper Architecture' : humourous drawings and diagrams as instruments of critique

Lueder, Christoph (2018) Saul Steinberg's 'Graph Paper Architecture' : humourous drawings and diagrams as instruments of critique. In: Rosso, Michela, (ed.) Laughing at architecture : architectural histories of humour, satire and wit. London, U.K. : Bloomsbury. pp. 209-228. ISBN 9781350022768

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Charles Jencks described a series of analogous attacks against a post-war architecture of amnesia and abstraction, articulated across disciplines by a writer, a critic and an artist. His narrative is problematic as well as interesting. It is problematic insofar as Lewis Mumford, Jane Jacobs and Saul Steinberg did not articulate the unequivocal critique that he suggested; but it is interesting in acknowledging art and specifically, humorous drawings, as media of architectural critique matching writing in authority and significance. Saul Steinberg developed his Graph Paper Architecture over several iterations between 1950 and 1954 (Figs. 1, 2, 3). His drawings predate widespread use of the term ‘graph paper’ to deride the façades of corporate modernism; indeed they predate or are contemporaneous with two of the most memorable New York skyscrapers exemplifying and popularizing gridded glass façades. The United Nations Secretariat, by Wallace Harrison, Oscar Niemeyer and Le Corbusier, was completed in 1952, and the Seagram building by Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson in 1958.

Item Type: Book Section
Research Area: Architecture and the built environment
Art and design
History of art, architecture and design
Town and country planning
Faculty, School or Research Centre: Kingston School of Art
Kingston School of Art > School of Art and Architecture
Depositing User: Christoph Lueder
Date Deposited: 27 Jun 2019 09:48
Last Modified: 27 Jun 2019 09:48

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