When ideology trumps ability and artistic vision
Indifference? Or an unthinking hostility to what already exists married to an overwhelming Will to Power?
Authoritarianism in Cement and Steel
The ideals of the modernists? Totalitarianism and the view of Man as a termite or even bacterium was implicit in everything that they said and everything that they did: and again, I do not see how anybody could fail to see a totalitarian sensibility in their architecture. Le Corbusier detested the street because it escaped the supposedly “rational” control of the bureaucratic planner. The very year after four million people had fled the advancing Nazis, he saw fit in a little book to advocate the expulsion of millions of people from Paris because he, the great architect, saw no reason why they should be there. He wanted to park them instead in the countryside so that they could hew wood and draw water, as was (in his elevated opinion) their proper destiny. If this is idealism, I’ll have none of it.
The charge against modernism is not that it represented a changeCurl is specifically an admirer of all the great and varied architectural achievements of the past, not only European, and has published widely on thembut that it represented a revolutionary change for the worse, a destructive force such that a single one of its productions could (and often did) ruin a townscape built up over centuries. It was this egotistical indifference to what already existed, as well as utter lack of humanity, that was so aesthetically, and one might add psychologically, devastating in England and elsewhere.
'Intelligentsia' is, of course, a Russian word. The condition of being an intelligent was defined not by intelligence but by the acceptance of the Idea -- so given, with the capital letter, and defined as the total destruction of the existing order and its replacement by a perfect society run by none other than the intelligentsia.
Architects, who once were servants of the people who employed them, and conscious contributors to a shared public space, have rebranded themselves as self-expressive artists, whose works are not designed to fit in to a prior urban fabric, but to stand out as tributes to the creative urge that gave rise to them. Their meaning is not "we" but "I," and the "I" in question gets bigger with every new design.
Gehry belongs to a small and exclusive club of "starchitects," who specialize in designing buildings that stand out from their surroundings, so as to shock the passerby and become causes célèbres. They thrive on controversy, since it enables them to posture as original artists in a world of ignorant philistines. And their contempt for ordinary opinion is amplified by all attempts to prevent them from achieving their primary purpose, which is to scatter our cities with blemishes that bear their unmistakable trademark. Most of these starchitects -- Daniel Libeskind, Richard Rogers, Norman Foster, Peter Eisenman, Rem Koolhaas -h ave equipped themselves with a store of pretentious gobbledygook, with which to explain their genius to those who are otherwise unable to perceive it. And when people are spending public money they will be easily influenced by gobbledygook that flatters them into believing that they are spending it on some original and world-changing masterpiece.
Do not be proud of the fact that your grandmother was shocked at something which your are accustomed to seeing or hearing without being shocked. ... It may be that your grandmother was an extremely lively and vital animal and that you are a paralytic.
The word intellectual, by the way, does not imply high intellect, which the holy trinity of modernism, Gropius, Mies and Corbusier, certainly did not possess. What they possessed instead were psychopathic ambition, ruthlessness and a talent for self-promotion.
Le Corbusier's instincts for the compund era were flawless. Early on, he seemed to comprehend what became an axiom of artistic competition in the twentieth century. Namely, that the ambitious young artist must join a 'movement,' a 'school' an ism-- which is to say, a compound. He is either willing to join a clerisy and subscribe to its codes and theories or he gives up all hope of prestige.
Ideology is not the product of thought; it is the habit or the ritual of showing respect for certain formulas to which, for various reasons having to do with emotional safety, we have very strong ties and of whose meaning and consequences in actuality we have no clear understanding