52 Quotes of Martin Filler

” Few developments central to the history of art have been so misrepresented or misunderstood as the brief, brave, glorious, doomed life of the Bauhaus – the epochally influential German art, architecture, crafts, and design school that was founded in Goethe’s sleepy hometown of Weimar in 1919. “
” Masterpieces of art possess immense potential to advance a worldview that could help assuage the societal terrors posed by globalization, the most thoroughgoing socioeconomic upheaval since the Industrial Revolution, which has set off a pandemic of retrogressive nationalism, regional separatism, and religious extremism. “
” When Oscar Niemeyer died on December 5, 2012, ten days before his 105th birthday, he was universally regarded as the very last of the twentieth century’s major architectural masters, an astonishing survivor whose most famous accomplishment, Brasilia, was the climactic episode of utopian High Modern urbanism. “
” The skyscraper style first advocated by Louis Sullivan – a tower of strongly vertical character with clear definitions among base, shaft, and crown – has remained remarkably consistent throughout the history of this building type. “
” Although prefabrication has a long history – the ancient Romans shipped pre-cut stone columns, pediments, and other architectural elements to their colonies in North Africa, where the numbered parts were reassembled into temples – the idea took on a new impetus with the technological advances of the Industrial Revolution. “
” The most basic task of any museum must be the protection of works of cultural significance entrusted to its care for the edification and pleasure of future generations. “
” Winning the Pritzker assures a flood of work in one’s seventies and eighties, jobs necessarily carried out by assistants as the demands of modern-day cultural stardom and the inevitable waning of physical capacities prevent many architects from attaining the transcendent final phase more easily achieved by artists in other mediums. “
” Architectural kitsch is most common in the commercial pop vernacular – typified by the Big Duck of 1931 in Flanders, New York, a Long Island roadside poultry stand resembling a duck, which Venturi and Scott Brown made a cult object through their writings. “
” The popular mythology of creative genius depends on beloved stereotypes of the artist in youth and old age: the misunderstood upstart who forces us to see the world afresh; and the revered sage who shows us depths of insight attainable only through a lifetime of hard-won experience. “
” The truth be told, the World Trade Center was neither a very good work of architecture nor a very successful piece of urbanism. Its shortcomings were somewhat mitigated by the westward and southward expansion of the World Financial Center and Battery Park City during the 1980s. “
” Cost overruns are not uncommon in architecture, particularly for designs that depart from structural or technological norms, or demand a finer quality of execution than commercial schemes – conditions typical of buildings for cultural institutions. Budgets are exceeded for many reasons, not all of them within an architect’s control. “
” We take from the art of the past what we need. The variable posthumous reputations of even the greatest artists and the unpredictable revivals of interest in even the most obscure ones tend to reveal more about those who make revisionist assessments than about those who are being reassessed. “
” One of the stated goals of the postmodern movement in architecture was a greater sensitivity to the people who live in or use newly designed buildings. “
” The tall building, concentrating man in one place more densely than ever before, similarly concentrates the dilemma of our public architecture at the end of the twentieth century: whether the new forms made possible by technology are doomed by the low calculations of modern patrons and their architects. “
” Despite the persistent image of the architect as a heroic loner erecting monumental edifices through sheer force of will, the building art has always been a highly cooperative enterprise. “
” Snohetta promotes a more democratic workplace atmosphere than most other architectural offices. This may merely reflect prevalent employment practices in Scandinavia, but Snohetta places a stronger emphasis on group participation in the design process than typical high-style firms. “
” The work that launched Snohetta into the architectural big leagues was their Oslo Opera House, which will certainly rank among the firm’s highlights whatever else they may do. Although this is by any measure a triumph of city planning, the building itself is not quite a masterpiece, though very fine indeed. “
” High among the unpredictable variables that endanger the survival of worthy buildings are the vagaries of taste. “
” One reason I’ve never been a fan of graphic novels is because a central aspect of literature for me has always been imagining what the things I’m reading about look like. “
” Considering my specialization in architecture, I’m not surprised that the first graphic novel to thoroughly engage, not to say captivate, me is Chip Kidd and Dave Taylor’s ‘Batman: Death by Design.’ “
” Although there are countless tangents that a career in the building arts can take, it is nonetheless most unusual for a major architectural practice to emerge once a firm’s principals are well into what is loosely called middle age. “
” Before the professionalization of architecture in the nineteenth century, it was standard for an aspiring mason or carpenter to begin his apprenticeship at fourteen and to become a master builder by his early twenties. “
” Architecture is not a profession for the faint-hearted, the weak-willed, or the short-lived. “
” The first half of the 1960s was the apogee of what might be termed the Age of Cool – as defined by that quality of being simultaneously with-it and disengaged, in control but nonchalant, knowing but ironically self-aware, and above all inscrutably undemonstrative. “
” Postmodernism came nowhere close in quality to Modernism at its apogee, not least because that later style wholly lacked the social impetus that animated the designs most emblematic of the Modern Movement. “
” There is no sadder tale in the annals of architecture than the virtual disappearance of the defining architectural form of the Modern Movement – publicly sponsored housing. “
” From the outset, MoMA followed the Bauhaus’s strict prohibition against design that even hinted at the decorative, a prejudice that skewed the pioneering museum’s view of Modernism for decades. “
” During the nineteenth century, the rapid emergence and proliferation of new manufacturing methods and building technologies led to the establishment of polytechnic schools that concentrated on the practicalities of engineering and construction rather than the niceties of stylistic correctness or adherence to established precedent. “
” The form a city assumes as it evolves over time owes more to large-scale works of civil engineering – what we now call infrastructure – than almost any other factor save topography. “
” Picasso’s superhuman gift for draftsmanship might have made him lazy about pursuing the full potential of color. It was not unusual for him to build a composition by first outlining figures and objects in black and then filling the interstices in a perfunctory manner that can put one in mind of a museum-shop coloring book. “
” A turning point in the public’s perception of the building art came with the publication of Frank Lloyd Wright’s ‘An Autobiography’ of 1932, a picaresque narrative that captivated many who hadn’t the slightest inkling of what architects actually did. “
” One of the most persistent yet elusive dreams of the Modern Movement in architecture has been prefabrication: industrially made structures that can be assembled at a building site. “
” The financial benefits of prefabrication have never been as large as its advocates predicted, for although some labor costs can be reduced by machine manufacturing, on-site assembly of any building still depends to some extent on the handwork of skilled craftsmen. “
” Some museum boards think that choosing an architect can be reduced to a science, but it comes down to a matter of taste, pure and simple. A shortlist of prospective designers speaks volumes about the likely outcome. If the candidates’ styles are too divergent, the search committee doesn’t know what it wants. “
” Truly great architecture always transcends its stated function, sometimes in unanticipated ways. “
” By 1970, the first stirrings of the revolt against Modernist orthodoxy in architecture had been felt, although it would be several years more until Postmodernism was widely accepted and made classical motifs permissible in high-style building design for the first time in decades. “
” One of the Age of Enlightenment’s most hypnotic images is Ledoux’s rendering of his neoclassical theater of 1775 – 1784 in Besancon, surreally reflected in the colossal eye of an unidentified cosmic being. “
” Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers’s Centre Georges Pompidou of 1971-1977 – the true prototype of the modern museum as popular architectural spectacle – wound up costing so much more than planned that the French government solved the shortfall by cutting support for several regional museums. “
” One of the most persistent images in American urbanism is that of the proverbial city on a hill, as first envisioned on these shores by the Puritan John Winthrop, via the Gospel according to Saint Matthew. “
” Elevated locations imply elevated purposes, even in American cities departing as radically as Los Angeles does from the traditional planning patterns of the Eastern Seaboard. “
” The danger for any artist whose work is both recognizable and critically acclaimed is complacent repetition – the temptation to churn out easily identifiable, eagerly welcomed, and readily salable designs. “
” The role of the architect as artist is an ancient one, but it was de-emphasized with the rise of modernism, which rejected the drawing-based Beaux-Arts tradition in favor of a more technocratic approach. “
” All architecture, classical or not, must have some sense of order, and order is much harder to achieve without the straight lines and right angles that have dominated the building art from time immemorial. “
” The Frankfurt Museum of Decorative Arts is a handsome building, which takes its cues from the riverside Biedermeier villa next to it, and it is well-integrated into an overall scheme for a group of small museums. “
” Always beware an unsigned architectural design. “
” Before World War II, Modernist architects sometimes had to resort to custom fabrication or outright fakery to achieve the machine imagery advocated by the Bauhaus after its initial, Expressionist, phase. Stucco masqueraded as reinforced concrete; rivets were used for decoration. “
” Architecture was the last of the major professions to devise a formal ‘cursus honorum’ before its practice could be undertaken. “
” Any set of decisions about design is inevitably influenced by cultural prejudice, no matter how intent an architect might be to avoid it. “
” As with many other folk beliefs, ‘feng-shui’ undoubtedly incorporates some scientifically correct observation or received wisdom based on direct experience of natural phenomena; but it needs to be dealt with skeptically as a credible system of thought. Some feng-shui prescriptions can certainly lead to desirable results. “
” Avant-garde architects have never been able to depend on the support of the establishment, since the customary patrons of this most conservative and slowly moving art form have historically been resistant to innovation and experiment. “
” During the modern period, the vanguard architect has usually relied on small residential jobs both to supply a steady income and to serve as ‘sketches’ for ideas that are often later translated to the larger scale of public commissions. “
” There can be little question that the tall building presents one of the most difficult challenges to the architect. “