Despite revisions carried out for decades, the historiography of modernity has not managed to free itself of its operative origins. Movements as influential as Art Déco, the Novecento, the various versions of classicism in Germany, Italy, or the United States, and even Expressionism still find no real place in canonical histories. Whether because they don’t ‘fit’ into Hegelian narratives based on the idea that architecture must be on a par with its epoch or because their inclusion in the canon reduces them to mere precedents or nemeses of the language of the Modern Movement, or simply because modernity doesn’t ‘like’ them, these currents have remained on the margins, and no worthy account has up to now given them the attention they deserve as a group.
The main virtue of this book on ‘the other modern architecture’ is an unbiased view that enables the author to assess architectures without falling into clichés, combined with a boldness of method that makes different architects, styles, and works take on a certain unity in a family tree Rivera confidently journeys through to offer a convincing classification ranging from ‘alchemists’ of Czech Cubism to the Socialist Realism of Moscow.
In tackling this not altogether risk-free challenge Rivera is armed with a powerful tool, his at once persuasive and readable writing, and he is fearless in assessing buildings, using an instrument that is generally absent from the language of architectural historians: the adjective. Don’t fail to get hold of this book.
La otra arquitectura moderna
Reverté, Barcelona, 2017
Arquitectura Viva 199