MIES

Detlef Mertins, Mies (London/New York, Phaidon Press, 2014) with a foreword by Barry Bergdoll. 544 pages and 698 illustrations in both color and black and white, bibliography, notes and index.

This has been a good year for Mies’ scholars, students and preservationists. With the restoration and re-opening of the Tugendhat House in Brno, the proposals for the preservation of the Martin Luther King Library in Washington DC and the conferring of the National Historic Landmark status by the Secretary of the Interior on Lafayette Park in Detroit as well as the on-going studies on how to protect the Farnsworth House against future floods, the significance of his work is widely acknowledged. On the scholarly side the recent publication of Phyllis Lambert’s Building Seagram published last year by Yale University Press and now Detlef Mertins’ Mies are adding significantly to the body of knowledge about his work. The manuscript for Mertins’ book was finished before his death in 2011 and was – according to the acknowledgements – guided through the publication process by a team of colleagues, which, among many others, included Felicity D. Scott, Edward Dimendberg, Barry Bergdoll and Keller Easterling.   While organized chronologically, Mies’oevre has been divided in distinct periods, which is reflected in the structure of the book and its chapters. With the first three chapters titled ‘Critical Realism: Life and Form’; ‘Avant-garde: Art and Life’ and ‘Task: Mastering Modernity’ covering the time in Germany till 1937, the last three chapters respectively ‘Organic Architecture’; ‘Unfolding Structure’ and ‘Event Space: Living Life Large’ discuss the work in the US. The organization is clear, the text lucid and the scholarship impeccable. The book is extensively illustrated with a rich mixture of original drawings and sketches, contemporary and historic photographs of the projects, relevant art of the respective period and –not often found in architectural histories but equally important and illustrative of design intentions and practices at the time– photographs of the buildings under construction.    Purchase here from Amazon.
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