Many of you will know that I have a fondness for a good Brutalist building, so much so that I have a separate web site all about photographing Brutalist buildings around the UK.
Brutalism is an architectural style that emerged in the 1950s and was popularized in the 1960s and 1970s. It is characterized by the use of raw, unfinished concrete as the primary building material, as well as geometric forms and a focus on functionality. Brutalist buildings often have a heavy, solid appearance and a monolithic quality.
The term “Brutalism” was coined by British architectural critic Reyner Banham in his 1955 essay “The New Brutalism,” in which he described the style as “an honesty of materials” and “an expression of the structure of the building.” The name is derived from the French word “béton brut,” which means “raw concrete.”
Image of Reyner Banham By shorturl.at/zFPXZ
Brutalist architecture was influenced by a number of different styles and movements, including the International Style, the Bauhaus movement, and the work of Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier. It was also influenced by the social and political climate of the time, with many Brutalist buildings being constructed as part of large-scale housing projects or as part of the redevelopment of urban areas.
Some of the key features of Brutalist architecture include:
Raw, unfinished concrete: Brutalist buildings are often made almost entirely of concrete, which is often left exposed and unfinished. This gives the buildings a rough, industrial appearance.
Geometric forms: Brutalist buildings often have simple, geometric forms, such as cubes, cylinders, and rectangular blocks. These forms are often repeated and arranged in a grid-like pattern.
Functionality: Brutalist buildings are designed to be functional and practical, with a focus on the needs of the people who will use them. This can result in a lack of ornamentation or decorative elements.
Monolithic appearance: Brutalist buildings often have a heavy, solid appearance, with a sense of mass and permanence.
Here are the top 5 British or British-based Brutalist architects:
Alison and Peter Smithson: Alison and Peter Smithson were a husband and wife team of architects who were prominent figures in the Brutalist movement in Britain. Their notable works include the Hunstanton School and the Robin Hood Gardens housing project in London.
Denys Lasdun: Denys Lasdun was a British architect who is known for his Brutalist buildings, including the National Theatre in London and the University of East Anglia in Norwich.
Erno Goldfinger: Erno Goldfinger was a Hungarian-born British architect known for his Brutalist buildings, including the Trellick Tower and Balfron Tower in London.
John Bickerstaff: John Bickerstaff was a British architect known for his Brutalist buildings, including the Barbican Estate in London and the University of Sussex.
Richard Rogers: Richard Rogers is a British architect known for his Brutalist buildings, including the Pompidou Center in Paris and the Lloyd’s of London building. He was also a founding member of the firm Rogers, Stirk, Harbour + Partners, which has designed numerous Brutalist buildings around the world.
These architects were all influential in the development of Brutalism in Britain and have left a lasting legacy on the country’s built environment.
Internationally, you should also include
Le Corbusier: Le Corbusier was a Swiss-French architect who is considered one of the pioneers of Brutalism. His work, including the Unité d’Habitation in Marseille, France, is characterized by the use of raw concrete and a focus on functionality.
Louis Khan: Louis Khan was an American architect known for his Brutalist buildings, including the Yale University Art Gallery and the Richards Medical Research Laboratories.
Marcel Breuer: Marcel Breuer was a Hungarian-born architect who is known for his Brutalist buildings, including the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.
Mies van der Rohe: Mies van der Rohe was a German-American architect known for his contributions to the International Style and his Brutalist buildings, including the Seagram Building in New York City.
Paul Rudolph: Paul Rudolph was an American architect who is known for his Brutalist buildings, including the Yale Art and Architecture Building.
Brutalism has had a mixed reception over the years, with some people praising its raw, functional aesthetic, while others criticize it for being cold and uninviting.
Despite this, Brutalist architecture has had a significant impact on the built environment and continues to be a subject of interest for architects and design enthusiasts.
Another growing love of mine is Constructivism from the old USSR.
Constructivist Art from the USSR: A Brief Overview
Constructivist art is a movement that originated in Russia in the early 20th century and was closely tied to the political and ideological developments of the time. It was a reaction to the traditional art of the past and sought to create a new form of art that was more relevant to the modern world.
The movement was largely driven by a group of artists, architects, and designers who were inspired by the revolutionary ideals of the Bolshevik Party and the Soviet Union. They believed that art should serve a practical purpose and be used to promote social and political change.
One of the key figures in the Constructivist movement was Vladimir Tatlin, who is considered the father of Constructivist art. Tatlin was a sculptor, painter, and designer who was deeply influenced by the ideas of the Russian avant-garde. He believed that art should be functional and should be used to serve the needs of the people.
Constructivist art was characterized by its focus on geometric forms, clean lines, and a sense of order and structure. It was often inspired by industrial and technological themes, and many works in this style were designed to be functional, rather than purely decorative.
Constructivist artists were also interested in exploring new materials and techniques, such as collage and photomontage. These techniques were used to create works that were both abstract and representational, and that often incorporated elements of propaganda and political messaging.
Constructivist art was a major force in the Soviet Union during the 1920s and 1930s, and it played a significant role in shaping the visual culture of the time. Many of the most famous Constructivist works were created by artists working in the fields of architecture, design, and advertising, and they played a key role in defining the visual language of the Soviet Union.
Despite its popularity at the time, Constructivist art fell out of favour in the later years of the Soviet Union, as the government began to clamp down on artistic expression and suppress dissent. Today, however, it is widely recognized as an important movement in the history of modern art, and its influence can still be seen in many contemporary art forms.
Here are five examples of Constructivist artists and a brief overview of their work:
Vladimir Tatlin: Tatlin was a Russian sculptor, painter, and designer who is considered the father of Constructivist art. He is best known for his designs for the Monument to the Third International, a proposed towering structure that was intended to be a symbol of the communist revolution. Tatlin’s work was characterized by its focus on geometric forms, clean lines, and a sense of order and structure.
Alexander Rodchenko: Rodchenko was a Russian painter, photographer, and graphic designer who was a key figure in the Constructivist movement. He is best known for his photomontages, which were created by combining multiple photographs to create a new, abstract image. Rodchenko’s work often had a strong political message and was used to promote the ideals of the Soviet Union.
El Lissitzky: Lissitzky was a Russian painter, designer, and architect who was a leading figure in the Constructivist movement. He is best known for his abstract, geometric paintings and his design work, which included posters, books, and exhibitions. Lissitzky’s work was characterized by its strong use of color and its emphasis on modern, industrial themes.
Liubov Popova: Popova was a Russian painter and designer who was active in the Constructivist movement. She is best known for her abstract, geometric paintings, which were inspired by the principles of Constructivism. Popova’s work often incorporated elements of collage and photomontage, and she was known for her innovative use of materials and techniques.
Ivan Kliun: Kliun was a Russian painter and graphic designer who was an important figure in the Constructivist movement. He is best known for his abstract, geometric paintings, which often incorporated elements of propaganda and political messaging. Kliun’s work was characterized by its bold use of colour and its focus on industrial and technological themes.
So what about these images, I hear you asking…OK – here you go: