neo-classicism


neo-classicism
   Neo-classicism, a term generally associated with nineteenth-century architecture, has marked an attempt on the part of twentieth-century architects to resist the modern movement in its determination to develop a definitive style. Postwar architects including Philip Johnson, Charles Moore, Robert Venturi and Frank Gehry began to consider architecture in historical terms. They were followed by architectural critics, notably Colin Rowe, Michael Graves (architect and writer) and Allan Greenberg, who maintained that certain elements of modern architecture owe a debt to historical antecedents. During the 1960s the reductivist consistency of 1950s modernism was challenged, and by the late 1970s, postmodernism had emerged. Resonances of classicism can be felt in many postwar architectural productions, particularly in the work of American architects during the late 1970s and 1980s. Luxembourg-born Leon Krier has been more explicit in his adoption of early nineteenth-century neo-classicism, as in his design for the Royal Mint Square Project, London (1974). British architects Terry Farrell, James Stirling, John Outram and Robert Adam both respond to and undermine classicism.
   Described by Robert A.M.Stern as a ‘canonical classicist’, Raymond Erith (1904–73) quietly followed the classical ideal during the period of postwar new brutalism. Wivenhoe New Park, Essex (1963) remains one of his most characteristic buildings. Erith’s protégé and architectural partner Quinlan Terry emerged in the early 1970s to lead Britain’s classical revival, commanding a range of variations of classicism. Beginning with a series of small country houses, it was Frog Meadow, Dedham, Essex (1979) and a country house, Waverton, near Moreton-in-Marsh, Glouctershire (1977–9) that established his reputation. Dufours Place, London (1981–3), containing offices and residential apartments, shows an interest in the picturesque manipulation of classicism further exploited at the larger Richmond Riverside Development (1983–8) where a range of classical forms from the sixteenth to the early nineteenth century were rehearsed. Terry’s most explicitly neo-classical commission was for Downing College, Cambridge, where he designed the Howard Building (1983–7), located within a context of nineteenth and twentieth-century buildings including the chaste West Lodge by William Wilkins (1807–21), additional work by Edward Barry (1830–80) and the North Range (1930) by Sir Herbert Baker (1862–1945). Arrol and Snell and Siddel Gibson have produced neo-classical works in the provinces.
   Further reading
    Stern, R.A.M. (1988) Modern Classicism, New York: Rizzoli.
   HILARY GRAINGER

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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