Architecture May 1985
Robert Venturi and the decorated shed
On Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture by Robert Venturi.
If anyone can be called the father of post-modem architecture in America it is Robert Venturi, however reluctantly he admits his paternity. Some would say that postmodernist architecture has two fathers, Venturi and Charles Moore, who is perhaps a bit more willing to acknowledge the child than Venturi. Still, it is Venturi’s book, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture, published by the Museum of Modern Art in 1966, that provided the manifesto for the movement—if, indeed, the “movement” exists as more than a ubiquitous attitude. Certainly as a manifesto Venturi’s book has none of the commitment and belligerence that characterized modernism during the Teens and Twenties. Venturi himself refers to Complexity and Contradiction as a “gentle manifesto.” His diminuendo seems appropriate given his oblique program, which merely calls for a “non-straightforward...
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