"Wanting To Be: The Philadelphia School"


By that time, of course, Kahn's reputation had expanded to international scale and had begun to influence older architects who were first exposed to him through the publication of countless articles--especially in Perspecta and Jan Rowan's "The Philadelphia School" in Progressive Architecture in 1961. At that time also, the first work of the second-generation Kahnian architects began to be published: Robert Venturi completed Grand's Restaurant in Philadelphia (1962)--an Italianate diner with industrial parts and common materials and a then strangely incomprehensible overlay of graphics.
C. Ray Smith, Supermannerism: New Attitudes in Post-Modern Architecture (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1977), p. 87.

Whenever any comprehensive explanation is published about an avant-gard or unknown movement, direction, person or development, in the arts at least, it seems that such publication causes the avant-garde to feel their domain has been exposed to the masses. In reaction, they often immediately begin to pursue some other course. What such publications seem to do is to wrap up the accomplished work succinctly enough for all to comprehend, so that those newly introduced can immediately pursue the published direction--through imitation. But the already knowledgeable feel bored or are pressed to move on to other things. That was the reaction to the 1968 and 1969 publications on Supermannerism. It had also been the reaction to the 1961 publication on "The Philadelphia School," which produced masses of Kahn-worshipers immediately, and which alienated Kahn from P/A instantly--since he did not want identification as the founder of a school but wanted to be considered an independent and pure poet. At the same time, those who felt that they were doing work that was new and different from Kahn also did not liked being lumped in as derivative; so they turned to the unknown Kahn about that time, that is, they turned from Kahn to Venturi, and in some cases to Moore. "By the time most people caught up with Kahn," Vreeland remembered, "he was already something to be critical of," by which he indicated the change in Kahn's work from what Moore had earlier called "Kahn's high period" to what he later called Kahn's "international acclaim period."
C. Ray Smith, Supermannerism: New Attitudes in Post-Modern Architecture (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1977), pp. 90-1.




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