• Modern Architectures in History: France
    Jean-Louis Cohen
    Vivian Constantinopoulos
    Christian Hubert
    Reaktion Books, 2014
    Jean-Louis Cohen

Claude Parent and Paul Virilio, Sainte-Bernadette church, 1967, Nevers, France. Photo: Jean-Louis Cohen.

In a series devoted to new interpretation of modern architecture in the world, the book discusses the French situation, from the completion of the Eiffel tower to the present day. Patterns of continuity that relate this initial stage of technological invention to later institutional and architectural developments are underlined. Architecture is discussed in relationship with nation, state, and class, in a historical phase characterized by rapid urbanization, but designs and buildings considered also engage changing patterns in visual culture, intellectual culture, and literature. The book reveals two systems of tensions. The first deals with the dialectics between experimental architecture and mass production, as reflected for instance in the troubled modernization of education at the École des Beaux-Arts. The second system deals with France's reception of European and American experiences, a complex web of fascination and xenophobia. This alternating pattern of rejection and celebration gives to the book its very tempo.

Jean-Louis Cohen was born in 1949 in Paris. Trained as an architect, he received a PhD in history. Since 1993, he has held the Sheldon H. Solow Chair for the History of Architecture at New York University's Institute of Fine Arts. His research activity focuses on twentieth-century architecture and urban design. From 1997 to 2003, he imagined and developed the Cité de l'architecture for the French Minister of Culture, a museum, research, and exhibition center that opened in 2007. In 2012, he received a Graham Foundation grant for his upcoming publication Modern Architectures in History: France (Reaktion Books). A curator of numerous exhibitions in Europe and North America, his books include Le Corbusier and the Mystique of the USSR (1992), Scenes of the World to Come (1995), Casablanca, Colonial Myths, and Architectural Ventures (2002, with Monique Eleb), Mies van der Rohe (2007), Architecture in Uniform (2011), and The Future of Architecture. Since 1889. (2012).