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Publication

  • Focus on Modernism: The Architectural Photography of Robert Damora
    Karla Britton and Pierluigi Serraino
    Authors
    Hatje Cantz, 2014
  • GRANTEE
    Karla Britton & Pierluigi Serraino
    GRANT YEAR
    2013

Robert Damora, photograph of Gropius House, 1947 (Walter Gropius, architect), Lincoln, MA. Courtesy of the Estate of Robert Damora, all rights reserved.

Architectural photography and international modernism came of age together. As a remarkable instance of this convergence, the architectural photographer Robert Damora (1912–2009) became one of the strongest advocates and interpreters of American modernism. Through his lens, what we now know to be some of the most iconic twentieth-century architectural structures find a unique representation at modernism's point of entry into the North American continent. In capturing the early manifestations of this new aesthetic, Damora pioneered a way of looking at space and design that appealed to the cultural establishment, as well as to the masses. His photographic rhetoric—always subject to the highest standards of refinement—traveled across the genres of popular and professional media and taste, creating a narrative of how modernism could transform society. This book presents the otherwise undocumented corpus of his work, as part of a growing literature on the integral relationship between architecture and photography.

Karla Britton is lecturer at the Yale School of Architecture and lecturer in religion and the arts at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music. Britton, an historian of twentieth- and twenty-first century architecture and urbanism, earned her master’s degree at Columbia University and her PhD at Harvard University. She is a specialist in modernist French architecture, and her work addresses how modernization has shaped concepts of history, tradition, and the public sphere. Her work also focuses on drawing out interdisciplinary patterns of research, such as two international symposia she organized at Yale around the theme of contemporary religious architecture: Middle Ground / Middle East and Constructing the Ineffable. Her publications include, Auguste Perret (2001); Hawaiian Modern: The Architecture of Vladimir Ossipoff (2005, with Dean Sakamoto); and Constructing the Ineffable: Contemporary Sacred Architecture (2010).

Pierluigi Serraino is an independent scholar, architect, and author. He holds multiple professional and research degrees in architecture from Italy and the United States. His work and writings have been published in professional and scholarly journals, among them, Architectural Record, Architecture California, Journal of Architectural Education, and Architectural Design (UK). He has authored four books, including Julius Shulman: Modernism Rediscovered (Taschen, 2000) and NorCalMod: Icons of Northern California Modernism (Chronicle Books). He has written numerous essays, most recently including “Solid States: Concrete in Transition” (Princeton Architectural Press, 2010), on the pioneering modeling methods of Eero Saarinen & Associates; and “California Houses of Gordon Drake” (Stout Publishers, 2011), on the experimental designs of Gordon Drake. He has recently lectured at Princeton University, Columbia University, the City University of New York, LACMA, and the Seattle Art Museum, among other institutions, on the subject of mid-century modernism, architectural photography, and digital design.