The Future of the Past, or, Contemporary Tendencies

Richard Williams, Ruth Verde Zein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This 1987 paper describes possible approaches to writing a history of Modernist architecture in Brazil. It rejects the conventional view of a linear history centered on the work of the so-called "Carioca" school, beginning in 1930 and reaching a peak in 1960 with the inauguration of Brasília. In particular, the paper takes issue with widespread notion that "after Brasília, nothing happened," contending that much was achieved, both quantitatively and qualitatively. More broadly, Zein's revisionist approach also challenges the generally accepted view of the dictatorship as a period of stagnation or inactivity. In place of the conventional view of history, Zein proposes a more nuanced approach based on issues that reflect the pecularities of the local situation rather than Brazil represented as an iteration of international Modernism. Key terms in this revisionist history would be the "architecture of business," "architecture as a craft," "recycling," and "regionalism." Zein concludes the paper with a discussion of the evolving state and role of criticism in Brazilian architectural culture.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309 - 338
Number of pages30
JournalArt in Translation
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2009

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • architecture
  • modernism
  • Brazil
  • criticism
  • history
  • design


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