The most basic task of any museum must be the protection of works of cultural significance entrusted to its care for the edification and pleasure of future generations.

— Martin Filler

The most useful Martin Filler quotes to get the best of your day

The skyscraper style first advocated by Louis Sullivan - a tower of strongly vertical character with clear definitions among base, shaft, and crown - has remained remarkably consistent throughout the history of this building type.

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Although prefabrication has a long history - the ancient Romans shipped pre-cut stone columns, pediments, and other architectural elements to their colonies in North Africa, where the numbered parts were reassembled into temples - the idea took on a new impetus with the technological advances of the Industrial Revolution.

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Architectural kitsch is most common in the commercial pop vernacular - typified by the Big Duck of 1931 in Flanders, New York, a Long Island roadside poultry stand resembling a duck, which Venturi and Scott Brown made a cult object through their writings.

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Masterpieces of art possess immense potential to advance a worldview that could help assuage the societal terrors posed by globalization, the most thoroughgoing socioeconomic upheaval since the Industrial Revolution, which has set off a pandemic of retrogressive nationalism, regional separatism, and religious extremism.

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The tall building, concentrating man in one place more densely than ever before, similarly concentrates the dilemma of our public architecture at the end of the twentieth century: whether the new forms made possible by technology are doomed by the low calculations of modern patrons and their architects.

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When Oscar Niemeyer died on December 5, 2012, ten days before his 105th birthday, he was universally regarded as the very last of the twentieth century's major architectural masters, an astonishing survivor whose most famous accomplishment, Brasilia, was the climactic episode of utopian High Modern urbanism.

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A turning point in the public's perception of the building art came with the publication of Frank Lloyd Wright's 'An Autobiography' of 1932, a picaresque narrative that captivated many who hadn't the slightest inkling of what architects actually did.

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The financial benefits of prefabrication have never been as large as its advocates predicted, for although some labor costs can be reduced by machine manufacturing, on-site assembly of any building still depends to some extent on the handwork of skilled craftsmen.

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The magnificent lobby of the Chrysler Building - faced with rare marbles, aglitter with decorative metalwork, and surmounted by a ceiling painted with a totemic image of the tower itself - leads to elevator cabs inlaid with exotic woods in fanciful patterns. The entire route from street to office is invested with ceremony, dignity, and delight.

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Before the professionalization of architecture in the nineteenth century, it was standard for an aspiring mason or carpenter to begin his apprenticeship at fourteen and to become a master builder by his early twenties.

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The popular mythology of creative genius depends on beloved stereotypes of the artist in youth and old age: the misunderstood upstart who forces us to see the world afresh; and the revered sage who shows us depths of insight attainable only through a lifetime of hard-won experience.

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There is no sadder tale in the annals of architecture than the virtual disappearance of the defining architectural form of the Modern Movement - publicly sponsored housing.

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About Martin Filler

Quotes 48 sayings
Birthday September 17, 1948

As with many other folk beliefs, 'feng-shui' undoubtedly incorporates some scientifically correct observation or received wisdom based on direct experience of natural phenomena; but it needs to be dealt with skeptically as a credible system of thought. Some feng-shui prescriptions can certainly lead to desirable results.

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Truly great architecture always transcends its stated function, sometimes in unanticipated ways.

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One of the Age of Enlightenment's most hypnotic images is Ledoux's rendering of his neoclassical theater of 1775 - 1784 in Besancon, surreally reflected in the colossal eye of an unidentified cosmic being.

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Architecture traditionally has been the slowest of art forms.

It was not unusual for great cathedrals to take centuries to complete, with stylistic changes from Romanesque to Gothic or Renaissance to Baroque as common as the addition of chapels or spires. But because the function remained the same, the form could be flexible and its growth organic.

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What a museum chooses to exhibit is sometimes less important than how such decisions are made and what values inform them. To have the crucial role of museum professionals usurped by self-serving tycoons in the name of economic imperative threatens not only the integrity of individual institutions but the very principle of art held in public trust.

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The first half of the 1960s was the apogee of what might be termed the Age of Cool - as defined by that quality of being simultaneously with-it and disengaged, in control but nonchalant, knowing but ironically self-aware, and above all inscrutably undemonstrative.

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There can be little question that the tall building presents one of the most difficult challenges to the architect.

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Architecture is not a profession for the faint-hearted, the weak-willed, or the short-lived.

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Avant-garde architects have never been able to depend on the support of the establishment, since the customary patrons of this most conservative and slowly moving art form have historically been resistant to innovation and experiment.

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Before World War II, Modernist architects sometimes had to resort to custom fabrication or outright fakery to achieve the machine imagery advocated by the Bauhaus after its initial, Expressionist, phase. Stucco masqueraded as reinforced concrete; rivets were used for decoration.

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From the outset, MoMA followed the Bauhaus's strict prohibition against design that even hinted at the decorative, a prejudice that skewed the pioneering museum's view of Modernism for decades.

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Elevated locations imply elevated purposes, even in American cities departing as radically as Los Angeles does from the traditional planning patterns of the Eastern Seaboard.

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High among the unpredictable variables that endanger the survival of worthy buildings are the vagaries of taste.

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After Lyndon Johnson's Great Society, the belief in decent housing as a political right or social obligation was supplanted in the U.S. by the notion that suitable shelter should be an act of charity.

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By 1970, the first stirrings of the revolt against Modernist orthodoxy in architecture had been felt, although it would be several years more until Postmodernism was widely accepted and made classical motifs permissible in high-style building design for the first time in decades.

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Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers's Centre Georges Pompidou of 1971-1977 - the true prototype of the modern museum as popular architectural spectacle - wound up costing so much more than planned that the French government solved the shortfall by cutting support for several regional museums.

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Few developments central to the history of art have been so misrepresented or misunderstood as the brief, brave, glorious, doomed life of the Bauhaus - the epochally influential German art, architecture, crafts, and design school that was founded in Goethe's sleepy hometown of Weimar in 1919.

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Experimental architecture by its very nature is more prone to the depredations of time and natural elements than buildings made from conventional materials through traditional methods. Avant-garde architects often simply do not know how the products of their imagination will perform when implemented, especially if untested components are involved.

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Nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century exponents of prefabrication were certain it would supplant age-old traditions of individualized design and handcrafted construction. The building art would be revolutionized by freeing designers and construction workers from repetitive tasks, and democratized by making high-style architecture more affordable.

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Any set of decisions about design is inevitably influenced by cultural prejudice, no matter how intent an architect might be to avoid it.

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Despite the persistent image of the architect as a heroic loner erecting monumental edifices through sheer force of will, the building art has always been a highly cooperative enterprise.

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Architecture was the last of the major professions to devise a formal 'cursus honorum' before its practice could be undertaken.

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Snohetta promotes a more democratic workplace atmosphere than most other architectural offices. This may merely reflect prevalent employment practices in Scandinavia, but Snohetta places a stronger emphasis on group participation in the design process than typical high-style firms.

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All architecture, classical or not, must have some sense of order, and order is much harder to achieve without the straight lines and right angles that have dominated the building art from time immemorial.

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During the modern period, the vanguard architect has usually relied on small residential jobs both to supply a steady income and to serve as 'sketches' for ideas that are often later translated to the larger scale of public commissions.

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Cost overruns are not uncommon in architecture, particularly for designs that depart from structural or technological norms, or demand a finer quality of execution than commercial schemes - conditions typical of buildings for cultural institutions. Budgets are exceeded for many reasons, not all of them within an architect's control.

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Considering my specialization in architecture, I'm not surprised that the first graphic novel to thoroughly engage, not to say captivate, me is Chip Kidd and Dave Taylor's 'Batman: Death by Design.'

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Winning the Pritzker assures a flood of work in one's seventies and eighties, jobs necessarily carried out by assistants as the demands of modern-day cultural stardom and the inevitable waning of physical capacities prevent many architects from attaining the transcendent final phase more easily achieved by artists in other mediums.

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The danger for any artist whose work is both recognizable and critically acclaimed is complacent repetition - the temptation to churn out easily identifiable, eagerly welcomed, and readily salable designs.

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One of the stated goals of the postmodern movement in architecture was a greater sensitivity to the people who live in or use newly designed buildings.

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The truth be told, the World Trade Center was neither a very good work of architecture nor a very successful piece of urbanism. Its shortcomings were somewhat mitigated by the westward and southward expansion of the World Financial Center and Battery Park City during the 1980s.

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During the nineteenth century, the rapid emergence and proliferation of new manufacturing methods and building technologies led to the establishment of polytechnic schools that concentrated on the practicalities of engineering and construction rather than the niceties of stylistic correctness or adherence to established precedent.

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One of the most persistent yet elusive dreams of the Modern Movement in architecture has been prefabrication: industrially made structures that can be assembled at a building site.

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The work that launched Snohetta into the architectural big leagues was their Oslo Opera House, which will certainly rank among the firm's highlights whatever else they may do. Although this is by any measure a triumph of city planning, the building itself is not quite a masterpiece, though very fine indeed.

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Always beware an unsigned architectural design.

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