Complexity and Contradiction: The Architecture and Writing of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown with Dr. Jennie Hirsh

Complexity and Contradiction: The Architecture and Writing of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown with Dr. Jennie Hirsh


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This conversation will explore several key projects by architectural power couple Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, examining how their playful, postmodernist work exemplifies the idea that "less is a bore," refuting the simplicity of modernist orthodoxy following Mies van der Rohe's infamous words "less is more." 

Visiting sites such as Franklin Court, Vanna Venturi House,  and Guild House in the greater Philadelphia area as well as Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery in London, Gordon Wu Hall at Princeton University, and the extension to the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College, this presentation looks at the ways in which these architects applied their theories –– most famously expressed in Complexity and Contradiction and Learning from Las Vegas –– to residential, commercial, and educational contexts. 

We will also explore how these ideas manifest in some of the designs for furniture and other household items. Incorporating models, drawings, and the architects' writing, this conversation locates their work in the larger context of postmodern architecture, considering as well the ways in which Scott Brown, as a woman, was not always fully recognized for her creative contributions, as demonstrated most famously when the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize was awarded in 1991 to her husband only, despite his request to add her to the award.

Led by an expert on modern and contemporary art and architecture, Dr. Jennie Hirsh, this interactive seminar will introduce learners to the projects as well as the writings of Venturi and Scott Brown. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of these architects and their legacy.

This conversation is part of a series on architects with Dr. Jennie Hirsh. Each session is designed as a stand-alone seminar as well as part of the series.

Jennie Hirsh (Ph.D., Bryn Mawr College) is a Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Maryland Institute College of Art. She has held postdoctoral fellowships at Princeton and Columbia Universities, as well as pre-doctoral fellowships from the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation, the U.S. Fulbright Commission, the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, and the Wolfsonian FIU. Hirsh has authored essays on artists including Giorgio de Chirico, Giorgio Morandi, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Yinka Shonibare, and Regina Silveira, and is co-editor, with Isabelle Wallace, of Contemporary Art and Classical Myth (Ashgate 2011).

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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