NCAS Research Fellow Publishes Articles on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Brutalism

Maya Lin with Vietnam Veterans Memorial Design.jpg

National Civic Art Society Research Fellow Catesby Leigh has published two highly illuminating articles: the first, in the Claremont Review of Books, on the success of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial; the second, in City Journal, on nostaliga for Brutalism in the United Kingdom.

In the first article he writes:

in the annals of western art, “genius” has most often been ascribed to works exhibiting a high order of formal complexity as well as formal invention: the sculptures of Ictinus and Michelangelo, the paintings of Raphael and Caravaggio, the cathedrals and churches of the medieval master builders and Sir Christopher Wren. By this measure, we might by all means admire the Washington Monument—a simple, unornamented obelisk—but we wouldn’t expect to hear it described as “a work of genius.” ...

Lin’s wall could only be considered “a work of genius” within an eminently questionable modernist frame of reference. But it is an inspired work in its way, and one of the most important of all modernist creations if only because of the millions of people who have been moved by it.

You can find the whole article HERE.

In his article in City Journal, Leigh explains:

Brutalism’s common denominator was that it wasn’t about aesthetics but authenticity. What is authenticity? Whatever the au courant modernist happens to think is the real deal. “Authenticity” is, in fact, the most important word in the modernist lexicon. Unfortunately for millions of postwar Britons, it is a fairly reliable antonym for “beauty” or “domesticity.” Its modern roots lie in the separation of authentic or genuine artworks from fakes. So far as architecture is concerned, however, the term is totally subjective. Brutalism’s pathologically materialistic criteria for authenticity include the use of industrial materials and emphatic exposure not only of a building’s structural system but also of functional innards such as stairwells, elevator cores, ductwork, and so on

You can find that article HERE.

Birmingham Central Public Library

Birmingham Central Public Library