NEUTRA. Thomas S. Hines: RICHARD NEUTRA AND THE SEARCH FOR MODERN ARCHITECTURE. New York / Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982.

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RICHARD NEUTRA
AND THE SEARCH FOR MODERN ARCHITECTURE

Thomas S. Hines

Thomas S. Hines: RICHARD NEUTRA AND THE SEARCH FOR MODERN ARCHITECTURE. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982. First edition.  Square quarto. Black cloth stamped in white. Printed dust jacket. 356 pp. 360 black and white images. Architectural historian’s bookplate to front endpaper. Jacket with one short closed tear to lower front panel edge and faint edgewear. A nearly fine copy in a nearly fine dust jacket: uncommon thus.

10.5 x 10.5 hardcover book with 356 pages and 360 black and white photographs, drawings and plans of Neutra’s architecture. An uncommon, early and comprehensive monograph on this great Modernist who's work in California remains an inspiration to many. Includes many vintage photographs taken by Shulman under Neutra's direction. Quality printing and reproductions.

Richard Neutra (1892-1970) was an Austrian-American architect whose building career in Southern California established him as one of the preeminent Modern Architects of the 20th century.

Neutra studied under Adolf Loos at the Vienna University of Technology (1910–1918) where he was a student of Max Fabiani and Karl Mayreder. In 1912 he undertook a study trip to Italy and Balkans with Ernst Ludwig Freud (son of Sigmund Freud). In June 1914, Neutra's studies were interrupted when he was ordered to Trebinje; he served as a lieutenant in the artillery in the Balkans until the end of the war. He took a leave in 1917 to return to the Technische Hochschule to take his final examinations.

After World War I Neutra went to Switzerland where he worked with the landscape architect Gustav Ammann. In 1921 he served briefly as city architect in the German town of Luckenwalde, and later in the same year he joined the office of Erich Mendelsohn in Berlin. Neutra contributed to the firm's competition entry for a new commercial centre for Haifa, Palestine (1922), and to the Zehlendorf housing project in Berlin (1923). He married Dione Niedermann, the daughter of an architect, in 1922. They had three sons, Frank L (1924–2008), Dion (1926–) an architect and his father's partner and Raymond Richard (1939–) a physician and environmental epidemiologist.

Neutra moved to the United States by 1923 and became a naturalized citizen in 1929. Neutra worked briefly for Frank Lloyd Wright before accepting an invitation from his close friend and university companion Rudolf Schindler to work and live communally in Schindler's Kings Road House in Los Angeles. Neutra’s first work in California was in landscape architecture, where he provided the design for the garden of Schindler’s beach house (1922–5), designed for Philip Lovell, Newport Beach, and for a pergola and wading pool for Wright and Schindler’s complex for Aline Barnsdall on Olive Hill (1925), Hollywood. Schindler and Neutra collaborated on an entry for the League of Nations Competition of 1926–7; in the same year they formed a firm with the planner Carol Aronovici (1881–1957) called the Architectural Group for Industry and Commerce (AGIC). He subsequently developed his own practice and went on to design numerous buildings embodying the International Style, twelve of which are designated as Historic Cultural Monuments (HCM), including the Lovell Health House (HCM #123; 1929) and the Richard and Dion Neutra VDL Research House (HCM #640; 1966). In California, he became celebrated for rigorously geometric but airy structures that symbolized a West Coast variation on the mid-century modern residence. Clients included Edgar J. Kaufmann, Galka Scheyer, and Walter Conrad Arensberg. In the early 1930s, Neutra's Los Angeles practice trained several young architects who went on to independent success, including Gregory Ain, Harwell Hamilton Harris, and Raphael Soriano. In 1932, he tried to move to the Soviet Union, to help design workers' housing that could be easily constructed, as a means of helping with the housing shortage.

In 1932, Neutra was included in the seminal MoMA exhibition on modern architecture, curated by Philip Johnson and Henry-Russell Hitchcock. In 1949 Neutra formed a partnership with Robert E. Alexander that lasted until 1958, which finally gave him the opportunity to design larger commercial and institutional buildings. In 1955, the United States Department of State commissioned Neutra to design a new embassy in Karachi. Neutra's appointment was part of an ambitious program of architectural commissions to renowned architects, which included embassies by Walter Gropius in Athens, Edward Durrell Stone in New Delhi, Marcel Breuer in The Hague, Josep Lluis Sert in Baghdad, and Eero Saarinen in London. In 1965 Neutra formed a partnership with his son Dion Neutra. Between 1960 and 1970, Neutra created eight villas in Europe, four in Switzerland, three in Germany, and one in France. Prominent clients in this period included Gerd Bucerius, publisher of Die Zeit, as well as figures from commerce and science.

He was famous for the attention he gave to defining the real needs of his clients, regardless of the size of the project, in contrast to other architects eager to impose their artistic vision on a client. Neutra sometimes used detailed questionnaires to discover his client's needs, much to their surprise. His domestic architecture was a blend of art, landscape, and practical comfort.

In a 1947 article for the Los Angeles Times, "The Changing House," Neutra emphasizes the "ready-for-anything" plan – stressing an open, multifunctional plan for living spaces that are flexible, adaptable and easily modified for any type of life or event. In 1977, he was posthumously awarded the AIA Gold Medal, and in 2015 he was honored with a Golden Palm Star on the Walk of Stars in Palm Springs, California. [neutransp]

American photographer Julius Shulman's (1910 – 2009) images of Californian architecture have burned themselves into the retina of the 20th century. Some of his architectural photographs, like the iconic shots of Frank Lloyd Wright's or Pierre Koenig's remarkable structures, have been published countless times. The brilliance of buildings like those by Charles Eames, as well as those of his close friend, Richard Neutra, was first brought to light by Shulman's photography.

The clarity of his work demanded that architectural photography had to be considered as an independent art form. Each Shulman image unites perception and understanding for the buildings and their place in the landscape. The precise compositions reveal not just the architectural ideas behind a building's surface, but also the visions and hopes of an entire age. A sense of humanity is always present in his work, even when the human figure is absent from the actual photographs.

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