Review Of "The Making Of A Modern Japanese Architecture: 1868 To The Present" By D. B. Stewart

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Outside Japan, modern Japanese architecture from the Meiji restoration to WW II is virtually unknown. In the first two thirds of this superb and profusely illustrated book, Stewart, a Pevsner pupil teaching in Japan since 1975, surveys this material, not only in the context of Japanese history but also in relation to the making of modern architecture in the West; he defines the "Victorian foundations" of Japan's earliest Western-style architecture, explores Wright's reading of Japanese culture in his Imperial Hotel design, identifies the Expressionist architecture of the Taisho Era, and, above all, provides a rich account of the assimilation of the International Style in 1930s Japan, in which the German and French connections are carefully plotted and Antonin Raymond's contributions justly recognized. He then examines Kenzo Tange in relation to Le Corbusier and concludes with a discussion of A. Shinohara and Arata Isozaki, whom he isolates as Japan's most important architects today. Here, he focuses on their aesthetics of space, expostulating (not entirely persuasively) that it draws from the history he exposes. Articulated with intelligence, this, though not easy reading, ranks among the best on the subject, and makes the book essential for architects, modernists, historians of Japan, architectural historians, and general readers.


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