With his pithy, polemic writing, he saw to it over the coming decades that the style wars were never far from the headlines. As the unrivalled godfather of postmodernism, Jencks wrote, spoke and enthused in his characteristically charming, witty and debonair manner, for 50 years about architecture that embraced pluralism and difference over standardised homogeneity. He wrote more than 30 books, constantly writing and rewriting the history of 20th-century architecture as we know it. A striking figure, often dressed in a purple velvet suit, deep-brimmed hat and a scarf rakishly draped over one shoulder, Jencks embodied the flamboyant American academic. To some critics, his journalistic style and lack of rigid consistency put him more in the category of zeitgeist chaser than serious historian, but his ideas were all the more influential for it.
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Notes on the complexities of Post-Modernism. By Charles Jencks. Charles Jencks. Post-Modernism is a wide cultural movement since the s which has its soi-disant variants in every field including science and dance. It is a plural movement which defined itself to defend the local, regional and minority cultures of the globe against the hegemony of Modernism largely a western and late-capitalist formation.
Or a defense of plural cultures. In discussions with Lyotard related in my Critical Modernism , , and The Story of Post-Modernism , we disagreed over the end of metanarratives, at first. Rarely does a fabricated neologism of a curator take hold of the imagination, and in this context it is important to remember E. Most successful ones were forged in antipathy, and stuck because they struck a chord, certainly the case with the label Post-Modernism.
It chose us. PM is as a general cultural phenomenon the hybridisation of modernism with other cultural forces, hence its double-coding and radical mixing etc. Now chaos, fractals, epigenetics, cosmology and another thirty or so non-linear sciences illuminated by the computer have become the sciences of the twenty-first century — as the Santa Fe Institute predicted in The self-organising universe is the basic metaphor behind this paradigm.
My argument in recent books including The Post-Modern Reader , , that includes many disciplines is that, in architecture, the movement has returned after the Neo-Modernism of the s in every way but by name. The world is now saturated by the confused labels of Modernism and Post-Modernism, but the streams of concerns to which these labels used to refer are continuing.
So, thanks to its superannuation as a label and in spite of confusion , the agenda of Post-Modernism is thriving — in architecture and art. Charles Jencks, The Garagia Rotunda, —7. Taken up positively by Ihab Hassan in literature and me in architecture — in the s — the movement really started across all the arts and sciences. But they were not the same paradigm, and the basic split within Modernism continued in a new guise, that between Nihilism, Dadaism, and anti-humanism — and the Modern Movement of the Bauhaus, technology, and humanism.
That is to say two Post-Modernisms resulted, the ultra-modernism or Late-Modernism that Hassan and Lyotard tended to support and the complexity paradigm that architects and the emergent sciences supported but of course pluralism was held in common by both trends. His books on the history and criticism of Modernism and Postmodernism are widely read in architectural circles and beyond.
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He was The book offered a close reading of modernist aesthetics, one that would shape an understanding of the movement for decades to come. To Jencks, modernism lived and breathed — a fact made all the more alluring for its continuing evolution. Image via United States Geological Survey.
Leave a comment Charles Jencks , the critic who helped bring postmodernism into existence, died this week. With populism on the rise, the pluralism of the movement is needed now more than ever, argues Owen Hopkins. Louis, Missouri on July 15, at 3. Jencks subsequently admitted to having made up the precise time for the sake of rhetorical flourish and impact. Postmodernism in architecture existed before Charles Jencks decided to call it that — yet, it was still a latent force, disparate and disconnected.
Charles Jencks obituary
This thesis was the source for his Modern Movements in Architecture which criticised the suppression of some Modernist variations. Jencks married Pamela Balding in marriage ended, July, by whom he had two sons: one works as a landscape architect in Shanghai, while the other works for Jardines in Vietnam. The ad hoc use of readymade materials was championed in his polemical text with Nathan Silver Adhocism — the Case for Improvisation in and Based on the notion of self-help and the fact that cancer patients are often involved in a long, drawn-out struggle, the centres provide social and psychological help in an attractive setting next to large hospitals. Their architecture, landscape, and art are designed to support both patients and caregivers and to give dignity to those who, in the past, often hid their disease. Maggie Keswick Jencks is the author of the book The Chinese Garden, on which her husband also worked.