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Robert Venturi

American, b. 1925

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Robert Venturi

American, b. 1925

Biography

Pritzker Prize–winning architect Robert Venturi ushered in a new generation of design in the United States with his buildings that fused the innovations of modernism with historical styles. Although he worked with Eero Saarinen and Louis Kahn early in his career, Venturi argued in his 1966 book Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture that modernism pursued an impossible sense of purity, advocating instead that architecture should have a “messy vitality” that engages the past through contradiction and complexity. “As an architect, I try to be guided not by habit but by a conscious sense of the past—by precedent, thoughtfully considered,” he once said. The Vanna Venturi House, in Pennsylvania, which he built for his mother, exemplifies his approach in its blend of modernist symmetry, the structure of a country home, and elements of postmodernism. Similarly, the Sainsburg Wing addition to London’s National Gallery fuses the original building’s classicism with more modernist lines and elements such as glass walls.

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Career Highlights
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Group
Group show at a major institution
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and 1 more
Institution
Collected by a major institution
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and 1 more
Publication
Reviewed by a major art publication
Artforum
Fair
Included in a major biennial
Venice Biennale International Exhibition
Biography

Pritzker Prize–winning architect Robert Venturi ushered in a new generation of design in the United States with his buildings that fused the innovations of modernism with historical styles. Although he worked with Eero Saarinen and Louis Kahn early in his career, Venturi argued in his 1966 book Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture that modernism pursued an impossible sense of purity, advocating instead that architecture should have a “messy vitality” that engages the past through contradiction and complexity. “As an architect, I try to be guided not by habit but by a conscious sense of the past—by precedent, thoughtfully considered,” he once said. The Vanna Venturi House, in Pennsylvania, which he built for his mother, exemplifies his approach in its blend of modernist symmetry, the structure of a country home, and elements of postmodernism. Similarly, the Sainsburg Wing addition to London’s National Gallery fuses the original building’s classicism with more modernist lines and elements such as glass walls.

Career Highlights
Learn more about artist insights.
Group
Group show at a major institution
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and 1 more
Institution
Collected by a major institution
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and 1 more
Publication
Reviewed by a major art publication
Artforum
Fair
Included in a major biennial
Venice Biennale International Exhibition
Articles Featuring Robert Venturi
How a Revolution in “Ugly” Design Is Upending Conventions of Beauty
Sep 6th, 2017
How a Revolution in “Ugly” Design Is Upending Conventions of Beauty
How Columbus, Indiana, Became a Mecca for Modernist Architecture
Sep 4th, 2017
How Columbus, Indiana, Became a Mecca for Modernist Architecture
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