An indispensable and richly illustrated collection of essays by Melvin Charney, with interpretations by established scholars.
Melvin Charney (1935-2012) spent his career working on the border between art and architecture. His internationally celebrated art employed a variety of media including photography, montage, painting, sculpture, and temporary and permanent installations, relentlessly pursuing the meaning of architectural images in the age of mass communication. A long career as an educator was punctuated by several high-profile and contentious interventions into debates about architecture and urban life in Montreal. In spite of his renown, few realize that his legacy is also that of a prolific architectural critic.
Beginning in 1962, Charney published essays assessing the state of contemporary architecture. Assembled here for the first time, these texts place Charney among the most original architectural critics of his generation. Broaching topics as diverse as the Trulli houses of Italy, grain elevators, low income housing, and "The Montrealness of Montreal," they show Charney working through a constantly changing set of preoccupations: the value of everyday and vernacular architecture, the liberatory potential of innovations in building materials and technologies, the dangers of elitist and repressive understandings of formalism and architectural monumentality, the necessarily political nature of architecture, the creation of a built environment by and for people, and a socio-cultural understanding of urban architecture.
This volume includes an astonishing visual archive of over three hundred illustrations, many of which served as source material and inspiration for Charney's intellectual and artistic work, and set up a dialogue between his criticism and his landmark projects. Essays from established architectural scholars provide critical assessments of Charney’s body of work as well as new perspectives on many of the key issues he grappled with and that have transformed architecture since the 1960s.
A comprehensive and revealing collection, On Architecture presents the extraordinary scope and lasting relevance of one of Canada's leading architectural minds.
Contributors include Georges Adamczyk, George Baird, Réjean Legault, and Louis Martin.