Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture by Robert Venturi (Museum of Modern Art, 1968, 1st edition, 2nd printing) outlined a gentle manifesto to open a new chapter in the history of 20th-century architecture. The introduction is by Vincent Scully. The book was the first in a projected series of Museum of Modern Art Papers on Architecture that was concerned with the ideas and opinions of practicing architects as well as critics and historians. Venturi discusses the limited vocabulary of modern architecture and argues for more plurality in architectural values. The book also presents 12 projects from Venturi and his collaborators.
I like complexity and contradiction in architecture. I do not like the incoherence or arbitrariness of incompetent architecture nor the precious intricacies of picturesqueness or expressionism. Instead, I speak of a complex and contradictory architecture based on the richness and ambiguity of modern experience, including that experience which is inherent in art (…)
I am for messy vitality over obvious unit. I include the non sequitur and proclaim the duality. I am for richness of meaning rather than clarity of meaning; for the implicit function as well as the explicit function. I prefer ‘both-and’ to ‘either-or’, black and white, and sometimes gray, to black or white. A valid architecture evokes many levels of meaning and combinations of focus: its space and its elements become readable and workable in several ways at once.
But an architecture of complexity and contradiction has a special obligation toward the whole: its tough must be in its totality or its implications of totality. It must embody the difficult unity or inclusion rather than the easy unity of exclusion. More is not less.
— Robert Venturi, Nonstraightforward Architecture: A Gentle Manifesto. In: Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (MoMa, 1968), pp.22-23.
The text is in English. The book has been illustrated with black-and-white photographs and architectural drawings of Venturi’s exemplary projects from historical architecture and from his own works.
The copy in our stock is in nice condition. The pages are clean without any markings, and the glueing of the binding is fine. There is some age-related yellowing on the pages, and the covers show some shelf wear and signs of use.