… Banham, who was in his early 40s on those initial trips to California, saw two kinds of promise in Los Angeles: first as a new sort of 20th century city, in his view liberated rather than thrown into chaos by its lack of planning, and second, just as important, as the vehicle for a fresh approach to writing architectural history.
A champion of Pop Art and pop culture, Banham had already shown his impatience with traditional notions of beauty, architectural scholarship and city-making in his work of the 1950s and early 1960s. His membership with the architects Alison and Peter Smithson, the photographer Nigel Henderson and others in the so-called Independent Group in London put him at the center of early debates in Britain about how to demolish those old critical and historical standards for good.
In Los Angeles he found his ideal subject: a globally important but under-scrutinized city he could explore in relative anonymity, diving deeply into a place typically written off as superficial. “Los Angeles does not get the attention it deserves,” he wrote in “Four Ecologies.” “It gets attention, but it’s like the attention that Sodom and Gomorrah have received, primarily a reflection of other people’s bad consciences.”
27 Apr 2011 / 10 notes