The Complete Arts & Architecture 1945–1954

Introduction by David Travers

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Welcome to Arts & Architecture. In the case of some, maybe, welcome back. It's a wonderful thing that TASCHEN is doing—reprinting first Domus magazine and now, in two installments, Arts & Architecture. My first thought when approached was that the project was impossibly retro. TASCHEN had already done a physically immense reproduction of Arts & Architecture's Case Study House Program. That seemed to me to be sufficient. After all, the magazine was best known, almost exclusively so, for this 20-year-long program sponsoring new ideas in residential design.

But A&A was more than that. It is difficult, maybe impossible, to understand a time that is not your own, to feel the excitement of the 1940s, '50s and '60s if you were not a part of them. The World War II years and the post-war period in the United States were an energetic mix of culture and politics, and A&A was at the leading edge in architecture, art, music—even in the larger issues of segregation in housing and education and other manifestations of racial bias, before they became codified as civil rights.

Arts & Architecture acted like sunshine on West Coast architects, who grew and flourished under its rays


The magazine was hopeful about life; it had a sense of mission. Editor John Entenza's moral seriousness—leavened by his wry humor—infused the magazine. In his "Notes in Passing" editorials, his support of our Soviet allies, his attacks on the prejudice behind the Zoot Suit Riots of 1943, his life-long support of the UN, gave A&A social significance beyond architecture. (My editorials tended to be sermons, dealing with architectural sins and sinners.) Polymath Peter Yates wrote with intellectual depth and fervor on anything from the music of Cage, Ives and Guston to Mayan art to the social issues which continue to afflict us today. He once wrote an epigraph for the time, for all time,"Let's begin with man, with respect, compassion and love for the individual, or we'll never get anywhere." Leaf through the issues of 1940s and 1950s and, I blush to say, the 1960s; the content was imaginative, new and exciting.

First and above all, however, Arts & Architecture acted like sunshine on West Coast architects, who grew and flourished under its rays: Richard Neutra, R.M. Schindler, Harwell Harris, Gregory Ain, Charles Eames, Lloyd Wright, John Lautner, Ed Killingsworth, the carpenters in steel—Raphael Soriano, Craig Ellwood, Pierre Koenig—and in the north Campbell & Wong, William Wurster. The list must end but seems endless. The magazine's Los Angeles headquarters at 3305 Wilshire Boulevard became the center for Southern California architects with a common cause, whose modest, low-cost, modern and remarkably efficient designs laid the foundation of the Case Study House program and reinvented the single family dwelling. Although aware of it, the East Coast professional and trade press—Progressive Architecture, Architectural Record, Architectural Forum, AIA Journal, House & Garden—had largely ignored the West Coast revolution in residential design until the 1950s. The "sing fam dwell" didn't interest them or their advertisers much. But the eastern magazines, just as we did, had exchange subscriptions with 30 or so architectural journals around the world and when they—particularly the European journals—began to pick up the CSH projects and then other projects designed by the program's architects and other local designers, the East Coast press could no longer treat them as an inconsiderable regional anomaly. Publication in Arts & Architecture became a door to national and international renown for West Coast architects. Reyner Banham said A&A changed the itinerary of the Grand Tour pilgrimage for European architects and students: America replaced Italy and Los Angeles was its Florence.

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Arts & Architecture 1945-54. The Complete Reprint

Arts & Architecture 1945-54. The Complete Reprint

David F. Travers
118 magazines in 10 boxes, 9.9 x 12.7 in., 6156 pages, $ 700
Cover June 1952, designed by Ruth Lanier – Imogen Cunningham
Plans for two Case Study Houses from the April and June 1945 issues