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Caucus day: On architecture and politics

A collage of the Republican candidates' houses from the New York Times

In honor of Iowa caucus day, I think the architecture of the Republican candidates’ houses is worth considering. An in-depth breakdown after the break.

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Remember Soviet architecture? Hmmm. All that’s coming to mind for me are massive, hybrid modern-neoclassical apartment buildings from, like, the ’30s.

Turns out there’s more to it than that, at least according to a piece in today’s Wall Street Journal:

For a brief, utopian moment in early 20th-century Russia, artists and architects together sought to forge an abstract language of form suited to the politics of the new state. Vladimir Tatlin’s famous model for a Monument to the Third International—envisioned in 1920 as a 1,300-foot-tall ziggurat-like tower rotating on three levels—embodied the visionary, futurist aesthetics and idealism of the movement. The commitment to abstraction and the sense of shared purpose between painters and architects paralleled that of the Bauhaus, and in fact some of its members traveled to Moscow. Yet while the Bauhaus is enshrined in the history of European architecture and modernism, the Russians are often sidelined, and only a few protagonists—such as Kazimir Malevich and El Lissitzky—are widely known by nonspecialists.

The piece, by Cammy Brothers, a professor at the University of Virginia, is definitely worth a read.

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AND COMING UP ON CONCRETE ASPIRATIONS: The year of 2011 in architecture.

Already, the LA Times’s Christopher Hawthorne has his take and the Chicago Tribune’s Blair Kamin has his favorite developments of the year and his least favorite. But my take is something entirely different.

COMING SOON

Remember Soviet architecture?

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The economics of government spending on architecture

We’ve been in all-out government-slashing mode since last year’s elections. The dialogue goes something like this:

Democrat: Let’s cut spending to reasonable levels and figure out ways to pay for what we really need.

Republican: Let’s brutally slash spending on programs that help people and then cut taxes for rich people!

Can someone remind me again why Americans elect Republicans? Even the most intelligent conservative economists understand that what Republicans in Congress are currently proposing would damage the economy and help only the wealthiest. Even the Wall Street Journal editorial page, that lonely voice of intellectual conservatism, has taken a step back from its usual cheerleading of antitax-ism.

Some basic economics — and how they tell us that government should spend money on public goods like civic architecture — after the break. Continue reading

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A Brief Respite

I will not be blogging much until next Wednesday, as I am taking AP exams. Ugh…