10 Best Architecture Books: Modernism

by watermark-studio

Avant-garde designs and modernism in world architecture. Fill your library with the best books about architects and photographs of beautiful modernist designs from 1890 - 1965.

Classic modernist thinkers

The dawn of modernism in architecture

Tatlins Tower maket 1919 year

Modernism was first known as "avant-garde" or simply "modern art" which was created in Europe and the Soviet republics in the last part of the 19th century. The movement started in literature and science in the 1870s and soon the impact of these ideas carried into the visual arts and architecture to be exported to other parts of the world.

The first evidence of the modern movement in architecture can be seen at the beginning of the 20th century. Succeeding generations and cultures have advanced the style with modern technology and materials. The final validation of modernism comes when a variety of post-modern styles were developed in reaction to the tenants of pure modernist architecture.
Model of Vladimir Taltlin's Tower, 1919 via Wikimedia Commons

The style also had a major impact in other countries around the world. South America has a long tradition of modernist architecture, the best example being the new capital city of Brasília designed by one of the last remaining communists in the world: Oscar Niemeyer (celebrating his 103 birthday in 2011).

Walter Gropius, Le Corbusier, Richard Neutra and Philip Johnson are the top architects associated with the modernist movement practicing in the United States after World War II. These are the best architecture books to reveal the genius of these architects and this original style of design that still has a major influence on the current generation of architects and contemporary building design.

Modern Architecture from Phaidon Press

Third revised edition with 650 photos; this is a standard reference book for modernism

Modern Architecture Since 1900

modern architecture
















Phaedon always publishes the best quality architecture books (and also Rizzoli Bookstore)

The beginnings: Avant-garde and "Modern Art"

roots of modernism in architecture
Modernism, in its broadest definition, is modern thought, character, or practice. More specifically, the term describes the modernist movement, its set of cultural tendencies and array of associated cultural movements, originally arising from wide-scale and far-reaching changes to Western society in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Modernism was a revolt against the conservative values of realism. In general, the term ...

International style architecture

1932 MoMA International Exhibition of Modern Architecture NYC
The International style was a major architectural style that emerged in the 1920s and 1930s, the formative decades of Modernist architecture. The term had its origin from the name of a book by Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson ...

Architects of modernism

Architects associated with the modern movement are the giants of architecure in the 20th century, the designers who came out from the obscurity of anonymous architects to become household names in the years after World War II.  Walter Gropius, Le Corbusier and Richard Neutra came to the United States and turned the country into their showplace for design ideas they developed in Europe.  Later, I. M. Pei designed the East Wing of the National Gallery in Washington D.C. and Philip Johnson redefined residential architecture with his iconic Glass House.

Glass House by Philip Johnson (exterior) in New Canaan, CT, USA By Staib (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Glass House by Philip Johnson in New Canaan, CT, USA. Photo by Staib via Wikimedia Commons

Rudolf Schindler's Lovell Beach House, West Ocean Front, Newport Beach, Orange County, California

Rudolf Schindler's Lovell Beach House, Newport Beach, Orange County, California
Photo from the Historic American Building Survey via Wikimedia Commons

Modern Architecture

Simplification of form and subtraction of ornament
Modern architecture is a term applied to an overarching movement and period in architectural history during the 20th century, with its exact definition and scope varying widely. In one of the broader meanings, as will be used here, modern architecture began at the turn of the 20th century with efforts to reconcile the principles underlying architectural design with rapid technological advancement and the modernization of society. It ...

Images of Modernist architecture

photographs of classic buildings
The Shell House_03
The Shell House_03
The Shell House_04
The Shell House_04
The Shell House_06
The Shell House_06

Modernism grows and flourishes

Modern architecture around the world

Modernist architecture found fertile ground for development in countries around the world. Towns in arid climates seem well suited to the unadorned surfaces and simplicity of this type of building. Second generation architects re-interpreted the initial modernist design principals while academics argued about the definition of modernism as it grew out of avant-garde beginnings.

The city of Haifa, Isreal is an isolated oasis of modernism, set in the desert along the Mediterranean coast. Los Angeles, California is another community where the development of modernist architecture blossomed after the Second World War.

Entire cities were also created "out of thin air" in the midst of the desert for the town of Chandigarh on the continent of India by well-known modernist architect, Le Corbusier. Japan has been a testing ground for new ideas about modernism and post-modern architecture. Scandinavia also has a long history of elegant modern design in architecture and many other design fields such as interior design and furniture.


South American modernism

New design for a new government

In South America, prominent architects such as Oscar Niemeyer worked directly with government officials to create dozens of modernist masterpieces in the new capital city of Brasilia and buildings for other cities in Brasil and South America.

Palacio da Alvorada Exterior

Oscar Niemeyer

Living in Rio de Janeiro at the age of 103
Oscar Ribeiro de Almeida Niemeyer Soares Filho is a Brazilian architect specializing in international modern architecture. He is a pioneer in exploring the formal possibilities of reinforced concrete solely for their aesthetic impact. His buildings are often characterized by being spacious and exposed, mixing volumes and empty space to create unconventional patterns and often propped up by pilotis. Both lauded and criticized for ...

Articles by dotpattern

architecture and houses
Arts and Crafts, Craftsman and Victorian Revival style single-family houses on the northside of Staten Island New York City.
Updated: 09/09/2011, watermark-studio
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vikksimmons on 10/18/2011

Nice collection of books. Well done.

celeBritys4africA on 07/04/2011

One vote up.

puerdycat on 06/13/2011

Lately I've looked back at much earlier architecture, the cathedrals. Grew up close enough to Chicago to see lots of variety. Thanks for this.

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