If dentists were modernists

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Jan Michl, whose paper on architectural historicism I discussed yesterday in “Pop the ‘historicist’ bugaboo,” wrote another paper, “Form Follows What?,” which he introduced with a riff from Woody Allen. Naturally, I encourage readers to read the whole paper, but get a load of this!

A letter received by Theo van Gogh from his dentist brother Vincent:

Dear Theo: Will life ever treat me decently? I am wracked by despair! My head is pounding! Mrs. Sol Schwimmer is suing me because I made her bridge as I felt it and not to fit her ridiculous mouth! That’s right! I can’t work to order like a common tradesman! I decided her bridge should be enormous and billowing, with wild, explosive teeth flaring up in every direction like fire! Now she is upset because it won’t fit in her mouth! She is so bourgeois and stupid, I want to smash her! I tried forcing the false plate in but it sticks out like a star-burst chandelier. Still, I find it beautiful. She claims she can’t chew! What do I care whether she can chew or not! Theo, I can’t go on like this much longer … Vincent

This is from “If the Impressionists Had Been Dentists,” a piece Allen wrote in 1978. In ten letters from van Gogh to his brother, Theo hears about the dental practices of other famous Impressionist painters. Beyond hilarious!

The cartoon, of course, is by Gary Larson.

About David Brussat

For a living, I edit the writing of some of the nation's leading architects, urbanists and design theorists. This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. My freelance writing and editing on that topic and others addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, and a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to invest your prose with even more style and clarity, please email me at my consultancy, dbrussat@gmail.com, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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