Dirty truths of modernism

Screen Shot 2017-07-01 at 5.45.23 PM.png

Grazer Kunsthaus art museum in Graz, Austria. (Universalmuseum Joanneum)

Sometimes truth comes out of the mouths of babes. Other times it comes out of the mouths of potty. That does not make it any less true, and since truth on any topic is a rare commodity, Paul Joseph Watson’s pottymouth video “Why Modern Architecture SUCKS” commands attention, and respect.

Paul Joseph Watson has every reason to be angry, and so have we all if what he says is true, and every word is true. One need not accept his verdict on modern art in order to accept his verdict on modern architecture. His discourse thankfully includes clips from such generally less pottymouthed thinkers as Prince Charles, Roger Scruton and James Howard Kunstler. (Coincidentally, the latter two blurbed my new book Lost Providence.)

The video is up to date, with a brief segment on the latest modernist abomination, the Grenfell tower fire in London. But while he mentions the totalitarian Le Corbusier, he leaves out Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who tried to persuade Hitler that modern architecture was an appropriate stylistic template for the Third Reich. Architects never try to explain that away, they just ignore it. The photo above is a plug-ugly I had never seen before, the Grazer Kunsthaus art museum in Graz, Austria.

Toward the end of the video, Watson expresses this overarching truth about our era: “In an age of ugliness, a work of beauty is an act of defiance.” He concludes, “We must never accept ugliness as a form of beauty.” Enjoy.

About David Brussat

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. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am 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 employ my writing and editing to improve your work, 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.
This entry was posted in Architecture, Video and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Dirty truths of modernism

  1. David Praesent says:

    Hi David,

    I just came across this page, because the Kunsthaus Graz in conjunction with the title of this article caught my eye. Well, it turns out, that I’m a) from Graz and b) vividly critical about many aspects of modern architecture. Interestingly enough, I never had negative emotions towards the Kunsthaus in our lovely city – maybe that’s because the gallery has always been there, since I can remember (it was built in 2003, which is the same year, that I came into secondary school just right around the corner of the Kunsthaus).

    But I tend towards thinking, that this large blue bubble actually fits in quite nicely. From street level you can only see it from half the angles anyways (mainly the front next to the river) and from the Schlossberg (a 100m high rock smack dead in the city center, and right across the river from the Kunsthaus) it makes the city scape more intriguing. The interesting thing is, that the city center of Graz is comprised mostly of old buildings (many even with medieval heritage), such that this singular point of contrast gives the riverfront quite some character.

    On the other hand, there are – imho – some very offensive buildings near the Kunsthaus, that really annoy me. If you are interested, you can take a look at Google Maps. For example, at Brückenkopfgasse 1, a soulless and dark modern shoebox was placed next to a lovely timber-framed building. A second example is the dystopian webcam-&-toiletseat-inspired abomination, that shares a view with the historic opera house of Graz. But the biggest offenders are these soulless modernist concrete boxes (e.g. the ÖGK-headquarters in Graz, Josef-Pongratz-Platz 1), whose only aesthetic achievement is being so bland, that most of the time you don’t conciously notice them…
    Sadly, the latter kind was springled generously into just about every european city – I sincerely hope, that their era is coming to an end now!



  2. Kam Ki Bate says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about lothario.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I wish you the best with your book and other projects, and wish to express my appreciation for your kind words about my own book project.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A Subscriber says:

    Good video from an otherwise creepy guy, Dave – and after poking around through his other vids, you’ll excuse me while I go take a shower. I’ll hope, for his sake, that his internal venom won’t corrode what’s left of his heart.

    Otherwise, I’m always happy to see your posts – and it should go without saying that I trust your judgment in these matters.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. leveveg says:

    This is a stunning video, and I’ll try to translate the most important parts into Norwegian. Further that guy is perfect to perform such an angry message.

    In my holidays I’ll stay one month in the Philippines, and my holiday project is to photograph slum architecture of Cebu Iceland. This slum is of much higher value than the modernist slum found in Norway!

    By the way, the slum quarters of Cebu are “high standards” compared to Manila, not so overwhelming.

    It’s so sad, as we have the knowledge to create buildings and environments that support life: http://www.levevei.no/2013/10/episode-84-creating-built-environments-that-support-life/

    By the way, congratulations with your new book! Good someone document all the beauty that has been lost to the modernists slums.

    Inspiration for my project:

    – The Perfect Slum: http://theperfectslum.blogspot.no/2009/11/slum.html

    – Planet of Slums: https://books.google.no/books/about/Planet_of_Slums.html?id=FToaDLPB2jAC&redir_esc=y

    By the way, we have a stopover in Doha, one of the worst slums of the world in my view.


    • leveveg says:

      Oh, here are more books about slums: http://theperfectslum.blogspot.no/2017/05/books-about-slums.html

      Maybe I can make my own book some day? Like “The Beauty of Cebu Slums”.

      Liked by 1 person

      • leveveg says:

        Your book title “Lost Providence” even gave me inspiration for another photo book project this morning: “Den tapte grenda”.

        “Grend” means something like a branch, or a small community living along a small road, sticking out from a larger road. In Norway we only use the word for the countryside, while in Sweden they too use it for small, short streets.

        My “grend” had a very distinct character, I’ll even call it a distinct culture. But post-ww2 it was all lost, destroyed by the baby-boomers and technocrats. We had a memory walk along my “grend”, “Kronborgsætergrenda”, in May: http://permaliv.blogspot.no/2017/06/kulturvandring-2017-kronborgsetergrenda.html

        It was a wonderful walk, memorizing the greatness of my place and my forefathers. My past is surely something to be proud of!

        But my heart is full of sadness, as what we did with our proud heritage is NOTHING to be proud of.

        Anyway, thank you very much for the idea and title for a hopefully upcoming photo book project!

        Now I have two projects to aim for.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.