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Picture Dictionary of Modern Architecture: Modernism

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The Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University is a Modernist building by I.M. Pei.
I.M. Pei, Architect - Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University

I.M. Pei, Architect - Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University

Photo © Jackie Craven
Modernist architecture emphasizes function. It attempts to provide for specific needs rather than imitate nature. The roots of Modernism may be found in the work of Berthold Luberkin (1901-1990), a Russian architect who settled in London and founded a group called Tecton. The Tecton architects believed in applying scientific, analytical methods to design. Their stark buildings ran counter to expectations and often seemed to defy gravity.

Modernist architecture can express a number of stylistic ideas, including:

Modernist architecture has these features:

  • Little or no ornamentation
  • Factory-made parts
  • Man-made materials such as metal and concrete
  • Emphasis on function
  • Rebellion against traditional styles
For examples of Modernism in architecture, see works by: In the later decades of the twentieth century, designers rebelled against the rational Modernism and a variety of post modern styles evolved. Examples of post modern architecture include:
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