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On Richard Hollis

Christopher Turner: Richard Hollis, 24 May 2018

... a portrait of Glazebrook, he chose to represent him with Hollis’s 1970 catalogue in his lap. Christopher Wilson’s excellent Richard Hollis Designs for the Whitechapel, the final book from Hyphen Press, is not only a detailed analysis of the work of Hollis, with whom Wilson collaborated from 1999 to 2004, but a story of aesthetic and social change as ...

Town-Cramming

Christopher Turner: Cities, 6 September 2001

Cities for a Small Country 
by Richard Rogers and Anne Power.
Faber, 310 pp., £14.99, November 2000, 0 571 20652 2
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Urban Futures 21: A Global Agenda for 21st-Century Cities 
by Peter Hall and Ulrich Pfeiffer.
Spon, 384 pp., £19.99, July 2000, 0 415 24075 1
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... also, with some justice, turn the spotlight on Rogers’s own arrangements. He lives opposite Christopher Wren’s Royal Hospital in Chelsea, in a huge property which consists of two Victorian five-storey houses knocked into one – hardly the best example of high-density living (his friends call the double-heighted central living area ‘the ...

Diary

Christopher Turner: The controversial Alfred Kinsey, 6 January 2005

... I am Dr Kinsey from Indiana University, and I’m making a study of sex behaviour. Can I buy you a drink? In a simple attic room, with only a mattress on the pine floor, two people would have sex in a cone of light. Sometimes the director would disappear into the shadows so that the performers would forget he was there; at other times, according to one biographer, he would observe the action ‘inches removed from the couple’s genitals, close enough to smell body odours and hear the squish of juices ...

Diary

Christopher Turner: Summerhill School and the real Orgasmatron, 3 June 2004

... I first visited Summerhill, the ‘free’ school in Suffolk founded in 1921 by A.S. Neill, when I was an anthropology student. I asked whether I could stay for a while as a participant-observer, and was offered a large tepee as a place to sleep. I liked the idea of living in it: a wigwam seemed a suitable home for a backyard anthropologist. However, everything at Summerhill – where lessons are voluntary and the pupils invent their own laws – is put to a vote, and the children decided they wanted to keep the tepee for themselves ...

Killing Stripes

Christopher Turner: Suits, 1 June 2017

Sex and Suits: The Evolution of Modern Dress 
by Anne Hollander.
Bloomsbury, reissue, 158 pp., £19.99, August 2016, 978 1 4742 5065 8
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The Suit: Form, Function and Style 
by Christopher Breward.
Reaktion, 240 pp., £18, May 2016, 978 1 78023 523 3
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... the state visit of Napoleon III and the wedding of Edward VII, both Poole men. In The Suit, Christopher Breward writes of the tailor’s ‘crucial ritual’ of measuring the client, a practice he believes has been overlooked because of its ‘intensely personal nature’. ‘Customers seem not to have patience enough,’ a tailor’s manual from 1850 ...

Utopian about the Present

Christopher Turner: The Brutalist Ethic, 4 July 2019

Alison and Peter Smithson 
by Mark Crinson.
Historic England, 150 pp., £30, June 2018, 978 1 84802 352 9
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Municipal Dreams: The Rise and Fall of Council Housing 
by John Boughton.
Verso, 330 pp., £9.99, April 2019, 978 1 78478 740 0
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... all sides by major roads, from which it was protected, in the words of the Smithsons’ assistant Christopher Woodward, by an ‘almost manic system of walls and moats’. The perimeter of the estate was marked by a high wall designed to bounce back traffic noise, and to allow for oblique views through it, but which made the site seem heavily ...

Naughty Children

Christopher Turner: Freud’s Free Clinics, 6 October 2005

Freud’s Free Clinics: Psychoanalysis and Social Justice 1918-38 
by Elizabeth Ann Danto.
Columbia, 348 pp., £19.50, May 2005, 0 231 13180 1
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... In 1918, Sigmund Freud gave a speech at the Fifth International Congress of Psychoanalysis in Budapest. It was two months before the Armistice, but he looked to the future rather than dwelling on civilisation’s obvious discontents: ‘The conscience of society will awake,’ he promised his audience, ‘and remind it that the poorest man should have just as much right to assistance for his mind as he now has to life-saving help offered by surgery ...

I am not a world improver

Christopher Turner: Building Seagram, 6 February 2014

Building Seagram 
by Phyllis Lambert.
Yale, 306 pp., £45, January 2013, 978 0 300 16767 2
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Mies van der Rohe: A Critical Biography 
by Franz Schulze and Edward Windhorst.
Chicago, 493 pp., £25, April 2013, 978 0 226 15145 8
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... The Seagram building under construction in 1957. The Seagram building in December 1957. The Seagram building today.PreviousNextIn 1954, the sculptor Phyllis Lambert was living in Paris when her father, Samuel Bronfman, sent her pictures of the 34-storey skyscraper he planned to build on Park Avenue in New York. Bronfman, the Canadian ‘whisky king’ who owned Seagram distillers, had commissioned Pereira & Luckman to create a gleaming metal and glass edifice that resembled a decanter gift set ...

Missionary Work

Christopher Turner: Henry Wellcome, 13 May 2010

An Infinity of Things: How Sir Henry Wellcome Collected the World 
by Frances Larson.
Oxford, 343 pp., £18.99, September 2009, 978 0 19 955446 1
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... In 1881, a 27-year-old American moved into a house on the Marylebone Road that had belonged to an Indian rajah. ‘My collection of curiosities, Indian relics etc tally admirably with the house,’ Henry Wellcome wrote to his business partner, Silas Burroughs, ‘and so everybody seems rather fascinated with the effect, and in fact I rather like it myself ...

If you don’t swing, don’t ring

Christopher Turner: Playboy Mansions, 21 April 2016

Pornotopia: An Essay on Playboy’s Architecture and Biopolitics 
by Beatriz Preciado.
Zone, 303 pp., £20.95, October 2014, 978 1 935408 48 2
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Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny 
by Holly Madison.
Dey Street, 334 pp., £16.99, July 2015, 978 0 06 237210 9
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... Without you​ ,’ Hugh Hefner said to the Playmates he’d assembled for a party to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Playboy, ‘I’d have been the publisher of a literary magazine.’ Hefner founded Playboy in 1953 with a loan from his mother, who had hoped he’d become a missionary. The 27-year-old secured the rights to a previously unpublished nude of Marilyn Monroe, her skin flushed against red velvet, for $500 from a calendar company in Chicago ...

Stepping Stone to the New Times

Christopher Turner: Bauhaus, 5 July 2012

Bauhaus: Art as Life 
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... The Bauhaus stank of garlic. Alma Mahler, the wife of its founder and director Walter Gropius (and the ex-wife of Gustav), found the smell intolerable. She refused to eat the ‘obligatory diet of uncooked mush smothered’ in cloves of the supposedly purifying allium. The students and teachers who did eat it suffered bilious, flatulent attacks. After one meal, the painter and Bauhaus teacher Paul Klee, who prided himself on being a good cook, worried that ‘even his worms would leave him ...

Angering and Agitating

Christopher Turner: Freud’s fan club, 30 November 2006

Freud’s Wizard: The Enigma of Ernest Jones 
by Brenda Maddox.
Murray, 354 pp., £25, September 2006, 0 7195 6792 0
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... The Welsh psychoanalyst Ernest Jones, known for his three-volume hagiography of Freud, was also the author of a book on figure skating. The New York Psychoanalytic Institute owns a dusty copy, which is illustrated with drawings of the elegant squiggles skaters were supposed to leave on the ice: ‘Only in a certain type of dream,’ Jones wrote, offering a clue to his other area of expertise, ‘do we ever else attain a higher degree of the same ravishing experience of exultantly skiing the earth ...

Am I a spaceman?

Adam Phillips: Wilhelm Reich, 20 October 2011

Adventures in the Orgasmatron: Wilhelm Reich and the Invention of Sex 
by Christopher Turner.
Fourth Estate, 532 pp., £25, August 2011, 978 0 00 718157 5
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... been an infantry officer in the Austro-Hungarian army during the war; he was an orphan with what Christopher Turner in his riveting book on him calls ‘a past full of damage’. He was ‘intellectually ardent and socially insecure, so poor that he wore his military uniform to lectures because he couldn’t afford to buy civilian clothes’. Freud was ...

Outside Swan and Edgar’s

Matthew Sweet: The life of Oscar Wilde, 5 February 1998

The Wilde Album 
by Merlin Holland.
Fourth Estate, 192 pp., £12.99, October 1997, 1 85702 782 5
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Cosmopolitan Criticism: Oscar Wilde’s Philosophy of Art 
by Julia Prewitt Brown.
Virginia, 157 pp., $30, September 1997, 9780813917283
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The Cambridge Companion to Oscar Wilde 
edited by Peter Raby.
Cambridge, 307 pp., £37.50, October 1997, 9780521474719
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Wilde The Novel 
by Stefan Rudnicki.
Orion, 215 pp., £5.99, October 1997, 0 7528 1160 6
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Oscar Wilde 
by Frank Harris.
Robinson, 358 pp., £7.99, October 1997, 1 85487 126 9
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Moab is my Washpot 
by Stephen Fry.
Hutchinson, 343 pp., £16.99, October 1997, 0 09 180161 3
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Nothing … except My Genius 
by Oscar Wilde.
Penguin, 82 pp., £2.99, October 1997, 0 14 043693 6
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... behaviour often hovered dangerously close to being that of a paedophile,’ snorted Christopher Hart on the day Brian Gilbert’s movie Wilde was released). Julia Prewitt Brown sees him as a philosophical heavyweight; and celebrates his ‘dodginess’ in order to instal him in a post-dualist tradition of aesthetic theory – a missing link ...

Mirror Images

Christopher Andrew, 3 April 1986

World of Secrets: The Uses and Limits of Intelligence 
by Walter Laqueur.
Weidenfeld, 404 pp., £25, November 1985, 0 297 78745 4
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... time to denounce publicly those journalists who had dared to print the name of the head of MI6, Christopher Curwen. The heads of the CIA and the KGB, William Casey and Victor Chebrikov, are of course public figures. But that, as Mr Ingham would say, is not the point. What the point is remains obscure. In 1932 the novelist Compton Mackenzie was tried for a ...

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