Epics in the Everyday
Photography, Architecture, and the Problem of Realism
Photography by Walker Evans, Nigel Henderson, Ed Ruscha, New Topographics, Thomas Ruff, and Thomas Demand; and architecture by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, Alison and Peter Smithson, Herzog & de Meuron, and Caruso St John
1st edition, 2019
328 pages, 108 color and 67 b/w illustrations
17 x 24 cm
In collaboration with Rice Architecture
Architecture and photography share the condition of being suspended between fine art and craft. Realism is considered a given, something that happens almost by default. From the moment it is taken, a photograph is un-derstood to be a record of what was in front of the camera—just as a building, as soon as it is inhabited, becomes the fixed backdrop for everyday life.
In Epics in the Everyday, Jesús Vassallo explores this condition, tracing a series of collaborations between architects and photographers from the postwar years up to the present. Consistently, the subject matter of these collaborations is the built environment, which presents architects and photographers—in different ways—with a mirror that challenges the idea of realism in their respective disciplines. Beyond casting a diagonal light on important developments within the two individual disciplines, the book chronicles an alternative history of both modern architecture and photography and builds a case for a specific type of realism found at their intersection.
Was selected for an Honourable Mention in the CICA (Comité International des Critques d'Architecture) Dennis Sharp Book Award 2020.
Jesús Vassallo is a Spanish-born architect and writer. He teaches and researches as an assistant professor at Rice University’s School of Architecture in Houston, TX.
"As it already happened when conceptual art discovered photography, we find ourselves at a turning point, a new beginning, where architecture appears not as a form but as a shadow of the collective imagination. A really important book." Luca Galofaro, PLATFORM magazine
«We have to thank Vassallo because he completes an operation that is rare with respect to the current trends in architecture criticism: he connects different contents and formats, traces analogies between disciplines, helps the reader get into the minds of artists and architects, accompanying them in the analysis of the selected works. In addition to being a goldmine of insightful information, the book is an example of a methodological daring that should be imitated. » Fabrizio Gallanti, abitare.it