Carriage trade is pleased to present the exhibition Denise Scott Brown, Photographs, 1956 -1966, the first one-person show of photographs in the U.S. of this highly influential architect, planner, and theorist.
As one of the first architect/ designers to acknowledge the significance of Pop Art as a means of understanding the American vernacular and the commercial strip, Scott Brown’s ideas have often been communicated through the medium of photography. Her pictures of the “electric city” of 1960’s Las Vegas as well as the symbolically rich historical architecture of Venice served as visual research for arguments put forth in the seminal Learning From Las Vegas written with her late partner Robert Venturi and Steven Izenour.
Posing a challenge to the then dominant Modernist orthodoxy of “pure” architecture which rejected ornament and representation, Scott Brown’s photographs and research that followed proposed an open investigation into urban sprawl and commercial iconography. Engaging with the complexity found in the ordinary and everyday, her focus on the Pop aspect of the urban environment conveyed a symbolism often overlooked or rejected in architectural circles, while Scott Brown and Venturi’s assertion that modernism veiled its own symbolism and expression under the pretense of form obeying the dictates of function were key arguments in the development of postmodernism.
In proposing the significance of the image as a means of understanding and engaging with the built environment, Denise Scott Brown’s photographs from the 1950’s and 60’s seem to have anticipated the explosion of visual culture within urban settings. As the static images on billboards yield to video screens, and mobile technologies expand the image world to the palm of our hand, these pictures of the modern and historical city represent early, non-hierarchical investigations into the ongoing rapport between image and site, inspiring much of the research on urbanism and representation that followed.
Denise Scott Brown’s photographs will be exhibited alongside reproductions of research material and films first produced as part of the Learning From Las Vegas project. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalog, published by PLANE-SITE and featuring texts by Scott Brown and Andrés Ramirez.