Published by E. & F.N. Spon for the Royal Institute of British Architects
Journal of Architecture vol:13 issue:4 pages:469-491
Sibyl Moholy-Nagy’s 1957 volume Native Genius in Anonymous Architecture was the first book that explicitly presented American vernacular architecture to architects. The book argued that American vernacular architecture was beautiful in an organic and coherent way, and that this beauty was generated by the regard of its builders for site and climate, for function and form, and for materials and skills. Anonymous architecture thus displayed a ‘sense of quality’, which since had been lost in common building production. Moholy-Nagy’s discourse is framed as a counter narrative that criticized as well the dominant stylistic paradigm in architectural history as the trends of commercialization and industrial prefabrication in contemporary housing. It thus prefigured the much more influential exhibition and book by Bernard Rudofsky, Architecture Without Architects, dated 1964. The paper positions Sibyl Moholy-Nagy’s approach with respect to art historical, anthropological and architectural discourses of the fifties.