PRINT March 1981

Pastiche/Prototype/Purity: “Houses for Sale”

“HOUSES FOR SALE,” A SHOW put on by the Castelli Gallery in New York and the Corcoran Gallery in Los Angeles, proposed “a reversal of the process” by which a house is usually commissioned: the architect became a Prometheus unbound from the rock of a set site and freed of the vulture client. And yet his freedom was somewhat nominal: his design had to be practical, buildable. Many of the architects assumed further constraints—nearly all based the house on the family, and most presumed a high style for the client. The houses are indeed for sale.

To discuss the presence of architectural forms in the art gallery is not my concern here. However, one objection to “Houses for Sale” must be made: it presented the projects as “avant-garde architecture,” as “important works,” that is, bound for art history’s paradise. This is a heady inducement to the potential buyer—he gets a house, an object of art,

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