Richard Neutra

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Richard Neutra on the cover of Time Magazine, August 15, 1949.

Richard Joseph Neutra (April 8, 1892April 16, 1970) is considered one of modernism's most important architects.


[edit] Biography

Neutra was born in Vienna. He studied under Adolf Loos at the Technical University of Vienna, was influenced by Otto Wagner, and worked for a time in Germany in the studio of Erich Mendelsohn. He moved to the United States by 1923 and became a naturalized citizen in 1929. Neutra worked briefly for Frank Lloyd Wright before accepting an invitation from his close friend and university companion Rudolf Schindler to work and live communally in Schindler's Kings Road House in California.

In California, he became celebrated for rigorously geometric but airy structures that represented a West Coast variation on the mid-century modern residence. In the early 1930s, Neutra's Los Angeles practice trained several young architects who went on to independent success, including Gregory Ain, Harwell Hamilton Harris, and Raphael Soriano.

He was famous for the attention he gave to defining the real needs of his clients, regardless of the size of the project, in contrast to other architects eager to impose their artistic vision on a client. Neutra sometimes used detailed questionnaires to discover his client's needs, much to their surprise. His domestic architecture was a blend of art, landscape and practical comfort.

Neutra had a sharp sense of irony. In his autobiography, Life and Shape, he included a playful anecdote about an anonymous movie producer-client who electrified the moat around the house that Neutra designed for him and had his Persian butler fish out the bodies in the morning and dispose of them in a specially designed incinerator. This was a much-embellished account of an actual client, Josef von Sternberg, who indeed had a moated house but not an electrified one.

The novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand was the second owner of the von Sternberg house in the San Fernando Valley (now destroyed). A photo of Neutra and Rand at the home was famously captured by Julius Shulman.

Neutra died in Wuppertal, Germany, in 1970.

[edit] Legacy

Miller House, Palm Springs

Neutra's son Dion has kept the Silver Lake offices designed and built by his father open as "Richard and Dion Neutra Architecture" in Los Angeles. The Neutra Office Building is itself listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The revival in the late 90s of mid-century modernism has given new cachet to his work. As with homes built by the architects John Lautner and Rudolf Schindler, Neutra properties have become trophies for a wide variety of Los Angeles celebrities, from hair stylist Vidal Sassoon and ex-Gucci and YSL head Tom Ford, actress Kelly Lynch and her screenwriter husband Mitch Glazer, to personalities such as XL clothing line founder Eli Bonerz, Devo musician Gerald Casale (paid $2 million for Kun House #1, 1936, in 2008) and hardcore punk musician Jonathan Anastas (Bonnet House, 1941). Prices have topped $4 million for the Case Study House #20, and $6 million for the Singleton House (purchased by Mr. Sassoon in 2004 — the Singleton house is now back on the market, post renovation, at $20 million dollars). The famed Kaufmann house in Palm Springs was auctioned by Christies for almost $20 million dollars in the summer of 2008, only to fall out of escrow. Kaufmann is back on the open market at nearly $14 million

[edit] Selected works

[edit] Publications by Neutra

  • 1927: Wie Baut Amerika? (How America Builds) (Julius Hoffman)
  • 1935: "New Elementary Schools for America". Architectural Forum 65 (no. 1): 25–36. January 1935. 
  • 1951: Mysteries and Realities of the Site (Morgan & Morgan)
  • 1954: Survival Through Design (Oxford University Press)
  • 1962: Life and Shape: an Autobiography (Appleton-Century-Crofts)
  • 1962: Auftrag für morgen (Claassen Verlag)

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ Leet, Stephen (2004). Richard Neutra's Miller House. Princeton Architectural Press. ISBN 1568982747. 
  2. ^ Neumann, Dietrich, ed. (2001). Richard Neutra's Windshield House. Yale University Press. ISBN 0300092032. 
  3. ^ Wyatt, Edward (October 31, 2007). "A Landmark Modernist House Heads to Auction". New York Times. Retrieved on 2008-05-24. 
  4. ^ Judith Gura (May 1, 2008), Richard Neutra's Kaufmann House, ARTINFO,, retrieved on 2008-05-14 
  5. ^ Troxell Residence at
  6. ^ Eastman, Janet (April 17, 2008). "The clock is ticking for Richard Neutra's VDL Research House II". Los Angeles Times.,1,5038364.story. Retrieved on 2008-05-24. 
  7. ^ Ayyüce, Orhan (March 17, 2008). "Neutra's VDL House; v. Hard Times". Retrieved on 2008-05-24. 
  8. ^ VDL House website by Cal Poly Pomona College of Environmental Design

[edit] Other sources

  • McCoy, Esther (1960). Five California Architects. Reinhold Publishing. 
    • reprinted in 1975 by Praeger
  • Hines, Thomas (1982). Richard Neutra and the Search for Modern Architecture. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195030281. 
    • reprinted in 1994 by the University of California Press
    • reprinted in 2006 by Rizzoli Publications
  • Lavin, Sylvia (December 1999). "Open the Box: Richard Neutra and the Psychology of the Domestic Environment". Assemblage 40: 6–25. 
  • Lamprecht, Barbara (2000). Richard Neutra: Complete Works. Taschen. ISBN 3822866229. 
  • Lamprecht, Barbara (2004). Richard Neutra, 1892–1970: Survival Through Design. Taschen. ISBN 3822827738. 
  • Lavin, Sylvia (2005). Form Follows Libido: Architecture and Richard Neutra in a Psychoanalytic Culture. MIT Press. ISBN 0262122685. 

[edit] External links

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