Post-Modernism: The True Inheritor of Modernism?

Left: Michael Graves, Portland Building, Portland, USA, 1982;

Right: Charles Moore, Piazza d'Italia, New Orleans, USA, 1978.

Slides from the Jencks Archive.

In 1982, architectural historian and cultural theorist Charles Jencks took to the stage at RIBA to deliver a polemical and playful lecture: ‘Postmodernism: the true inheritor of Modernism’. The talk was part of a RIBA series titled The Great Debate, at a time when ‘style wars’ – especially the merits of Modernist versus Postmodernist architecture – divided the architectural intelligentsia.

The lecture outlines Jencks’ exasperation with those who dismissed (or often vociferously attacked) Postmodernism. He dismantles the idea of kitsch, interrogates competing accounts of the birth of Modernism, and provocatively labels Aldo van Eyck’s Zwolle urban redevelopment scheme in the Netherlands, 'a very good Post-Modern building [that] ought to be defended as such'.

Charles Jencks
Post-Modernism: The True Inheritor of Modernism?
RIBA, Lecture