Jessica Kelly
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‘Cranks and laymen’
Propaganda for modern architecture, 1935–41
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Chapter 3 examines the AR under Richards’s editorship, looking at the magazine in the context of the broader media landscape of the British Broadcasting Corporation and Penguin publishers. It argues that Richards was engaged in a project of propaganda for modern architecture, which spanned these different media outlets and consistently targeted the architectural public. Focused in the six years between Richards’s arrival at the AR and his departure for the Ministry of Information in 1941, this chapter maps how he developed different forms of architectural criticism as tools to persuade and encourage appreciation of modernism among the architectural public. Through the form and content of architectural criticism at the AR as well as in the MARS group and in Richards’s book An Introduction to Modern Architecture published by Pelican (1940), architectural criticism promoted the modern architect as a cultural expert; a figure equipped to guide the progress of architecture and the taste of the public. The changes that occurred in architectural criticism during this period signalled an evolution in the dynamic between critic, architect and public.

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J.M. Richards, modernism and The Architectural Review


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