AFTER YOU LEFT / THEY TOOK IT APART (DEMOLISHED PAUL RUDOLPH HOMES) by Chris Mottalini
Columbia College Chicago Press, 2013 First edition, 75 pp., 8" X 10" Hardcover
While more conventional art can be tucked neatly away on gallery walls, houses have a much larger footprint. And when a home outlives its most basic function of providing shelter, a decision has to be made as to whether it is ultimately worth saving. Modernist homes like those designed by Paul Rudolph face an additional challenge as products of a stark, concrete-laden brutalist style now seen by many to be cold and uninviting.
Photographer Chris Mottalini visited three abandoned Rudolph homes awaiting demolition. His photos present these onetime symbols of opulence and power at their most vulnerable and defeated. Rich, full-color photos show sunlight playing across shattered windows, dusty stairs, and ruined living rooms, presenting a view of modernism that few have seen before. The photos speak to the ephemeral nature of contemporary taste, and its uneasy relationship with history, as well as the consequences of modernism on our visual lexicon. And in a final coda, the pictures themselves serve to preserve these masterpieces long after time and tastes move on.