Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (Signed)

Robert Venturi


New York: Museum of Modern Art,1966. 2nd Printing. Hardcover with Dust Jacket. Inscribed by the Author on the FFEP to fellow architect Kazuo Nakajima. 144pp., 6.25 x 8.25 inches

Very Good. Moderate rubbing with two small closed tears (0.5 cm and 2 cm) to the rear of the jacket with very faint water rippling and a small 0.5cm chip to the back flap. Original MoMA price sticker to the inside front flap. Grey cloth boards are sharp and unmarred with crisp, clean pages.

From the introduction by Vincent Scully:

“Probably the most important writing on the making of architecture since Le Corbusier’s Vers une Architecture, of 1923.”

Inscribed to Kazuo Nakajima on the Front Free Endpaper:

“Best wishes to you in Italy, 

Robert Venturi

April 1975”

Includes a full letter addressed to “Bill” and written and signed in Venturi’s inimitable hand, on Venturi, Rauch and Scott Brown, INC. letterhead. The letter, married to this copy some years later, is dated April 22, ‘89 and addressed to “Bill” and indicates his busyness at the time, writing “oh for a nice afternoon in Rome with you.” 

The “Bill” in question is possibly Bill Lacy, Venturi’s friend and fellow architect, President of the American Academy in Rome (1977-79) and executive director of the Pritzker Architecture Prize Jury from 1988 to 2005. Venturi was named the 1991 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate, with Bill Lacy saying at the time "After Venturi issued his now famous 'Less is a bore' response to the Mies van der Rohe modernist dictum 'Less is more,' architecture would never be the same."

The connection between the letter and the inscription lies at the bottom of the letter, wherein Venturi indicates that he is a fan of “Weaver’s Duse”, indicating that he had read William Weaver’s biography of legendary Italian stage actress Eleanor Duse. The architect, professor and writer Kazuo Nakajima, to whom the book is inscribed, was Weaver’s long time partner. The association remains unclear however, and it is unclear if this letter was intended for Nakajima, Weaver or the aforementioned Bill Lacy, with Lacy possibly giving the letter to Nakajima due to the connection. While these assumptions stand uncorroborated, all told, still an intriguing association copy.