‘The Influence of Fry and Drew’ Conference, Abstract 16
Alan Powers, ‘Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew – the Romantic turn’
The paper will start from Fry’s ‘A Letter about Architecture’ in Horizon magazine, May 1946, in which Fry addressed Drew as well as a wider non-specialist readership. It represents a transitional period in Fry’s career that began before the war with some lesser known buildings such as the brick built house Warham’s Ash, Hereford, and the Cecil Residential Club in North Gower Street. These were more varied in materials and form than the Modernist buildings through which he first acquired fame in the years 1933-36, and anticipate, along with Goldfinger’s Willow Road houses and some other examples, the next ten or fifteen years of stylistic development in English and European Modernism. There is no accepted term for describing this romantic turn in Modernism, at least until the 1947 coinage ‘New Empiricism’. The style remained current in much of Fry and his practice’s work well into the 1950s.
In the Horizon text, and in Fine Building, 1944, Fry reveals the thinking that moved him and other members of his generation to move on to a second version of Modernism that was deliberately anti-machine and reflected the writings of D. H. Lawrence and Lewis Mumford to which he referred. In the paper, these written sources will be related to Fry’s work and that of his contemporaries in Britain, Sweden and the USA to fill out a more complete account of this change of direction.
Dr Alan Powers, FSA, Hon. FRIBA, has written widely on twentieth century British architecture, art and design and curated a number of exhibitions. He was Professor of Architecture and Cultural History at the University of Greenwich before becoming an independent scholar with a range of teaching activities. He has had a long association with the Twentieth Century Society, becoming Chairman 2007–12. He was founder editor of its journal Twentieth Century Architecture and with Elain Harwood and Barnabas Calder is a joint editor of the monograph series, jointly with English Heritage and RIBA, Twentieth Century Architects. His books include Britain, in the series Modern Architectures in History and Serge Chermayeff, designer, architect, teacher. Eric Ravilious, artist and designer will be published by Lund Humphries in October 2013. In 2011–12, Alan Powers was awarded a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship on the theme, Figurative Architecture in the Time of Modernism.