Mies van der Rohe, Edith Farnsworth, and the Fight Over a Modernist Masterpiece
The true story of the intimate relationship that gave birth to the Farnsworth House, a masterpiece of twentieth-century architecture - and disintegrated into a bitter feud over love, money, gender, and the very nature of art.
But the minimalist marvel, built in 1951, was plagued by cost overruns and a sudden chilling of the two friends' mutual affection. Though the building became world famous, Edith found it impossible to live in, because of its constant leaks, flooding, and complete lack of privacy. Alienated and aggrieved, she lent her name to a public campaign against Mies, cheered on by Frank Lloyd Wright. Mies, in turn, sued her for unpaid monies. The ensuing lengthy trial heard evidence of purported incompetence by an acclaimed architect, and allegations of psychological cruelty and emotional trauma. A commercial dispute litigated in a rural Illinois courthouse became a trial of modernist art and architecture itself.
Interweaving personal drama and cultural history, Alex Beam presents a stylish, enthralling narrative tapestry, illuminating the fascinating history behind one of the twentieth-century's most beautiful and significant architectural projects.
Alex Beam has written four nonfiction books, two of them New York Times Notable Books. Publishers Weekly named his most recent work, The Feud: Vladimir Nabokov, Edmund Wilson and the End of a Beautiful Friendship, one of the best books of the year.
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