Idiosyncratic Differences Between the Eames House and the Vanna Venturi House: A Case Study

Topics: Postmodernism, Modernism, Case Study Houses Pages: 6 (3218 words) Published: November 23, 2014

Journal of Literature and Art Studies, ISSN 2159-5836
February 2012, Vol. 2, No. 2, 323-328



Idiosyncratic Differences Between the Eames House and the
Vanna Venturi House: A Case Study
Kyuho Ahn
University of Oregon, Oregon, USA

In architectural fields, it is often unclear where to draw the line between Modernism and Postmodernism that often represent political debates between the ideology of orthodox modernity and the anti-ideology movement against Modernism as a social and political movement, because architectural forms result from complex and multi-layers problem solving. This paper argues that a particular architectural style or vocabularies in these two eras could be described as architects’ idiosyncratic aesthetic tastes. Therefore, this study reveals two different architectural styles of two renowned architectural designs, the Eames House and the Vanna Ventri House that each represents Modernism and Postmodernism. This paper demonstrates that Eames’ ideal image of home is depicted within a universal vocabulary and that Venturi’s idiosyncratic interest, curiosity of historical contexts, is revealed in a new neoclassical appearance in Mannerist manner. Also, this study reveals that the idea and presentation of the Eameses’ house, representing their “love of objects”, is not only related to Venturi’s idea of complexity and contradiction, but also depicts a historical connection by “functioning decoration” for “extra cultural surprise”. Keywords: Modernism, Postmodernism, the Eames House, the Vanna Venturi House, architectural style, architecture history

Many times, especially in architectural fields, it is unclear where to draw the line between Modernism and Postmodernism. In many artistic languages, such as music, painting, and the performing arts, political and cultural values reflect the values of humans and society. However, because architectural forms result from multi-layered problem solving, justifying cultural and artistic values is more difficult because of the practical uses of space. If one sees architectural movement as architectural vocabularies, rather than as depicting social and cultural values, it might become much easier to identify Modernism and Postmodernism. Therefore, this paper reveals two different architectural styles of two renowned architectural structures representing Modernism and Postmodernism.

The Eames House, completed in 1949, and the Vanna Venturi House, completed in 1964, have significant meanings in architectural history. First these houses represent the particular architectural styles of Modernism and Postmodernism, respectively. Along with these ideal images, both houses have elicited their own 

This paper was published in the proceedings of 2009 Hawaii International Conference on Arts and Humanities, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Kyuho Ahn, assistant professor at Department of Architecture, University of Oregon.



vocabularies and we can notice differences between the two architectural movements within their contexts. Moos (1987) criticized the Vanna Venturi House that “has come to play a role in postmodern architecture that is comparable to that played by Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye in the International Style” (p. 241). Second, the Eames House left a significant possibility upon Modernism in architecture. Using prefabricated industrialized materials, not only did Eames create a highly personalized space, but he also provided a historical connection within his space. McDonough (1989) applauded Eames’ work as “the mood, the feel, the ability of the Eames’ version of Modernism to accept layers upon layers of non-modern, non-industrial enhancement, to be a foundation, a starting point for a prescient, inclusionist view of the future” (p. 22). From this standpoint, it is necessary to revaluate Modern architecture.

Therefore, this study will demonstrate that Eames’ ideal image of...

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