Journal Article

Theory and Design: The Banham Factor. The Ninth Reyner Banham Memorial Lecture

GILLIAN NAYLOR

in Journal of Design History

Published on behalf of Design History Society

Volume 10, issue 3, pages 241-252
Published in print January 1997 | ISSN: 0952-4649
Published online January 1997 | e-ISSN: 1741-7279 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jdh/10.3.241
Theory and Design: The Banham Factor. The Ninth Reyner Banham Memorial Lecture

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The Ninth Reyner Banham Memorial Lecture, which was held in the V & Aon 14 March 1997, coincided with the publication of A Critic Writes, a selection of Banham's essays. In my lecture, therefore, I concentrate on Reyner Banham's contribution to design history and theory. I shall describe Banham as a Modernist who was preoccupied with Modernism's ‘other’… what Baudelaire described as ‘the transient, the fleeting and the contingent in modern life’, as opposed to the ‘eternal and the immutable’. I shall argue that Banham's ‘discovery’ of Futurism and the Futurists, while researching his first book, Theory and Design in the First Machine Age, confirmed these convictions. By campaigning for an avant-garde that celebrated state-of-the-art technology, and by accepting and dissecting the role of consumption, Banham democratized design for the design historian, divorcing object analysis from what he described as ‘fine art criticism’. Banham, a formidable and committed scholar, was also a man of his time, and although some of his convictions may now seem outdated, the historian needs to understand him in order to locate theory and practice in the Second Machine Age.

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Subjects: History of Art ; Art Forms ; Industrial and Commercial Art ; Art Styles

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