“Hidden Nature: Rediscovering Elroy Webber’s Modern Homes” examines this largely unknown residential work whose heyday was in the early 1960s. Webber (1905–2002) designed bespoke homes in the Connecticut Valley region and throughout the Northeast that were symbols of wealth and sophistication for an exclusive social niche. The homes remain to this day surprising bursts of modernism in an otherwise traditional suburban landscape that dates back to the Colonial era.
Webber was a part of the secular Jewish creative community that defined the New York Intellectuals of the 1930s. He was a critic of the critics of modern architecture, and typically found himself at odds with the authoritative voices of his day. He even went so far as to participate in the pivotal 1931 exhibition modeled after the French Salon des Refusés, titled “The Rejected Architects.” By the 1950s Webber’s architecture had gained cachet, and by 1960 his designs were featured in nearly every home and architecture magazine of the era. But still his work remained on the fringes, both socially and geographically. Most of the homes he designed were situated in a region removed from urban centers of modernism like Boston and New York, and over time they (and he) faded from view. This lecture will address the relationship of Webber to the established canon of modern architecture, and illuminate the many contradictions that positioned the architect and his work outside of the mainstream.
The School of Visual Arts MFA Design Criticism Department presented “Crossing the Line: The 2010 D-Crit Conference" organized by graduating D-Crit students at the SVA Theatre in New York City on Friday, April 30 2010.