I know, earlier this week I said I liked her 1960s work better. But Ada Louise Huxtable is still the most knowledgeable, elegant, thoughtful critic out there. Witness her review of Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future (closing Jan. 31). While other critics dithered about the politics of it all, seeming to blame Eero Saarinen for suburbanization, capitalism and Frank Gehry, Huxtable glides on by, summarizing the career and treating the work in context and in history. It is her history too, since she reviewed a number of his buildings (mixed) the first time around. She’s not OK with the eagle on top of the U.S. Embassy in London either, but she recognizes no one else has yet figured out how to build American.
Her last paragraph in particular speaks to me as a historian and as an inveterate utopian thinker.
There is something profoundly moving about this show; an inescapable nostalgia pervades it for that elusive American Century. The faith in the future, the belief that science and technology would bring us a better world, is part of a more innocent era. Seeing how one architect expressed its hopes and aspirations helps us to recapture the moment and value the maker on his own terms, in his own times, and in the context of what we have become.