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Dr Shantel Blakely, 'The Architect as Universal Man: Herbert Read's Ideal of the Architect as an Aesthetic Polymath'



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Herbert Read’s essay ‘The Architect as Universal Man’, first published in 1955, was reprinted at least five times in architecture journals between 1955–1965, which suggests its widespread appreciation at the time by an audience of architects. In a central theme of the essay, Read asserts that the architect should take command of the project at every scale, from the overall form to the detail and decoration.

Noting Read’s role as biographer of Henry Moore and as an advocate for Moore as a model of the artist in the public realm, this talk looks at Moore’s written correspondence with architect-collaborators in order to understand the relationships between artist and architect in those specific projects.

This lecture will explore the ways in which Moore’s experiences seem to validate, or to contradict, Read’s theory of the architect/artist relationship.


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About the speaker

Dr Shantel Blakely

Shantel Blakely is an architect and architectural historian whose work explores the persona of the architect as a creative practitioner in the visual arts, in the US, Great Britain, and Europe, from 1945 to the present. Her research on Herbert Read examines his influence on the international discourse on modern architecture and has received support in various forms from the Henry Moore Foundation and Paul Mellon Centre since 2018.

Her book-in-progress on the St. Louis African-American architect Charles E. Fleming is supported by the Getty Research Institute and the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. Blakely is also author of a forthcoming book on the Italian architect/industrial designer Marco Zanuso as well as numerous articles in architecture journals. She is an assistant professor at Rice University School of Architecture, where she teaches architectural history and design studio.

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This event is part of our current season of research looking at renowned novelist, publisher, editor and art critic Herbert Read.