Duel in the City Heights


The skyscraper and the airplane are born with the movies and jazz at the dawn of the 20th century, but their initial romance soon turns sour. For Moses King, the cosmopolis of the future is formed by clustered skyscrapers that rise towards a sky filled with airplanes, and Iván Leonidov can only imagine his endless tower in dialogue with a plane; however, those optimistic metropolises that acrobatically superpose flying machines and towers become a threat during the prewar depression, bristling with guns, showing the airships as war weapons and representing the fighters nose-diving into the city. From Alexandr Rodchenko to Tullio Crali, the violent symbolism of the plane against the building makes obsolete the wedding of the Empire State with the airship tied to its flagpole, and in each skyscraper there is a King Kong – or a Lenin – surrounded by airplanes. The happy years of festive photographs in amusement park planes – from Kafka at the Vienna Prater to Josef Hoffmann or Le Corbusier in Paris – are now far behind, and the uncertain duel in the heights replaces for good the hypnotic dream of Brancusi: the ‘endless column’ of the skyscraper and the ‘bird in space’ of the airplane in ultimate harmony and perpetual peace...[+]

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