The Modern House, an Art Market Commodity?

James S. Russell 

As soon as I entered the Kaufmann house, I had to stop. Designed by Richard Neutra, and finished in 1946, the horizontal plane of its ceiling drew my eye outward, through an invisible veil of glass to the swimming pool’s blue rectangle, set in a desert garden of rocks and prickly cactus. The house envelops the visitor in sensuality.

That’s rare enough in any house, but rather surprising in a structure so precisely engineered in the machined forms of steel-and-glass Modernism. Anchored by a heavy sandstone chimney, the house’s interlocking, strongly horizontal planes in plaster, glass and desert-sand colored concrete pinwheel in four directions. The sheltering roofs, the industrial louvers, and the great sheets of glass soften the harsh desert light of Palm Springs, California, and frame vistas to the tumbled mountains in the distance. Like many people who come from grey, damp climates – in Neutra’s case, Vienna – he understood the liberating possibilities of living outdoors in a way that those who have always lived in warmth and sunlight often never know... [+]

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