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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
JRRT Artist and Illustrator, Chapter 2 Visons, Myths and Legends Part II
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squire
Valinor


Mar 9 2007, 1:53pm

Post #26 of 29 (58 views)
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A little background [In reply to] Can't Post

Sorry to be so obscure, I was thinking aloud, so to speak. This is a favorite subject of mine. Briefly, I was referring to three architects of the first half of the 20th century who were known for their beliefs that architecture and urban planning on a vast scale could transform society for the better; but whose ideas, when put into practice, have seemed in retrospect to be anti-humanist and socially destructive.


Frank Lloyd Wright (American, 1867-1959) and his concept of "Broadacre City", a vast suburban-style megalopolis featuring high-density urban towers in the middle of the countryside, connected by high-speed roads.


Le Corbusier (French, 1887-1965) and one of his more fantastic designs. In the 1920s he proposed razing Paris and rebuilding it as a rational grid of high-rise apartments and offices surrounded by green parks; he called it the "Ville Radieuse" or Radiant City.


Albert Speer (German, 1905-1981) is not in the same artistic class as the other two, but is famous because he became Hitler's architect. He planned the rebuilding of Berlin as the Nazi world capital, in neoclassic style but on a megalomaniac scale. He is architecture's most forbidding example of a artist in service to evil. Yet many have speculated that Wright and Le Corbusier's ideas, executed piecemeal through the power of the commercial marketplace rather than under than hand of a single dictatorial planner, in fact triumphed after the Second World War in ways little less destructive than Speer's would have.

Please note that I don't think Tolkien knew or cared much about these men -- I want to be clear that Nasmith's is the vision that made me think of this subject. Nasmith is of our own generation, and grew up in a world heavily influenced by the grandiose science-fiction/fantasy urban designs of the modern era. But Nasmith is painting what he saw when he read Tolkien's description of Gondolin.

Tolkien's antimodernism, expressed as medieval "Elvish" fantasies, drew on an idealized monarchical and antidemocratic tradition. In his writing about Gondolin (rather than his almost meaningless sketch) the idea of the central planner and controller of the "perfect city" is very strong. The King and his relation to the City goes back to the beginning of civilization. The imposition of order, symmetry, and design onto the random and chaotic lives of the common people is a fantasy that many Kings have realized, usually at the cost of the very lives of the people they ruled.




squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Footeramas: The 3rd TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Mar 10 2007, 12:31am

Post #27 of 29 (84 views)
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"a Hitler-like obsession with scale and simplistic icons" [In reply to] Can't Post

Don't reach for that revolver! On the subject is Tolkien and Speerisch architecture, here is an interesting Reading Room post that I just came across, by Gorel from June of 2001.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Detail from earliest version of Thror's MapTolkien Illustrated! Jan. 29-May 20: Visit the Reading Room to discuss art by John Howe, Alan Lee, Ted Nasmith and others, including Tolkien himself.

Mar. 5-11: Tolkien's "Visions, Myths and Legends".


squire
Valinor


Mar 10 2007, 4:28am

Post #28 of 29 (59 views)
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"...I reach for my mouse" [In reply to] Can't Post

The first time you got one of my jokes.

I just had 45 minute's worth of response on the visual poverty of Tolkien studies and the question of evil art wiped out by some kind of bizarre board crash. The lesson remains, on the new boards as on the old: always wax eloquent on Wordpad, not on the website.

Thanks for that link to the 2001 discussion: it was the beginning of a very important but seldom seen angle for looking at Tolkien.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Footeramas: The 3rd TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


a.s.
Valinor


Mar 10 2007, 4:15pm

Post #29 of 29 (104 views)
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oh, THAT Speer [In reply to] Can't Post

I would insert a smiley here, but respect your allergy.


Quote

Please note that I don't think Tolkien knew or cared much about these men -- I want to be clear that Nasmith's is the vision that made me think of this subject. Nasmith is of our own generation, and grew up in a world heavily influenced by the grandiose science-fiction/fantasy urban designs of the modern era. But Nasmith is painting what he saw when he read Tolkien's description of Gondolin.

Tolkien's antimodernism, expressed as medieval "Elvish" fantasies, drew on an idealized monarchical and antidemocratic tradition. In his writing about Gondolin (rather than his almost meaningless sketch) the idea of the central planner and controller of the "perfect city" is very strong



It's interesting, your connection between the Naismith picture and the other "urban planners" (I realize that's not exactly who they were).

Even if Tolkien didn't have this kind of setting clearly in mind, one has to wonder about generational influences. All these men were of Tolkien's generation, and though all follow individual paths, there are common influences on all of us within our common generation. For my generation, the 60s influenced us all no matter if we ended up rebelling against or accepting the "turn on, tune in, drop out" messages.

These men making their centrally controlled urban utopias were all Tolkien contemporaries.

a.s.

"an seileachan"

Everybody's wondering what and where they all came from.
Everybody's worried 'bout where they're gonna go when the whole thing's done.
No one knows for certain, and so it's all the same to me:
I think I'll just let the mystery be.
~~~~Iris DeMent

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