Reyner Banham: America

9 May 2017 – 28 Jul 2017

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British architectural historian Peter Reyner Banham was not only a vivid writer but also a compulsive snapshot photographer who described himself as an ‘observational historian.’


Banham repeatedly visited and recorded buildings, cities and landscapes with one of his many cameras and several Ecktachrome and Kodachrome films. This exhibition gives an insight into his America to which he moved in 1976 to join the University of New York in Buffalo. Industrial landscapes, car lots, ordinary houses, a view of the road; these photographs are only a selection of his hundreds of 35mm colour slides housed at the AA Photo Library that reveal his distinct photographic body of work.

Peter Reyner Banham was an English architectural critic and prolific writer best known for his theoretical treatise Theory and Design in the First Machine Age (1960) and for his 1971 book Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies. 

Banham was based in London, but lived primarily in the United States from the late 1960s until the end of his life. 
As a professor, Banham taught at the University of London, the State University of New York (SUNY) Buffalo, and through the 1980s at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He had been appointed the Sheldon H. Solow Professor of the History of Architecture at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University shortly before his death, but he never taught at the institution. He was also featured in the short documentary Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles; in his book on Los Angeles, Banham said that he learned to drive so he could read the city in the original.
His slide collection was donated to the Architectural Association Photo Library by Mary Banham in 1996.

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Byron Blakeley


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