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Avant-Garde in the Cornfields

Architecture, Landscape, and Preservation in New Harmony

2019

Michelangelo Sabatino and Ben Nicholson, Editors

Avant-Garde in the Cornfields

A close examination of an iconic small town that gives boundless insights into architecture, landscape, preservation, and philanthropy

This book presents an in-depth study of New Harmony, Indiana, a unique town in the American Midwest renowned as the site of two successive Utopian settlements during the nineteenth century: the Harmonists and the Owenites. An important reappraisal of postwar American architecture from a rural perspective, it provides provocative ideas about how history is interpreted through design and historic preservation.

Avant-Garde in the Cornfields is an in-depth study of New Harmony, Indiana, a unique town in the American Midwest renowned as the site of two successive Utopian settlements during the nineteenth century: the Harmonists and the Owenites. During the Cold War years of the twentieth century, New Harmony became a spiritual “living community” and attracted a wide variety of creative artists and architects who left behind landmarks that are now world famous.

This engrossing and well-documented book explores the architecture, topography, and preservation of New Harmony during both periods and addresses troubling questions about the origin, production, and meaning of the town’s modern structures, landscapes, and gardens. It analyzes how these were preserved, recognizing the funding that has made New Harmony so vital, and details the elaborate ways in which the town remains an ongoing experiment in defining the role of patronage in historic preservation.

An important reappraisal of postwar American architecture from a rural perspective, Avant-Garde in the Cornfields presents provocative ideas about how history is interpreted through design and historic preservation—and about how the extraordinary past and present of New Harmony continue to thrive today.

Contributors: William R. Crout, Harvard U; Stephen Fox, Rice U; Christine Gorby, Pennsylvania State U; Cammie McAtee, Harvard U; Nancy Mangum McCaslin; Kenneth A. Schuette Jr., Purdue U; Ralph Schwarz; Paul Tillich.

Avant-Garde in the Cornfields

Ben Nicholson is professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has exhibited at the Fondation Cartier, The Renaissance Society, Canadian Centre for Architecture, and the Venice Biennale. He is author of Appliance House and The World: Who Wants It?

Michelangelo Sabatino is educated as an architect and historian and is dean of the College of Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. He is author of Pride in Modesty: Modernist Architecture and the Vernacular Tradition in Italy, which received the Alice Davis Hitchcock Award.

About This Book