Sunday, 2 March 2014

Alvar Aalto - His Life

Returning from Finland I have continued my researches in to the life of Aalto, courtesy of Goran Schildt's excellent, diligent and above all thick biography which I picked up at the Aalto House. And what a life it is. Kicking off with four vermouths for lunch (that, by this time, was just openers) with the old man, then deciding NOT to concentrate on the more personable aspects of Aalto's career, Schildt provides a fabulous picture of, in particular, life in the late twenties/early thirties, where the Soviet Union was 'an architects paradise' and it was the thing to look like an engineer, fly in aeroplanes, dance to jazz, visit porn cinemas during CIAM and wife swap with similarly minded young radicals (this at a time when radicalism was synonymous with 'great beauty', 'breeding' and so on). It makes staring at the computer screen look terribly boring. Along the way I find the the hero of Finnish design was more likely to speak Swedish, that Aino Aalto, his wife, was 'deeper' and of course that Aalto's reputation gathers pace almost as it's all over, that we are in the last quarter of the book by the time we get to Saynatsalo, and that most engagingly Aalto once missed a award ceremony in Paris honouring himself entirely because he had strayed in to the bar.
Excellent stuff. Highly recommended.

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