Classic Homes of Los Angeles (Anglais) Relié – 26 octobre 2010
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Melba Levick is the photographer for Rizzoli’s Cottages in the Sun and many other books.
D. J. Waldie is a widely published author and winner of the California Book Award for nonfiction.
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As the name obviously suggests, the subject of the book is the great homes of the Los Angeles region; the majority of the homes featured here are from the Hancock Park area, but there are also a number of classics from Pasadena and one or two as far away as Malibu (the Adamson house, which you can find at the edge of the Malibu Lagoon across the PCH from the Country Mart). One thing worth pointing out is that the period covered by this book is a somewhat arbitrary 1899-1938, so don't expect to see any of the case study houses or other more modern architectural classics here.
The photography by Melba Levick is excellent, and the quality of printing is superb, with everything rendered in very crisp detail and rich colour. For each home you get large, full- or double-page photographs, with important details picked out in separate, smaller photos - stained glass, wood carvings and so on.
The ever-reliable DJ Waldie provides an informative and very readable introductory essay, giving some useful background on the growth of grand homes in the region and the money and personalities behind them. The quibbles I have with the book, such as they are, are with the main body of the text provided by Douglas Woods. Whilst his histories of each home are generally useful they are rather light and conversational in tone; I would have preferred a little more detail on the construction, the materials used, the architectural details, rather than the slightly gossipy background on the architects themselves and the home owners. Also, like so many books these days, it appears that the publishers didn't see fit to employ a proof reader, as the text is peppered with spelling mistakes, punctuation errors and inaccuracies. We're told that the Griffith Observatory "peaks" at one house, rather than "peeks", that iron grilles "sheild" the doors in one house, and that one home owner tried to "reign in" the urges of her architect. And a landing "foreshadow's" an architect's penchant for a dramatic entry - I guess the author had some spare apostrophes that needed a home.
Anyway, this is a pretty nice coffee table book with some great photography. It could have been improved with a little attention to detail by the editor, and there is a sense of being left wanting more, but perhaps there's a sequel around the corner. Reader who enjoyed this book may want to take a look at The Legendary Estates of Beverly Hills, a sumptuous (though expensive) history of the grand mansions of that part of town, with equally impressive photography and much more informative, better-written text.
Pasadena shines in this book as the writer and photographer leisurely escort us through the Greene and Greene Gamble House just up the street (or boulevard) from Frank Lloyd Wright's 'La Miniatura' and on to the Huntington (now) Museum, Library and Gardens of architects Myron Hunt and Elmer Grey. Hancock Park is shared by tours through the many mansions in that spectacular neighborhood and then there are all the expected mansions found in Beverly Hills - homes of the stars that still gather tour bus crowds. All types of architecture are explored and few people knew the abundance of architectural treasures prior to this fine book.
Subject aside, this fine Rizzoli book is special because of the well-researched yet conversational style of the writing of Douglas Woods. Melba Levick's photography is of the first order, whether that be in giving the full scope of the exterior property on which the mansions rest or sharing little details within the homes. There is also a learned introduction by DJ Waldie that sets just the right mood for this journey through the lesser known (and far more dignified) aspects of the bright lights of Los Angeles. Highly Recommended for reading and viewing. Grady Harp, December 10