Upcoming Event

Alex Beam [CANCELED]

presents

Broken Glass:
Mies Van Der Rohe, Edith Farnsworth, and the Fight Over a Modernist Masterpiece

Please Note: This event has been canceled

Date

Apr
2
Thursday
April 2, 2020
7:00 PM

Location

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Tickets

This event is free; no tickets are required.

Update

This event has been canceled. We apologize for any inconvenience. 


Harvard Book Store welcomes ALEX BEAM—Boston Globe columnist and author of Gracefully Insane and A Good Idea at the Time—for a discussion of his latest bookBroken Glass: Mies Van Der Rohe, Edith Farnsworth, and the Fight Over a Modernist Masterpiece.

About Broken Glass

In 1945, Edith Farnsworth asked the German architect Mies van der Rohe, already renowned for his avant-garde buildings, to design a weekend home for her outside of Chicago. Edith was a woman ahead of her time—unmarried, she was a distinguished medical researcher, as well as an accomplished violinist, translator, and poet. The two quickly began spending weekends together, talking philosophy, Catholic mysticism, and, of course, architecture over wine-soaked picnic lunches. Their personal and professional collaboration would produce the Farnsworth House, one of the most important works of architecture of all time, a blindingly original structure made up almost entirely of glass and steel.

But the minimalist marvel, built in 1951, was plagued by cost overruns and a sudden chilling of the two friends' mutual affection. Though the building became world famous, Edith found it impossible to live in, because of its constant leaks, flooding, and complete lack of privacy. Alienated and aggrieved, she lent her name to a public campaign against Mies, cheered on by Frank Lloyd Wright. Mies, in turn, sued her for unpaid monies. The ensuing lengthy trial heard evidence of purported incompetence by an acclaimed architect, and allegations of psychological cruelty and emotional trauma. A commercial dispute litigated in a rural Illinois courthouse became a trial of modernist art and architecture itself.

Interweaving personal drama and cultural history, Alex Beam presents a stylish, enthralling narrative tapestry, illuminating the fascinating history behind one of the twentieth-century's most beautiful and significant architectural projects.

Praise for Broken Glass

“An amazing story, brilliantly told . . . Alex Beam quickens your interest in every detail. His sensitive insights into architecture are matched by his feeling for psychology and for all the hilarious, petty, surprising minutiae of human relationships.” —Sebastian Smee, Pulitzer Prize–winning art critic and author of The Art of Rivalry

“Alex Beam begins with a simple foundation—a man, a woman, and a house—out of which he constructs a nuanced biography of one of the twentieth century’s most fascinating architects, a portrait of his brilliant and pioneering patron, and a dramatic tale of the impassioned battle over a work of art that consumed them both. Broken Glass is compelling from the first page as it chronicles, in delicious and sometimes hilarious detail, the mere mortals behind a Modern masterpiece.” —Mary Gabriel, author of Ninth Street Women

“Just when we thought everything had been said . . . an impressively comprehensive and moving account of the flawed architect-client relationship (and probably more) that lead to the greatest architectural masterpiece of the twentieth century.” —Reinier de Graaf, architect and author of Four Walls and a Roof

Alex Beam
Alex Beam

Alex Beam

Alex Beam has been a columnist for The Boston Globe since 1987. He previously served as the Moscow bureau chief for Business Week. He is the author of three works of nonfiction: American Crucifixion, Gracefully Insane, and A Great Idea at the Time; the latter two were New York Times Notable Books. Beam has also written for The Atlantic, Slate, and Forbes/FYI. He lives in Newton, Massachusetts.

Photo Credit: Doc Glidewell

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.

General Info
(617) 661-1515
info@harvard.com

Media Inquiries
mediainquiries@harvard.com

Accessibility Inquiries
access@harvard.com

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