Louis Hellman's unique method of describing the work of an architect by drawing their head in the style of their building is known the world over. The drawings have been an enormous success, and have been converted into postcards, posters, and calendars, yet this is the first time they will be displayed in a book.
From the Author
The Archi-tetes series was actually conceived in 1984 as an entry to a cartoon competition held by the Architectural Review. Bearing in mind the international readership of the magazine, I wanted a format that did not need captions and that would have global appeal. The germ of the idea came to me in a dentist's waiting room and I doodled a rough version of Le Corbusier as one of his plans on the proverbial back of an envelope. Was it possible to do caricatures of famous architects using elements of their buildings? Next I roughed out Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies and Norman Foster. It seemed to work, if I worked at it. I completed 10 or so, including Aalto, Stirling, Venturi, a later Corb and Voysey. I won the competition and the caricatures were published in the Review (except Voysey, which the Editor did not like). More followed on and off but not on a regular basis.
Where precisely the inspiration came from I do not know. The most celebrated historical pedigree for the idea of portraits composed of natural or man-made elements can be found in the work of the sixteenth-century Mannerist painter Arcimboldo whose simularca, composed of flowers, fruit or meat, influenced the Surrealists like Dali and Ernst. However in terms of an attempt at caricaturing the famous using their own products, I think that Archi-tetes are fairly unique.
From the Introduction of Archi-tetes
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