The title of this handsome, oversize book may be a bit of a curveball: it is a book of photography, not a treatise on modern architecture. Ezra Stoller, like all the other great architectural photographers, is a meticulous, patient craftsman as well as an artist, so much so that readers tend to forget that his occupation is essentially a commercial venture. Most of the time, members of his profession take pictures because they are hired to, and only rarely do they shoot subjects on their own initiative. In the course of his 50-year career, Stoller documented the products of some of American architecture's best and most famous figures, including Frank Lloyd Wright, Eero Saarinen, Kevin Roche, I.M. Pei, Philip Johnson, Paul Rudolph, Richard Meier, and particularly the firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. His sensibility was perfectly attuned to the ethos of the best modernist design of the day--valuing rationality, clarity, controlled surfaces, and occasionally some drama.
Nowadays, architecture is almost always shot in color, but the most artful examples of this genre are in black and white. Most of the 400 images in this book are satisfyingly monochromatic, and many are exquisite demonstrations that art and commerce are not mutually exclusive. Harvard professor William Saunders supplies a learned introduction, and Stoller provides useful and revealing notes to individual architects and photos. --John Pastier