Virtual Event: Book Talk: Mies van der Rohe, Edith Farnsworth, and the Fight Over a Modernist Masterpiece
Alex Beam in conversation with Mark Feeney
“An amazing story, brilliantly told.”—Sebastian Smee, Pulitzer Prize–winning art critic and author of The Art of Rivalry
A masterpiece of twentieth-century architecture, the Farnsworth House emerged out of an intimate relationship between Edith Farnsworth, a woman ahead of her time—unmarried, she was a distinguished medical researcher, as well as an accomplished violinist, translator, and poet—and German architect Mies van der Rohe. Their personal and professional collaboration produced 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. Dissatisfaction on both sides led to an emotional litigation case that 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.
Alex Beam has been a columnist and contributor to The Boston Globe since 1987. He is the author of two novels and five works of nonfiction: American Crucifixion; A Great Idea at the Time; The Feud, and Gracefully Insane, a book about McLean Hospital. His latest book is Broken Glass: Mies van der Rohe, Edith Farnsworth and the Fight Over a Modernist Masterpiece, "a knowing biography of an object—the house—and of its two principals," according to the New York Times. Beam has also written for The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, and Slate. He lives in Newton.
Mark Feeney is an arts writer at The Boston Globe. He has held various editorial positions since joining the paper, in 1979. A finalist for a Pulitzer Prize for feature writing, in 1994, he won a Pulitzer Prize for criticism, in 2008. He is the author of Nixon at the Movies: A Book about Belief (University of Chicago Press, 2004) and is currently working on a book about the 1970s. A lecturer in American Studies at Brandeis, he has also taught at Princeton, Yale, Brown, and Boston College.