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Tremaine Houses: One Family's Patronage of Domestic Architecture in Midcentury America

by Volker M. Welter Getty Research Institute
Pub Date:
Hbk 224 pages
AU$105.00 NZ$104.35
Product Status: In Stock Now
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From the late 1930s to the early 1970s, two brothers, Burton G. Tremaine and Warren D. Tremaine, and their respective wives, Emily Hall Tremaine and Katharine Williams Tremaine, commissioned approximately thirty architecture and design projects. Richard Neutra and Oscar Niemeyer designed the best-known Tremaine houses; Philip Johnson and Frank Lloyd Wright also created designs and buildings for the family that achieved iconic status in the modern movement.

Focusing on the Tremaines' houses and other projects, such as a visitor center at a meteor crater in Arizona, this volume explores the Tremaines' architectural patronage in terms of the family's motivations and values, exposing patterns in what may appear as an eclectic collection of modern architecture.

Architectural historian Volker M. Welter argues that the Tremaines' patronage was not driven by any single factor; rather, it stemmed from a network of motives comprising the clients' practical requirements, their private and public lives, and their ideas about architecture and art.

“With the imaginative rigor he exerted in his books on biologist/urbanist Patrick Geddes and architect Ernst Freud, Volker Welter narrates the fascinating dealings of the Tremaine family in Southern California at midcentury. Welter examines the Tremaine’s relationship with Vienna-trained architect Richard Neutra, which yielded one of the most widely discussed postwar American houses, as well as the Tremaine’s patronage of the young Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, who designed a stunning beach house for the couple. Grounded in meticulous archival explorations, the book brings to light a saga of faith in the virtues of modern architecture.”

—Jean-Louis Cohen, professor at NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts and author of Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes and The Future of Architecture Since 1889: A Worldwide History

Volker M. Welter is a professor in the Department of the History of Art and Architecture at the University of California, Santa Barbara.