Architectural evolution: Antonin Raymond’s work on show in Prague

Architectural evolution: Antonin Raymond’s work on show in Prague

Born in Kladno, Czechoslovakia, keen traveller and architect Antonin Raymond (1888-1976) was a true citizen of the world. Having lived and worked in Europe, America and Asia throughout his long career, he is known for leaving a lasting impression on modern Japanese architecture. Exploring Raymond’s exciting path through seven of his major works, ’Antonin Raymond 7x’ is currently on show at the Jaroslav Frágner Gallery in Prague.

Curated by Irena Veverková and David Vávra, the exhibition in Prague is the result of research produced for a documentary series on Raymond’s work for the Czech Television. Seven of his buildings, which were selected for the show, act as examples of his stylistic evolution. Works span the Art-Deco Hoshi University (1924), the Tropical Modernism of St. Joseph, the Worker Church on the Philippines (1949) and impressive Brutalist projects such as St. Anselm’s Church in Tokyo (1954) or Gunma Music Center (1961).

After leaving Czechoslovakia, where he studied architecture at the Polytechnic Institute, Raymond settled in New York. Heavily influenced by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, he began working for him as an assistant in 1916, consequently moving to Japan to oversee the design and construction of the office’s famous Imperial hotel, completed in 1923. 

While remaining there as Wright’s chief assistant, he decided to set up his own studio in 1921. Raymond’s work in Japan soon grew and his style evolved, ranging from his early prairie-style architecture (a clear Wright influence) and Le Corbusier-inspired Modernism, to more vernacular styles in the 1940s, and post-war Brutalism. 

After the war Raymond cemented his reputation with several large-scale commissions. His studio also became an incubator for younger architects over the years; his staff has included Kunio Maekawa, Junzo Yoshimura and American furniture maker George Nakashima, who worked for Raymond in India during the construction of Golconda dormitory (see June 2011 issue of Wallpaper*).

Featuring newly commissioned photos, as well as a projection of the documentary itself, the show also includes furniture replicas designed by Raymond and his wife, decorator and designer Noémi Raymond. The show will travel to Brno next month. A detailed exhibition catalogue is available on site, for further information on this exciting architect’s work and life. 

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