A Book Chronicles House Designs for Friends by Marcel Breuer

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Illustrated with a collection of contemporary and historic photographs as well as rarely seen documents, Breuer’s Bohemia examines an often overlooked corner of modernist Marcel Breuer’s oeuvre. In addition to his Brutalist public and commercial buildings, from the 1950s through the 1970s, Breuer designed a series of homes for himself and his friends in Connecticut and Massachusetts. In these he created a constellation of modern dwellings inhabited by a cast of artists and patrons of modern design.

The book, which is a complementary volume to a documentary film of the same name, traces the architect’s relationship with his client, friend and supporter Rufus Cole Stillman. Breuer designed four homes for the wealthy, rural businessman from Litchfield, Connecticut, and Stillman arranged public, corporate, and residential commissions for the architect, introducing him to friends and family.

Many of these residences, in western Connecticut and Cape Cod, Massachusetts, housed or hosted members of an eclectic, party-loving group of mid-century artists and intellectuals, including Alexander Calder, Arthur Miller , Francine du Plessix Gray, Philip Roth and William Styron. It is from this circle, of which Breuer was certainly a part (a cottage he designed for himself and his wife Connie in Wellfleet was known for its raucous summer gatherings), that the book’s author, James Crump, derives his title. However, the volume has less to do with chronicling Breuer’s bohemianism than with recording his search for new ways to design domestic spaces for modern people.

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