Keith Eggener on Architect Luis Barragán with the New York Times Magazine, 99% Invisible

August 4, 2020

Interior of a house by Luis Barragan Luis Barragán's Casa Gilardi

Luis Barragán, the late 20th-century architect, is still making headlines.

Keith Eggener, the Marion D. Ross Distinguished Professor of Architectural History in the Department of the History of Art and Architecture, recently spoke to the New York Times Magazine and the design podcast 99% Invisible about the legacy of Barragán, who passed away in 1988.

Barragán, who was known for minimalist lines and color-blocking, won the Pritkzer Architecture Prize in 1980 for projects such as the Torres de Satélite, a colorful grouping of tower sculptures outside of Mexico City, and the Jardines del Pedregal and Las Arboledas residential subdivisions

The New York Times Magazine article “Luis Barragán’s Forgotten Works, Revisited,” discusses Barragán’s role not only as artist and architect, but as a sort of prospector and publicist as well, when he brought in business partners to purchase land to develop in El Pedregal.

“I don’t see anything preventing one from being a soulful, sophisticated artist and savvy businessman. The peculiar way in which Barragán combined these is at the heart of what I’ve long found so fascinating about him,” Eggener told the magazine.

Meanwhile at 99% Invisible, the episode “Instant Gramification” examines how architecture may be influenced by Instagram, a platform that favors bright, simple, popping backgrounds—elements found often in Barragán’s buildings. Eggener tells the podcast that the phenomenon of architects being aware of the camera’s gaze is nothing new.

“From the 1920s and ’30s onward, any ambitious architect has been conscious of and very attentive to the role of photography in conveying his or her work to a broader public,” Eggener said.

Barragán was strategic about how his structures were photographed.

“He was an architect who was supremely interested in the way things looked—not just in fully dimensional lived experience, but also on a two-dimensional photographic surface [….] I would not doubt that he would consider the way these were going to look later on,” Eggener said. graveyard

Eggener spoke to 99% Invisible in 2017 about cemeteries for the episode “The Modern Necropolis.”

Eggener, who wrote the 2010 book Cemeteries, also recently spoke to National Geographic about 19th-century cemetery strolls for the article “Explore some of America’s secret urban walks.

“Back then, if you had distinguished out-of-town guests, you’d take them to see the gravesites of local worthies and show off the sculptures,” Eggener told National Geographic. “They became so popular, people started to lead tours of them and write guidebooks.”

Eggener again discusses cemeteries, and their history and evolution, in a July 2020 episode, “Recompose,” of the Spaces Podcast