Book review: This Brutal World by Peter Chadwick

I have to be honest and say I am pretty new to this brutalism thing.  I’ve visited a few websites and read the occasional article but expert I am not.  What should be fairly obvious however is that my interest in architecture comes from a photographic standpoint and it is as a photographer that I offer my thoughts.

There are a number of brutalist buildings dotted round Glasgow and I am finding myself investigating these more often as I scout potential photography locations.  For me, brutalist architecture offers endless photographic possibilities; bold graphic shapes and line, a gorgeous interplay between light and shadow, a contrast due to buildings that often sit at odds to others in the area, and there is something beautiful concrete as it ages and weathers.  All these elements lend themselves perfectly to photography, particularly black and white photography, and I was extremely hopeful of finding images within the book which would fire the imagination as I continue to photograph architecture and the urban realm.

 Monument Ilinden (Makedonium), Krushevo, Macedonia, 1974 by Jordan and Iskra Grabuloski. Image courtesy of Phaidon.

Monument Ilinden (Makedonium), Krushevo, Macedonia, 1974 by Jordan and Iskra Grabuloski. Image courtesy of Phaidon.

The collection of photography contained within this book is vast.  At 224 pages with 230 photographs, Chadwick’s curated collection here is of fantastic quality.  Most images are full page and all are black and white.  Chadwick has done a fine job in highlighting the universal nature of the brutalist movement and the beauty of ‘raw concrete’ with a collection of images from across the globe.

This Brutal World is a gorgeous collection of photographs that anyone with more than a passing interest in architecture would no doubt enjoy.  However, for urban and architecture photographers the book is invaluable.  Chadwick’s choice of images emphasises the sheer breadth of style within the brutalist movement and as such provides photographers with a knowledge that can be used as a jump off point when photographing this type of structure.  To be put it bluntly, you know where and what to look for in order to make a great image and that can only be a good thing.

More information and further sample images can be found here.  Thanks to Nat Foreman (Phaidon) for supplying images used in review.

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DETAILS: This Brutal World, Author: Peter Chadwick, Format: Hardback, Size: 290mm x 250mm (11 3/8 x 9 7/8 in), Pages: 224pp, Illustrations: 320 illustrations, ISBN: 9780714871080, Publisher: Phaidon