(Click on images to enlarge)
California Arts & Architecture, March, 1940, Weston Havens House, Berkeley, 1941, Harwell Hamilton Harris. (From my collection).
The above cover of the March, 1940 issue of California Arts & Architecture featuring a cross-section of Harwell Hamilton Harris's masterpiece, the Weston Havens House in Berkeley, represents a major milestone in his life as well as John Entenza's. For Harris it marked the end of his very productive involvement with the publication most responsible for establishing his career. For Entenza it heralded the beginning of his long and illustrious editorship of a publication which had been evolving since the early 1930s into one of the most respected purveyors of modernism in the country. The story of this watershed event in the history of the magazine and the lives of the men unfolds below.
Harwell Hamilton Harris by Lisa Germany, University of Texas Press, 1991. Cover photo, staircase in the Weston Havens House, Berkeley, by Henry Bowles,1985. (From my collection).
For a detailed look at Harwell Hamilton Harris's life I strongly recommend the Lisa Germany monograph Harwell Hamilton Harris, University of Texas Press, 1991 (see above) featured in my recent post on Harris and from which I obtained much of the following material (to be cited below as "Germany"). Also see Esther McCoy's The Second Generation, Gibbs Smith, 1984 (McCoy SG) for a very insightful chapter on Harris. Harris's oral history, The Organic View of Design Oral History Transcript (UCLA) is also another great source of material on his life. For material on John Entenza I recommend Case Study Houses 1945-1962 by Esther McCoy (CSH), Barbara Goldstein's Arts & Architecture: The Entenza Years (Goldstein), Blueprints for Modern Living: History and Legacy of the Case Study Houses edited by Elizabeth A. T. Smith (BFML) and Taschen's Arts & Architecture: The Complete Reprint 1945-1967.
Harwell Hamilton Harris was born on July 2, 1903, in Redlands, California. Harris moved to Los Angeles in 1923, where he transferred from Pomona College after his second year to Otis Art Institute to pursue his studies in sculpture and painting. He also studied under noted abstract colorist Stanton MacDonald-Wright beginning in 1925. A visit to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House circa 1927 suggested by fellow sculpture student Ruth Sowden (see below), who with husband John was then having a house built by Lloyd Wright, and immediately afterward viewing Wright's Wasmuth Portfolio at the L.A. Public Library was an epiphany for him to study architecture instead. At the age of 25 he applied to University of California Berkeley to that end and was accepted for the fall of 1928. (McCoy, SG).
Sculpture class at Otis Art Institute, 1924: Instructor Harold Swartz in center; continuing right: Ruth Sowden, who encouraged Harris to discover Frank Lloyd Wright; Viola Kepler (model); George Stanley (future designer of the "Oscar"statuette; Clive Delbridge (Harris's client for his first building, the Lowe house); and Harwell Hamilton Harris. (From Harwell Hamilton Harris by Lisa Germany, p. 17).
Meanwhile another Otis student told Harris about Richard Neutra's Jardinette Apartments then under construction in Hollywood. Noting the architect's address on the project sign, Harris went to Schindler's Kings Road House where he received another indoctrination in modern architecture and met both Schindler and Neutra. Ironically, it was Wright's Wasmuth Portfolio that also influenced both Schindler and Neutra to emigrate to the United States to meet Wright and begin their brilliant careers. Neutra, needing help at the time, convinced the impressionable Harris that he would learn much more by going to work for him and taking night classes than he ever would in college. He canceled his plans for Berkeley and immediately started working in the Schindler House drafting room on completing the finishing touches on the working drawings of the Lovell Health House. (McCoy SG).
From left to right, Franz K. Ferenz, Barbara Morgan (kneeling), David Giffen, Ragenhilde Liljedahl (Mrs. Giffen), unknown, unknown, Annita Delano, Richard Neutra, unknown, Harwell Hamilton Harris and Gregory Ain. (E. Merril Owens is one of the three unidentified students). Photo by fellow class-member Willard D. Morgan. (Germany, p. 30). For much more on Neutra and this class see my Foundations of Los Angeles Modernism: Richard Neutra's Mod Squad.
Moderne Bauformen, August, 1932, Lovell Health House. Willard Morgan photo. Courtesy Neutra Papers, Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.
Wie Baut Amerika? by Richard Neutra, Julius Hoffmann, Stuttgart, 1927. (From my collection).
Amerika: Die Stilbildung des Neuen Bauens in den Vereinigten Staaten by Richard J. Neutra, Verlag Von Anton Schroll, Wien, 1930. El Lissitsky photo montage includes an image of smokestacks by Brett Weston. (From my collection).
Neutra's 1927 book Wie Baut Amerika? and 1930 book Amerika (see above) must have instilled a sense of pride in Harris to be working for someone of such international renown. Neutra also published an article under Harris's byline in the April 1930 issue of Die Form "Ein amerikanischer Flughafen" describing the Lehigh Portland Cement Airport Design Competition which was also incorporated into Rush City Reformed. During this period, Harris became familiar with the principles of the Modernist movement and served as secretary of the American chapter of the Congrés Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne (CIAM) which was headed by Neutra. Harris and Ain prepared various elements of Rush City Reformed for Neutra to present at the 1930 CIAM III conference in Brussels during his well-received year-long world lecture tour following completion and extensive publication of his Lovell Health House.
Ring Plan School, Rush City Reformed, Richard Neutra, Die Form, April 15, 1932. Courtesy Neutra Papers, Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.
Harris was also witness to how Neutra was able to parlay this recognition into inclusion in the Museum of Modern Art's seminal Modern Architecture: International Exhibition in 1932. (See exhibition catalog below).
Modern Architecture: International Exhibition, catalog edited by Philip Johnson and Henry Russell-Hitchcock, Museum of Modern Art, 1932. Lists Mr. John G. Bullock, President Bullock's Inc. Los Angeles as one of the Directors of Institutions Subscribing to the Exhibition. (From my collection).
Under Neutra's direction Harris also played a significant part in bringing the show to Los Angeles. The exhibition needed monied local sponsors to guarantee a venue so Neutra assigned Harris and Ain the task of calling businessmen for support. Harris called John Bullock and convinced him to become one of the directors of institutions subscribing to the exhibition (listed as such in the above catalog) and the show opened in his recently opened art deco showplace, Bullock's Wilshire Department Store, in the summer of 1932. (Germany). Neutra published a full-page review of the exhibition in the July-August, 1932 issue of California Arts & Architecture which included a photo of his Lovell Health House. The show garnered much local coverage with 20 articles in the L.A. Times beginning in February through August 20, 1932 coinciding with the closing of the Summer Olympic Games also being held in Los Angeles. ("International Stylists' Designs Thrill Crowds", Los Angeles Times, July 24, 1932, pp. 16-17). Los Angeles was indeed rapidly developing into a world class city as concurrently were Neutra and his disciples into soon-to-be world renowned moderinist architects.
Lovell Health House Model. From Pencil Points Special Neutra Issue, July 1937, p. 413. (From my collection).
Neutra enlisted Harris to build the above Lovell Health House model for an exhibition at the Museum of Science and Industry for which he was paid $600 by the museum circa 1930. The model eventually made its way to a museum in Rockefeller Center in New York. (Life and Shape by Richard Neutra, p. 259).
Harris left the Neutra office in 1933 to establish his own independent practice in Los Angeles. His first commissions were for small homes based on the modular modernist principles he had learned from his mentors, Neutra and Schindler. His first significant built project, the Pauline Lowe House (1934) in Altadena, was first published in the October, 1934 issue of House Beautiful, one month after Neutra's first appearance in the same magazine with his Sten-Frenke House.
Harris's association with Richard Neutra's circle paid big dividends as he was included in the January, 1935 special modern architecture and design issue of California Arts & Architecture which was guest-edited by Pauline Schindler, a longtime friend of his wife, Jean Murray Bangs whom he had first met in 1931. Harris was featured with a two-page spread of his 1934 Pauline Lowe House and an article under his byline, "In Designing the Small House." This was possibly the first issue of a magazine in Southern California dedicated entirely to modern architecture and also included work by Richard Neutra (Lovell Health House, VDL Research House, Koblick, Mosk, Beard and Sten-Frenke Residences), R. M Schindler (Oliver, Gibling and Wolfe Residences), J. R. Davidson, Kem Weber, Lloyd Wright, Jock Peters, Morrow & Morrow and a tribute to Frank Lloyd Wright, "Modern Architecture Acknowledges the Light Which Kindled It" by Pauline Schindler. The steady inevitable march towards modernism the nation was heading on during the height of the Great Depression in January, 1935 was epitomized by the below cover image of Boulder (now Hoover) Dam .
William Woolett, Boulder Dam, lithograph, California Arts & Architecture, January 1935, front cover. (From my collection).
This same cast of characters (minus Harris) were the subject of a traveling exhibition also organized and curated by Pauline Schindler, "Creative Contemporary Architecture in California" with venues at UCLA, the California Art Center at Barnsdall Park and the Plaza Art Center during 1930-31 which might have included the above model of Neutra's Lovell Health House. ("Art Club Presents Exhibition: Contemporary Creative Architecture To Be Shown", L.A. Times, June 22, 1930 plus many other articles). (See also my related post Pauline Gibling Schindler: Vagabond Agent For Modernism, 1927-1936). This small tribe of early L.A. Moderns headed by Neutra were in a constant struggle to spread the gospel of Modernism to the uneducated masses as a means to drum up commissions. Harris must have been thrilled to have finally been included with this crowd and their gradually growing portfolio of built work.
Publisher George Oyer's courageous January editorial, "California - As We See It" reads,
"For some months we have been considering the advisability of recording some of the work of our California modern designers. To the layman, the term modern applies to any house or building with dominating horizontal or vertical lines: to any shop front with polished aluminum or bronze wainscoting. The term modern applied to architecture and interior furnishings has but a vague meaning....It is quite impossible to show all of the distinctive work of our outstanding architects, nor are we able to include in this issue the work of all of our California modernists. In the selection of photographs and articles we are grateful to Miss Pauline Schindler for her able assistance. Whether or not you like it, is beside the point. It is here so we acknowledge it."Esther McCoy wrote in The Second Generation, "The small band of Moderns was fortunate in having California Arts & Architecture to publish its buildings." (SG, p. 42). Likewise, Lisa Germany states on p. 71 of her 1985 University of Texas exhibition catalog Harwell Hamilton Harris, "Throughout the 1920s and '30s and into the '40s, the California House became widely known as the latest in residential design. During these years the magazine California Arts & Architecture was the sounding board for all things Modern, particularly those having to do with architecture." She goes on to list the seminal January, 1935 modern architecture issue and many soon to follow articles as examples.
This issue met with much negative criticism in the East Coast establishment architectural press with H. Van Buren Magonigle, FAIA writing in the March, 1935 issue of Pencil Points dismissed the movement in California as a "flurry." "Modern houses, he wrote, looked alike wherever they were built, and nothing about them suggested a home. They do not seem to be built for real people leading real lives." He further chastised the editorial advisory board's AIA members for their involvement. (McCoy SG, p. 42). Modernist architect Irving Morrow whose work was also included in the January issue penned a full-page rebuttal to Magonigle's on-going tirade against modern architecture in the June issue.
California Arts & Architecture, January, 1935. Pauline Lowe House, Harwell Hamilton Harris. (From my collection).
Harris gained much favorable publicity when his Lowe house design was plagiarized as an entry in the 1934 General Electric Small Homes Competition by architects R. Paul Schweikher and Theodore W. Lamb who won the $2,500 first prize. After seeing the news of his stolen design winning the competition in April 1, 1935 issue of Time Magazine Harris convinced California Arts & Architecture publisher George Oyer to run an expose in his May issue. The article, "Concerning Competitions" compared the almost identical floor plans and nearly verbatim descriptive language and concluded, "While Messers. Schweikher and Lamb win the money, we still insist that a "Californian Wins HONORS in National Competition." Oyer also was able to get his article published in Architectural Forum ("California Charges", June 1935, p. 42) and Pauline Schindler, an avid Harris promoter, had a similar piece published in Aperitif ("What constitutes Plagiarism?" by Pauline Schindler, Vol. 1, No. 1, 1935) garnering overwhelmingly favorable national publicity for Harris over the scandal.
From that point on, Harris was the fair-haired boy of Oyer whose California Arts & Architecture was thereafter the first to publish all of his work. (UCLA, p. 130). The November, 1935 issue featured Harris's Graham Laing House under the title, "A Frank Lloyd Wright House with a Hat On." (See below). Oyer died the following year and Harris and fiance Jean Murray Bangs, also an occasional contributor to CA&A, became very close friends with his former assistant and successor, Jere Johnson who became publisher in December 1936. It didn't hurt that their offices were by then on the same floor at 2404 West 7th St., Los Angeles. (UCLA).
It was also about this time that a young writer named John Entenza stopped by Harris's office to meet him, intrigued by the Lowe House and subsequent scandal he read about in the pages of CA&A in January and March. (Germany, p. 53, UCLA, p. 129). Coincidentally, during 1935 Harris was also designing a house for Stella Gramer, law partner of Entenza's father Tony.
California Arts & Architecture, November, 1935. Graham Laing Residence, Harwell Hamilton Harris. (From my collection).
California Arts & Architecture, March, 1937. Fellowship Park House, Harwell Hamilton Harris Residence. (From my collection).
John Entenza, still impressed by the Lowe House and possibly having received positive feedback on Harris's design skills from Stella Gramer, came back a year later to commission Harris to design and build him a house. In the interim, the house Harris had designed for Gramer, was not built as she instead won in a raffle former Harris mentor Richard Neutra's "Plywood Demonstration House" which was on display at the highly publicized 1936 California Home and Garden Exhibition on Wilshire Blvd. The six houses exhibited were given away at the end of the show with the winners only having to own a lot to move their house onto. Gramer had Harris oversee the movement of the house to her lot at 427 Beloit Ave. in Westwood, design the foundation, rebuild the fireplace and make other adjustments necessitated by moving a house. (UCLA, p. 130, Germany). (Coincidentally, Neutra's house was the subject of Julius Shulman's first published architectural photograph which appeared in the July 1936 issue of Architectural Forum and July 1937 issue of Pencil Points. See both covers side-by-side later in this post and my related Julius Shulman Chronicles, 1936).
Around this time an unlicensed Harris was summoned to court to answer charges brought against him by a private inspector for the State Board of Architectural Examiners known among architects as "the bloodhound." Stella Gramer, hired by Harris to defend him, "made mincemeat of the bloodhound." (Germany, note 27., p. 213).
Entenza, discussing his housing requirements with Harris as they were touring his Fellowship Park House, said with tongue in cheek, "This is the kind of house I don't want. But because you could design this house, I know you can design the house I do want." Even though Harris had developed his own redwood siding-based, outdoor-friendly language by then, he produced something to Entenza's liking along the lines of Neutra's International Style. (Germany).
Harris's next contact with Stella Gramer came when Entenza used her to negotiate the contact with the builder Harris brought to him. The following excerpt from Harris's 05/18/1989 letter to Esther McCoy is very revealing and becomes important later in this post.
Harris's next contact with Stella Gramer came when Entenza used her to negotiate the contact with the builder Harris brought to him. The following excerpt from Harris's 05/18/1989 letter to Esther McCoy is very revealing and becomes important later in this post.
"John had practically no money. He was living rent-free in a house his father, Tony Entenza, was keeping a congressional district from which he ran (unsuccessfully) for Congress every two years. On the basis of my drawings he asked for a bid from a young contractor I brought to him. He talked to his father's law partner, Stella Gramer (Stella was more like a son to Tony that was John). When the contractor brought his bid into the Entenza office where John, Stella, and I were waiting, John and Stell took the contractor into the back office leaving me sitting out front. After what seemed an extremely long time the three of them returned, the contractor looking sober and unhappy. Just how Stella operated on him I don't know but the full contract figure was only $3,120.00. It's a figure I never forgot. There were no extras."(Source: Author Susan Morgan who is currently editing a collection of McCoy's writing about Los Angeles that will be published in 2011. She also has a book in progress about McCoy's life and work).
Thus, Entenza's first appearance in the pages of CA&A came with the below left article in July, 1937 issue which featured a rendering and floor plan of Harris's design. Quoting from the article. "That it be masculine and smart, were the requirements for this beach house for a bachelor playwright. So here it is, as smartly turned out as the season's new cars, and a man's house, every inch of it." Harris's design was clearly influenced by Neutra's 1932 demonstration model house for the Viennese Werkbundsiedlung housing project designed in 1931 shortly after returning from Europe (seen below right) while Harris was still in Neutra's employ. The semi-circular elements of Neutra's recently completed Von Sternberg, and Sten-Frenke Residences also influenced the Entenza House design. Fellow Neutra apprentice Raphael Soriano's 1936 Lipetz House, his first realized solo project, also echoed a similar look. (See my related Julius Shulman Chronicles: 1936).
Above left from California Arts & Architecture, July, 1937. Above right from Lisa Germany, p. 68 and courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art. (Both from my collection)
Harris's Helene Kershner House appeared a month later in the August, 1937 issue of CA&A (above left) followed by the Marion Clark House (above right) in Carmel-by-the-Sea in the March, 1938 issue. (Both from my collection).
The completed Entenza House made it's CA&A debut in the May, 1938 issue. (See above left and right from my collection).
Harris's house for Greta Granstedt appeared in CA&A in July, 1938 and his Mr. and Mrs. George C. Bauer Residence in August, 1939 (above left (renderings by Whitney Smith) and right from my collection).
California Arts & Architecture, January, 1940. (From my collection).
The January, 1940 number, an extremely important issue in editor-publisher Jere Johnson's legacy, featured Harris's Kershner House living room lighting (above left) and also had the distinction of being Julius Shulman's first cover photo (above right). Johnson was by then beginning to recognize the value of Shulman's eye in enhancing the magazine's image and gave the fledgling photographer his first opportunity to appear on a cover, no doubt providing a huge boost to his confidence and marketing ability for future work. (See my related Julius Shulman's First Cover Photo: California Arts & Architecture, January 1940). Harris's work was also included or mentioned in a few other miscellaneous issues in 1939-40. Having learned Neutra's publicity lessons well, Harris by this time was quite established and well-known through his articles first appearing in CA&A and then being picked up by the editors of other regional and national publications which had reciprocal subscriptions.
Ironically, January's issue was also to be the last under the editorship of Johnson, who was by then very close friends with the Harrises. Johnson named frequent contributor Harris to the magazine's Editorial Advisory Board beginning with the October, 1939 issue based on his rapidly growing national reputation. She was pregnant and needed someone to run the magazine temporarily for her while she went on maternity leave. She asked the Harrises to recommend a substitute and they suggested John Entenza. (Germany, p. 217, note 9). Entenza's name first appears on the masthead as editor in the February, 1940 issue.
The March, 1940 issue, again pictured below right, Entenza's second as caretaker editor, has on the cover a cross-section of Harris's most renowned project, the Weston Havens House in the Berkeley Hills. Little did Harris know at the time but this would be one of his last CA&A appearances as he and Jean would within a few months have a falling out with Entenza over the way he was to gain control of the magazine from their dear friend. The Harrises sincerely believed Johnson had been cheated by Entenza's lawyer father and his aforementioned partner, Stella Gramer who they believed had put undue pressure on Johnson to sell. (Germany, note 2, p. 217). In the interim, they introduced him to East Coast magazine editors at Architectural Record and Architectural Forum and the directors of the Museum of Modern Art in an effort to get him started on the right foot. (Germany, note 4. p. 217).
"Stella Gramer had done the dirty work for John when it came to completing the contract with the builder of my house for John. In the case of the contract for John's house, John and I sat in the outer office and the contractor was taken into Stella's office; when they came out the contract document had been altered and signed for only $3,120, which was considerable less than the earlier figure. John looked and acted and probably felt entirely innocent...Jean admired Stella as a lawyer. Jean always said that what she wanted in a lawyer was a fighter and not a legal expert who told her why something couldn't be done..." (Source: Author Susan Morgan).The March cover (below right) reflects Entenza's new masthead design and new font. Also never before had a CA&A cover included a cross-section of a project. Comparing with the January, 1940 issue below left with the Julius Shulman first ever cover photo (of Paul Laszlo's Rosenson House) illustrates that Entenza's influence was quickly having an impact on the magazine. Entenza would stick with this masthead until hiring Alvin Lustig to design a makeover which first appeared on the February, 1942 cover. (See later in this post).
The intervening February issue, Entenza's first at the helm as supposedly the temporary editor, contained a more boldly structured title page (see later below) and also the first appearance of his monthly editorial column "Notes in Passing" which opened with his strength with insightful reviews of recent new plays debuting in Los Angeles. Entenza worked in an MGM experimental film production unit from 1932 until 1936 when it folded due to the depression. (Goldstein). Also a playwright before accepting the CA&A post, he had limited success on the Hollywood stage with his comedy-drama "A Notorious Lady" starring Laura Treadwell having a nice run at the Vine Street Theater in the summer of 1935. ('Notorious Lady' Player Has Three Varied Careers', Los Angeles Times, Jun 15, 1935, p.5).
Harris stated in his 1985 oral history,
"[Entenza] acquired [CA&A] with very little money, just as he built his house with very little money. Largely on account of the pressure that his father, and particularly his father's partner, a young woman, I've forgotten her name for the moment, [Stella Gramer] for whom I also designed a house which wasn't built. For her I did move a house that Neutra had built as an exhibition house. Anyway, they were able to put pressure on various ones, whether it was on a contractor to build a house for John or on others to acquire the magazine for him. It was our feeling that Jere had really been cheated in this. That caused our break with John. So when a little bit later he was starting his Case Study program and asked me to design a house for the magazine, I refused to do it." (UCLA, p. 129).
Entenza's apparently hostile takeover was complete by the June-July issue when Johnson's name no longer appears on the masthead. By August the physical separation was also complete as Entenza had moved the magazine's offices from the same floor as Harris's at 2404 West Seventh St. to 3305 Wilshire Blvd. where he held court until he sold the magazine to David Travers in 1962. Entenza first offered to sell the magazine to Harris, most likely because of his initial recommendation of him for the editorship and expressed interest in the magazine's continued well-being at the time of the ownership change. (UCLA, p. 132).
Other notable casualties of Entenza's coup d'etat were Pauline Schindler's father Edmund Gibling and Cliff May. Gibling was added to the advertising staff by Jere Johnson in February 1939 shortly after he and his wife moved from Chicago to their Schindler-designed Westwood residence. (See February 1940 masthead later below). Gibling likely obtained the position through Harris's wife Jean Murray Bangs' close friendships with both Pauline and Jere Johnson. Bangs had been a Kings Road habitue and confidant of Pauline's since 1922. Pauline and Bangs had been quite close since they bonded over labor issues and social causes she and her then garment workers union labor organizer husband Abe Plotkin were involved with in early 1920s Los Angles. Pauline was keenly interested in Plotkin's work for the ILGWU since she was arrested for picketing for the same union in Chicago in 1915. (See my WWS). Edmund Gibling's last appearance on the masthead was in the March 1940 issue as he, out of loyalty to the Harrises, chose to also disassociate himself from Entenza due to his ouster of Johnson.
Modern Number, "The Rancheria of Mr. and Mrs. Cliff May in Mandeville Canyon, California, Cliff May, Builder, Interiors by Paul Frankl, A.I.D." California Arts & Architecture, August 1939, cover, 24-25. Photos by W. P. Woodcock. (From my collection).
Cliff May, who like Harris had his work championed by Johnson, had five projects featured between his first appearance in February 1938 including his first cover story on his personal residence in the August 1939 issue (see above). May made his last appearance in the magazine in another cover story in the February 1940 issue (see below). Unfortunately for us all, May's romanticist Spanish hacienda-influenced ranch houses simply did not fall within the modernist vision Entenza wanted to move towards.
"The Residence of Mr. and Mrs. H. F. Tucker Residence, San Diego, California, Cliff May, Designer and Builder," California Arts & Architecture, February 1940, cover, 28-29. Photo by Robert Churchill. (From my collection).
"South of the Golden Gate," Harwell Hamilton Harris, designer, Architectural Forum, July 1940, p. 33.
Harris's by now considerable national reputation, soon to be further enhanced by his March, 1940 profile, "Houses by Harwell Hamilton Harris" in Architectural Forum, his living room design for the "America at Home" exhibition at the 1940 New York World's Fair (see above), and global Havens House publicity, prompted Entenza to keep him on the masthead as an Editorial Advisory Board member. Harris's name was finally removed in the May, 1946 issue when his refusal to participate in the Case Study House Program became too apparent for Entenza to ignore.
"Jean and I were good friends of Jere Johnson who was the owner and editor of C.A. &A. My office and the C.A.A. offices were on the same floor of 2404 West Seventh Street (across from Westlake Park (later McArthur Park), and each of my houses was published in C.A. & A. before it appeared elsewhere. At length Jere told Jean she was expecting a baby and she didn't know who to get to run the magazine while she was out of the running. Knowing that John could at least write and probably edit, we immediately suggested him for the job. At the time John knew very little about Architecture, so his only contribution at the very beginning was "Notes in Passing." John took it over and Jere never got it back. We never knew the details of the takeover. I suppose Jere was too chagrined at her foolishness to want to talk about it. Stella was very sharp and undoubtedly directed John's maneuvers. This ended John's and our friendship." (Source: Author Susan Morgan).In her 1987 oral history McCoy also leaves us a clue regarding the bad blood between Harris and Bangs and Entenza with the comment, "I was writing to Harwell Harris yesterday, telling him this, because he had said some nasty things about John Entenza to Carter Manney, and Manney had told me, and was hurt by them,…” (An interview of Esther McCoy conducted 1987 June 7-Nov. 14 by Joseph Giovannini, for the Archives of Anerican Art, p. 60).
Despite having all of his previous work published first in CA&A, Harris never again submitted material to Entenza for publication. His reputation secured, from that point on he focused his considerable Neutra-taught publicity skills on national and international publications. In her 1987 oral history McCoy leaves us a clue regarding the bad blood between Harris and Bangs and Entenza with the comment, "I was writing to Harwell Harris yesterday, telling him this, because he had said some nasty things about John Entenza to Carter Manney, and Manney had told me, and was hurt by them,…” (An interview of Esther McCoy conducted 1987 June 7-Nov. 14 by Joseph Giovannini, for the Archives of Anerican Art, p. 60).
Harwell Hamilton Harris on the grounds of the State Fair of Texas construction site of his House Beautiful Pace Setter House, Dallas, 1954-55. Photo by Squire Haskins. Frontispiece from Germany. Courtesy, Architectural Drawings Collection, Architectural Planning Library, University of Texas at Austin.
Harris's recollection runs counter to virtually all sources and citations regarding Entenza's gaining ownership of California Arts & Architecture. The version most people have been led to believe by Esther McCoy is that Entenza bought a bankrupt magazine from Johnson in 1938. I believe that this misinformation traces back to McCoy's seminal writings on the Case Study House Program and the legions of writers who followed deferring to her portrayal due to her close and long relationship with Entenza. Thus, a myth was born. (See my related Selected Publications of Esther McCoy).
McCoy met and befriended Entenza in 1932 while both were struggling writers and long before either envisioned a career related to architecture. She became a regular contributor to Arts & Architecture in 1950. Entenza began listing her on the magazine's masthead as an Editorial Advisory Board member in January, 1952 where she remained during his tenure as publisher and editor. Entenza was also instrumental in McCoy's obtaining a Ford Grant in 1964 which enabled her to pursue her studies and writings on young architects. (From McCoy's Oral History at the American Archives of Art).
McCoy also received two grants from the Graham Foundation through facilitation by former director Entenza to finance the the production of her book Vienna to Los Angeles: Two Journeys: Letters Between R. M. Schindler and Richard Neutra, Letters of Louis Sullivan to R. M. Schindler, published by Entenza's successor at A&A, David Travers through his Arts + Architecture Press in 1979. (See acknowledgments in same). Coincidentally the book has a lengthy and very well-written introduction by none other than Harwell Hamilton Harris in which he recounts his introduction to Neutra and Schindler and their influence on his career. (See my related Selected Publications of Esther McCoy).
In the introduction to her 1962 Modern California Houses: Case Study Houses 1945-1962, McCoy's paean and going away gift to her long-time friend and editor who was leaving Los Angeles to head Chicago's Graham Foundation, she states, "Beginning with [Entenza's] editorship in 1938...". In her groundbreaking The Second Generation of 1984 she states, "By 1937, when Harris was designing the Entenza House, George Oyer had turned the unprofitable California Arts & Architecture over to his associate Jere Johnson, who asked Entenza to be guest editor when she took a leave of absence to have a child. (Subsequently, Entenza bought the magazine and soon dropped California from the title.)"
In both her 1977 second edition of Modern California Houses: Case Study Houses 1945-1962 and her essay, "Arts & Architecture: Case Study Houses" in the 1989 MOCA exhibition catalog Blueprints for Modern Living McCoy states "Entenza bought the magazine in 1938 but it was two years before he assumed the full task of editing. At that point he threw out the eclectic work and dropped the regional bias along with the word California from the title." In Contributing Editor McCoy's 1984 "John Entenza" obituary in the Volume 3, No. 3 issue of Editor Barbara Goldstein's Arts + Architecture, McCoy makes the doubly erroneous statement, "...the first thing [Entenza] did when he bought Arts & Architecture in 1938 was to remove the name, California from the title."
Virtually every source since McCoy's above erroneous assertions has used 1938 as the beginning of the magazine's "Entenza Years." Barbara Goldstein in her introduction to her "Arts & Architecture: The Entenza Years" states that "Entenza published and edited Arts & Architecture from 1938 until 1962." She later confusingly writes, "...and later, through his father's law partner (Stella Gramer), he began working as an editor of California Arts & Architecture magazine, a rather stolid provincial publication..." Later in the introduction she states, "By 1939, it was beginning to publish a substantial amount of modern architecture..." McCoy also contributed the essay "Remembering John Entenza" to this publication as well as authorship of some of the anthologized articles and was also a frequent contributor during, and listed on the masthead as Contributing Editor of, Goldstein's valiant four-year attempt to resuscitate Arts + Architecture in the early 1980s. The pair also collaborated on Guide to U.S. Architecture: 1940-1980, by Esther McCoy & Barbara Goldstein, also published by David Travers' Arts + Architecture Press in 1982. (See my related Selected Publications of Esther McCoy).
Elizabeth A. T. Smith is clearly disingenuous in the opening two pages of her otherwise excellent essay "Arts & Architecture and the Los Angeles Vanguard" in the essential 1989 MOCA exhibition catalog Blueprints for Modern Living: History and Legacy of the Case Study Houses which she also edited and which also contains McCoy's aforementioned essay "Arts & Architecture: Case Study Houses." She states in her opening paragraph, "From 1938 until it ceased publication in September 1967, Arts & Architecture encapsulated a world view that was intensely modern in all areas of the arts and social sciences." She starts the next paragraph with, "Upon purchasing California Arts & Architecture in 1938, publisher John Entenza gradually began to change its direction." The next paragraph begins, "A look at California Arts & Architecture of the pre-1938 era is instructive to better appreciate the changes wrought by Entenza."
Smith disingenuously juxtaposed the below January 1938 (left) and February 1942 (right) covers on her opening page to accentuate her point that CA&A up until 1938 "Featured for the most part luxury homes, traditional in style, it included only a smattering of modern work." This statement would have been correct had she chosen 1932 or 1933 instead of 1938.
From "Arts & Architecture: The Vanguard Years" by Elizabeth A. T. Smith, in "Blueprints for Modern Living: History and Legacy of the Case Study Houses", p. 144.
Left, Halliburton Residence by Alexander Levy, Miles Berne photo. Right, Living room by Paul Laszlo, Julius Shulman photo.
A more accurate before and after comparison of the 1940 transition from Jere Johnson's editorship to Entenza's would have been to show something along the lines of the above November 1937 (left, before) and December 1941 (right, after) issues or the below August 1934 (left, before) and the September 1941 (right, after) issues featuring covers by Brett and Edward Weston. (See also my Sands of Time: Oceano Dunes and the Westons for more details). Although Entenza's impact on the magazine during his first year is evident, it wasn't nearly as dramatic as McCoy, Goldstein, Smith and David Travers (see later below), would lead one to believe.
Smith's next essay paragraph begins, "Between 1938 and February, 1939, the date as Entenza's formal listing as editor on the magazine's masthead, Arts & Architecture began to address modern subjects, particularly architecture and interiors, more extensively, albeit alongside traditional work. In November 1938 the magazine announced a new departure, of publishing lower-cost houses, with the first of a series of features on "Small Homes of the West."
Unfortunately Smith was a full year early on the date of Entenza's editorship and appearance on the masthead so credit rightfully belongs to editor and publisher Jere Johnson for the "Small Homes of the West" series announced by future Case Study House architect Sumner Spaulding who was a long-time member of the publication's editorial advisory board. If Smith had only gone back a couple more years she would have also seen the "Small House Series" begun by editor Mark Daniels in April of 1936 which ran the rest of that year. Below are the articles announcing the 1936 and 1938 series.
California Arts & Architecture, April, 1936 and November, 1938. (From my collection).
Smith muddles matters even further by then stating,
"The presence of new editor John Entenza was strongly felt in the February 1940 issue of California Arts & Architecture, which featured a bolder, restructured title page and the first lengthy article published on art. The issue also contains the first of Entenza's "Notes in Passing" columns which were to become a regular feature..."
Firstly, this was in no way the first lengthy issue on art in California Arts & Architecture. (See my related post The Sands of Time: The Westons and the Oceano Dunes for more discussion of Merle Armitage's articles on modern art in and modernizing influence on California Arts & Architecture beginning in 1932). Secondly, what Smith also disingenuously fails to mention is that this new and improved title page in the February 1940 issue seen below also boldly lists "Publisher, Jere Johnson" directly above Entenza on the masthead and lists her again as "Published by Jere Johnson, 2404 West Seventh Street, Los Angeles, California" elsewhere on the page and that this issue is the correct first appearance of Entenza on the masthead as editor, not February 1939 as she mentions earlier. This also contradicts her earlier statement that Entenza purchased the magazine in 1938. These totally unnecessary manipulations of the facts do not do justice to Entenza's otherwise truly remarkable and legendary achievements.
California Arts & Architecture, February, 1940, title page. (From my collection).
David Travers, who purchased the magazine from Entenza in 1962, writes in his introduction to Taschen's Arts & Architecture: The Complete Reprint 1945-1967, "By 1933 the Great Depression had starved it down to 30 pages and subsequently into bankruptcy, where John Entenza found it in 1938. Modern had yet to touch the magazine." As to the statement regarding modern having not touched the pages of the magazine, see the July-August 1932 Neutra CA&A article below announcing the opening of the legendary Museum of Modern Art's traveling "Modern Architecture: International Exhibition" then on display at Bullock's Wilshire in conjunction with the 1932 Summer Olympic Games. In it Neutra wrote,
"The old California tradition of a home life half in-doors and half (the better half!) out-of-doors, the friendly openness of domestic architecture to a kind Nature surrounding houses of the Pacific Coast meets with the general trend of new architecture the world over. California ideas of dwelling, so to speak, are practically being accepted in Amsterdam, Paris and Vienna and an abundance of natural aeration and light influx is cherished under climactic conditions which are much more severe than those in California."
Neutra, Richard, "Exhibition of the New Architecture", California Arts & Architecture, July-August, 1932.
Two-and-a-half years earlier Pauline Schindler favorably reviewed the then recently completed Bullock's Wilshire Department Store for the exhibition in CA&A's January 1930 issue. The article described in glowing terms the new modernist venue and the interiors designed by Jock Peters, John Weber and Kem Weber. Of the store she wrote, "It constitutes an unmistakable advance in the movement of contemporary design. ("A Significant Contribution to Culture: The Interior of a Great California Store as an Interpretation of Modern Life" California Arts & Architecture, January 1930 (PGS). Also see my Foundations of Los Angeles Modernism: Richard Neutra'a Mod Squad for much more on Bullock's Wilshire).
In rebuttal to Travers' misinformed page count statement, an average count from 1935 through 1939 reveals: 1935 - 36 pp; 1936 - 40 pp; 1937 - 42 pp; 1938 - 42 pp; and 1939 - 40 pp. Comparably, the page count under Entenza grew to the high 50s during the height of the Case Study Program advertising bonanza between 1945-50 and then quickly tapered off to slightly less than CA&A prior to his takeover in early 1940. Below I will refute once and for all the totally inaccurate statement that "Modern had yet to touch the magazine" stated by Travers and implied by Smith.
Travers also writes, "Although aware of it, the East Coast professional and trade press - Progressive Architecture, Architectural Record, Architectural Forum, AIA Journal, House & Garden - had largely ignored the West Coast Revolution in residential design until the 1950s." This is also a misleading statement as in Harris's and Shulman's experience, having their work appear first in CA&A opened doors to this same East Coast press (see citations elsewhere in this post). Furthermore, as I mentioned above, California's architects were more than holding their own in national awards competition in the early 1930s. Until 1940 when Harris cut ties with Entenza, all of his work first appeared in CA&A and virtually all of the same work was shortly thereafter picked up by the East Coast editors. Shulman also had close to 150 articles with his photographs published in CA&A and A&A prior to 1950; 100 in Pencil Points - Progressive Architecture; 75 in Architectural Record; 110 in Architectural Forum; and 60 in House & Garden with a significant portion of the East Coast articles first appearing in CA&A.
Both Harris and Shulman (and many others) have Neutra (and R. M. and Pauline Schindler to a somewhat lesser extent (PGS)) to thank for sparking the initial interest of East Coast editors in West Coast modern residential architecture. Neutra's pioneering publicity efforts beginning in the late 1920s and early 1930s resulted in prior to 1950: 100 articles appearing in CA&A and A&A; 50 articles in Pencil Points - Progressive Architecture; 80 in Architectural Record; 125 in Architectural Forum; and 40 in House & Garden. CA&A more than any other regional publication in the country kindled East Coast editor's (and architects) love affair with West Coast work.
Noted architectural historians David Gebhard and Harriette Von Bretton wrote in their excellent L.A. in the Thirties: 1931-1941, Peregrine Smith, 1975, “In February 1941 John Entenza took over as editor of California Arts & Architecture, and by 1943 he had recast the magazine into an open propaganda vehicle for the new architecture. A similar change occurred in architectural photography with the emergence of Julius Shulman as dominant interpreter of the new architecture.” (p. 153). Also they state “For the February 1944 issue, Entenza dropped “California” from the magazine’s name, suggesting that it had fully attached itself to the Modern International Style.” (note 103 on p. 157). This was the only source I have found to date that errs on the long side of 1940 but the date "California" was finally dropped was correct. Many authors must have been, and still are, confused with so many conflicting dates present in the literature from so many respected historians.
I have found only one source to date which correctly identifies the year and month of Entenza's ascension to the masthead which is Victoria Dailey's well-researched essay "Naturally Modern" in the highly recommended L.A.'s Early Moderns. She states that "after careful examination, I did not find Entenza listed as editor until the February 1940 issue." (end note 72, p. 99). I personally have in my collection a complete run of the magazine from 1935 through 1940 and I concur with her findings that February 1940 is indeed Entenza's first appearance on the masthead. There is also much material on Neutra and Harris in Natalie Shivers' essay, "Architecture: A New Creative Medium" in the same book. Harris was indeed one of "L.A.'s Early Moderns.
Dailey also favorably and accurately discusses the evolution of CA&A from a luxury magazine aimed at a genteel reader to a journal advocating modernism in all its forms beginning in 1935-36 under the editorship of architect Mark Daniels who remained until 1938. Beginning in 1935 the magazine took a marked turn towards featuring the small, modern house. Dailey writes, "California Arts & Architecture underwent a redesign in 1936. The change in appearance was striking." She likened CA&A's conversion to the one taking place at Touring Topics under Phil Townsend Hanna's editorship attributing the makeover possibly to modernist art collector and book designer Merle Armitage's membership on the CA&A's Editorial Advisory Board from 1933 to 1938.
Actually, Armitage's modernizing influence on California Arts & Architecture can be seen as early as 1932 with his contributions of articles on modern artists such as Edward Weston, Eugene Maier-Krieg and others for whom he was also simultaneously publishing fine press monographs of their work featuring modern graphic design and typography. See my related post "The Sands of Time: The Westons and the Oceano Dunes" for more discussion on this. Also see my related post "Touring Topic/Westways: The Phil Townsend Hanna Years" for much on Merle Armitage's modernizing influence on that publication as well.
The excerpt below from a 1933 issue of CA&A clearly indicates the national standing of California architects and their ongoing success in contemporary national awards competitions. If not considered modernists yet, their work was at least as contemporary as anything being done elsewhere in the country. Some named in the article, Ralph C. Flewelling in particular, went on to become notably recognized for joining and advancing the modernist idiom. Also note the naming of modernist art promoter and book designer Merle Armitage to the magazine's Editorial Advisory Board likely as a result of his numerous submittals af articles on Los Angeles modernist artists beginning the previous year.
"Topics of the Month: Introducing a New Associate", California Arts & Architecture, 1933.
The above are a sampling of CA&A covers from 1935 through 1937. CA&A was ahead of the national editorial pack in terms of "modern" graphic design, layout and content. The use of cover illustrations and photos of modernist architecture began in 1935. It would be years before such national journals as Pencil Points, Architectural Forum and Architectural Record began using cover illustrations and/or photos. See the examples of their "plain wrapper" period covers below.
The below right July, 1937 Pencil Points Neutra Issue cover was it's most progressive design to date undoubtedly influenced by Neutra himself. Ironically, Pencil Points had progressed from publishing the Magonigle diatribe against the modern architecture presented in CA&A's January, 1935 issue to running an an entire issue devoted to Neutra's hard-edged "International Style" work only two-and-a-half years later. A year-by-year comparison of the national journals and CA&A during this period clearly shows that CA&A led the way in providing coverage of the modern small single family home and the percentage of its pages devoted to same. Again, Harris's work was influential in this being the case. The below left July 1936 issue of Architectural Forum contains the above-mentioned article featuring Richard Neutra's Plywood Demonstration House with the first ever Julius Shulman architectural photo to be published. Both issues provide further refutation of Travis's implication that the East Coast Press largely ingnored West Coast work.
Above left, Architectural Forum, July, 1936. Above right, Pencil Points, July, 1937. (Both from my collection).
What critics of the pre-Entenza CA&A are usually guilty of is not comparing apples with apples, i.e., publications of the same time period as I do above. Graphic design evolves just as does architectural design and architectural photography for that matter and comparisons must be made within the context of these evolutionary processes. Another consideration critics don't always take into account is that there just wasn't a whole lot of modern architecture to publish in the mid-1930s. It took a while to catch on as they say. The true test of a publication is in the courage of its editorial staff to publish material that will influence the direction of cutting-edge work which CA&A certainly began to do with the January, 1935 issue. The fact that the East Coast press always wanted to publish Harris's work after it first appeared in CA&A is a good case in point. (Germany, note 3. p. 217).
Following is a year-by-year look at the "Modern" small house content of CA&A. Besides the January Special Issue on Modern Architecture & Design, 1935 also featured Harris's Graham Laing Residence and the aforementioned Lowe House "Plagiarism" article and other smaller modern houses by Case Study Architects William Wilson Wurster and Richard Neutra, Edgar Bissantz, Eugene Weston, Jr., Milton J. Black, Cliff May, H. Roy Kelley, Erle Webster & Adrian Wilson, Winchton Risley, Miller & Warnecke, Donald McMurray, Thomas D. Church (landscape), Frederick L. Confer, Lilian J. Rice, Kenneth Wing, John Byers & Edla Muir, and others.
In 1936 editor Mark Daniels embarked upon "The Small House Series" in April which featured a different aspect of small, affordable, modern house design in each issue for the rest of the year. Architects whose crisp, contemporary, non-revivalist smaller homes were featured included: H. Roy Kelley (A House of New Ideas), Earl T. Heitschmidt (Las Palmas Demonstration Home), Eugene Weston, Donn Emmons, editor Mark Daniels, Donald D. McMurray, Charles O. Matcham, Milton J. Black, Edgar Bissantz, Roland Coate, Miller & Warnecke, Ralph C. Flewelling, Donald B. Kirby, Kenneth S. Wing, Winchton L. Risley, Kenneth A. Gordon, Earl R. MacDonald, Erle Webster & Adrian Wilson, Frederick L. Confer and others. Future Case Study House architect Sumner Spaulding and furniture and interior designer Paul Frankl were by then on the magazine's editorial advisory board.
Besides Harris's Fellowship Park, John Entenza and Helene Kershner Houses, CA&A in 1937 featured contemporary small homes of modernists R. M. Schindler (with Julius Shulman photos), future Case Study House architects Richard Neutra, William Wilson Wurster and Kemper Nomland, Milton J. Black (with Julius Shulman photos), Paul Frankl, Paul Laszlo, Douglas Honnold, Van Evera Bailey, Mario Corbett, John Byers & Edla Muir, Garrett Eckbo, Thomas D. Church, Harold J. Bissner, Leo Bachman, Harold G. Spielman, Charles O. Matcham, Garrett Van Pelt & George Lind, Eugene Weston, Jr., Floyd Brewster, Edgar Bissantz, H. Roy Kelley, John Ekin Dinwiddie, Manfred De Ahna, Charles A. Hunter, Carleton Winslow, Wesley Eager, Harold G. Elwell, Arthur L. Herberger, Winchton L. Risley, Lyle Nelson Barcume, Curtis Chambers, Miller & Warnecke, Palmer Sabin, Erle Webster & Adrian Wilson, Alexander Levy, Edward Weston photo of Robinson Jeffers, and much more.
CA&A's 1938 issues featured Harris's Marion Clark House in Carmel and John Entenza House, and other contemporary small house designs by Case Study architects Sumner Spaulding, William Wilson Wurster, and Richard Neutra (with Julius Shulman photos), Paul Frankl, Kem Weber, Paul Laszlo, William Lescaze, John Porter Clark, Douglas Honnold, George Vernon Russell, Cliff May, Theodore Criley, John Hudspeth, Garrett Van Pelt & George Lind, Erle Webster & Adrian Wilson, Charles O. Matcham, Cliff May, Harold J. Bissner, Eugene Weston, Jr., Edgar Bissantz, Hart Wood, Homer Rice, H. Roy Kelley, Ralph Flewelling, Milton J. Black, Meyer & Holler, Wesley Eager, Pacific System Homes, Leo Bachman and "Small Homes of the West Series."
Small Homes Issue, California Arts & Architecture, July 1939. (From my collection).
1939 featured Harris's essay on his most important design element,"Wood," his George C. Bauer Residence and a photo of the fireplace in his Campbell House, a continuation of the "Small Homes of the West" series, a special Small House Issue in July, (see above) and small contemporary homes by Case Study architects Richard Neutra (with Shulman photos), William Wilson Wurster, Kemper Nomland and Sumner Spaulding, Lutah Maria Riggs, Paul R. Williams (prefabricated model home and furniture), Alvar Aalto furniture, Paul Laszlo (with Shulman photos), Kem Weber, Paul Frankl, Cliff May (cover story on his personal residence), John Porter Clark, James R. Friend, John Byers & Edla Muir, Francis Joseph McCarthy, Mario Corbett, Douglas Honnold & George Vernon Russell, Donald Beach Kirby, Ralph Flewelling, Wurdeman & Becket, Gardner Dailey, Theodore Criley, Joseph Weston, Harold J. Bissner, Frederic Barienbrock, Lockwood de Forrest, Ralph Cornell, Arthur T. Raitt, Adrian Wilson, Winchton Risley, Theodore Criley, Arlos Sedgley, Robert Dennis Murray, Wesley Eager, Carroll Sagar, Clarence W. Mayhew, Paul L. Burkhard, Kersey Kinsey, Meyer & Holler, L. B. Scherer, John Knox, Warren Vesper, William Allen, Vincent G. Raney, L. Frederick Richards, Brewster & Benedict, Charles A. Hunter, Robert H. Ainsworth, Allen G. Siple, Doris Suman, Chester J. Carjola, Allen G. Siple, H. Roy Kelley, Henry W. Howell, Ulysses Floyd Rible, William Mellenthin, Kenneth A. Gordon, Georgius Y. Cannon, Raymond M. Kennedy, Paul Hunter, Caro M. Brown, Paul D. Fox, Kenneth A. Gordon and others.
Thus, early 1940 was a distinct parting of the ways between the Harrises and John Entenza. Thanks to CA&A's George Oyer, Mark Daniels and Jere Johnson, Harris's reputation was already firmly secured. The Weston Havens House seen in the opening cover and below soon became Harris's most publicized project and opened doors for him everywhere. The preliminary cross-section on the cover was its only CA&A appearance. When his inverted-gabled tour de force was completed in 1941, Harris took a page out of Neutra's publicity book and began sending off the iconic Man Ray (see below), Maynard Parker and Roger Sturtevant photos of the house to a plethora of global publication editors. Multiple photo layouts of the house soon began appearing in publications such as Life Magazine, House Beautiful, Architectural Record, Architectural Forum, AIA Journal, Magazine of Art, American Builder, Architectural Design, House & Home, Revista de Arquitectura, Nuestra Arqiuitectura, Byggmastaren, Studio, Pageant, Household and many others. (For more information on the house and its now iconic and National Register of Historic Places status go to the following link http://www.havenshouse.org/family_history.html)
Weston Havens House, Berkeley, 1941. Man Ray photo. http://twls.libsyn.com/index.php?post_id=145774
Havens House, Berkeley, 1941, from "The Second Generation" by Esther McCoy. (from my collection).
Later Harris projects continued to appear in the above publications and others including Sunset, Pencil Points, Progressive Architecture, Practical Builder, Interiors, New Republic, Harpers, Mademoiselle, Ladie's Home Journal, House & Garden, Better Homes & Gardens, Good Housekeeping, Women's Home Companion, Time, Holiday, Costruzione Casabella, Kentiku Sekai, El Arquitecto Peruano, Architects' Journal, Architectural Review, and many others. Harris also had his work anthologized in most of the important period books compiling modern architecture and interiors and exhibitions and catalogs of same. It is interesting to note that Harris's name does not appear once in the index to Taschen's Arts & Architecture: The Complete Reprint 1945-1967 despite A&A contributing editor Esther McCoy's later championing of his career in The Second Generation.
It is not a stretch then to speculate that Entenza soon began strategizing with his father and Stella Gramer how to wrest control of the magazine from Jere Johnson. They were successful in the takeover by May and the rest, as they say, is history.
Building upon his predecessor's foundation, Entenza immediately began imposing his modernist sensibilities and taste to take the magazine to the next level. CA&A provided the outlet his creative talents needed to blossom. He had clearly found his calling and made the most of the opportunity Jere Johnson, through Harris, had provided him. No matter the circumstances surrounding the change of ownership, with the ends undoubtedly justifying the means in his mind, CA&A was clearly headed on a path to immortality. The above covers are a sampling of Entenza's strong first year's editorial output. One of his earliest covers, September, 1940 (top left) featured an Arthur Luckhaus photo of Richard Neutra's 1938 Lewin Beach House in Santa Monica which shares similar design elements with his Harris-designed personal residence less than a mile away.
Recognizing early on that the powerful visual language resulting from the combination of Neutra's architecture and Shulman's photography would facilitate marketing his notions of modernism and help increase circulation, Entenza started to feature their work on a regular basis. The August, 1941 issue (top right) features an Anikeef cover photo of Neutra's Davey Residence on the Monterey Peninsula. The back cover Klearflax Duluth carpet ad in the February, 1941 issue (middle left) with a Shulman photo of Neutra's Ward Residence at Lake Hollywood illustrates how Entenza began parlaying their work to generate much-needed advertising revenue. The November, 1941 issue (middle right) features a Shulman cover photo of Neutra's Emerson Junior High School in West Los Angeles. The December, 1941 issue (bottom left) features a Shulman cover photo of a Paul Laszlo-designed interior.
I have included the November, 1942 cover of the Architectural Record to illustrate how Entenza, like his predecessors, kept California Arts & Architecture in the forefront of graphic design by influencing respected national publications to finally start including photos on their covers. Shulman, like Harris, found that appearing first in CA&A opened doors to the east coast establishment journals as this cover photo of Raphael Sorianos' Glen Lukens House had previously appeared in CA&A's August, 1940 issue. Apparently the Architectural Record editorial staff concluded that it was still too risky in 1942 to start with more than a thumbnail image.
The Eamses and John Entenza on the site of their future homes, Case Study Houses 8 & 9 in Pacific Palisades. From Charles and Ray Eames: Designers of the Twentieth Century, MIT Press, 1995, p. 105. Photographer unknown. (Copyright Lucia Eames Demetrious dba Eames Office).
Entenza was soon blessed with Charles and Ray Eames moving to California from Cranbrook in 1941 and very shortly thereafter beginning to contribute to the magazine before the end of the year. Entenza was brilliant to immediately befriend them and take advantage of their considerable talents to enhance the magazine's image. It is hard to sort out who gained more from the relationship, Entenza and Arts & Architecture or the Eamses, but their friendship and furniture development partnership eventually disintegrated over a serious dispute in 1951. Entenza enlarged the berm between his and the Eameses' Case Study Houses in Pacific Palisades so he would not have to look at them, removed their names from the A&A masthead the following year, moved away completely two years later and never spoke to them again. (For much more on Entenza's vindictive nature, see my "Selected Publications of Esther McCoy" for details on his falling out with Harwell Hamilton Harris and his wife, Jean Murray Bangs.)
Recognizing the trends in modern magazine design and to ensure that CA&A stayed ahead of the pack, Entenza recruited the talented graphic designer Alvin Lustig in 1942 to give the magazine a fresh look with a new masthead logo and font which would continue to be used until the magazine's demise in 1967. Entenza took this opportunity to begin phasing towards a more national focus in the hopes of increasing advertising revenue by dramatically reducing the font size of "California" and finally eliminating it altogether with his February 1944 four-year anniversary issue.
Lustig enthusiastically wrote of his new role to James Laughlin, editor of New Directions Books for whom he designed many dust jackets,
"Have just been made art director of California Arts & Architecture with complete freedom as to form with some possibility of suggestions editorially. This appointment will make possible my plan of just limiting my activities to a few accounts...Personally I believe it is one of the most potentially important magazines being published." (Undated letter from Alvin Lustig to James Laughlin IV cited in Born Modern: The Life and Design of Alvin Lustig by Steven Heller and Elaine Lustig Cohen, p. 76).Lustig was excited about the magazine "as it is becoming the perfect mouthpiece for my ideas." The relationship soon soured however. Lustig believed the ill will was "entirely a matter of whether any star can exist in the heavens, next to John Entenza." He continued, "it has taught me one thing however. To avoid once and for all those who make loud claims concerning their vision of the future and their dedication to it when all it hides is the shoddiest kind of vanity and selfishness." (Undated letter from Alvin Lustig to James Laughlin IV cited in Heller, p. 80).
Reminiscing to his biographer Lisa Germany, Harris, generally liked what Entenza had done with the magazine and admired the Case Study program but thought dropping "California" from the masthead was a mistake. "Jean and Harris believed the magazine's strength had been its regional bias - the way it showcased the distinctive aspects of California design." (Germany, p. 128).
California Arts & Architecture, February, 1942. http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/searchimages/images/image_8654_22633.htm
A sampling of Ray Eames's cover designs for 1942. From "Eames Design: The Work of the Office of Charles and Ray Eames" by John and Marilyn Neuhart and Ray Eames, Abrams, 1989. (From my collection).
A sampling of Ray Eames's cover designs for 1942. From "Eames Design: The Work of the Office of Charles and Ray Eames" by John and Marilyn Neuhart and Ray Eames, Abrams, 1989. (From my collection).
Ray Eames' whimsical, abstract artistic cover designs also began to appear in 1942 through 1944. Note in the above page from "Eames Design" an example of how ubiquitous the attribution of Entenza's ownership of the magazine as 1938 has become.
Another fortunate circumstance of Herbert and Mercedes Matter moving to Los Angeles in late 1943 for wartime employment with the Eamses was like manna from heaven for Entenza. Herbert was also immediately put to work at CA&A on article layouts and cover designs. My related post "Herbert and Mercedes Matter: The California Years" goes into great depth about the happenings at Arts & Architecture from the early 1940s through 1946 and the beginnings of the Case Study House Program, the advent of which would cement Entenza's place in history as the visionary that he was. Entenza's greatest strength as an editor was his keen ability to recognize talent and charmingly cajole that talent to further his particular modernist vision at a very economical cost. His recruits such as Shulman, McCoy, Ray and Charles Eames, Alvin Lustig, Herbert Matter and the Case Study House architects were rewarded with listings on the masthead, the prestige of being published in one of the most cutting-edge publications in the country and future commissions for work by others. In my opinion, John Entenza and George Nelson were the two most influential editorial taste-makers of the twentieth century.
Readers steeped in the lore of modernist literature might be left then with the question, "Why does virtually every article on the Case Study House Program and/or Entenza and Arts & Architecture magazine published to date cite Entenza's era at A&A beginning in 1938?" I theorize that Entenza was most likely guilty of implying to McCoy over their close 52-year friendship that his magazine ownership coincided with the publication of his Harris-designed house in 1938 and she likely took him at his word when penning her Modern California Houses: Case Study Houses 1945-1962 published in 1962. This is puzzling since McCoy was normally a stickler for accuracy on dates in her work. As an example, she was extremely frustrated and almost had a major falling out with Neutra while working on her 1960 Braziller Neutra monograph.
"Well, he wanted--now, for another thing, he wanted me to put the date of the Lovell house in 1927, and I said, "That isn't true." I told him I'd had a check through the records at City Hall and got the date of when the drawings were filed and when the building permit was issued, and this was 1929. And then, finally, he said, "Yes, but I like 1927, that was the year that the Barcelona pavilion..." And then a couple of other things, too. He wanted it to be that." (McCoy Oral History, Archives of American Art).This, coupled with McCoy's original close friendship and working relationship with Entenza and later magazine and book collaborations with friends and colleagues Barbara Goldstein and David Travers was likely how the 1938 myth was generated and perpetuated. (For more discussion on this see my Selected Publications of Esther McCoy, Patron Saint of Southern California Architectural Historians).
Elizabeth A. T. Smith's "Arts & Architecture and the Los Angeles Vanguard" essay in Blueprints for Modern Living is even more troubling since a more thorough analysis of CA&A's evolution, I believe, would have altered her impression of the years leading up to Entenza's involvement, despite the seemingly purposeful inaccuracies in the dates of her Entenza editorship and ownership attribution. She, like Esther McCoy, is also silent on the falling outs Entenza had with Alvin Lustig and the Eameses. Her disingenuousness appears intended to enhance the aura surrounding the extent and quickness of Entenza's makeover of the magazine. The Entenza story is quite compelling enough, in my opinion, without her manipulation of the facts, which results in the total dismissal of the courageous editorial work Oyer, Daniels and Johnson had performed between 1935 and early 1940, well ahead of the national editorial curve, chronicling the evolution and growth of our modernist regional architects and their designs for affordable contemporary single family residences.
David Travers' statements in his Taschen "Arts & Architecture: The Complete Reprint" introduction are equally mysterious. His misinformation could only have come directly from the mouth of Entenza. Why else would his successor disavow the rich heritage and forward-looking modernist legacy which California Arts & Architecture epitomized from the early 1930s until the May, 1940 change of ownership? It is unfortunate that Travers had evidently not seen any issues from this exciting period in the evolution of modernism in the arts and architecture for virtually every month delivered something of interest for modernistas. In any event, we are all the richer for this wonderful publication having the glorious run that it had.
It is my intent with this article to increase awareness of the important role California Arts & Architecture played in our state's rich architectural legacy, to begin to set the record straight regarding the circumstances surrounding the magazine's 1940 editorial and publishing regime change and to elicit further discourse on the subject. Personally I have become increasingly dismayed with the fact that massive new treatises are still unwittingly being published with much erroneous information surrounding Entenza's 1940 CA&A palace coup. Recent publication of major magnum opuses perpetuating the above-mentioned inaccuracies indicates that this will be an extremely difficult task indeed.
CA&A between the early 1930s and the actual beginning of the Entenza Years in early 1940 is a treasure trove of material, chronicling the evolution of California's Modern Movement in both the arts and architecture, ready to be explored and written about. These early issues truly show that California was indeed leading the nation in the production and publication of modern, affordable residential architecture. Recognizing the notable accomplishments of Entenza's predecessors in no way detracts from his legendary, iconic achievements from early 1940 onward, on the contrary it enhances them. I also hope that authors who have previously unwittingly published work using 1938 as their nexus for Entenza's canonization help try to correct the record in future work.