Wayward Denise Scott Brown

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10 Jul - 30 Sep 2018

Wayward Denise Scott Brown is an exhibition of photographs by architect, urbanist, theorist, writer and educator Denise Scott Brown. Taken during the 1950s and 1960s, these images reveal Scott Brown’s burgeoning interest in the iconography of urban systems and mid-century American vernacular. From Venice, Italy to Venice Beach, California, the photographs capture the social transformations of the period as seen through the eye of one of architecture’s most influential practitioners. 


In 1972 Scott Brown published Learning from Las Vegas, written in collaboration with her husband and partner Robert Venturi and fellow architect Steven Izenour. With their focus on the emerging automobile city and the role of symbolism in architecture, the photographs in Wayward Denise Scott Brown offer a glimpse into the foundations of the seminal book, which would be published under a decade later. Investigating the relationship between the social and physical in architecture and urbanism, Learning from Las Vegas has influenced the evolution of research and production in the industry over the last forty years and played a key role in the redirection away from the strictures of pure modernism. 

From 1967 to 2012, Scott Brown and Venturi led Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates in Philadelphia, influencing designers and thinkers worldwide. Despite her clear impact on the field of architecture, Scott Brown has often been overlooked in a male-dominated industry. Most notoriously, she was excluded from the Pritzker Prize which in 1991 was awarded solely to Venturi in recognition of work they completed together. A recent petition to have her name retroactively added to the prize gained worldwide support, but was rejected by the Pritzker Prize’s Chair. Scott Brown has often spoken out about discrimination within the profession. In 1989, she published the essay “Room at the Top?: Sexism and the Star System in Architecture” which details her struggle to be considered as an equal firm partner.

In recognition of her outstanding career, this year Scott Brown was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from University of the Arts London. Jeremy Till, Head of College at Central Saint Martins, who nominated Scott Brown for the University honours said:

Scott Brown held architecture and planning professorships at the Universities of Pennsylvania, Harvard, UCLA, UC Berkeley and Yale, and visiting positions at Rice, Oberlin, UC Santa Barbara and Princeton. She also has numerous honorary awards from the key US architecture schools. She has, however, never been recognised by a UK University. Awarding her an Honorary Doctorate is intended to address a serious lack of recognition in the UK for her pioneering work as architect, writer and feminist.

In conjunction with this display, Betts Project is hosting Denise Scott Brown: Wayward Eye Photography of the 1950s and 1960s, an exhibition focusing on ten of Scott Brown’s photographs from the same period.  

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