Urban legend

Harry Seidler and the art of self-publicity

Urban legend

A Singular Vision: Harry Seidler

by Helen O'Neill

HarperCollins, $49.99 hb, 380 pp, 9780732296742

Among the diaspora of European-born Jewish artists, architects, academics, and intellectuals who made a life on Australian shores pre- and post-World War II, Harry Seidler (1923–2006) was, arguably, the most successful and at various times during his life, one of the most visible and most controversial. As an architect, he left behind signature office buildings in five state capital cities, a brace of stunning modernist houses in Sydney, Canberra, and Darwin from the 1950s to the 1990s, the much-acclaimed Australian Embassy in Paris, as well as buildings in Acapulco, Hong Kong, and Vienna. He also made sure he was remembered. He published Houses, Interiors, and Projects, the first book on his work, in 1953 and then, almost without fail, every ten years a book on his architecture would appear, culminating in 1992 with the magnum opus, Harry Seidler: Four Decades of Architecture, complete with essays by architectural historians Philip Drew and Kenneth Frampton. The last word? Certainly not. Four more books followed, and now, in the tradition of marking each decade, another book has appeared on Seidler, this time by journalist and author Helen O’Neill.

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Published in February 2014 no. 358
Philip Goad

Philip Goad

Philip Goad is Chair and Professor of Architecture at The University of Melbourne. He co-edited The Encyclopedia of Australian Architecture (2011).

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