Epics in the Everyday

Photography, Architecture, and the Problem of Realism

Photography by Walker Evans, Nigel Henderson, Ed Ruscha, New Topographics, Thomas Ruff, and Thomas Demand; and architecture by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, Alison and Peter Smithson, Herzog & de Meuron, and Caruso St John



Jesús Vassallo

1st edition

, 2019

Text English


328 pages, 108 color and 67 b/w illustrations

17 x 24 cm

ISBN 978-3-03860-162-3

In collaboration with Rice Architecture


Architecture and photography share the condition of being suspended be¬tween fine art and craft. Realism is considered a given, something that happens almost by default. From the moment it is taken, a photograph is un-derstood to be a record of what was in front of the camera—just as a building, as soon as it is inhabited, becomes the fixed backdrop for everyday life.

In Epics in the Everyday, Jesús Vassallo explores this condition, tracing a series of collaborations between architects and photographers from the postwar years up to the present. Consistently, the subject matter of these collaborations is the built environment, which presents architects and photographers—in different ways—with a mirror that challenges the idea of realism in their respective disciplines. Beyond casting a diagonal light on important developments within the two individual disciplines, the book chronicles an alternative history of both modern architecture and photography and builds a case for a specific type of realism found at their intersection.


Jesús Vassallo is a Spanish-born architect and writer. He teaches and researches as an assistant professor at Rice University’s School of Architecture in Houston, TX.

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Walker Evans, Schoolhouse, Alabama, 1936 © Walker Evans

Walker Evans, spread from Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, 1941 © Walker Evans

Herzog & de Meuron, Ricola-Europe, Mulhouse, 1992-1993 © Hisao Suzuki

Caruso St John, Studio House in London, 1993 © Hélène Binet

Caruso St John, exhibition design for Thomas Demand at Neue Nationalgalerie, 2009 © Annette Kisling

Caruso St John and Thomas Demand, Nagelhaus, models, 2009 © Caruso St John Architects, Thomas Demand


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