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La vitalité du décor : Fiske Kimball, du rococo au Colonial Revival

Jean-François Bédard

Published online:

30 Dec 2017



In 1943, the American historian of architecture Fiske Kimball (1888 – 1955) published The Creation of the Rococo, a milestone in the study of this movement. Thanks to a close examination of archival documents and drawings, Kimball sought to trace ‘objectively’ the evolution of the rocaille. Despite his claims to scholarly neutrality, however, Kimball multiplied value judgments in his writings. For Kimball, the rococo exhibited “vitality”, a quality he also found in the classical-inspired buildings of colonial America. Like other members of the conservative establishment, Kimball promoted these – and, more generally, the work of American Renaissance architects – as the only legitimate forms of contemporary architecture. The ‘vitality’ of Kimball’s rococo thus matched the one Anglo-Protestant elites celebrated in the Colonial Revival, a style they espoused to combat the ‘impurity’ of cosmopolitan Modernism.

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