The Postmodern Traditionalist: Robert A.M. Stern
Architect Robert A.M. Stern was the “gray” to Gwathmey’s “white", rejecting the strict, formal modernism of the later group’s aesthetic. “Gray buildings", he wrote, "have facades which tell stories.” As a postmodernist, Stern’s designs harken back to a more traditional, vernacular style with classical proportions given a modern, contemporary twist. Maris’ photographs compliment Stern’s abstract compositions and clean, formal lines. His image of the Danziger Pool House (1971) has a quiet, almost surreal quality reminiscent of a DiChirico landscape. Maris positioned his camera at the end of a long walkway, with the pool and grass flanking either side complimenting the formality of the design. For House and Garden in 1972, he captured three very different views of Stern’s Beebe House. His image of the weathered grey exterior shows that the house is grounded in the traditional shingle style for which Stern was known, but also illustrates how Stern subverts tradition with the home's sprawling size and contemporary design. Maris’ view of the back of the house with the pool reveals the many doors and windows that convey flowing, open space. There is a sense of stillness or time suspended in his image of the cabana, perched on a 50-foot cliff with its sail-like structure shielding the house from the elements.