The Grounded Modernist: Norman Jaffe
Rather than drawing inspiration from the purists and the high Modernists à la Gwathmey, or the vernacular, shingle-style espoused by Stern, Norman Jaffe’s low-slung, earthy buildings reveal the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright. Maris captures the monumentality and boldness of Wright's designs in the images he made of three buildings commissioned by Jaffe. The Osofsky House, built in Shelter Island in 1971 and one of Jaffe’s most celebrated designs, appears in Maris’ image to be a hulking giant, solidly hugging the landscape. Cantilevered decks thrust outward at various angles giving a sense of movement. Glass and stone are used throughout the structure next to the softness of cedar, giving it an interplay of the natural and the man-made. Maris also photographed Jaffe’s Turetsky house in 1978 in such a way as to emphasize the voluminous quality and boldness of these structures. Standing just under one of two giant decks, the camera’s perspective emphasizes the heaviness and sweeping shapes of these unusual structures, for instance the protruding wooden rooflines that thrust upwards instead of bending over to shade the pool area. His image of Norman Jaffe’s residence, taken in 1973, presents the building as if it were a piece of sculpture, all angles, sloping rooflines, and jagged forms.