Robert Venturi's assertion in Complexity and Contradiction that “the examples chosen reflect my partiality for certain eras: Mannerist, Baroque and Rococo especially” (19) stakes a multifaceted claim for the importance of early modern architecture.1 Quoting Henry-Russell Hitchcock about how the changing interests of architects in certain periods of architectural history reflect their own preoccupations, Venturi proposes that mannerism, baroque, and rococo provide the most apposite historical references for contemporary architecture. But he also suggests that the “eras” of these three styles share principles that are not specific to a particular moment in history. In the chapter “Complexity and Contradiction vs. Simplification and Picturesqueness,” Venturi affirms that “the...

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