Fairytales and Real Estate
On the subject of Gotham and fantasy - go forthwith to Kosmograd for a link to his flickr photoset of 341 drawings by the fantastic sketcher of Delirious New York, Hugh Ferriss. What's so fascinating about Ferriss is what makes him so different to his near-contemporary Iakov Chernikhov. While the latter made fantasy cities out of bizarre amalgams of what did exist and what hadn't yet been invented, Ferriss drawings take the actually constructed and make it look utterly unreal.
Even in his Metropolis of Tomorrow the imagination is constrained by New York real estate and the zoning code. If architecture is the first art to shed it's auratic baggage, then Ferriss reinscribes it straight back - leading, as Koolhaas pointed out, to bizarre aesthetic duels, after the New York aesthetic switches via the influence of the international style - as his shadowy guignol is let loose on something so seemingly demystified and sachlich as a grain silo or the UN building. And judging by some of the drawings this was a battle Ferriss won. Which again makes it so odd that modernism and fantasy seem incommensurable today: it can be mystified, and in these cases quite staggeringly.