Modernism and Memory:
The icons of Modernism were designed to defy memory and deny the past. ‘I will throw out everything from the past…’ declared Le Corbusier in L'Art Décoratif d'Aujourd'hui: ‘… today sets us in opposition to [the] past.’1 L'Art Décoratif, published to coincide with the Paris 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs, was dedicated to Ernö Goldfinger (1902–87), a Hungarian-born architect who had trained and worked in Paris before moving to London in 1934. In Paris, Goldfinger had studied at the Beaux-Arts and with August Perret; he had met Le Corbusier, and has described how the publication of Vers une Architecture in 1923 was ‘a terrific revelation’ for him.2 Charlotte Perriand (then working with Corbusier) became a lifelong friend; he knew Max Ernst, Man Ray and Amedée Ozenfant, and in 1933 he married Ursula Blackwell, an English painter who was studying with Ozenfant.
This essay focuses on 2 Willow Road, the family home Goldfinger designed in Hampstead in 1937. Two Willow Road is an icon of British modernism; it was bought by the National Trust and opened to the public in 1996, and according to the National Trust flyer, it is ‘the only modern movement house complete with its original contents which is open to the public in Britain’. Its contents include furniture and fitments designed by Goldfinger, paintings by Ursula and her colleagues (including Ozenfant, Ernst and Man Ray), as well as a selection of____________________