Poker Faces: Seeing Behind the Mask of Convention





Modern Movement, Modern architecture, Modern housing


“Poker Faces” interrogates the category of modernity in the history and criticism of domestic architecture, examining the relationship between formal innovation — typically used as our measure of originality — and planning innovation, in which new ways of living and experiencing the home are enabled through the translation of unconventional programs into interior spaces. Two examples of houses built for women clients — William Brainerd’s Colonial Revival “SCARAB” in Wellesley, Massachusetts (1907), built as a home for Professor Katharine Lee Bates and her life partner, Professor Katharine Coman; and Richard Neutra’s Constance Perkins House, in Pasadena, California (1955) — suggest that sometimes the most radical households lie behind self-protectively diffident façades.

How to Cite

Friedman, A. T. (2014). Poker Faces: Seeing Behind the Mask of Convention. Docomomo Journal, (51), 68–73.




Author Biography

Alice T. Friedman, Wellesley College

(b. Boston, USA, 1950). MA and PhD in Art History, Harvard University (1975, 1980), Cambridge. Grace Slack McNeil Professor of American Art at Wellesley College, Massachusetts. Professor of architectural history in the Department of Art at Wellesley since 1979. Author of numerous publications on the social and cultural history of architecture, including Women and the Making of the Modern House: a Social and Cultural History (New York, Harry N. Abrams, 1998) and American Glamour and the Evolution of Modern Architecture (Yale University Press, 2010).