California Crazy

Designer: Taschen

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At the dawn of the automobile era, the American passion for travel inspired a number of ingenious entrepreneurs to create a way of catering suitable for new means of transport. Beginning in the 1920s, gaudy buildings began popping up along the expressways, inviting motorists to stop for a snack, refuel, buy souvenirs or have a quick meal. The official architecture of the time dismissed these constructions that arose on the roadside as a "monstrosity".

Nonetheless, they thrived, especially in the states of the Sunbelt and particularly in Southern California, where their owners indulged their creative flair by giving these buildings the most gigantic and eccentric shapes: from owls to dolls, pigs and ships, to fruit and coffee makers. Despite their innocently symbolic intent, these buildings have long been neglected by history.

Fortunately, over the past 40 years, Californian architectural anomalies have regained their dignity, and are finally celebrated in this recently revised and corrected collection. Illustrating the most representative examples of this architectural genre, California Crazy investigates the influences that favored its development, identifying the scenarios and attitudes characteristic of the streets of Los Angeles and Hollywood that allowed these unusual buildings to spread and flourish.

Furthermore, the volume includes an authoritative essay by David Gebhard, to whom we owe the definition of this vernacular movement, created almost forty years ago. The California Crazy concept is extended here to include examples of domestic architecture, quirky signage and other imaginative installations featuring the automobile itself. "A broad-minded people moved by the desire to reinvent themselves created the ideal cultural climate for the birth of formidable and extravagant creations." -

Jim Heimann The curator: Jim Heimann is executive editor for TASCHEN America. Cultural anthropologist, graphic art historian and avid collector, he is the author of numerous books on architecture, pop culture and history of Los Angeles and Hollywood, including the titles TASCHEN Surfing, Los Angeles. Portrait of a City and the very successful All American Ads series.

Measures: 21x28,5 cm

pages 324