(Architecture) (Venezuela) (Modernism) (Propaganda) Caracas: Ciudad Moderna. [Caracas, Venezuela]: [Mendoza & Mendoza], n.d. [1955?]. Oblong, 6 x 8-½ in., approx.  pp., most with illustrations, some in color; in color pictorial wrappers with illus. bifold, front rubbed and beginning to separate at front joint, rear wrapper chipping, a few leaves with corresponding chips.
Modernist photo book celebrating the rapid urbanization of Caracas under Venezuelan President Marcos Pérez Jiménez. Pérez Jiménez was a leader of the 1948 military coup which toppled the democratically elected government. He ascended to the presidency as a military dictator in 1953, initiating huge public works projects throughout Venezuela, but particularly in Caracas, which was experiencing unprecedented population growth. As propaganda, the book epitomizes the problematic “entanglement of modernist aesthetics with political agendas of modernization” during a period in which “the legitimacy of [Venezuelan] military rule [was] contingent on convincing displays of progress.”
Photos of these projects, including highways, public housing, private residential districts, schools, parks, government buildings, and commercial shopping centers, are accompanied by brief, earnest texts lauding the government’s achievements. The book offers an important political framing to many of Venezuela’s best known modernist landmarks, including La Ciudad Universitaria (CUC) and the Aula Magna, Centro Simon Bolivar, Edificio Galipan, Estadios Olimpicos, public housing “superbloques,” Casa Sindical, El Silencio, the Creole and Shell office buildings, et al.
The Pérez Jiménez regime was deposed in a 1958 coup, bringing one of the most repressive governments in Latin America, to an end. The coup also halted one of the most sustained periods of growth in Caracas’s history. The book is a primary document of the aesthetic and political impact of this important moment in Venezuela’s history.
Contributing photographers included Jewish Austrian expat Olga Seybert, sister of Lisette Model. Scarce institutionally: OCLC recording four North American holdings (Ottawa, Brigham Young, UT-Austin, Univ. of Colorado).
See Lisa Blackmore, Spectacular Modernity: Dictatorship, Space, and Visuality in Venezuela 1948-1958, Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017.