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Eric de Mare: architect, photographer, writer

Historic EnglandEric de Mare, architect, photographer and writer, was born on 10 September 1910 to Swedish parents. From 1928 to 1933 he studied at the Architectural Association. Later he joined the staff of the Architectural Press, becoming acting editor of the Architects Journal in 1943.

De Mare published numerous books and articles on architectural subjects. Perhaps chief amongst these were The Functional Tradition in Early Industrial Buildings (1958) and Photography and Architecture (1961). These books were illustrated with his own photographs: he saw himself as the interpreter of architecture through photography.

These books reflect de Mare's interests, particularly in the functional tradition within architecture, which had received little attention from contemporary architects. This led him to photograph many industrial buildings and engineering structures. His work in the 1960s tended to focus increasingly on modern architecture, and at the same time he became more concerned with preservation.

De Mare's photographs have influenced the work of many post-War architects. He continued to write about photography and the man-made environment until his death in January 2002. The NMR's entire holding of over 2,800 of de Mare's negatives is available on this website.

In 1972 he summed up his philosophy: The photographer is perhaps the best architectural critic, for by felicitous framing and selection he can communicate direct and powerful comments both in praise and protest. He can also discover and reveal architecture where none was intended by creating abstract compositions of an architectural quality.

author: English Heritage NMR

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