Louis Hellman: Archi-têtes

Celebrating both the RIBA’s acquisition of Louis Hellman’s archive in 2018 and the milestone of RIBApix reaching 100,000 images with his Archi-tête of Charles Rennie Mackintosh we present a gallery of Archi-têtes. Louis Hellman, architect turned cartoonist, is famed for his cartoons satirising the world of architecture, architects, clients, developers and politicians, most notably featured in the Architects’ Journal for over 50 years, see here.

Notions of anthropomorphism are popular in cultural history even extending to architecture and architects who have long made use of the human form as a metaphor for a building and its parts. Perhaps most well known are Vitruvius’ ‘Vitruvian Man’ with his arms and legs outstretched positioned within a square and circle and Le Corbusier’s ‘Modulor’ a scale of proportions based on applying the ‘Golden Section’ to the height of a man with a vertically outstretched arm.

One of the best known and fun items within the RIBA Collections is the caricature bust of Sir Edwin Lutyens incorporating an architectural model for a 'chattri' roof feature for the Viceroy's House (now Rashtrapati Bhavan) in New Delhi.

The Archi-têtes series of caricatures of architects using elements of their own buildings and style plays on the anthropomorphic elements in architecture in a unique way. The series was actually conceived as competition entry to the Architectural Review in 1984 which Hellman won. He then continued to create further caricatures, himself and certain politicians included, for the Architectural Review and which were published in the book Archi-têtes: the id in the Grid (2000).

To see the full range of Hellman’s Archi-têtes on RIBApix click here.

Feature by Jonathan Makepeace. 


21 items
RIBA99732A Thatcher Monument

RIBA99734Robert Venturi

RIBA99739Oscar Niemeyer

RIBA99742Auguste Perret

RIBA99743Philip Johnson

RIBA99751Hector Guimard

RIBA99752Antonio Gaudi

RIBA99753Charles Rennie Mackintosh

RIBA99754Philippe Starck

RIBA99755Daniel Libeskind

RIBA99756Louis Hellman

RIBA99757Tony Blair

RIBA99759Sir Christopher Wren

RIBA99760Sir Terry Farrell

RIBA99761Sir James Stirling

RIBA99762Ralph Erskine

RIBA99833Charles, Prince of Wales

RIBA99837Arata Isozaki

RIBA99845Sir Nicholas Grimshaw

RIBA99848Norman Foster (Lord Foster of Thames Bank)

RIBA125000Charles & Ray Eames