Throughout much of the 20th century, Jose Luis Sert was a key player among the architectural avant-garde and an important advocate of the Modern Movement. Sert was a close colleague of Le Corbusier, for whom he worked from 1929 to 1932; of Sigfried Giedion, also active in CIAM (Congres Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne); and of Walter Gropius, whom Sert succeeded as Dean of the Graduate School of Architecture at Harvard University in 1953. Sert was born in Barcelona and was deeply influenced by the Catalan nationalist, socialist, and labour movements of the early 20th century, as well as the writings of the Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset. After working in Barcelona in the 1930s, Sert emigrated to the United States in 1939 to escape the fascist government in Spain. There he was involved primarily in city planning in the US and Latin America; he published the important book "The Heart of the City" in 1952, which argued passionately for a renewed concern with the central city to combat its rapid disintegration.
Sert was active in urban planning in Latin America, producing city plans for Medellin, Bogota, Lima, and Havana, among other cities, and he served as president of CIAM from 1947 to 1956. Among his best-known works are several international-style apartment buildings in Barcelona, the Joan Miro Foundation in Barcelona, the Maeght Foundation in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France, and the American Embassy in Baghdad. This monograph combines an authoritative, readable text with extensive photographs, plans, and drawings of Sert's buildings, city plans, and publications. The book also conveys an overview of the avant-garde art and architecture movements of the time, with illustrations of Sert's colleagues, CIAM meetings, art, sculpture, and architecture by artists who influenced Sert.