Vision + value series
It would have been quite a coup for any 1960s editor to have begged, coaxed, or harried not only such eminent architects as R. Buckminster Fuller, Alison and Peter Smithson, Fumihiko Maki, and Pier Luigi Nervi into contributing to a book, but the physicist Lancelot Law Whyte and mathematician Jacob Bronowski too. And it would have been an even greater coup to have persuaded them to make their essays quite so thoughtful and provocative.
But György Kepes, who rustled up that dazzling cast of essayists for just one of the six Vision + Value books he compiled for the independent New York publisher George Braziller during the mid-1960s, was a remarkably persuasive man. So much so that the contributors to the rest of the series ranged from the movie title designer Saul Bass, media theorist Marshall McLuhan, and historian Siegfried Giedion to the artist Ad Reinhardt and composer John Cage.
Kepes conceived Vision + Value as a collective endeavour in which designers, artists, scientists, psychologists, and historians would explore ways of combining their respective skills and knowledge to visualize—and eventually realize—a better future. Dauntingly ambitious though his objectives were, Kepes was admirably equipped to realize them, thanks to the friendships he had forged in an unusually peripatetic and intellectually dynamic life.
Vision + Value was published nearly half a century ago, yet its contents remain compelling today, as does Kepes’s central concern of nurturing new links between disciplines to address social, political, and environmental challenges. Best of all is his spirit—generous, eclectic, open-minded, and optimistic—which, exhilarating as it seems to us now, must have appeared even more so when the books were first published.