Architectural style of the 1950s and 1960s characterised by simple, block-like forms and raw concrete construction

  • Paul Seawright, 'Untitled (Vents)' 1999

    Paul Seawright
    Untitled (Vents) 1999
    Colour photograph on paper mounted on aluminium
    support: 1498 x 1498 mm
    Lent by the American Fund for the Tate Gallery, courtesy of Frances Bowes 2006 Paul Seawright

    View the main page for this artwork

The term was coined by the British architectural critic Reyner Banham to describe the approach to building particularly associated with the architects Peter and Alison Smithson in the 1950s and 1960s.The term originates from the use by the pioneer modern architect and painter Le Corbusier of ‘beton brut’ – raw concrete in French. Banham gave the French word a punning twist to express the general horror with which this concrete architecture was greeted in Britain.

Typical examples of brutalism are the Hayward Gallery and National Theatre on London’s South Bank.

The term brutalism has sometimes been used to describe the work of artists influenced by art brut.