Paul Seawright, ‘Untitled (Vents)’ 1999
Paul Seawright
Untitled (Vents) 1999
Lent by the American Fund for the Tate Gallery, courtesy of Frances Bowes 2006
© Paul Seawright

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 also sometimes been used to describe the work of artists influenced by art brut.