Martin Filler’s latest book, Makers of Modern Architecture, Volume II, has just been published. Filler was born in 1948 and received degrees in art history from Columbia University. He has been a contributor to The New York Review of Books since 1985 and his writing on modern architecture has been published in more than thirty journals, magazines, and newspapers in the US, Europe, and Japan. His first collection of New York Review essays, Makers of Modern Architecture, was published in 2007. Filler is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He and his wife, the architectural historian Rosemarie Haag Bletter, live in New York and Southampton.
Oscar Niemeyer by Philip Jodidio
Architecture of Brazil, 1900–1990 by Hugo Segawa
Lessons from Modernism: Environmental Design Considerations in 20th Century Architecture, 1925–1970 an exhibition at the Cooper Union, New York City, January 29–March 16, 2013
Batman: Death by Design by Chip Kidd and Dave Taylor
Visual Art in the Oslo Opera House edited by Jørn Mortensen
“A House to Die In” an exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, September 25–November 18, 2012
Time Honored: A Global View of Architectural Conservation by John H. Stubbs
Architectural Conservation in Europe and the Americas by John H. Stubbs and Emily G. Makaš
Diller + Scofidio: Blurred Theater by Antonello Marotta, with a preface by Antonino Saggio
Diller Scofidio + Renfro: Inside-Out, and Still Lincoln Center Bologna: Damiani; distributed in the US by DAP/Distributed Art Publishers,
Diller Scofidio + Renfro: Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) Boston with photographs by Iwan Baan and a foreword by Jill Medvedow
The Barnes Foundation: Masterworks by Judith F. Dolkart, Martha Lucy, and Derek Gillman
Renoir in the Barnes Foundation by Martha Lucy and John House
The Architecture of the Barnes Foundation: Gallery in a Garden, Garden in a Gallery by Tod Williams, Billie Tsien, and Kenneth Frampton
The Barnes Foundation: Two Buildings, One Mission by David B. Brownlee
Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective an exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago, May 23–September 3, 2012; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., October 14, 2012–January 13, 2013; Tate Modern, London,
Andy Warhol: Fame and Misfortune an exhibition at the McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, February 1–May 20, 2012
OMA/Progress an exhibition at the Barbican Art Gallery, London, October 6, 2011–February 19, 2012
Project Japan: Metabolism Talks… by Rem Koolhaas and Hans Ulrich Obrist, edited by Kayoko Ota and James Westcott
Frieze Art Fair an exhibition at Regent's Park, London, October 13–16, 2011
Pavilion of Art and Design London an exhibition at Berkeley Square, London, October 12–16, 2011
Postmodernism: Style and Subversion, 1970–1990 an exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, September 24, 2011–January 15, 2012
Gerhard Richter: Panorama an exhibition at Tate Modern, London, October 6, 2011–January 8, 2012, the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, February 12–May 13, 2012, and the Centre Pompidou, Paris, June 6–September 24, 2012
September: A History Painting by Gerhard Richter by Robert Storr
John Martin: Apocalypse an exhibition at Tate Britain, London, September 21, 2011–January 15, 2012
Rage a video game by Bethesda Softworks
High Line: The Inside Story of New York City’s Park in the Sky by Joshua David and Robert Hammond
Ernst May (1886–1970): Neue Städte auf drei Kontinenten [New Cities on Three Continents] an exhibition at the Deutsches Architekturmuseum, Frankfurt am Main, July 28–November 6, 2011
Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York City, September 15, 2010–May 2, 2011
Notes from the Archive: James Frazer Stirling, Architect and Teacher an exhibition at the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, October 14, 2010–January 2, 2011; Tate Britain, London, spring/summer 2011; Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart, October 2011–January 2012; and the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal,
An Architect’s Legacy: James Stirling’s Students at Yale, 1959–1983 an exhibition at the Yale School of Architecture Gallery, New Haven, October 13, 2010–January 28, 2011
James Stirling: Early Unpublished Writings on Architecture edited by Mark Crinson
Jim Stirling and the Red Trilogy: Three Radical Buildings edited by Alan Berman
Victoria and Albert: Art and Love an exhibition at the Queen's Gallery, London, March 19–October 31, 2010
The Young Victoria a film directed by Jean-Marc Vallée
Bauhaus 1919–1933: Workshops for Modernity an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York City, November 8, 2009–January 25, 2010
Bauhaus: A Conceptual Model an exhibition at the Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, July 22–October 4, 2009
Art to Hear: Bauhaus: A Conceptual Model audio CD guide to the exhibition and booklet produced by tonwelt professional media GmbH and directed by Klaus Kowatsch
Gunta Stölzl: Bauhaus Master foreword by Monika Stadler, text by Gunta Stölzl
Bauhaus Women: Art, Handicraft, Design by Ulrike Müller
The Bauhaus Group: Six Masters of Modernism by Nicholas Fox Weber
Bauhaus Conflicts, 1919–2009: Controversies and Counterparts edited by Philipp Oswalt
Kandinsky an exhibition at the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus and Kunstbau, Munich, October 25, 2008–March 8, 2009; the Georges Pompidou Center, Paris, April 8–August 10, 2009; and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City, September 18, 2009–
László Moholy-Nagy: Retrospective an exhibition at the Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, October 8, 2009–February 7, 2010
Moholy: An Education of the Senses an exhibition at the Loyola University Museum of Art, Chicago, February 11–May 9, 2010
Moholy-Nagy: The Photograms edited by Renate Heyne and Floris M. Neusüss, with Hattula Moholy-Nagy
The New Acropolis Museum edited by Bernard Tschumi Architects, with contributions by Dimitrios Pandermalis, Yannis Aesopos, Bernard Tschumi, and Joel Rutten
Bernard Tschumi by Gilles de Bure, translated from the French by Gammon Sharply, English adaptation by Jasmine Benyamin and Lisa Palmer
Jean Tschumi: Architecture at Full Scale by Jacques Gubler, translated from the French by Jasmine Benyamin
Designing the High Line: Gansevoort Street to 30th Street edited by Friends of the High Line, with forewords by James Corner and Ricardo Scofidio
Picasso: Mosqueteros an exhibition, curated by John Richardson, at the Gagosian Gallery, New York City, March 26–June 6, 2009
Le Corbusier: A Life by Nicholas Fox Weber
The Rhetoric of Modernism: Le Corbusier as Lecturer by Tim Benton
Le Corbusier and the Maisons Jaoul by Caroline Maniaque Benton
Le Corbusier and Britain: An Anthology edited by Irena Murray and Julian Osley
Le Corbusier Le Grand edited by Phaidon editors, with an introduction by Jean-Louis Cohen and chapter introductions by Tim Benton
Le Corbusier: The Art of Architecture an exhibition at the Barbican Art Gallery, London, February 19–May 24, 2009
Le Corbusier and the Occult by J.K. Birksted
Frank Lloyd Wright in New York: The Plaza Years, 1954–1959 by Jane King Hession and Debra Pickrel, with a foreword by Mike Wallace
Frank Lloyd Wright: Essential Texts edited by Robert Twombly
The Fellowship: The Untold Story of Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Fellowship by Roger Friedland and Harold Zellman
Frank Lloyd Wright: The Heroic Years, 1920–1932 by Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer
Modern Architecture: Being the Kahn Lectures for 1930 by Frank Lloyd Wright, with a new introduction by Neil Levine
Pedro E. Guerrero: A Photographer’s Journey by Pedro E. Guerrero
Death in a Prairie House: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Murders by William R. Drennan
Loving Frank: A Novel by Nancy Horan
Home Delivery: Fabricating theModern Dwelling an exhibition at theMuseum of Modern Art, New York City, July 20–October 20, 2008.
Buckminster Fuller: Starting with the Universe an exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City, June 26–September 21, 2008.
Topologies: The Urban Utopia in France, 1960–1970 by Larry Busbea
Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future an exhibition at the National Building Museum, Washington, D.C.,May 3–August 23, 2008; the Minneapolis Institute of Art and Walker Art Center, September 14, 2008–January 4, 2009; the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University, St. Louis, Missou
Eero Saarinen: Buildings from the Balthazar Korab Archive edited by David G. De Long and C. Ford Peatross
The Gateway Arch: A Reflection of America a film directed by Scott Huegerich and Bob Miano, narrated by Kevin Kline
Renzo Piano Museums by Renzo Piano, with an essay by Victoria Newhouse
Collecting Collections: Highlights from the Permanent Collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
The Getty Villa by Marion True and Jorge Silvetti, with an introduction by Salvatore Settis
Santiago Calatrava: Sculpture into Architecture
Santiago Calatrava: Clay and Paint, Ceramics and Watercolors
Santiago Calatrava: The Complete Works by Alexander Tzonis
Santiago Calatrava: The Bridges by Alexander Tzonis and Rebeca Caso Donadei
Santiago Calatrava: Milwaukee Art Museum, Quadracci Pavilion by Cheryl Kent
Santiago Calatrava: The Athens Olympics by Alexander Tzonis and Rebeca Caso Donadei
Imagining Ground Zero: Official and Unofficial Proposals for the World Trade Center Site by Suzanne Stephens with Ian Luna and Ron Broadhurst, and with a foreword by Robert A. Ivy
Up from Zero: Politics, Architecture, and the Rebuilding of New York by Paul Goldberger
Breaking Ground by Daniel Libeskind with Sarah Crichton
Symphony: Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall with an introduction by Frank Gehry and a preface by Deborah Borda; essays by Richard Koshalek and Dana Hutt, Carol McMichael Reese, Michael Webb, and Esa-Pekka Salonen; and photographs by Grant Mudford
Frank O. Gehry: Work in Progress
City of Architecture, Architecture of the City: Berlin 1900–2000 edited by Thorsten Scheer, Josef Paul Kleihues, and Paul Kahlfeldt
Rebuilding the Reichstag by Norman Foster
The Reichstag: The Parliament Building by Norman Foster by Bernhard Schulz
Architektur in Berlin: Jahrbuch 2000 edited by the Architectenkammer, Berlin
Frank O. Gehry: The Complete Works by Francesco Dal Co, by Kurt W. Forster
Frank O. Gehry: Guggenheim Museum Bilbao by Coosje van Bruggen
Frank O. Gehry: Guggenheim Bilbao Museoa text by Kurt W. Forster, photographs by Ralph Richter
Gehry Talks: Architecture + Process edited by Mildred Friedman, with an essay by Michael Sorkin, commentaries by Frank O. Gehry
Frank O. Gehry: Kurt W. Forster Art Publishers) edited by Christina Bechtler, in collaboration with Kunsthaus Bregenz
Logbook by Renzo Piano
Renzo Piano Building Workshop: Complete Works in three volumes, by Peter Buchanan
Technology, Place & Architecture: The Jerusalem Seminar in Architecture edited by Kenneth Frampton
Alvar Aalto: Between Humanism and Materialism exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, February 19-May 19, 1998., Catalog of the exhibition edited by Peter Reed
Finnish Modern Design: Utopian Ideals and Everyday Realities, 1930-1997 Arts, February 27-June 14, 1998. exhibition at the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative, Catalog of the exhibition edited by Marianne Aav, by Nina Stritzler-Levine
Alvar Aalto in His Own Words by Göran Schildt
Alvar Aalto: Master Works by Göran Schildt
The Alvar Aalto Guide by Michael Trencher
Building the Getty by Richard Meier
The J. Paul Getty Museum and Its Collections: A Museum for the New Century by John Walsh, by Deborah Gribbon
Making Architecture: The Getty Center by Harold M. Williams, by Ada Louise Huxtable, by Stephen D. Rountree, by Richard Meier
Iconography and Electronics upon a Generic Architecture: A View from the Drafting Room by Robert Venturi
Charles Rennie Mackintosh 1996-February 16, 1997; The Art Institute of Chicago, March 29-June 22; and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, August 3-October 12 (previously at the Glasgow Museums, McLellan Galleries, May 25-September 30, 1996) Exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, November 19,
Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928) by Charlotte Fiell, by Peter Fiell
Charles Rennie Mackintosh catalog of the exhibition,, edited by Wendy Kaplan
Mackintosh’s Masterwork: Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow School of Art by William Buchanan, by James Macaulay, by Andrew MacMillan, by George Rawson, by Peter Trowles, foreword by Eckart Muthesius
Charles and Ray Eames: Designers of the Twentieth Century by Pat Kirkham
Eames House: Charles and Ray Eames by James Steele
Eames House by Marilyn Neuhart, by John Neuhart
The Films of Charles and Ray Eames, Volumes I-IV
Philip Johnson: Life and Works by Franz Schulze
Philip Johnson: The Glass House edited by David Whitney, edited by Jeffrey Kipnis
The Oral History of Modern Architecture: Interviews with the Greatest Architects of the Twentieth Century by John Peter
Philip Johnson: The Architect in His Own Words by Hilary Lewis, by John O'Connor
Frank Lloyd Wright by Meryle Secrest
Frank Lloyd Wright: Collected Writings: edited by Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer, Introduction by Kenneth Frampton
Wright Studies, Volume I: Taliesin, 19111914 edited by Narciso G. Menocal
Frank Lloyd Wright: The Lost Years 19101922: A Study of Influence by Anthony Alofsin
Frank Lloyd Wright: The Masterworks edited by David Larkin, by Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer, text by Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer
Frank Lloyd Wright, Hollyhock House and Olive Hill by Kathryn Smith
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House by Donald Hoffmann
Barnsdall House: Los Angeles, 1920 by James Steele
The Wright Style by Carla Lind
Frank Lloyd Wright Companion by William Allin Storrer
About Wright: An Album of Recollections by Those Who Knew Frank Lloyd Wright by Edgar Tafel
Frank Lloyd Wright: Architect 20May 10, 1994) catalog of the exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (February, edited by Terence Riley
The Paintings and Sketches of Louis I. Kahn by Jan Hochstim, Introduction by Vincent Scully
Louis I. Kahn: Writings, Lectures, Interviews edited and with an introduction by Alessandra Latour
Louis I. Kahn: In the Realm of Architecture 1991January 5, 1992), Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (March 5May 4, 1992), the Museum of Modern Art, New York (June 14August 18, 1992), the Museum of Modern Art, Gunma, Japan (September 26November 3, 1992), an exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Louis I. Kahn: In the Realm of Architecture catalog of the exhibition by David B. Brownlee, by David G. De Long
The Art Museums of Louis I. Kahn University Museum of Art by catalog of an exhibition at the Duke Patricia Cummings Loud, foreword by Michael P. Mezzatesta
The Most Beautiful House in the World by Witold Rybczynski
Towards a New Architecture by Le Corbusier, translated and with an introduction by Frederick Etchells
The Villas of Le Corbusier: 19201930 by Tim Benton
Le Corbusier: Architect of the Century
Journey to the East by Le Corbusier, edited and annotated by Ivan Zaknić, translated by Ivan Zaknić, in collaboration with Nicole Pertuiset
The Le Corbusier Guide by Deborah Gans
Le Corbusier: 5 Projects 26, 1987) An exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (March 26May
Le Corbusier: Une encyclopédie Catalog of the exhibition "L'Aventure Le Corbusier: 18871965" at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (October 6, 1987January 3, 1988), edited by Jacques Lucan
Le Corbusier: Ideas and Forms by William J.R. Curtis
Le Corbusier edited by H. Allen Brooks
Le Corbusier: The City of Refuge, Paris, 19291933 by Brian Brace Taylor
Pessac de Le Corbusier: 19271985, Etude socio-architecturale by Philippe Boudon, preface by Henri Lefebvre
Le Corbusier: Early Works by Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris with contributions by Geoffrey Baker, by Jacques Gubler
Le Corbusier: La progettazione come mutamento Catalog of the exhibition at the Università Statale, Milan (December 15, 1986January 31, 1987), edited by Cesare Blasi, by Gabriella Padovano
Le Corbusier: Pittore e scultore Catalog of the exhibition at the Museo Correr, Venice (September 6November 30, 1986)
Le Corbusier Secret: Dessins et collages de la collection Ahrenberg Lausanne Catalog of the exhibition at the Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts (April 2May 10, 1987)
The Decorative Art of Today by Le Corbusier, translated and introduced by James I. Dunnett
L’Esprit Nouveau: Le Corbusier und die Industrie, 19201925 Catalog of the exhibition at the Museum für Gestaltung, Zürich(March 28May 10, 1987)
Louis Sullivan: His Life and Work by Robert Twombly
The Curve of the Arch: The Story of Louis Sullivan’s Owatonna Bank by Larry Millett
Louis Sullivan: The Function of Ornament by David Van Zanten, by William Jordy, by Wim de Wit, by Rochelle Elstein
Mies van der Rohe: A Critical Biography Modern Art by Franz Schulze. in association with the Mies van der Rohe Archive of the Museum of
Mies van der Rohe by David Spaeth, preface by Kenneth Frampton
Mies van der Rohe: The Villas and Country Houses by Wolf Tegethoff
Mies van der Rohe: Architect as Educator (distributed by University of Chicago Press) Catalog for Exhibition at S. R. Crown Hall, June 6July 12, 1986.
Mies van der Rohe Centennial Exhibition Museum of Modern Art, New York February 10April 15, 1986. Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago May 9August 10, 1986
Mies van der Rohe: Drawings Max Protetch Gallery, New York February 5March 1, 1986
Mies A film produced and directed by Michael Blackwood
The Tall Building Artistically Reconsidered: The Search for a Skyscraper Style by Ada Louise Huxtable
Ada Louise Huxtable: An Annotated Bibliography by Lawrence Wodehouse
The real estate mogul Aby Rosen is planning to remove a historic Picasso stage curtain from the Seagram Building on February 9.
Tod Williams and Billie Tsien’s ice rink for New York’s Prospect Park far exceeds what one might imagine possible for this faded urban oasis.
Not since the vandalizing of Pennsylvania Station half a century ago has New York City’s architectural patrimony been dealt such a low blow.
The triumph of the Kimbell Art Museum’s new Renzo Piano Pavilion is its exquisitely wrought concrete walls, the most ravishing concrete I have seen in the United States.
As the winter season of New York high culture kicks into full swing, one thing seems quite apparent: there is little appetite for the new in the performing arts here, because innovation carries so much financial risk. The demise earlier this fall of the adventurous but profligate New York City Opera—and the particular qualities of its last staging—provide a kind of case study in the predicament of major cultural institutions today.
Among the more poignant observances surrounding the fiftieth anniversary of the JFK assassination is a small show that reassembles the display of paintings and sculptures that had been hastily borrowed to improve the rooms the first couple occupied on the last night of the chief executive’s life.
Our retrospective image of 1930s America derives in large part from Norman Bel Geddes (1893–1958), the self-taught polymath who virtually invented the profession of industrial design.
The Museum of Modern Art’s “Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes” is a sprawling, frustrating, intermittently thrilling tribute to the twentieth century’s most influential master builder.
From 1958 to 1966 the Danish architect Ulrik Plesner was the chief architectural partner of Geoffrey Bawa the Sri Lankan master builder. Plesner’s absorbing new account, In Situ: An Architectural Memoir from Sri Lanka, depicts Bawa’s Ceylon as a prelapsarian architectural paradise where one barely had to think about creating something before it materialized into being.
The fact that many architects seem compelled to seduce and dominate those around them—whether patrons, junior partners, paramours, or some combination thereof—was anticipated by Henrik Ibsen in his 1892 play The Master Builder, currently being given a revival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Harvey Theater.
How can the most architecturally innovative part of the United States also be such a thoroughgoing urban mess?
The tragic turn of events on West 53rd Street is nothing less than impending cultural vandalism, made more odious because it will be carried out by a presumed institutional guardian of high culture and contemporary design.
Among architectural insiders, Batman: Death by Design is likely to cause the most comment for its scathing portrayal of a Netherlandish master builder named Kem Roomhaus, who, as Batman says, “may be an affected, narcissistic creep, but he’s also a genius.”
It has long been a commonplace that no region on earth embraced modern design more eagerly or fully than Scandinavia. During the early twentieth century, a host of reform-minded pioneers in the Nordic countries demonstrated how contemporary architecture and furnishings could both shape and respond to a changing society that was becoming closely attuned to the dignity of the common man.
As we contemplate the horrific damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, the world of design may seem remote from our most immediate concerns. Yet the urgent needs that follow large-scale catastrophes—the need for shelter, clean water, alternative sources of power—can be particularly conducive to creative solutions. I recently observed that breakthroughs in architecture and industrial design have emerged during wartime; now a remarkable new exhibition in Oslo shows that the same can hold true for natural disasters as well.
There has long been a tendency to see the most important innovations of Modernism as arising directly from progressive causes. But now the French architectural historian and architect Jean-Louis Cohen establishes one big, awful, inescapable truth: the full potential of twentieth-century architecture was realized not in the social-welfare and urban-improvement schemes beloved by the early proponents of the Modern Movement, but rather through technologies perfected during the two world wars to slaughter vast armies, destroy entire cities, decimate noncombatant populations, and industrialize genocide.
The ever growing recognition of mid-twentieth-century architectural photography has elevated the reputations of Julius Shulman, Ezra Stoller, and Balthazar Korab from that of workaday chroniclers of America’s postwar building boom to co-inventors of the High Modernist mystique. Yet there is a fourth member of their generation whose remarkable work on modernism has been far less widely known: Pedro E. Guerrero, who will turn 95 later this year, and who for many years was Frank Lloyd Wright’s favorite lensman. Working for the period’s most stylish glossy magazines, Guerrero devised a deceptively suave manner that in retrospect can seem quite subversive. It is particularly welcome then, that the Julius Shulman Institute at the Woodbury School of Architecture in Burbank has organized Pedro E. Guerrero: Photographs of Modern Life, the first major retrospective of his work.
There is an intangible quality about Duane Michals’s photographs that is readily identifiable, regardless of their subject matter. Whether they ponder questions as speculative as the existence of an afterlife or as basic as the nature of sexual desire all of them encompass a shared spiritual terrain, a timeless realm of pellucid light and preternatural calm, palpably present but also eerily elusive, like a waking dream. Yet Michals’s most significant contribution may be his championing of an elevated homoerotic alternative to the predominant heterosexual viewpoint of western art. Thus the publication of this quiet crusader’s photo-memoir—which recounts Michals’ own repressed sexuality while serving in the army from 1953 to 1955—seems particularly timely following the recent revocation of the US Army’s preposterous “don’t-ask-don’t-tell” policy.
Among the impenetrable mysteries of modern life is how Meryl Streep can be universally regarded as the greatest dramatic film actress of our time. In my opinion, Streep is easily at her best as a comedienne, not in the high-serious roles she has favored. Now we have the 62-year-old Streep in what many critics deem the crowning achievement of her storied 35-year Hollywood career, as Margaret Thatcher in the starring role of Phyllida Lloyd’s The Iron Lady. But when I watched this strange tour de force of Important Acting, I was uncertain whether I was witnessing a tragedy or a farce.
I first met the designer Ray Kaiser Eames in 1977, when she showed me, my wife, and our son around the renowned Pacific Palisades house she and Charles Eames built between 1947 and 1949 from off-the-shelf industrial components. As she moved slowly through the high-ceilinged living room of the light-flooded, modular-paneled structure at the edge of an arcadian meadow overlooking the ocean, she reacted to the myriad possessions that crowded every horizontal surface as if she had never seen them before. “Oh my God, look at this!” she cawed like an excited mynah bird as she grabbed some pretty trifle, peered at it intently, and extolled its ravishing beauty. One could not help but love her unbridled enthusiasm, but also quickly understood how trying she might be to live with.
Witnessing the endless daylight of Scandinavian Midsummer this past summer in Vardø, a picturesque Barents Sea island village built around the northernmost fortress on earth, I was led to wonder what life must be like there during the opposite extreme of the winter solstice. As it happens, this year’s Midsummer celebration gave some idea of that very different experience, or at least of the possible dire effects of prolonged climatic stress on the collective psyche. On June 23, Queen Sonja of Norway came to open the Steilneset Memorial to the Victims of the Witch Trials in Vardø, a new monument by the Swiss architect Peter Zumthor and the French-American artist Louise Bourgeois that eerily evokes the dark night of the soul that it also attempts to expiate.
I wept, but about what precisely I cannot say. Much to my amazement, after having done everything possible to shut out the ubiquitous maudlin press coverage that engulfed the tenth anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks, I visited Michael Arad’s National September 11 Memorial in New York City—which was dedicated exactly a decade after the disaster—to find that it impressed me at once as a sobering, disturbing, heartbreaking, and overwhelming masterpiece.
Rarely do additions to works of architecture or engineering by the same designers who created the originals attract as much comment as the initial installments. Thus there was some question as to just how much excitement could be generated by the debut this June of the second segment of the High Line, which runs between West 20th and West 30th streets.
Nearly twenty-five years ago I was called into the office of Anna Wintour, my boss during her brief interregnum at House & Garden magazine before she ascended to fashion glory as editor-in-excelsis of Vogue. “You use too many adjectives,” she told me. “I don’t like adjectives. That’s all.” But I now wonder how one could possibly explain the peculiar and pathological art of Alexander McQueen (whose most powerful promoter has been Wintour) without recourse to many multiple modifiers?
The British Crown possesses an undeniable genius for staging rituals that may seem to date from time immemorial but which for the most part were concocted in the early twentieth century.
Twenty-four years after Andy Warhol’s death, a dazzling, lifelike, ten-foot-tall memorial statue by Rob Pruitt has been unveiled in front of the building on New York’s Union Square that housed the artist’s studio.
The life and death of buildings are more than just metaphors when it comes to one category of structure closely identified with modern architecture: the sanatorium.
This exhilarating new show presents more than sixty drawings and prints from the Paris foundation established in 1947 by the renowned Dutch connoisseur and scholar Frits Lugt, and exhibits them alongside the Frick’s own Rembrandt paintings and prints.
There is nothing the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences loves more than movies about people with physical or mental disabilities (or addictions). If the afflicted protagonist also happens to be royal, so much the better, for a suffering crowned head bestows an extra touch of class on Hollywood’s uplifting formula of brave triumph over cruel adversity.
Cooking odors grow stronger as visitors approach the gallery where Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen—a stimulating show at New York’s Museum of Modern Art on food preparation in the twentieth-century home—is installed. Although the aromas actually emanate from a café next to the second-floor exhibition, the pervasive food smells that can be so distracting throughout the restaurant-riddled MoMA are for once appropriate here.
The public’s outsized affection for the Scottish architect and furniture designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868–1928) is all the more remarkable since as late as the mid-twentieth century his place in history was by no means secure.
Joan Sutherland, the Australian-born prima donna assoluta, was nearly the last survivor among the top sopranos of the twentieth century.
The static art of architecture and the kinetic art of motion pictures might seem antithetical mediums, but films can be enormously helpful in explaining buildings to laymen and professionals alike. Certain architectural works are difficult if not impossible to understand in still imagery, and are made fully comprehensible only through films that move around and inside them.
What is it about the works of Richard Wagner that consistently inspire some of the most bizarre productions in all of opera?
The most notable change in female fashion during the past three decades has had nothing to do with such age-old preoccupations as hemline length, neckline depth, or silhouette width. Rather, it has been the inexorable transformation of the high-end women’s garment trade from the province of a tiny elite to an all-pervasive marketing tool for international luxury-goods conglomerates, which have masterminded such paradoxical concepts as mass luxury and global exclusivity, more through the sale of designer-label cosmetics and accessories than through clothing itself.
The latest refurbishment of the White House Oval Office would be just another before-and-after decorating story were it not for the fact that stylistic aspects of the chief executive’s workplace are closely watched for possible insights into the personality of the occupant.
Like Mount Vesuvius but at briefer intervals, Prince Charles erupts in high dudgeon over various and sundry affronts to his very particular and sometimes very peculiar notions of how life should be lived.
Those who undertake additions to architectural landmarks ought to abide by the famous medical principle, “first, do no harm.” Thus the best one can say of Renzo Piano’s recently unveiled plans for a $125 million expansion of Louis Kahn’s Kimbell Art Museum of 1966–1972 in Fort Worth is that no fatal physical damage is about to be inflicted on what many revere as the finest of all modern gallery buildings.
Every so often, writers outside the architectural profession publish works on the building art that capture the public imagination and make the best-seller lists. Yet Edward Hollis stands apart from other popular writers on the subject in his acknowledgement that architecture is anything but the immutable medium most people suppose it to be.
A usually melancholy springtime ritual for lovers of the building art is the announcement of the latest winner of the Pritzker Prize for Architecture. Thus the revelation of this year’s surprise winners—Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, principals of the Tokyo firm SANAA—has been cause for rejoicing.
Preposterously premature acclaim has posited the London-based Iraqi Zaha Hadid (who turns sixty next Halloween but has yet to produce a body of built work commensurate with her hyperbolic reputation) as the world’s foremost female architect. Instead, that designation rightfully belongs to Denise Scott Brown, a truly towering figure in the modern history of the building art.
One of the most well-intentioned artistic initiatives ever undertaken by the United States government has turned out to be among its least successful: the embassy design program meant to present America’s best architectural face abroad. The latest evidence of this effort’s often dispiriting outcome is the selection of the little-known Philadelphia firm of KieranTimberlake to create a new US embassy in London.
Although Alvar Aalto first won worldwide attention in the early 1930s as a leading exponent of the International Style—a reductive form of modern architecture proposed as equally applicable anywhere on the planet—his more expressive, site-specific work from the mid-Thirties onward marked him as a regional designer in the best sense, and the quintessential Finnish master builder. In 1989, however, thirteen years after Aalto’s death, his friend and official biographer Göran Schildt revealed Aalto’s rollicking 1943 junket to Germany at the invitation of Albert Speer, Hitler’s court architect-turned-munitions chief, to inspect construction there just as the Final Solution shifted into overdrive. Schildt’s tragicomic account reads like a plot outline for The Three Stooges Go to Hell.
Few makers of architectural documentaries exploit the full potential of film to create a convincing sense of what it is like to move through a sequence of interiors, an ability made much easier with the introduction of the Steadicam in 1976. A rare exception is Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine’s 58-minute-long Koolhaas Houselife (2008), one of two recent releases on the celebrated Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, principal of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture in Rotterdam.
Presidents of the United States have enough to worry about, but an ill-timed makeover of the White House can readily become a political liability. After the Panic of 1837, an opposition-party Congressman accused President Martin van Buren of transforming his official home into “a PALACE as splendid as that of the Caesars,” and thereby doomed the incumbent’s re-election. A century and a half later, while the Reagan administration slashed school-lunch subsidies and declared ketchup a vegetable, Nancy Reagan provoked outrage when she bought a $209,000 china service embellished in gold and ketchup red.
Irving Penn was assured a high place in the canon of photography well before his death, on October 7 at the age of ninety-two. Yet for those of us who came of age during the 1960s, he seemed the Apollonian counterpart of his Dionysian contemporary and principal competitor, the younger and groovier Richard Avedon, who died five years before Penn almost to the day. They were the twin gods who ruled high-fashion photography after the postwar resurrection of the Paris haute couture, when they brought unprecedented formal power and graphic impact to what had been dismissed as an intractably insipid genre—“visions of loveliness,” in the sneering phrase of Penn’s mentor and tormentor, Alexander Liberman, longtime editorial director of Condé Nast Publications.
The newly postponed completion dates for New York City’s beleaguered and laggard World Trade Center reconstruction project have an unexpected but telling parallel in Bernard Tschumi’s much-delayed New Acropolis Museum in Athens. When the museum finally opened this summer, few commentators noted that it was to have been completed in time for the city’s 2004 Olympics. Some blamed the lapse on Hellenic inefficiency. Santiago Calatrava’s flamboyant and technically complicated Olympic Stadium was barely ready for the games, an athletic extravaganza that burdened the Greek government with a $7 billion debt.
Handsomely installed by architect Wendy Evans Joseph, “Norman Bel Geddes: I Have Seen the Future” stresses Geddes’s ability to convince people that even his most pie-in-the-sky proposals awere just as attainable as his workaday home appliances.
A display of the paintings and sculptures from the hotel room the first couple stayed in the night before John F Kennedy's assassination.
Go see MoMA’s “Henri Labrouste: Structure Brought to Light” for the ravishing Beaux-Arts watercolors and some of the most marvelous building models you’ll ever encounter.
If curator Barry Bergdoll’s riveting MoMA preview talk was any indication, his six-part A.W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts series promises to be a landmark in our understanding of the display of architecture in museums.
For an exquisite experience on the big island of Hawaii near Hilo, visit the Onomea Tea Company’s jewel-like plantation overlooking the Pacific and Onomea Bay.
Perhaps the best food on the big island of Hawaii can be found at Merriman’s Waimea, near the Kohala Coast’s resorts.
The forgotten Austrian pioneer is rediscovered in “Heinrich Kuehn and His American Circle: Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Steichen,” at New York’s Neue Galerie.
Design aficionados who missed the epic 2009 Bauhaus surveys held in New York and Berlin to mark the ninetieth anniversary of the renowned modern art-and-architecture school can make up for this loss by viewing the 400 works in “Bauhaus: Art as Life.”
Visit Manhattan’s Frick before May 13th to see “Renoir, Impressionism, and Full-Length Painting.”