Archive for February, 2008

Happy Birthday Ephraim Owen Goldberg! (You know who that is.)

How about a bottle of

the “very limited and exclusive”
Selection Reserva 2001
from the Marqués de Riscal “City of Wine”
winery, hotel and spa in Spain
which you designed
like ribbon on a present.
The works bring a lot of people a lot of joy.
(And yes, some grumping and the occasional lawsuit.)
Happy 79th!

Ed Ruscha in Chicago on March 1st


Artist/photographer Ed Ruscha will be at the Art Institute of Chicago on March 1st for a free day long symposium to open the exhibition
Ed Ruscha and Photography.

The symposium will run from 10:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 1 in Rubloff Auditorium. It will begin with a talk by the artist. Ruscha will also participate in a conversation featuring cultural critic Dave Hickey and exhibition curator Sylvia Wolf. Lectures by art history professors Ken Allan and Thomas Crow will complete the day.

The exhibition will run through June 1, 2008. More info and other events here. From the press release:

Ed Ruscha and Photography on View March 1–June 1, 2008
American Pop Art Icon to Lead Free Symposium on Opening Day

Ed Ruscha is perhaps best known as a seminal American pop and conceptual artist. His iconic paintings of words, American landscapes, and vernacular architecture speak of his deep affinity for the commonplace. But the medium of photography has always been a source of inspiration and discovery. The eye-opening exhibition, Ed Ruscha and Photography , on view at the Art Institute of Chicago from March 1 through June 1, 2008, features Ruscha’s signature photographic books and dozens of previously unseen original prints. It provides the most comprehensive view of how photography functioned for this leading American artist. Organized in conjunction with the exhibition, a free daylong symposium on March 1 will include a talk by the artist, a conversation with Ruscha and cultural critic Dave Hickey and the exhibition’s curator Sylvia Wolf, and lectures by scholars Ken Allan and Thomas Crow.

Organized by Wolf at the Whitney Museum of American Art to celebrate its acquisition of a deep collection of Ruscha’s photographs, the exhibition features more than 100 original prints, many of which have rarely been published or exhibited. Exclusive to the Chicago presentation of Ed Ruscha and Photography are an additional 13 paintings, drawings, and prints from the museum’s own outstanding holdings as well as from local private collections.

Included in Ed Ruscha and Photography are original prints made for his photographic books: Twentysix Gasoline Stations (1963); Various Small Fires and Milk (1964); Some Los Angeles Apartments (1965); and Thirtyfour Parking Lots in Los Angeles (1967). In addition, the show features a striking selection from the more than 300 original photographs made during a seven-month tour that Ruscha took of Europe in 1961. In these images of Austria, England, France, Greece, Italy, Spain, and Yugoslavia, visitors will see the stylistic elements that have marked Ruscha’s work—signage and his strong graphic sensibility—in a context very different from the more well known Ruscha landscapes of Southern California and the west. These photographs are also compelling records of Ruscha’s experimentation with his camera.

Another highlight of this exhibition is a selection of Ruscha’s photographic books of the 1960s and 1970s, which have come to embody conceptual artists’ embrace of serial imaging. These books have had a profound impact on the art and careers of many American artists, and they speak to the intermingling of Ruscha’s conceptual approach to imagery and photography as a medium. Lewis Baltz, Dan Graham, and Robert Venturi all cite Ruscha’s photographic books as highly influential, and the German photographers Bernd and Hilla Becher presented Ruscha’s work to their students, including the contemporary artists Thomas Struth and Andreas Gursky.

Born in 1937 in Omaha, Nebraska, and raised in Oklahoma City, Ruscha moved to Los Angeles when he was 18. He attended the Chouinard Art Institute until 1960, before working briefly in commercial advertising. In 1961, Ruscha embarked on a career as an artist and produced enigmatic paintings, drawings, and photographic books of gasoline stations, apartment buildings, palm trees, vacant lots, and Los Angeles’s famous “Hollywood” sign. The irony and objective stance of his works from this period placed him in the context of Pop art and Conceptualism, but Ruscha consistently defies categorization. Now 70, Ruscha is recognized as one of our most important and influential contemporary American artists.

The role photography has played in Ruscha’s career has not been deeply explored until now. What we see in Ed Ruscha and Photography is that the artist has consistently looked to photography, as a subject, a medium, and a vehicle, to inform his artistic practice.

Ed Ruscha and Photography was organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

Edward Ruscha. Phillips 66, Flagstaff, Arizona, 1962. From Twenty-Six Gasoline Stations, 1963. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. © Ed Ruscha.

Remember? My post on the Getty’s usurpation of Ruscha’s “Picture Without Words.”

Buildings and Picasso’s guitars


While thinking about Steven Holl’s University of Iowa in Iowa City School of Art and Art History

and how it’s supposed to be based on Pablo Picasso’s 1912 sheet-metal-and-wire guitar sculpture:

I came across this 1914 Picasso collage of a musical instrument:

and thought it reminded me of this:

Rem’s library in Seattle.

Free-to-cheap bike rentals in cities?


I hope so.

Take the lift up the world’s tallest completed building – Taipei 101 in Taiwan



When Frank Lloyd Wright met Marcel Duchamp!

They, and others talked for nine hours.
That’s Duchamp on the left and Frank Lloyd Wright in the center.
(On the right is art and music critic Alfred Frankenstein.)

You can download and listen to 7.5 hours of it.

The Western Round Table on Modern Art met in San Francisco on April 8, 9 and 10, 1949. The artists and critics opine on art in a changing culture, degeneracy, science, communication, the public, the critic, and other topics, including my favorite – the beautiful.

Villa Savoye


Wrongchamp ? Our Renzo designs for Ronchamp


“Maybe you wouldn’t see it, (the new building), but you would feel it.”
– Jean Louis Cohen

On the heels of recent criticism of Renzo Piano, comes this in The Architect’s Newspaper:

… The Ronchamp association considered several architects besides Renzo Piano, including Tadao Ando, Glenn Murcutt, and Jean Nouvel. In the end, the first two were deemed too far away, while the idea of Nouvel was rejected because “he would only design something Jean Nouvel. We loved Piano’s museums in Basel and Berne. He is a poet and a philosopher, too.”

Piano himself was somewhat hesitant, and not because of the complexities of building respectfully next to an icon. After all, he has designed additions to several icons, including Louis Kahn’s Kimbell Art Museum (in a preliminary design stage) and Richard Meier’s Atlanta High Museum. [EL- You can hardly compare the High Museum to Ronchamp!] But the Ronchamp project is by far the smallest in his office, very sensitive, and with a relatively miniscule budget of $13 million. “There would be no reason to put myself in this funny situation if this were not a work of passion,” he said.

Piano did not even start to design until he had walked the site last winter, driving stakes into the ground where it would be possible to build without being seen from the top of the hill where the chapel sits. According to French law, any changes within 500 meters of a designated landmark are open to the scrutiny of the Ministry of Culture, but the grounds around the chapel building are not subject to this landmark protection. Thus, although the new structures will be invisible, they do come to within 60 meters of the chapel. Piano plans to reforest the flanks of the hill with some 800 evergreens and native deciduous trees, spending one-third the entire budget on landscaping.

Jean Louis Cohen, the preeminent Corbusier scholar who is on the board of the foundation, also walked around the site last summer, “Maybe you wouldn’t see it, but you would feel it,” said Cohen in an interview in which he showed slides documenting the chapel from every possible angle from below the hilltop. “The harmony of the place would be disturbed; it would lose the sense of being a pilgrimage and impoverish the chapel itself.”

… “We are well aware that Renzo Piano will take all precautions called for,” said Michel Richard, (director of the Association Œuvre Notre-Dame du Haut that owns Le Corbusier’s 1955 masterwork.) “They should just build farther away….”

The plan includes a new visitor center to replace the current one—a makeshift pink box at the base of the hill. Renderings show a simple split shed with a dynamic bifurcated roof jutting in directions that echo the swoops of the chapel’s roof. The tilting roof planes would be made of both zinc and green-roof materials, making it appear as if it were rising from the forest floor.

more, and more images

I think putting more architecture there will dilute and alter what is there now. And what is there now is so great that it need not be altered. In cities we rail against isolated sculptural objects. But Ronchamp works perfectly as that. By itself in nature, it has a unity, a purity. I don’t want multiple architectural experiences there. I only want one.

Ronchamp photo: ezra Stoller/ Esto
rendering and model – RPBW

The National Art Center in Tokyo (2007) by the late Kisho Kurokawa


More info here.

Mies redone, x 3


The Chicago Tribune, which has enough problems of its own, goes messing with Mies van der Rohe’s 860-880 Lake Shore Drive apartments.

The Trib Magazine’s Lisa Skolnik asked three firms how they would redo a 3 bedroom interior.

Lucien Lagrange: “There are now elegant transitions between all the traditional, now-enclosed rooms…”

Nathan Kipnis: “Mies was a great designer, but he was not green,” cracks Kipnis , who specializes in sustainable architecture. His plan was prompted by building resident’s claims about leaky windows and inefficient heating and cooling systems, hard points to address because the building has landmark status so its facade can’t be altered. “But the windows should be low-e to increase thermal efficiency. They could be tinted, or replaced with double glazed glass,” he suggests.

Rachel Crowl and Julie Fisher go with wood partitions installed on recessed tracks, gliding into place.