Archive for the ‘Modernism’ Category

The most beautiful gas station in the world

01/28/2009

See this story in the Toronto Globe and Mail about the shuttering of the gas station on Nuns’ Island in Quebec, Canada designed by the office of Mies van der Rohe ?

The Mies gas station is no more. In December, Esso quietly removed the pumps and put plywood over the glass and the company sign out front. Now, Montreal’s Verdun borough is left to sort out what to do with a rare piece of architecture not easily adaptable.

“The thing really is beautiful; it’s so unassuming, like a lot of great artworks,” said Phyllis Lambert, whose family, the Bronfmans, commissioned the Seagram Building.

“It’s not pretentious, not glitzy. The major problem is, what to do with it now.”

The gas station was part of a neighbourhood that Mies’s Chicago firm designed in the 1960s, after a bridge connected Île-des-Soeurs (Nuns’ Island) to the rest of Montreal and the island was developed. …

“It’s of a great simplicity, and it’s a building that was really thought out. It’s not overstated, it’s very modest, very functional, and very well designed,” said Dinu Bumbaru, the director of Heritage Montreal, who has described it as the “Ritz” of gas stations.

Ms. Lambert and Mr. Bumbaru are monitoring proposals for the site, owned by island developer Proment Corp.

But it was this line:

The filling station was a departure from the garish corporate colours, neon signs and blinding flood lighting of most modern service stations.

that reminded me that so many gas stations today, if you squint a little bit,


do look like gaudy versions of Mies’ New National Gallery


or the Farnsworth House. A resemblance Martin Pawley noticed long ago

(click image to enlarge.)

Baudrillard says advertising is signs and codes which appear to represent social reality, but actually constitute their own realm– of hyper-reality– which has little to do with what is real.

When we’re exposed to it enough, hyper-reality and media-reality can seem more real than the real. And so, after these brightly-lit modernist gas stations popped up all over, artist Jenny Holzer added LED words, signage, like advertising, on the ceiling of Mies’ New National Gallery in Berlin.


I love her piece. It says a lot. But I’m glad it’s off most of the time.

photos of Nun’s Island Esso via

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New book: Mies and Modern Living

10/16/2008


From the esteemed art publisher Hatje Cantz

Mies and Modern Living
Interiors, Furniture, Photography

“A chair is a very difficult object. A skyscraper is almost easier.” (Ludwig Mies van der Rohe)

Based on the most recent research findings and taking new material into consideration, this publication devotes itself to these modern classics and in doing so, discusses the progressive concepts of interior space developed by Mies van der Rohe, who invariably understood the interior-design aspect to be part of an overall architectonic plan. Well-informed experts not only look back on the artistic highlights of Mies’s career and the history of their creation, their contributions also bring to life the atmosphere that prevailed in Berlin in the twenties and thirties. In addition, this book contains a series of previously unpublished photographs on Mies’s work. (English edition ISBN 978-3-7757-2220-9)

Miles Davis said

10/08/2008

Don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there.

Great modernist architects do the same.
.

11/16/2007

Can’t get you out of my mind


I can’t get this image of — you know what — out of my mind.

52 photos of the same project – here.

The concrete on the left bends in such organic beauty.
Flickr photo by kelviin

06/28/2007

The storm headed to New York darkened Chicago yesterday.
I looked up and saw

this Romantic composition, in grey.


Lake Shore Drive


I drove


To the north a little, it started to clear.


And by the time I got to Diversey, to the other Mies building, the storm had ended. Everything became clear and Modern again.

-E.

03/02/2007

Modernism vs. the World

David Brussat, of the editorial board of the Providence, Rhode Island Journal writes

Americans prefer traditional design but the American Institute of Architects has worked for decades to thwart that, to stack the deck against the public’s tastes – it’s about time its members started listening.

[via]

Of that crazy list compiled by the AIA of “the people’s favorite buildings in the U.S.” he writes

“No buildings by the pioneer of the glass box, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, made the list. Perfecto!”

He quotes classical architect Nir Buras, “The statistics still hold. People prefer/remember/recognize traditional 10 times better than modernist.”

“I would say that modern architecture fared far better than it had any right to expect.”

“No buildings in Providence made the list, although at least half a dozen of our old buildings are superior to all of the modernist buildings that did make the list.

Mr. Brussat, with all due respect, stay in Providence. Doesn’t the name of your city mean “G’d s will, as expressed through events on Earth?” Maybe you find it in classicism. I do too when the classicism is well done; and yes you have some fine structures in you little lost-in-time town. But I also feel “G’d s will, as expressed through events on Earth” in a Ludwig Mies van der Rohe lobby.

I tell you what Mr. Brussat. You’re a smart man. Come to Chicago and let me show you around. I think you’ll love it. And you’ll see, you just have to do Modernism right.

Best regards,
-Edward

03/02/2007

Modernism vs. the World

David Brussat, of the editorial board of the Providence, Rhode Island Journal writes

Americans prefer traditional design but the American Institute of Architects has worked for decades to thwart that, to stack the deck against the public’s tastes – it’s about time its members started listening.

[via]

Of that crazy list compiled by the AIA of “the people’s favorite buildings in the U.S.” he writes

“No buildings by the pioneer of the glass box, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, made the list. Perfecto!”

He quotes classical architect Nir Buras, “The statistics still hold. People prefer/remember/recognize traditional 10 times better than modernist.”

“I would say that modern architecture fared far better than it had any right to expect.”

“No buildings in Providence made the list, although at least half a dozen of our old buildings are superior to all of the modernist buildings that did make the list.

Mr. Brussat, with all due respect, stay in Providence. Doesn’t the name of your city mean “G’d s will, as expressed through events on Earth?” Maybe you find it in classicism. I do too when the classicism is well done; and yes you have some fine structures in you little lost-in-time town. But I also feel “G’d s will, as expressed through events on Earth” in a Ludwig Mies van der Rohe lobby.

I tell you what Mr. Brussat. You’re a smart man. Come to Chicago and let me show you around. I think you’ll love it. And you’ll see, you just have to do Modernism right.

Best regards,
-Edward

01/10/2007

Modernism turns 100, mes demoiselles!


“You could argue that Les Demoiselles d’Avignon is in fact a backwards-looking, unoriginal work of art, a recycling of the 19th century’s biggest cliches – “loose women” cavorting in exotic interiors.”

But this writer doesn’t.

“Try an experiment. Look directly at Les Demoiselles d’Avignon and speculate on its meaning. You can’t. You never get as far as deciding it is a painting of five women, let alone concluding that they’re prostitutes, or that it reflects male fears, or reach for any of the neat ways we customarily turn images into words. In order to interpret it, you must look away, or unfocus your eyes. Actually looking at the picture means moving constantly from one facet to another; it never lets you settle on one resolved perception.

Most of all, this is a painting about looking. Picasso looks back at you in the central figure, whose bold gaze out of huge asymmetrical eyes has the authority of a self-portrait. It’s interesting that we’re trained to see transvestite self-portraits in the art of Leonardo or Marcel Duchamp, but it doesn’t often occur to us to understand this painting in that way, misled as we are by the caricatures of Picasso as a patriarchal voyeur. What he painted in 1907 is a work of art that looks back at you with furious contempt.”

Read it all, in the Guardian of course, here.

01/10/2007

Modernism turns 100, mes demoiselles!


“You could argue that Les Demoiselles d’Avignon is in fact a backwards-looking, unoriginal work of art, a recycling of the 19th century’s biggest cliches – “loose women” cavorting in exotic interiors.”

But this writer doesn’t.

“Try an experiment. Look directly at Les Demoiselles d’Avignon and speculate on its meaning. You can’t. You never get as far as deciding it is a painting of five women, let alone concluding that they’re prostitutes, or that it reflects male fears, or reach for any of the neat ways we customarily turn images into words. In order to interpret it, you must look away, or unfocus your eyes. Actually looking at the picture means moving constantly from one facet to another; it never lets you settle on one resolved perception.

Most of all, this is a painting about looking. Picasso looks back at you in the central figure, whose bold gaze out of huge asymmetrical eyes has the authority of a self-portrait. It’s interesting that we’re trained to see transvestite self-portraits in the art of Leonardo or Marcel Duchamp, but it doesn’t often occur to us to understand this painting in that way, misled as we are by the caricatures of Picasso as a patriarchal voyeur. What he painted in 1907 is a work of art that looks back at you with furious contempt.”

Read it all, in the Guardian of course, here.

01/10/2007

Modernism turns 100, mes demoiselles!


“You could argue that Les Demoiselles d’Avignon is in fact a backwards-looking, unoriginal work of art, a recycling of the 19th century’s biggest cliches – “loose women” cavorting in exotic interiors.”

But this writer doesn’t.

“Try an experiment. Look directly at Les Demoiselles d’Avignon and speculate on its meaning. You can’t. You never get as far as deciding it is a painting of five women, let alone concluding that they’re prostitutes, or that it reflects male fears, or reach for any of the neat ways we customarily turn images into words. In order to interpret it, you must look away, or unfocus your eyes. Actually looking at the picture means moving constantly from one facet to another; it never lets you settle on one resolved perception.

Most of all, this is a painting about looking. Picasso looks back at you in the central figure, whose bold gaze out of huge asymmetrical eyes has the authority of a self-portrait. It’s interesting that we’re trained to see transvestite self-portraits in the art of Leonardo or Marcel Duchamp, but it doesn’t often occur to us to understand this painting in that way, misled as we are by the caricatures of Picasso as a patriarchal voyeur. What he painted in 1907 is a work of art that looks back at you with furious contempt.”

Read it all, in the Guardian of course, here.