Two Exhibitions Recall the Inspirational Work of Lauretta Vinciarelli

(Courtesy The Museum of Modern Art)

Orange Sound Project. (Courtesy The Museum of Modern Art)

Lauretta Vinciarelli was a quiet but powerful presence on the New York architecture scene since the 1980s when she began producing “imaginary architectural settings” of buildings and landscapes. I considered it a great honor to be invited to her Soho loft to look and talk about her latest work 10 years before her death in 2011. It’s too easy as an architectural journalist covering the daily rough and tumble of urban architecture to get jaundiced about the profession, but Vinciarelli’s extraordinarily beautiful and quiet drawings and paintings remind me why we still believe in the power and hope of great architecture.

It would be impossible to write more powerfully about her work than Lebbeus Woods did on his blog when she passed away, but now we have the opportunity to see why her work moves and inspires so many artists and architects. CUNY Dean George Ranalli, a longtime friend and supporter of Vinciarelli, has mounted an exhibit of her work at City College’s Atrium Gallery through the end of the week. Now MOMA curator Barry Bergdoll, another Vinciarelli supporter, has also hung a series of seven Vinciarelli drawings at the entrance to the architecture room, connecting it to the museum’s design collection.

The series Orange Sound Project was purchased by MOMA in 2000 and depicts glowing cubic container-like structures filled with various amounts of water. But Vinciarelli stipulated that when exhibited, the order in which the paintings would follow each other on a wall should not be the order of the series. “Seriality,” she said, “is only a support and not the scope of this group of paintings.” She considered each painting in the series to be a note on a scale and encouraged their display in a lively “musical” sequence.

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