When Frank Stella moved to New York in 1958 he frequented the Cedar Tavern, a University Place hangout of the Abstract Expressionists and Beat writers. At the same time, he met Richard Meier, and he agreed to let the young architect draw and paint in his painting studio while he was at the tavern. This studio share began a nearly sixty-year friendship between the two that has lasted to this day. A small but captivating exhibition, Richard Meier And Frank Stella: Space And Form documents this friendship and traces their professional collaboration.
The exhibition was organized and curated by Terence Riley and is currently on view at the Meier Gallery, a small white box exhibition space in The Surf Club, the architect’s new residential building in Miami Beach, Florida. Riley begins the exhibition with a reproduced rendering of a jointly designed water fountain and public sculpture submitted for a 1963 Philadelphia competition. This project was never built, but Riley makes the point that Meier, at his own insistence, continued to place Stella wall reliefs, paintings, or sculptures in his presentation renderings, even though clients never purchased the works along with the completed building.
Later, Stella took up residence in Meier-designed building, and the architect hung his friend’s work in prominent spots in both his office and home.
They did collaborate on a now demolished Giovannitti family home in Pittsburg where Meier’s rigid white geometric facade included a series of Stella designs that look like an architect’s French curve. But sadly this house was demolished and there is barely even a record of it although the exhibit contains a conceptual drawing made for the show. Another project, Meier’s 2000 Church of the Year sketch for Rome, clearly shows the influence of Stella’s abstract drawings.
Riley focuses on their years-long dialogue with displays of photographs of joint projects, drawings, collages and a model of a Stella museum proposal. A black maquette by Stella is, Riley claims, a preparatory object that might be a museum. The model is more sculpture than finished building, but is it a physical proposal?
“That is the $64,000 question,” Riley said. “Frank refers to it as a sculpture and architecture interchangeably. I think, as a maker, he sees things incredibly fluidly until it becomes something.”
The exhibit has several of Meier’s architecturally-themed collages and several fuzzy photographs of old renderings of building projects, but never mind the lack of archival material in this show: what matters is Riley’s commitment to showing how the two masters have influenced each other throughout their careers. The small exhibit was a highlight of the recent Art Basel and Design Miami week, and it will remain open at the Surf Cub through March 4, 2018.
Richard Meier And Frank Stella: Space And Form
The Meier Gallery at the Surf Club
9011 Collins Avenue, Miami
Through March 4, 2018
More information is available here.