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Bio Season

A Walter Gropius biography and Bauhaus study paint rich portraits of the period
Walter Gropius: The Man Who Built the Bauhaus By Fiona MacCarthy Harvard University Press List Price: $35.00 Bauhaus Goes West: Modern Art and Design in Britain and America By Alan Powers Thames & Hudson List Price: $40.00 “When Walter Gropius arrived in London on 18 October 1934, he was treated like a creature from another planet.” That first impression, the first sentence in the first chapter of English architectural historian Alan Powers’s enlightening study of the reception of the Bauhaus in Britain, has long prevailed. Historians have tended to see the short period that Gropius and fellow Bauhäusler Marcel Breuer, Lucia Moholy, and László Moholy-Nagy spent in London as a relatively fruitless layover on the Bauhaus’s posthumous westward march to North America (and have ignored the fact that many prominent figures also went eastward to the Soviet Union or Palestine). The New World was a land of opportunity for modernism as the United States succumbed to the genius of Gropius, whom Tom Wolfe later—riffing on Paul Klee—satirized as the movement’s “silver knight” in his 1981 book From Bauhaus to Our House. If Britain was unmoved, America was transformed, or so the oft-told tale would have it. Powers’s book is one of two new major studies that tell a different story. Gropius’s new biographer Fiona MacCarthy reports that Gropius—whom she met a year before his death—“looked back on his years in London with a kind of exasperated fondness,” while Powers argues that Britain was a far more consequential chapter in Gropius’s development as an architect than has ever been acknowledged. Gropius founded the Bauhaus in 1919 in Weimar, but after the school lost the confidence of the local state government, it moved into its iconic modernist buildings in Dessau, only to be chased away again six years later by the local rise to power of the Nazi Party. The school eked out a final year in an abandoned telephone factory in Berlin until its third director, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, read the graffiti on the wall and closed the school under pressure from a government now under Hitler’s command. Exile was already a condition of the Bauhaus long before the diaspora sought to re-create, in vastly different circumstances, from Moscow to Harvard, something of what had been lost. For more than a generation, American architectural historians have set out to debunk in exhibitions and books the powerful myths of the Bauhaus’s international reincarnation that Gropius himself—with enormous help from Swiss historian and polemicist Sigfried Giedion—continually nurtured. This year the Bauhaus is celebrating its centennial, and the jury is out on whether the scholarly work of those revisionist contemporary historians is being advanced or slightly eroded. Post–Cold War Germany has a vested tourism interest in promoting the myth that all of modernist design emanated from the crucible of the Bauhaus—new museums are opening dedicated to it in Weimar and Dessau—and many of the myriad publications that accompany the festivities have set out to recharge the magnetic power of the Bauhaus as a lodestone to attract credit for almost anything modernist, especially steel architecture and metal furniture. But recent scholarship has shown just how complex and contradictory the school was during its 14-year existence as a laboratory for the most varied experimentation, and scholars continue to try to resist the pull of the Bauhaus as an easy-to-remember moniker and marketing device. Among their myriad achievements, one joint contribution of MacCarthy’s and Powers’s books is to reopen the question of what the Bauhaus diaspora brought to the U.K. and what the English sojourn contributed to Gropius’s formation, but in both books, the American part of the story feels a bit like an afterthought. One of the dangers for those writing a biography of anyone who was at the Bauhaus is that it is tempting to treat that place as key to understanding their subject’s artistic biography from beginning to end. This reductive assumption is perhaps somewhat excusable with “the man who built the Bauhaus,” since even in America, as MacCarthy notes, Gropius kept an address book with a separate section for Bauhäusler, and set the powerful myth of his Bauhaus in motion with the 1938 show he curated at the Museum of Modern Art, intended more as a reanimation rather than a postmortem. MacCarthy is best known for her prizewinning biography of William Morris, and elements of her own biography pop up from time to time when she explains why a new biography of Gropius—a 1,200-page, two-volume account was published in 1983—is needed. She recalls a visit with Gropius to the extraordinary apartment house-cum-commune in Lawn Road near Hampstead—a modernist building designed by Wells Coates that opened in June 1934, a few months before Gropius’s emigration—as the spur that determined her to be his posthumous apologist. She writes in conscious emulation of Nikolaus Pevsner’s Pioneers of the Modern Movement: From William Morris to Walter Gropius, published in 1936, when Gropius had decided to leave for Harvard. But MacCarthy doesn’t ruminate—as Alan Powers’s book helps us to do—on what it means that a radical building like Coates’s was built in anticipation of the Bauhaus master’s arrival, not after it. MacCarthy’s appraisal of the evolution of modern architecture and design seems hardly to have advanced beyond Pevsner’s bromides in claims such as, “Without Walter Gropius’s broad-based approach to industrial designing as first developed at the Bauhaus, there might not have been an architect-designer as fluently imaginative as the American Charles Eames.” Don’t pick up The Man Who Built the Bauhaus—a great read, suitable for the beach, which Gropius and other Bauhäusler loved, from the banks of the Elbe to Cape Cod—to bathe in Gropius’s architecture. MacCarthy has little understanding of architecture, no sense of the role that others, including Adolf Meyer and Breuer, played in Gropius’s most successful designs, and only a weak sense of his international role in the 1950s and ’60s, after he arrived in America. Despite the fact that he spent over half of his professional career in America, this period takes up only a quarter of this hefty volume. There are not even mentions of such key works as the U.S. Embassy in Athens, opened in 1961. This review could be quickly filled with a list of absences of key aspects of Gropius’s career, or misunderstandings, such as the Bauhaus building being constructed of “prefabricated concrete walls,” or the roof of Gropius and Breuer’s Frank House in Pittsburgh (1939–40) hosting a dance floor (it is in the dining room two floors below). But this churlish assessment is to miss the point. MacCarthy’s aim lies elsewhere. In her book, we are offered an account of the sentimental journey of one of the most influential architects and pedagogues of the 20th century. The themes are of loss and absence, of the long shadow cast by Gropius’s failed first marriage to Alma Mahler and his longing for greater contact with their daughter, Manon; of the loss of the Germany he had known; of life in exile; and the troubling lack of connection with his adopted daughter, Ati (who married John M. Johansen). All this has been painstakingly and empathetically reconstructed from private letters and interviews, and finally, after the book ends with a very moving passage, MacCarthy sees Gropius as having spent his whole life fighting against that very “architectural soullessness, the despoliation of nature, the denial of community…and capitalist greed” that is still commonly held to be the legacy of modernism among Britain’s particularly virulent anti-modernists, led in recent years by Prince Charles. In the acknowledgements she offers another element of her motivation for this impressive commitment of five years of research and travel: namely, to counter Gropius’s reputation as a cold-hearted modernist and “reveal Gropius as a man of considerable passions and tenacity.” Little concrete argumentation is offered for the supposed positions in defense of nature and against capitalism by the designer of New York’s Pan Am Tower, but one goes away with something of that connection to Gropius, the man, who so moved his new biographer 50 years ago. Bauhaus Goes West will be an eye-opener for historians and general readers alike. Powers’s main achievements are to reveal the extent to which strains of modernist experimentation existed in England before the arrival of the German and Hungarian émigrés from the Bauhaus, and also to argue convincingly that many of the key elements of their later work in America were influenced by experimentation in Britain. In a rich weave of documentation and little-known images—as opposed to the oft-reproduced photography offered in the Gropius biography—we are offered a nuanced and subtle context for the handful of years spent in London by Gropius, Breuer, and Moholy-Nagy—each of whom is given a chapter. They arrived in a country where, Powers argues, “there was a greater endorsement of a broad range of Modernism among an older generation than has been supposed,” and where a broad range of German modernism, notably the work of Bruno Taut and Erich Mendelsohn, was recognized as equally as important as the work produced at the Bauhaus. Even more important Powers underscores the radical changes that took place in modernism in the 1930s. He shows that the “romantic and regional turn in the second half of the 1930s,” in which Gropius and Breuer took part, was evident in a greater embrace of timber and structural fieldstone walls in both works that have long been part of the canon, such as Breuer and F. R. S. Yorke’s Gane’s Pavilion of 1936, and works that are great discoveries, such as a wood house by Gropius in Kent. It was in Britain that Breuer began to experiment with bent laminated plywood, which would be crucial to the transformation of American timber architecture after he joined Gropius in Cambridge, Massachusetts. But Powers does not restrict himself to a handful of famous designers. He has researched an impressive roster of lesser-known Bauhaus émigrés and of British students who had attended the Bauhaus, and most important, he studies the work of a number of female designers, such as Enid Marx, little known outside—or even inside—Britain. Marx later wisely remarked that “the strength of the Bauhaus was not in the profundity of its technical training, but in the atmosphere of enterprise and experiments in all the arts which it managed to create.” Bauhaus Goes West is as impressive for offering a history of British textile experimentation during this period as for fully depicting a corpus of architectural statements that make it clear that modernism’s contribution to the 1930s in Britain was much more impactful than is generally acknowledged. The impact was not simply in formal terms, but also in the way that different Bauhaus figures offered different paths to explore, notably Moholy-Nagy, whose interest in the biological underpinnings of design dovetailed with scientific research in England, where the botanist A. G. Tansley coined the word “ecosystem” in 1935. As Powers notes, then, as now, “everyone finds the version of the Bauhaus they are seeking.” Barry Bergdoll, cocurator of the 2009 Bauhaus exhibition at MoMA, teaches architectural history at Columbia.
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Graham Grants

Graham Foundation announces 2019 organizational grant recipients

The Chicago-based Graham Foundation has released a list of organizations that will receive its coveted Production and Presentation Grants to pursue architecture-related projects this year. A total of 54 organizations will be presented with financial support from the foundation, with no grantee’s allocation exceeding $30,000 and few receiving the full amount requested. In line with the Graham Foundation’s mission to “foster the development and exchange of diverse and challenging ideas about architecture,” awardees will receive assistance with production-related expenses for a variety of undertakings that aim to enrich architectural discourse, including films, publications, exhibitions, and lectures. Final decisions were made on the basis of four criteria: originality, feasibility, capacity, and potential for impact.

The winning projects for 2020 are split into four distinct categories—exhibitions; film, video, and new media projects; public programs; and publications—and were submitted by a wide range of institutions, companies, and non-profits. Among the grantees are Boston’s MASS Design Group, Michael Sorkin’s Terreform, the Oslo Architecture Triennale, and the University of Chicago’s South Side Home Movie Project. Several past grant recipients received funding for new projects this year, including the Museum of Modern Art for a publication on the work of Robert Venturi and Mexico City-based LIGA-Space for Architecture, which is working to highlight Latin American designers in its annual public program. Here is the full list of the 2020 recipients and their respective projects:

EXHIBITIONS (19 awards)

Àkéte Art Foundation Lagos, Nigeria How To Build a Lagoon with Just a Bottle of Wine?, 2nd Lagos Biennial

ArchiteXX Syracuse, NY Now What?! Advocacy, Activism, and Alliances in American Architecture since 1968

Art Institute of Chicago Chicago, IL In a Cloud, in a Wall, in a Chair: Six Modernists in Mexico at Midcentury

Chicago Architecture Biennial Chicago, IL Graham Foundation Artistic Director

Cranbrook Art Museum Bloomfield Hills, MI Ruth Adler Schnee: Modern Designs for Living

Elmhurst Art Museum Elmhurst, IL Assaf Evron & Claudia Weber

El Museo Francisco Oller y Diego Rivera Buffalo, NY Paul Rudolph’s Shoreline Apartments

Equitable Vitrines Los Angeles, CA Florian Hecker

Landmark Columbus Foundation Columbus, IN Good Design and the Community: 2019 Exhibition, Exhibit Columbus

LIGA–Space for Architecture Mexico City, Mexico LIGA Public Program 2019–2020

Madison Square Park Conservancy New York, NY Martin Puryear: Liberty/Libertà: US Pavilion, 58th International Art Exhibition

Materials & Applications Los Angeles, CA Staging Construction

National Building Museum Washington, DC Architecture is Never Neutral: The Work of MASS Design Group

National Trust for Historic Preservation—Farnsworth House Plano, IL Edith Farnsworth Reconsidered

Oslo Architecture Triennale Oslo, Norway Enough: The Architecture of Degrowth, Oslo Architecture Triennale 2019

Serpentine Galleries London, United Kingdom Serpentine Pavilion 2019 by Junya Ishigami

Storefront for Art and Architecture New York, NY Building Cycles

Toronto Biennial of Art Toronto, Canada Learning from Ice

University of Illinois at Chicago—College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts Chicago, IL A Certain Kind of Life

FILM/VIDEO/NEW MEDIA PROJECTS (4 awards)

Architectural Association School of Architecture London, United Kingdom Architecture in Translation

The Funambulist Paris, France The Funambulist Network

MASS Design Group Boston, MA The Whole Architect: Giancarlo De Carlo

University of Chicago—South Side Home Movie Project Chicago, IL South Side Home Movie Project Interactive Digital Archive

PUBLIC PROGRAMS (6 awards)

Association of Architecture Organizations Chicago, IL 2019 Design Matters Conference

Harvard University—Graduate School of Design—African American Student Union Cambridge, MA Black Futurism: Creating a More Equitable Future

Independent Curators International New York, NY Curatorial Forum

Lampo Chicago, IL Lampo 2019 Concert Series at the Graham Foundation

New Architecture Writers London, United Kingdom Constructive Criticism

University of Michigan—A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning Ann Arbor, MI Re: Housing: Detroit

PUBLICATIONS (25 awards)

Anyone Corporation New York, NY Log: Observations on Architecture and the Contemporary City, Issues 47, 48, and 49

ETH Zurich—gta exhibitions Zurich, Switzerland Inside Outside / Petra Blaisse

Flat Out Inc. Chicago, IL Flat Out, Issues 5 and 6

Harvard University—Graduate School of Design–New Geographies Cambridge, MA New Geographies 11: Extraterrestrial

Haus der Kulturen der Welt Berlin, Germany Counter Gravity: The Architecture Films of Heinz Emigholz

Instituto Bardi/Casa de Vidro São Paulo, Brazil Casa de Vidro: The Bardis’ Life between Art, Architecture and Landscape

The Museum of Modern Art New York, NY Robert Venturi’s Complexity and Contradiction at Fifty

Northwestern University Press Evanston, IL Southern Exposure: The Overlooked Architecture of Chicago’s South Side

Paprika! New Haven, CT Paprika! Volume V

Places Journal San Francisco, CA Reservoir: Nature, Culture, Infrastructure

PRAXIS, Inc. Boston, MA PRAXIS, Issue 15: Bad Architectures

Produzioni Nero Scrl Rome, Italy Scenes from the Life of Raimund Abraham

REAL foundation London, United Kingdom Kommunen in der Neuen Welt: 1740–1972

Rice University—School of Architecture Houston, TX PLAT 9.0

The School of Architecture at Taliesin Scottsdale, AZ WASH Magazine, Issues 003 and 004

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum New York, NY Countryside, The Future

Southern California Institute of Architecture Los Angeles, CA LA8020

Standpunkte Basel, Switzerland Archetypes: David Ross

The Studio Museum in Harlem New York, NY The Smokehouse Associates

Terreform New York, NY UR (Urban Research) 2019

University of California, Los Angeles—Department of Architecture and Urban Design Los Angeles, CA POOL, Issue No. 5

University of Florida—Graduate School of Architecture Gainesville, FL VORKURS_Dérive

University of Maryland, College Park—School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation College Park, MD See/Saw, No. 2: Difference

University of Miami—School of Architecture Coral Gables, FL Cuban Modernism: Mid-Century Architecture, 1940–1970

Yale University Press New Haven, CT Mies van der Rohe: The Architect in His Time

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I.M.Peccable Taste

I.M. Pei’s $25 million art collection will go up for auction at Christie’s
Over the course of their 72-year marriage, Pritzker Prize-winning architect I.M. Pei and his wife Eileen amassed a substantial collection of modern and contemporary art. The collection, which was kept privately in their home up until Pei’s death this past May, will be going up for auction at Christie’s this Fall with a total value expected to exceed $25 million. The collection of 59 works will be on sale from November 12 to December 4. A global tour of exhibition previews will begin in Paris this month before traveling to Hong Kong, Los Angeles, and ending in New York in November. The auction will feature a diverse range of paintings, sculpture, and works on paper falling under Christie’s categories for Chinese painting, impressionism, modern, and postwar art. Their collection illustrates not only a significant moment in 20th-century abstraction but also the couple’s deep relationships and dialogue with influential artists of the time. Many of the works were commissions or personal gifts from the artists themselves.  “My parents’ collection is a reflection of how they lived. They shared a deep curiosity about the world,” said Pei’s daughter Liane in a press release, “no matter the country, they always seemed to have friends, many of whom were artists, architects, gallerists and museum directors, ready to welcome them.” One of the collection’s highlights includes two paintings by the couple’s close friend Barnett Newman. Untitled 4, 1950 and Untitled 5, 1950 were given to the couple by Newman’s widow, Annalee, in 1970, shortly after the artist’s death. The paintings were just two of a series of six—others can be found in the collections of MoMa and the Art Institute of Chicago. Additional notable works that filled the interior of the Pei’s Manhattan residence include paintings by Jean Dubuffet and Franz Kline as well as objects by Isamu Noguchi and Henry Moore. 
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The Air up There

André Fu stages a model apartment in the MoMA-adjacent 53 West 53 tower
Celebrated interior designer André Fu has completed a model apartment on the 36th floor of the new Jean Nouvel-designed 53 West 53 residential tower. Sitting adjacent to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and incorporating portions of its soon-to-open expansion, the new building soars high among a slew of super-tall and thin residential projects reshaping New York City's Midtown neighborhood. Accentuating the 2,000 square foot, 2-bedroom unit’s southern and eastern exposures, Fu and his Hong Kong-based design team implemented a scheme that is indicative of the practice’s recognized “relaxed luxury” aesthetic. However, the accolated talent still took stock of cultural nuances and was careful to juxtapose his design vocabulary with the building’s sharp features and the city’s dynamic skyline. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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Second Time's the Charm

Rejected spotlights denied, trashed, and half-conceived architectural ideas
Rejection; we're all familiar with having our ideas turned down. Now, from August 23 through October 4 at the Banvard Gallery at The Ohio State University's Austin E. Knowlton School of Architecture, curators Team B Architecture & Design have reached out to architects and designers for Rejected, a show that will give rejected work its due. That includes interiors, streetscapes from Denise Scott Brown, cabins, and mediations on what failure and rejected schemes mean in the grand scheme of academia, when traditionally, winning proposals are the ones that are preserved for future generations to study. What's lost when we let winners write the narrative? Rejected, in the same vein as Stanley Tigerman’s 1976 counter-show to 100 Years of Architecture in Chicago, seeks to widen the narrative about what has "worth" in the field. The text that follows was written by the Architect's Newspaper's Executive Editor Matt Shaw for the show, and examines those who voluntarily wrap themselves in the mantle of rejection and what that entails. Rejected can be found at 275 West Woodruff Avenue, Columbus, Ohio, 43210. Graphic design for the show was done by Garrett Corcoran. I like the topic of "rejection." According to urbandictionary.com, a "reject" is "Someone who gets rejected from a group of friends or basiclly [sic] life. For example, someone might say, "Go away you fuckin [sic] reject, you have no friends, we all hate you." This seems like a great starting point for a show.[i]  [Redacted][ii] Rejection seems like an important topic in today's world. A quick search on 2knowmyself.com, generates a series of user-submitted questions, such as "Does rejection mean you are ugly".[iii] A deep reflection on love and self-identity, this seemingly juvenile query seems to be at the heart of your show. What does it mean to be rejected, and to be a reject? Within our hyper-capitalist neoliberal society, technology has played an increased role in how we see ourselves. According to South Korean philosopher Byung-Chul Han in his book Psychopolitics (Verso, 2018), smartphones and social media are commodified to the point where they have tapped into our psyches to exploit us. They accomplish this by creating a system where we exploit ourselves by constantly monitoring our own behavior, checking for likes and affirmation in the virtual sphere. It is like Foucault's panopticon, except even more abstract and sinister, as each of us is our own guard. Rather than a biopolitics—the organization and exploitation of bodies in an industrial world—Han calls this neoliberal technological exploitation psychopolitics, or the exploitation of the psyche. “Instead of forbidding and depriving it works through pleasing and fulfilling. Instead of making people compliant, it seeks to make them dependent.”[iv] If neoliberalism wants us to seek affirmation, then seeking and celebrating rejection must be a healthy alternative. Team B is kind of like the incels of the architecture world. What is an incel? It is an involuntary celibate, a person who cannot have sex, despite wanting to. It is a state of constant and nihilistic rejection, which is referred to as “inceldom.” In dark corners of the internet, the incels have created an online subculture. At its worst, these incels become radicalized and turn to violence, including mass shootings. [Redacted][v]  In the 2014 Isla Vista shootings, gunman Eliot Rodger left a manifesto, which has been regarded as an incel hagiography, and referenced by other mass shooters since. In My Twisted World The Story of Elliot Rodger by Rodger, he says:
Humanity… All of my suffering on this world has been at the hands of humanity, particularly women. It has made me realize just how brutal and twisted humanity is as a species. All I ever wanted was to fit in and live a happy life amongst humanity, but I was cast out and rejected, forced to endure an existence of loneliness and insignificance, all because the females of the human species were incapable of seeing the value in me...My life didn’t start out dark and twisted. I started out as a happy and blissful child, living my life to the fullest in a world I thought was good and pure.[vi]
Rather than a violent band of murderous incels, Team B is more aligned with the original incels, a benevolent and supportive sexless bunch. [Redacted][vii] Ironically, for Rodger, the incel community also did not start out as a twisted, sick group of internet creeps who threaten violence against people who are sexually active, which they call "Chads and Stacys."  [Redacted][viii] The incel group was founded in 1993 by a Canadian student named Alana. "Alana's Involuntary Celibacy Project" was a sincere community for "anybody of any gender who was lonely, had never had sex or who hadn't had a relationship in a long time." Alana eventually abandoned the project and handed it off to another user, but the group slowly devolved into the radicalized, misogynistic group we know today. Rejection at its best becomes a rallying cry for a group or an ideology. Denise Scott Brown, in the Rejected show, describes how the rejection of three Venturi Scott Brown & Associates' projects was a systematic disavowal of the postmodern architecture style.
We feel that renovation of Franklin Court and the planned renovation of the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art exemplify a rejection not only of design but of a whole style. The renovations of these two landmark designs demonstrates a dismissal of the fun and playful spirit of postmodernism in favor of the minimalistic look of contemporary design.[ix]
Philip Johnson also used rejection as a positive as he needled the Architectural League of New York, which eventually led to the International Style show at MoMA. According to Robert A.M. Stern,
In 1931 he co-curated (with [Alfred E.] Barr and Julian Levy) the independent show Rejected Architects, which created a public furor and paved the way for the International Style exhibit. It featured work by young architects that didn’t meet the requirements of the conservative Architectural League. The show was staged in a rented storefront and Johnson hired a sandwich-board man to parade in front of the League’s offices with the message “See Really Modern Architecture Rejected by the League.” The League was outraged and tried to have the man arrested, but the attendant front-page publicity insured the show’s success and brought modern architecture to the public’s attention for the first time in the United States.[x]
In the Rejected show, there is no stylistic agenda, because architecture today has no singular, dominant ideology. Rather, the exhibition is a performative rejection of the culture of neoliberal psychopolitical acceptance. While some more conventional commercially successful architects actively rejected the invitation to be in the Rejected show, many of the participants proudly flaunt being rejected by the arbiters of institutional taste and the decision-makers of the capitalist development community. Who has the power to accept being a reject? For many of the participants in the show, the academic backdrop allows rejection to be taken as a positive, a wink-and-nod, that it is ok to fail. Outside of the capitalist modes of production, it is a much-needed respite and represents a strong bond between practitioners, if not stylistically, then in a way of operating within a certain lane of the current context. Instead of an architectural act of violence, what we have here is a group therapy session for the happy-go-lucky rejects who take pride in their status as architectural incels. [i] Urban Dictionary. “Reject”. Urbandictonary.com. https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=reject (accessed August 5, 2019). [ii] This sentence was rejected for being insulting to the curators. [iii] 2knowmyself. “Does rejection mean you are ugly”. 2knowmyself.com. <https://www.2knowmyself.com/does_rejection_mean_you_are_ugly (accessed August 5, 2019). [iv] Byung-Chul Han. Psychopolitics: Neoliberalism and New Technologies of Power. Brooklyn, NY : Verso, 2017 [v] This sentence was rejected for being too offensive in general. [vi] Elliot Rodger. My Twisted World The Story of Elliot Rodger. <https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1173808-elliot-rodger-manifesto.html> (accessed August 5, 2019). [vii] This sentence was rejected for being too offensive in general. [viii] ibid. [ix] Denise Scott Brown, email message to John Stoughton. July 1, 2019. [x] Robert A.M. Stern. “Philip Cortelyou Johnson (1906-2005).” The Architect’s Newspaper. <https://archpaper.com/2005/02/philip-courtelyou-johnson> (accessed August 5, 2019).  
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Remembrances from 2002-2015

Peter Lang on Cristiano Toraldo di Francia's 'incredible love'
Cristiano Toraldo di Francia sadly passed away on July 30. Cofounder, along with Adolfo Natalini, of the Florentine Radical design and architecture group Superstudio, Cristiano was the kind of person who was incredibly open-minded, shared a sharp sense of humor, and professed a deep love for humanity. While accolades spread across the internet following news of his passing, there was a lot to Cristiano that didn’t make it into these postings, tributes, and memorials. What might have been most lacking in all these accounts was the way he shrugged off fame and shunned formality. Yet he never wasted a moment, had infinite stamina, and to stick by him you needed to react fast and move quickly. Cristiano was a perceptive and ever-present photographer, and it is thanks to him that so many historical moments during their superlative adventure were captured for posterity. When I asked him about how he got into photography, he spoke about his father, Giuliano, who was a renowned physicist, recounting an odd story about how he was introduced to his first photo-camera. As Cristiano told me, in an interview at his house in Filottrano back in 2005, his father “…designed lenses for Ducati, at that time they made electronics—now they´re making motorcycles. They made cameras, radios. And they made a micro-camera, which anticipated the cameras of today, instead of the normal 35 mm film --24x36mm, they were using 24x18mm film, so it was fantastic. Italy was poor at the time, everything had to be reduced! Cristiano couldn’t help make a quip about the States, and while proudly acknowledging that Italian technology was inventing incredible things that were “almost too advanced for their time,” in America “everything was big—big cameras, big cars. But that camera was a jewel... Just to say that since I was a child I was initiated to the mysteries of photography—the images coming out of the acids, of the paper.” Probing further, I asked Cristiano what his relationship was to the burgeoning Florentine fashion industry in the early sixties when he was a professional photographer. “I was making family portraits at the time to raise money. In Florence, there is a big tradition around the Alinari family that besides all the city portraits,” now in the Alinari Archive in Florence, “they shot a lot of family portraits, but these were like paintings, all retouched, like Photoshop. “They were perfect photographers- so this tradition was present. I was trying to do a very different kind of photography. I looked more to the American model. A journalistic kind of picture, Diane Arbus... Not so much Man Ray or the historical ones.I became quite successful at the time. All these noble mothers came to make photos in my studio. After a while, I was asked to do fashion photography, but after a while, Superstudio started and I quit. But of course, I had all the contacts and all the people- I was friends with Oliviero Toscani for example,” who would go on to make the controversial photographic campaigns for Bennetton. With his usual irony, Cristiano pointed out that he also worked as a fashion model, for the kind of magazines that were constantly referencing architecture. It’s hard not to talk about the origins of the Italian Radical movement without getting into influences, of which there were many: “We started…” as Cristiano clarified in that same interview, “…on parallel levels, looking at Archigram, but even more we looked back at Dada and then to Pop-art that was bringing the Dada methods up to date. Fluxus—breaking boundaries and being completely interdisciplinary, fluctuating from one activity to the other. But on the other hand, Archigram had this political information as background—for which we could say maybe we were more idealistic than them. They were more pragmatic, more Anglo-Saxon.” Dan Graham connected his generation to Rock and Roll, and given the times, it is clear that music played a considerable role for Cristiano. When I spoke to Cristiano about music when we met in December of 2002, he had this to say: “When I talk about the importance of music, we don’t deny having discovered a person like Bob Dylan, or the Beatles, it was a time when popular music reached great artistic levels, Laurie Anderson, the whole group of Fluxus, back then there was a system of self-propulsion, in every field…” What is critical in understanding Superstudio is precisely this level of mixing passions that the art and architecture curator Lara Vinca Masini referred to as “contaminations.” Cristiano stabbed at this point by bringing in Aldo Rossi: “Yes the work of Rossi and others was interesting, but it was always inside a discipline with few confrontations with the world that went much faster than their own reasoning.” Getting back to the Florentine music scene, Cristiano credited his father with exposing him to experimental music when he was beginning university. In a conversation I had with him in 2005, Cristiano remarked: “My father was a scientist, and as a scientist he was traveling a lot and, in a way, disillusioned and relativistic. He was asked in 1963 to become president of the young contemporary music association. One of those members was Sylvano Bussotti,” a Florentine native, musical polyglot and noted dandy. “One was Giuseppe Chiari,” the atonal musician, close to John Cage and a member of Fluxus, “and the other was Pietro Grossi,” a Venetian electronic musician and composer living in Florence. “I remember they were making concerts of electronic music, and one concert was in the Conservatorio di Musica Cherubini which is a traditional music conservatory. And after 10 minutes of this music people went crazy.” Evidently, for this generation of young architects living in Florence in the sixties, these were incredibly stimulating years. Superstudio detoured around the traditional tools of the architect, experimenting with alternative forms of expression and representation. When Emilio Ambasz showed up in Florence around 1971, scouting for ideas for the upcoming exhibition Italy: The New Domestic Landscape for MoMA, the young curator was seeking out experimental “environments.” These would be full-scale prototypes for living, accompanied by films serving as animated captions. Yet I wanted to know just how Superstudio produced this project, what kind of technology was used to build this elaborate environment and how did they create their 12-minute film Supersurface. The main backer for the environment was the manufacturer Print but they also had to procure other funders, due to the elevated expenses. According to Cristiano, they found the supplies they needed in Florence, the special reflective glass and the electronic components key to simulate alternating moods of day and night inside the environment. It took 15 days to manually assemble it before the show opened in New York on May 26th, 1972. The movie was instead made during the winter of 1971- 72 and it was filmed in 36 mm. “I worked on that with Sandro Poli,” the Superstudio member officially present between 1970 and 1972, “we found the music, made the soundtrack, with the professional help of a guy who made advertising for TV (Marchi Producers), who had that mentality, and in fact, we wanted it to be projected as if it would be an advertisement for the Supersurface. The first part presents in a scientific way how the thing is done, and the second one tells how happy you will be living there.” In fact, both making the environment and directing the animated film were very labor-intensive hands-on processes. I asked Cristiano what role the Italian manufacturers had in producing Superstudio’s concepts. Cristiano’s response was that these factories were mostly made up of artisans. “That is why we managed to make a series of objects from very different things and from really different materials. Most of these objects are coming out of a kind of bricolage. The factory made almost nothing—we had to find artisans who did the different parts. The industry would just put the parts together. We were doing a kind of bricolage Cheap-scape—as Frank Gehry would say—for the industries.” The Italian design industry seemed to work as an artisanal chain assembly. But what was still not clear, was why did these manufacturers get behind a group like Superstudio to make things that worked against the idea of mass consumption? Why would they sponsor designs that were against their best interests? “We thought these objects we were making were a kind of trojan horses that coming from inside the system would produce criticism, which means creativity, which means refusal, or incredible love. They were objects of poetic reaction for the people. They were not mass-produced, they were in little series, multiples, like works of art.” To this day I still think about Cristiano’s trojan horses, and his incredible love.
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Permanent Collections

Museum of Modern Art receives massive gift of African contemporary artwork

French-Italian art collector Jean Pigozzi has gifted New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) a substantial collection of contemporary artwork from across Africa. The 45 pieces included in the donation feature work by Sierra Leonean artist Abu Bakarr Mansaray, Malian photographer Seydou Keïta, and Congolese sculptor Bodys Isek Kingelez, whose fantastical models of cityscapes formed the retrospective exhibition Bodys Isek Kingelez: City Dreams at MoMA last year. According to MoMA, Pigozzi’s is the largest single gift of African art that the museum has ever received and will contribute significantly to future displays of its permanent collection.

Born in Paris to Italian businessman and Simca-founder Henri Pigozzi, Jean Pigozzi amassed his fortune through inheritance and a variety of enterprises, including photography and fashion design. He jumpstarted his collection of African contemporary art in 1989, soon after seeing the exhibit Magiciens de la Terre at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Curator André Magnin lent considerable guidance as Pigozzi accumulated upwards of 10,000 pieces, now widely recognized as one of the largest collections of African contemporary art in the world. Pigozzi has maintained his holdings as the Contemporary African Art Collection (CAAC) in Geneva, which has no permanent galleries for exhibition. Pieces from the CAAC have been lent to museums and galleries across Africa, Europe, and North America for a range of temporary exhibits.

The move by Pigozzi sheds light on a broader effort by MoMA to overcome its longstanding focus on American and European modernism. The museum’s leaders have been appealing to donors with collections that highlight other regions of the world, including Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, who has given Latin American artwork to the institution twice since 2016. For MoMA, the acquisition may represent an opportunity for both redemption and growth. Between 1984 and 1985, the museum held an exhibit titled ‘Primitivism’ in 20th Century Art: Affinity of the Tribal and the Modern, which many have excoriated for promoting reductive, racist, and deeply ingrained notions of African inferiority. The Pompidou show that catalyzed Pigozzi’s collection was largely considered a rebuttal to MoMA’s own curatorial efforts, prompting Pigozzi himself to spend much of his life advocating for African contemporary art as on-par with, and often more interesting than, Western examples.

The growing stature of African contemporary art on the global stage extends well beyond MoMA’s walls. Earlier this year, the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair made its Manhattan debut at New York’s Industria, six years after its founding in London and four years after popping up in Brooklyn. In 2016, the international auction house Sotheby’s opened a department dedicated to African art in London, which has been frequented not only by Europeans but also by wealthy collectors from Nigeria, Kenya, and elsewhere in Africa. MoMA is likely looking to get in on the action, and Pigozzi’s gift presents the institution with its best opening yet.

While it is still unclear exactly how curators will incorporate Pigozzi’s pieces into the MoMA’s permanent collection displays, they are sure to play a role in the museum’s continuing growth. MoMA’s newly expanded facility, including its reconfigured permanent collection galleries, will open to the public on October 21, 2019.

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Uncharted territory

SFMOMA celebrates moon landing with a Far Out space-inspired exhibit

In celebration of the semicentennial of the moon landing,  the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is holding an exhibition on space-related design that promises to be out-of-this-world. Far Out: Suits, Habs, and Labs for Outer Space opened on July 20th, 50 years to the day after Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the lunar surface, and contains a variety of space suits, hypothetical space habitats, and moon-based laboratory designs.

The objects on display range in practicality from the tried-and-true to the downright quixotic. There are NASA spacesuits designed for real-life astronauts, as well as examples of Neri Oxman’s organically-grown, biomimetic work. Working with the Mediated Matter research group at MIT, she created a wearable that uses a photosynthetic membrane to convert sunlight into usable microbial material for its user. While the device has yet to be taken into outer space, its potential implications for the feasibility of long-term space travel earned it a spot in the exhibit.

Much of the work on display at SFMOMA is decidedly architectural. Architectural illustrator Rick Guidice's renderings of his Bernal Spheres and Toroidal Colonies, originally produced for NASA, depict suburban housing developments and agricultural landscapes as they might one day exist in free-floating space colonies. The exhibition also includes Mars Ice House, a collaborative project by Clouds Architecture Office (Clouds AO) and Space Exploration Architecture (SEArch) for NASA’s Centennial Challenge Mars Habitat Competition. In its design for a four-person habitat to be placed on the surface of Mars, the team proposed a 3-D printed structure that would be covered in a layer of ice to shield it from the planet’s harsh weather conditions. Visualizations of the design can be viewed in the exhibit, which will be on display through January 20, 2020.

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A Local Visit

AN catches up with Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Without having to leave the firm’s office on the eighteenth floor of Manhattan’s old Starrett-Lehigh Building, employees at Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) have front-row views of five of the studio’s projects. They can look down at the High Line, the project that helped win the practice global attention, gaze over at The Shed, the brand-new arts space at Hudson Yards, or look farther north to Lincoln Center, which DS+R transformed into an inclusive public space. “Being so close to our work was definitely unintentional when we moved into this office in 2006,” said principal Charles Renfro. At the time, the firm had just wrapped up construction on the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, design work had begun on the High Line, and the practice was still mainly known for experimental installations and interiors, like the former Brasserie Restaurant in the Seagram Building. But now, just 13 years later, DS+R has 24 active projects around the world, including the Hungarian Museum of Transport in Budapest, and the expansion of New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). With its planned completion this fall, MoMA will mark the firm’s ninth built project in New York City, most of which only broke ground in the last decade. While DS+R’s work, no matter the typology, has always tried to activate public space, Renfro said finding projects that also address issues of inequity, housing, and climate change are top of mind now. “It’s imperative for architects, who have a cultural position that’s respected and are given so much opportunity, to take their knowledge, experience, and influence and share that with organizations and people that are less likely to get it naturally,” he said. “It’s important that our design thinking is put to use in the public realm. We want to better people’s lives.” The Shed & 15 Hudson Yards Completed 2019 New York’s newest destination for the performing and visual arts, The Shed, designed with Rockwell Group, is a transformative piece of infrastructure spanning eight levels housing galleries, a theater, rehearsal space, creative lab, and upper-floor event space with natural light. Jutting out from the base of DS+R and Rockwell Group's 910-foot-tall 15 Hudson Yards, the development’s first residential skyscraper, the city-backed cultural space boasts a telescoping outer shell covered in cloudy ETFE panels. High Line (and The Spur) Completed: Phase 1, 2009; Phase 2, 2011; Phase 3, 2014 Together with James Corner Field Operations and Piet Oudolf, DS+R designed the 1.5-mile-long elevated park for Manhattan’s West Side and created a bespoke paving system using precast concrete planks that allows plants to grow through its cracks. The “pathless landscape” has propelled a global rails-to-trails movement as well as throngs of high-end development along the park. Most recently, The Spur, the last section, which connects to the adjacent Hudson Yards megadevelopment, opened to the public. Lincoln Center Public Spaces Completed 2009, 2010 The iconic Lincoln Center campus was dramatically revitalized in 2010 when DS+R completed a 70,000-square-foot redesign of its public spaces. In an effort to turn the exclusive arts and culture hub practically inside out, the team connected and activated the on-site plazas and introduced a new central spine from 65th Street to Columbus Avenue. The project also included a renovation of the Juilliard School, a new Alice Tully Hall, an expansion of the School of American Ballet studios, and the addition of the Hypar Pavilion and Lincoln Ristorante. MoMA Expansion Opening October 21, 2019 DS+R will give the 53rd Street entrance of the midtown museum a facelift and add 40,000 square feet of new gallery space to its building. The project, a collaboration with Gensler, has been unveiled in phases and also includes the rehab and extension of the historic Bauhaus staircase to the upper-floor galleries, and the addition of a new, first-floor lounge that faces the sculpture garden. Once finished, the design overhaul will allow MoMA to enhance its experimental, performing, and visual arts offerings, and should connect it more seamlessly with the public.
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In Memoriam

Superstudio cofounder Cristiano Toraldo di Francia dies at 78
Italian architect Cristiano Toraldo di Francia, master drawer, and cofounder of famed 1960s and ’70s collective Superstudio, has died at the age of 78. Best known for starting the radical design firm while studying at the University of Florence with partner Adolfo Natalini, Toraldo di Francia was a catalyst for the radical architecture movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Though the group built very little, it excelled in creating avant-garde narratives and installations for major exhibitions as well as producing highly-regarded drawings, videos, and lithographs. Superstudio’s influential architectural research, design, objects, and theoretical work were featured in both the Milan Triennale, the Venice Biennale (several times), and at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, as well as the Design Museum in London, among others. Several international museums have acquired their work over the years including the Centre Pompidou and the MAXXI in Rome. In 1972, Superstudio was invited by curator Amelio Ambasz to participate in its first U.S. showcase, Italy: The New Domestic Landscape, held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Though the collective fell apart by 1980, its effect on the architectural profession was huge. It’s said that Superstudio’s penchant for imagining outrageous mega-structures majorly shaped the design minds of Rem Koolhaas and Zaha Hadid. In the early 70s, Koolhaas focused his final thesis at the Architectural Association of London on the Florentine group. Born in 1941, Toraldo di Francia also became a respected Italian architect, author, and educator in his own right in Italy. After Superstudio broke up, he continued to work independently in Florence and eventually in Filottrano, Italy. Some of his major projects include designing the Livorno waterfront, the Florence Statuto Railway Station, the San Paolo di Prato Banking Institute, and the Banca del Chianti headquarters in San Casciano Val di Pesa. Arguably one of his best and most controversial designs was the La Pensilina di Santa Maria Novella that served as a bus and taxi terminal adjacent to the 1932 Florence train station. Inspired by the striped patterning added to the facade and interior of the Santa Maria Novella church by Leon Battista Alberti in the 15th century, Toraldi di Francia made his elongated pensilina structure just as radical with skylights and ample marble material. It was built in 1990 ahead of the World Cup but later became inhospitable and dysfunctional. It was eventually dismantled by The Renzi government in 2010. In addition to designing, Toraldo di Francia taught and lectured at a number of universities Europe, the United States, and Japan. He was a founding faculty member of the architectural school at the University of Camerino in 1992. He worked there regularly until transitioning to the role of adjunct professor in 2011. A memorial is planned for the architect possibly this Thursday. Peter Lang and AN’s editor-in-chief William Menking wrote a book on Toraldi di Francia, his colleagues, and the Superstudio collective, Superstudio: Life Without Objects, which was published in 2003. Lang will follow up this initial obituary with a longer, more in-depth piece.
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Go Long

Barry Bergdoll showcases a new wave of modern architecture on Long Island
The “North Fork” of Long Island, from the town of Riverhead to Orient Point at the eastern tip, is one of the most varied and beautiful landscapes in the New York region. A peninsula jutting out into Long Island Sound, it is the last place where one can still find open space devoted to farming, alongside fresh and saltwater inlets, bays, and ponds in the state. It also has a unique regional style of cedar shingled “Cape” homes and handsome pine potato barns that date back to the 18th century. But North Fork is also home to a handful of modernist post-World War II summer homes, that have remained largely unknown in comparison to those in the Hamptons, it’s more glamorous neighbor across the Peconic Bay. Now, thanks to Columbia Art History Professor and ex-MoMA architecture curator Barry Bergdoll, the story of modern architecture on the peninsula will be better known. Somehow Bergdoll found the time last year to stage A New Wave of Modern Architecture, a small but alluring exhibition on the region’s post-war modern architectural history. Now, the exhibit has moved six miles east to the Oysterponds Historical Society in Orient, New York, and Bergdoll has added to the show’s survey of contemporary housing and expanded our understanding of the region’s architectural uniqueness. He begins with the area’s fascinating early history of artists who gathered around the legendary art dealer, Betty Parsons, who came to the area in the 1950s. Parsons commissioned the architect-slash-sculptor Tony Smith to build a guest house and studio above the Long Island Sound. He designed a pavilion fronting the sound out of large railroad ties. He then designed and built a house for Abstract Expressionist painter Theodoros Stamos in 1951. For Stamos, Bergdoll writes, “Smith designed a dramatically innovative variant on the American timber frame house, elevating a single-story space sandwiched between two trusses, one upside down to create a large open floor plan. Elevated off the ground, the house’s living space afforded sweeping views over Long Island Sound from its bluff-top site.” Finally, he points to the double pavilion house Charles Moore designed for Simone Swan in 1975, a few houses away from Parson’s home, as an influence to newer designs. This second exhibition highlights a number of new houses, including a modest but beautiful wood-shingled Peconic bayside house by Toshiko Mori, and a TTC passive house designed by Wayne Turett on a back lot in Greenport, New York. But Bergdoll’s most insightful addition to the show is his description of what makes the area’s modern houses unique. He points to the North Fork’s environmentally sensitive farm and wetland landscape as an influence in the innovative new houses being constructed “with structural openness” and elevated platforms capable of capturing views of the landscape. This modest little show identifies a singular new style evolving just a few hours east of New York. The exhibit is open to the public Wednesdays through Sundays, 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm, as well as Saturdays from 11:00 am through 5:00 pm. Admission is free.
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Art, Art, Art!

Kate Fowle is MoMA PS1's new director
Drumroll, please: Curator Kate Fowle is MoMA PS1's new director. Until recently, the U.K.-born Fowle had been acting as the first Chief Curator at Moscow's Garage Museum of Contemporary Art since 2013. She will succeed Klaus Biesenbach, who left a 23-year tenure at MoMA PS1 about eight months ago to head up The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. “It’s an honor to take the helm of MoMA PS1 at this juncture in its rich history,” said Fowle in a press statement. “I look forward to working with the team and board to create a generative environment where our outlook is transformed through artists and their perspectives on the world.” Before her stint in Moscow, Fowle directed the New York-based Independent Curators International (ICI) from 2009 to 2013. The organization connects contemporary art curators around the world. The announcement comes on the heels of the first public viewing of this year's Young Architects Program (YAP) installation by Mexico City-based Pedro y Juana in the courtyard of the Long Island City MoMA offshoot. YAP invites emerging firms to build a summer installation in the PS1 courtyard that provides light and shade to visitors during Warm Up, the museum's summer Saturdays music event.