Posts tagged with "Drawing":

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Instagram account juxtaposes classic facades of international landmarks

Christian Fankhauser, a recent graduate of Switzerland's École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, spends much of his spare time drawing facades from different periods, movements, and countries, and he has made a colorful Instagram account that has become a sort of repository of architecture across history. Through sketching a broad range of architectural landmarks, Fankhauser hopes to compare their common elements and stylistic lineage. To better understand the commonalities between structures, Fankhauser attempts to “remove the idea of scale, materiality, and paradoxically color, to focus on the proportions, the geometry, and the link between the elements constituting the facade.”

For the sketches, Fankhauser turns back toward Renaissance architecture, with a preference for buildings that began with the facade as an outward projection of the patron or owner’s prestige. Projects sketched by Fankhauser range from the 15th to the 20th centuries. Renaissance works, such as Leon Battista Alberti’s Santa Maria Novella (1458) and Andrea Palladio’s Villa La Rotonda, are simply etched; Ionic, Corinthian, and Doric orders are clearly discernible without the florid animation of flowing acanthus leaves or spiraling volutes. Similarly, the drawings forgo the play of light and shadows that define these Early Renaissance works; porticos, colonnades, and alcoves, are two-dimensional elements of the same shade and color as the rest of the assemblage.

The purpose, or methodology, of the sketches crystallize’s with structures of greater height and asymmetrical massing. Under normal circumstances, one is hard-pressed to find similarities between Giles Gilbert Scott’s Battersea Power Station (1939 & 1955) and Mimar Sinan's Süleymaniye Mosque (1558). Compressed into a smoothly digestible format, the towering smokestacks bear a similarity to the spiked minarets of Istanbul’s largest mosque, albeit with a boxier and less staggered base. This approach does veer in a slightly different direction with the playfully drawn renditions of Neo-Futurist designs such as Kisho Kurokawa’s Nakagin Capsule Tower (1972) or Archigram’s Walking City (1964).

Going forward, Fankhauser intends to catalog his sketches into a larger book and potentially introduce lithographic prints. More of his sketches are available on his Instagram page.

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Process comes to life in Berlin architectural drawing show

The exhibition Opening Lines: Sketchbooks of Ten Modern Architects features selections from one of the world’s great architecture drawing collections installed in the most important gallery devoted to the subject. The exhibit at Berlin’s unique Tchoban Foundation is spectacular for anyone interested in architectural drawing and its relationship to the larger built and unbuilt culture. The drawings are from Drawing Matter, the personal archive of Englishman Niall Hobhouse (a few works from other collections were donated for the show), which is normally housed in the Somerset countryside of England. In Berlin, it includes 80 drawings and 140 sketchbooks, films, audio interviews, virtual, and analog facsimiles. The collection is still being actively assembled by Hobhouse who with the intellect and trained eye of an art dealer collects drawings that represent key projects from the most important architects. The archive specializes in early drawings, particularly extended notebooks of master designers like Peter and Alison Smithson, James Gowan, Aldo Rossi, the Italian Radicals of the 1960s, and Álvaro Siza. The collection could itself be a stand-alone architecture drawing museum, but for this Tchoban edition Hobhouse and curators Tina DiCarlo and Olivia Horsfall Turner have selected renderings, working drawings, theoretical sketches and doodles from Hans Poelzig, Le Corbusier, Alberto Ponis, Adolfo Natalini of Superstudio, Álvaro Siza, Tony Fretton, Marie-José Van Hee, Peter Märkli, Níall McLaughlin, and Riet Eeckhout. The range and depth of the Drawing Matter collection allows the exhibit to begin with a magnificent swirling and vibrating 1922 Hans Poelzig charcoal sketch for a monument in a university courtyard. This charcoal is a more spirited example of the possibilities of expressionism than any of his earthbound buildings. In fact, many of the drawings in the exhibition help us better understand their resulting built works either because their construction masks their intentions or possibly misses the mark of the drawn idea. Peter Märkli’s 1992 ballpoint sketch for La Congiunta, fleshes out the intentions of his building, which in its extreme concrete soberness can seem like little more than a Swiss box without knowing or seeing the drawing. A confident 1986 Tony Fretton ink sketch for a door jamb in the Lisson Gallery highlights the thought and intention behind his minimal aesthetic which again can easily fall away for the inhabitant of the building. But it is with a vitrine of multiple sketchbooks by Adolfo Natalini, opened to a series of his 1969 ink drawings of the Continuous Monument, where we can truly see the open-ended, discursive potential of drawing. It shows the evolution of ‘monumenta continua’ from its inception as town planning for a scaled ring around Florence to its first public presentation in Grazerzimmer (room of Graz) to a furniture concept and then a hovering structure over the cityscape of Manhattan. Hand drawings were the primary tools of the architecture debate in 1969 when he co-created Continuous Monument and it is impossible to comprehend the power of these images at the time they first appeared without seeing these sketchbooks. The possibilities of sketching, even doodling, as thinking are highlighted by Niall McLaughlin’s colored felt-tip pen drawings of the Alzheimer’s Respite Centre which are framed in the shape of a brain. In McLaughlin’s drawing and handwritten text on view we can see his brain thinking out the possibilities of an architecture for the Alzheimer’s facility. The exhibition returns to contemporary architecture drawing when it is more art than architecture. A nearly three-foot-long 2018 graphite drawing on film Drawing Out Gehry by Riet Eeckhout is draped over rods on the wall as if it were from Gehry technologies and seems more installation than usable working drawing. This final hand drawing is meant to present the notion of the long digitally produced continuous surface as a replacement for the old-fashioned sketchbook. The exhibition is accompanied by a series of online articles online and by monographic publications on the sketch practices of Álvaro Siza, Adolfo Natalini, Tony Fretton, and Niall McLaughlin. The Natalini text explains the power of the architectural drawing:
I approach a project from several sides, each time engaging in a full body contact with the place, the program, and the limits. The weapons I have available in this battle (which is more like Jacob’s wrestling with the angel or a battle of love) are few, and among these drawing is the most important. Drawing allows me to be a lot quicker, and at the same time, it forces me to stay rooted to the page and the project for long periods…Drawings produce other drawings and these, other drawings again, and in this way, gradually the labyrinth appears and project emerges.
Opening Lines: Sketchbooks of Ten Modern Architects Tchoban Foundation. Museum for Architectural Drawing, Berlin June 30–October 7
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In Venice, Chinese studio reimagines Frank Lloyd Wright’s Broadacre City as an e-commerce hub

Frank Lloyd Wright proposed the revolutionary suburban utopia Broadacre City in the 1930s. He could not have expected it to inspire artists designing the campus of an online shopping website in China more than eighty years later. China-based Drawing Architecture Studio exhibited a series of panoramic drawings called Taobao Village – Smallacre City at the Venice Architecture Biennale this year, which is a speculative design for the headquarters of Taobao, a Chinese consumer-to-consumer retail platform that garners 580 million monthly active users. Drawing Architecture Studio is a Beijing-based art, architecture and urban research practice cofounded by architect Han Li and designer Yan Hu. In Broadacre City, Wright envisioned that American cities would no longer be centralized and limited to a central business district. Instead, families, each given a one-acre plot of land, would be self-sufficient households commuting mostly with the automobile. His concepts are especially relevant today in China where the rural and urban divide highlights many problems of inequality and inefficiency. The Chinese drawing studio combines Wright’s ideals and a fresh perspective from modern China. The masterplan of Broadacre is used as the basis on which the village of Taobao, the Alibaba-owned, popular e-commerce website, is imagined. According to the architects, their proposal tries to speculate how Taobao and the Internet will contribute to China’s goal to integrate urban and rural economies. The village consists of transport infrastructure and distribution networks of the online shopping empire. Bridges, roads and conveyer belts cross over and intersect each other, constructing a layered, lively cityscape enclosing both the enterprise and the rural-urban complex. The illustrations employ elements from both the East and the West. The composition of the village is symmetrical and organized along a straight axis, recalling the organization of Beijing’s Forbidden City. Eclectic, Western-classical building motifs used in rural Chinese villages alongside traditional Buddhist statues and Chinoiserie columns are depicted in the illustrations. The drawings are part of the exhibition titled Building a future countryside in the Pavilion of China at the Venice Architecture Biennale.
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Sam Jacob presents the power of perspective with a new show at RIBA in London

With perspective comes power, and a fun-filled, quirky demonstration of this can be found in Disappear Here at the Royal Institution of British Architects (RIBA) in London, courtesy of British architect Sam Jacob and curator Marie Bak Mortensen. Disappear Here greets visitors with a vestibule of turquoise tones. Faux entrances, layered like a theatre set, recede in height and hue in a nod to the techniques employed by Renaissance painters who used light shades of blue to indicate depth in paintings. Before this, however, it was Florentine architect Filippo Brunelleschi who, in the 1400s, discovered linear perspective as a system of drawing and thus brought science and art in a collision that gave birth to the Renaissance. However, none of Brunelleschi's work is on display. Half a millennium after the Italian master's existence, Florence, his home town, had produced more architectural superstars: Cristiano Toraldo di Francia, Adolfo Natalini, Gian Piero Frassinelli, Alessandro Poli and brothers Roberto and Alessandro Magris who comprised Superstudio. The firm's work, earmarked by grid motifs, is featured throughout Disappear Here with two mirrored wells (great for peering into and taking a selfie), and two drawings: Un Viaggio nelle Regioni della Ragione (A Journey to the Realm of Reason) and Graz. The latter links up with a rare, albeit mediocre, perspective drawing done on the back of another—supposedly much more impressive piece—from Andrea Palladio. For one wall, Jacob and Mortensen's method was to marry drawings through their lines of perspective, imagining their continuation off the page. This link would be easily missed if not for an explanation in an accompanying leaflet, which also provides a tutorial on linear perspective drawing. Jacob, though, was excited by what he could do using this method of arrangement. "It's brought together works which should never belong next to each other," he told The Architect's Newspaper (AN). Case in point: a pair of trolls urinating into a castellated fountain, drawn by British architect John Smythson, sits below Superstudio's Un Viaggio nelle Regioni della Ragione, which in turn lies left of a sketch by Edwin Lutyens portraying an unrealized memorial in France. The eclectic trio of drawings makes for remarkable viewing, and the wall throws up some humorous examples of failed attempts at perspective representation, such as another drawing by Smythson, this time of a skew-whiff house. However, the arrangement system means Palladio's drawing is placed awkwardly high. For those taking their children, you can tell them not to lose sleep over missing out on this one. However, shift your gaze down, and you'll find that the baseboard is mirrored. This has the effect of making the floor seem like an infinite plane, an effect which is amplified by a grid of yellow dots that Jacob has added onto the floor. In another room, the fun for all ages continues. Fifty objects fly towards and past the viewer on three projections cast onto walls in front and on either side of you. The objects follow lines of apparent linear perspective and create the sensation of hurtling through a drawing. To Jacob, who worked with game developer Shedworks for the exhibit, "it feels like experiencing a drawing through time." Here, the impact would be far greater had projections filled the floor and ceiling or virtual reality headsets been used. Jacob told AN that he explored the possibility of using the latter, but in the end, decided against it. A final room presents a collection of six books on perspective drawing, all from RIBA's rare books collection. Abraham Bosse's Mr. Desgargue's Universal Method of Practicing Perspective (1648) is opened up to show a drawing of three figures looking down with pyramids coming from their eyes and making a square on the floor: a view of their perspective, so to speak. Jacob, when showing AN around Disappear Here, argued that this depiction of perspective mimics the view from a modern-day military drone. Sadly, this connection isn't made in the actual show, and other ties to more contemporary takes on perspective, besides the collaboration with Shedworks, are awry. Jacob and Mortensen's insight into the history of perspective, intertwined with quirky illusory tricks, fails to exhibit work of any contemporary architecture firms. Jacob, who is more than aware of contemporary architectural techniques of representation, particularly collage, even noted that a few pasted people could turn one drawing into a typical piece from Portuguese firm Fala Atelier or architects Point Supreme from Greece. For all the allusion to progressing off the page and into the infinite, the supposed "power" of perspective, well documented in an essay by Jacob found inside the exhibition's leaflet, is also found wanting. Aside from the discombobulating decor, which does make Disappear Here fun to navigate, French architect Étienne-Louis Boullée's fantasy cathedral (see lead image) is the only piece that shows audiences the awe-inspiring power of scale and perspective at work. Superstudio's arguably most famous conception, Il Destino del Monumento Continuo (Destiny of the Continuous Moment), would fit nicely here. It, along with other works from Superstudio and other Italian radicals of the era, however, can be found at the Canadian Center for Architecture in Montreal where Utopie Radicali: Florence 1966–1976 is currently on view. For more exercises in disorientation, Sean Griffiths, a co-founder alongside Jacob of now defunct British studio FAT, has also been exploring perspective techniques in London and Folkestone.
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The role of projection in architectural drawings is explored at Austrian Cultural Forum

Don’t call it a comeback. It appears that drawing is now everywhere. Drawings’ Conclusions just closed at Anyspace, New York; Drawing Codes: Experimental Protocols of Architectural Representation is in the Taubman Gallery at the University of Michigan; The Drawing Show opened recently at the Yale School of Architecture Gallery; Drawbot is at the AA[n+1] Gallery in Paris; and there is the current exhibition at the Austrian Cultural Forum titled The Projective Drawing.1  It might seem obvious that to exhibit architecture is to exhibit drawings, but for the past twenty years, it has been infrequent to focus an exhibition of contemporary architectural work around the question of drawing. The quick reaction would be to attribute this to the pinging pain of nostalgia in the midst of our image-saturated world. But this would be a mistake, for at their best, these shows revolve around not a return, but a provocation concerning how to define drawing and image in contemporary aesthetic discourse. The curator of The Projective Drawing exhibition, Brett Littman, has explicitly tied the show to a collection of essays written by Robin Evans and published posthumously in 1995 as The Projective Cast. An exhibition squarely in the realm of art that is developed from a piece of architectural theory is quite rare, which is what immediately excited me about the prospects of this show. The drawings exhibited here often reference architecture, and several pieces use techniques more commonly associated with architectural drawing, (the axonometric being the prime example), but these pieces are clearly art, not architectural drawings. Specifically, the difference is that none of the drawings in this exhibition work through projection as practiced by architects and explicated in the texts of Robin Evans. This may initially sound like a critique of the premise of the exhibition, but I assure you it is not, for the problem of projection in relation to drawing is what is at stake. In the essays compiled for Evans’s The Projective Cast and in the influential earlier essay “Translations from Drawing to Building” (1986), Evans observes that a significant amount of architectural representation does not consist of iconic plane geometry or the pictorial under-drawing used to structure composition in painting. Instead, it is focused around translations of formal and spatial notations toward construction. Projective geometry is engaged in order to control these transformations. The shadows cast by projection are controlled distortions, traces registering movements of graphic information, and residues that elude symbolic interpretations associated with the pictorial. For many architects, orthographic projections (which are very different than orthographic drawings), perspectives, or obliques are what differentiate architectural from other types of drawing practices. These are the techniques that discipline an architect toward thinking three-dimensionally through two-dimensions. In other words, projection is the background operating system of architectural drawing. Over the last 25 years, the digital model has replaced the architectural drawing. If drawings are produced from a digital model, they are no longer the graphic traces of constructed projections, they are images, rendered to follow the visual conventions of drawing.2 Although this output may be an image, projective geometry is fundamental for digital modeling software. This is evident not just through the real-time updating of views, or the unfolding/sectioning of surfaces, but also, projection is at the root of calculating texture maps and indices of light reflection; commonly called “rendering.” Evans was prescient about this aspect of projection, for it is much more concerned with the optic than the haptic. Interestingly, architecture has typically considered projection as having more to do with drawing than rendering. The history of drawing is so entwined with projection that the graphic lines constructing projections were literally called “pencils” in early descriptive geometry textbooks. Furthermore, many architects view digital software with suspicion, precisely because of its affiliation with images as opposed to drawings. Evans may not have written much about digital representation per se, but in many ways his arguments accurately articulate the background of contemporary digital modeling software. As it stands, architects today are continuously engaged with the transformations of projective geometry through digital modeling, even if these projections no longer leave a visual residue, and most often operate hidden within the commands of the software. And it is here that we have the problem. If the visible trace of projection was crucial for defining an architectural drawing, and if digital software removes these traces in the production of images, we are left with a curious predicament. When looking at digitally produced drawings, either we are not looking at architectural drawings or, we are not looking at drawings at all. One of these is a disciplinary problem, the other aesthetic. The digital is not a new paradigm in itself. But, it does require revaluations regarding the conventions of different mediums, and it is in these transformations that we may formulate new sets of concerns. The Projective Drawing exhibition offers some fascinating insights on this issue for architectural representation. The drawings in this show mix mediums continuously. At the same time, this is not a post-medium mush where drawing is fused with painting, graphic design, architecture, etc. The questions this work raises have more to do with the tensions between abstraction and realism, and the manners through which drawing can question the ways in which we image the world. In a series entitled transmissions: a more radical elsewhere (2005-2012), William Cordova creates mixed media collages of drawings that build worlds suggesting telecommunication transmissions to places “out-of-field”—potentially even out-of-time. Brigitte Mahlknecht has produced a series of drawings of unfolding axonometric boxes titled Fast Architektur (2017), that use wavering stumbling lines ghostly layered to suggest the impossibility of ever folding these objects back up. The large oblique drawing titled Flatlands (corner) (2016) and created by Seher Shah is clearly indebted to the precision of architectural line drawings and the techniques of axonometry. But in this case, the line work shifts over edges that should define corners calling attention to the flickering instability of optical depth. In a series of small-framed untitled pieces, Leopold Strobl draws on top of color manipulated newsprint clips. Into these landscapes and cities he intervenes with dark blank masses. These hover between object-like figures and void-like removals, establishing a tension with the realism of the mechanically reproduced images in the background. In the most provocative instances, the viewer finds their attention drifting into these backgrounds, wondering what world(s) could contain these things. The works in The Projective Drawing are projective as speculations, not as medium-dependent techniques. Architects have placed too much emphasis on drawing versus imaging as a disciplinary conflict. What matters are paradigms, the concepts made intelligible beside (para) aesthetic provocations. The Projective Drawing exhibition is in many ways an exploration of exactly this; the mediums appropriated within the aesthetics of the works provoke allusions that extend outward. These are relations between aesthetics and politics, between what can be seen and said, and what actions we project into the world. I would much rather have architects arguing about these issues than if their images looked more like drawings or photos.
  1. Drawings’ Conclusions at Anyspace curated by Jeffrey Kipnis and Andrew Zago brought to New York by Cynthia Davidson; The Drawing Show at the Yale School of Architecture Gallery, originally at A+D Museum Los Angeles curated by Dora Epstein Jones, Drawing Codes curated by Adam Marcus and Andrew Kudless on view at the Taubman Gallery at the University of Michigan, originally at the CCA in San Franciso, Drawbot 2 is on display at the AA[n+1] gallery Paris, France curated by Emmanuelle Chiappone-Piriou and Leslie Ware, and The Projective Drawing at the Austrian Cultural Forum curated by Brett Littman.
  2. A fascinating discussion of this condition was recently put forward by John May in the article “Everything is Already an Image” published in Log 40 (MIT Press, 2017)
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Digital sketching app makes it easy to create perspective drawings

For years, leaders of architectural firms have bemoaned the lack of hand drawing skills among recent graduates and young professionals entering the practice. With a tendency to bypass hand drawing and rely primarily on computer-aided design software and BIM, it seemed for a time as though hand sketching was a dying art among architectural apprentices. To that point, the late Michael Graves observed in a 2012 op-ed piece in The New York Times that it had “become fashionable in architectural circles to declare the death of drawing.” As digital design and drawing tools have become more sophisticated in recent years, however, it’s clear not only that the art of hand sketching is alive and well, but also that technology is ushering in a revival of illustrating and is transforming the process of architectural drawing for the better. “What we’re seeing right now is a huge renaissance in terms of the generation who is already out in offices, and they’re saying to us, ‘We are so happy to be drawing again,’” explained Anna Kenoff, co-founder of creative app development company, Morpholio. Recognizing a need in the market for architectural tools that go beyond simply doodling on a tablet, Kenoff and company launched Morpholio Trace, a drawing app created specifically for architects and designers that infuses “digital magic” into the analog tools of trace paper, technical pens, rulers, triangles, and stencils. “Our app puts scale drawing at the center of the experience, letting designers work intuitively with an iPad Pro and their hands while not losing any accuracy in the process” said Kenoff. With Trace, architects and designers can sketch over computer-generated models, mark up PDF’s of construction drawings, or sketch ideas as they evolve from concept to reality. Additionally, Morpholio added augmented reality (AR) to Trace with the recent launch of its AR Perspective Finder feature. Powered by the iPad and Apple’s ARKit to read and interpret the surrounding environment, this new drawing tool allows users to uncover virtual perspective girds to scale, anywhere. How It Works By launching the camera from within the Trace app’s ‘Projects’ area, architects can point the device toward a surface, which the iPad will automatically register and render an overlaying grid. The center point is set by tapping the screen at the desired location and can be rotated with the swipe of a finger. The scaled grid can then be presented for a walk through or captured by the app to automatically set up a drawing with the background, grid, and vanishing points ready to sketch over—simplifying the process of creating perspective drawings when compared to traditional hand-drawing methods. [vimeo 234090562 w=645 h=362] AR Trace Turns Your iPad into a Virtual Perspective Finder to Help You Draw Like a Pro from Morpholio on Vimeo. “What architects and designers draw literally becomes our world but it always requires cumbersome CAD products to effectively visualize those designs” said Morpholio Co-Founder Mark Collins in a press release. “With ARKit and Perspective Finder, we are leaving behind the frustrations and limitations of conventional perspective drawing, yet continuing to further amplify hand drawing, thanks to the iPadPro and Apple Pencil; a gift to designers who value the freedom, intuition and joy of sketching.”

The Drawing Show

The practice of architectural drawing has changed dramatically over the past twenty-five years. The traditional pro forma of the sketch (or parti) that would eventually lead to a plan, section, and elevation has given way to exploratory forms of representation. Similar to many postmodern visual arts, architectural drawing has sought to challenge or engage existing paradigms. It often obfuscates or blurs the norms of didactic drawings through inversions, transgressions, and multiplicities of scale, thickness, clarity, measure, shading, and composition. Unlike studio art, however, architectural drawing is defined through its conventions. It conforms to certain rules of presentation—in particular, the use of the line as delineation (a boundary); the preference for flatness, even when drawing in advanced computer-aided programs; the labeling of elements; and the use of representational syntax such as directional arrows, alpha-numerical call-outs, and highly developed decorative and or applied textures. The drawings in the show are not very alike, similar only in that they are situated between the conventions of architectural drawing and the terms of engagement in the arts. While many students of architecture are familiar with this kind of creative exploration, it is less common within an architect’s practice. The works shown here are all from architects who employ exploratory drawing as part of their practice, identifying and furthering their work through these media. This exhibition is only a small sampling of the many works that fall into this relatively new category of exploratory drawing, and because few of these drawings result in “buildings,” these works are often not seen. The concern over the perceived divide between drawings produced by hand and those rendered by computer can be effectively subsumed by the much larger problem of representation in drawing. While the newer tools have been instructive (for example, in turning the line into more of a spline), the computer ultimately does not kill the ambitions of the continuing drawing project. Instead both traditional and digital methods contribute to larger issues: plan-ness instead of plans, sectioning as a dynamic activity, thickening the dimensions of the plane, modeling as a form of drawing, and lightness and shadowing as techniques to produce new fictions rather than techniques of truth-telling. —Dora Epstein Jones
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An exhibit explores the limits of drawing at the Austrian Cultural Forum

On February 5, the Austrian Cultural Forum New York opened the exhibition "The Projective Drawing," an exhibition inspired by architectural historian Robin Evans’ posthumous book, The Projective Cast. Evans sought to explore a new approach to our understanding of architecture, one based on the incorporation of the senses: the physical, mental and emotional. Brett Littman, the Executive Director of the Drawing Center and curator of the exhibition, described this strain of thought as “looking beyond pencil and paper to express objects” to “explore the limits of drawing.” Under this rubric, many of the drawings possess a non-linear and non-traditional character that requires thoughtful interpretation from the audience. Located in the Austrian Cultural Forum’s landmark building in Midtown Manhattan, "The Projective Drawing" is displayed in the multi-level gallery space found at the base of the building. The exhibition includes Austria-based and international artists, allowing for a broad range of ideas and representations influenced by their regional contexts. The panel hosted on the opening night of the exhibition featured Elsy Lahner, a curator of contemporary art for the Albertina Museum Vienna, Brett Littman, and exhibiting artists Lionel Favre, Brigitte Mahlknecht and Judith Saupper. Over the course of an hour, Lahner probed the curator and artists on the inspirations behind their work. For instance, Saupper spoke of her fascination with the informal geometry and architecture often found in vernacular Alpine forms, while Favre discussed his search for the hidden traditions that shape our conception of the built environment. As part of the exhibition, on February 19, the Austrian Cultural Forum will host a live performance of American percussionist Billy Martin and Austrian clarinetist Susanna Gartmayer that interprets the exhibited work of Sara Flores. "The Projective Drawing" The Austrian Cultural Forum New York , 11 E 52nd Street  Through May 13
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Purini’s visionary drawings get their due in two shows

Two noteworthy shows only begin to redress our neglect of an important figure in the Italian avant-garde architectural scene of the 60s­­ and 70s. In his short introduction, Kenneth Frampton writes, “In all the various aspects of his long and productive career, Franco Purini …is both known and unknown.” These shows, Franco Purini: In the Space of Drawing: Reason and Imagination, at Cooper Union, curated by Steven Hillyer, and Drawings of Invention at the Center for Architecture, curated by associate professors Giovanni Santamaria and Charles Matz, sponsored by the School of Architecture and Design at NYiT, present an extraordinary selection of the multi-faceted drawings of this prolific and indefatigable architect. The sensitive yet incisive drawings on view represent contemplative, intimate meditations on the origins and meaning of urbanism and architecture. Seen in relation to his projects, whether realized or not, they provide insights into design process and general philosophical posture of this soon to be better-known architect. Purini, like others of his generation, utilized drawing–the old-fashioned method–pen or pencil in hand–to give form to their ideas. These “Visionary Architects” deployed graphic means to express their hopes for a new approach to architecture, each developing his or her own language to generate images that would lead to new modes of thinking about our built world and its relation to nature. Their goal was to suggest the capacity of architecture to become a vehicle for apprehending the force of history and to suggest possibilities for a better future. Many of these works on paper, such as those of Michael Webb and Ron Herron of Archigram, were never intended to be realized. In Purini’s case, he maintained a steady habit of drawing that nourished and spurred his astonishingly prolific production. One can detect profound correspondences between his drawings and related buildings such as Torre Eurosky. And the graphic works reiterate his approach that is characterized by a bold clarity and punctuated by unexpected elements that provoke a new reading of the project. Despite the recognizable hand and eye, one notices several modes of expression. Particularly beautiful are the drawings that conjure panoramic or distant projections of small urban areas set within a larger landscape, such as the drawing for Terracina. This elegant rendering reveals how territory and topography contribute to an understanding urban issues. Many also function on a poetic level - somewhere between a literal exposition of a theme and possible inflections or permutations of a concept. In drawings such as Landscape and Sky – we see a simple bifurcated scape. The sky is activated by what are to be read as clouds, wiggly forms straining towards geometry. A detached grid floats mysteriously across the sky above an area below designated as earth, a plane incised by a network diagonals, some of which are perspectival and others implying an enigmatic functional system. Thus, he has connected the natural and the built environment in a way that suggests their fragile and necessary connection. More importantly, he has isolated the most elemental conditions confronting an architect embarking on design. A quiet drama pervades the drawings echoed by their terse titles–The Biographic City, House in the Sky, The Distant City. etc. Each focuses on a single quality or theme. In At the Beginning of Everything (Al Principio di Tutto) one of the denser, more assertive drawings, Purini has deployed a kind of composite collage technique in which fragments suggesting natural rock formations work in dramatic counterpoint to grids and geometric elements. We see a nature from which the language of architecture begins to emerge, revealing his past concern with the rationalism of Terragni inflected by his personal poetry. House in the Sky presents a series of striated levels on which are posited various basic formulations for dwellings – a mono unit represented with door and window, a vertical multi-unit suggested by 20 small square perforations, and a low-rise horizontal unit. The black space in which they reside is punctuated by piers that contribute to the profound sense of geometry moderated by small areas of greenery. Many of his generation explored the possibilities of the Megastructural, as seen in such seminal iconic works as Superstudio’s Continuous Monument. Terrence Riley in The Changing of the Avant Garde: Visionary Drawings of the Gilman Collection from which Purini is noticeably excluded, makes a distinction between the “Megastructuralists” and the emerging postmodernists whom he feels supersede them. “In megastructures a new generation saw potential for the transformation of culture,” which he believes ultimately imploded and was replaced with a postmodern eclectic world of “poetry, psychology, and memory….with a full complement of architectural manifestations: ruins, dreams and monuments. ” For Purini, various themes emerge and are revisited in an ever-evolving progression. They range widely, encompassing many aspects of architectural expression, and it would be inaccurate to think that he would allow one theme to fall into oblivion. The drawings then, become important documents of his ever-transmorgrifying thoughts about architecture, a vision that embraces new technology while reasserting the necessity for an understanding of history. What we see in these shows are not stand-alone drawings. Each participates in a larger series or permutations of a theme. Each represents a clear, chiseled thought that reverberates and provokes further investigation and contemplation.
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Sean Griffiths’ latest installation creates inhabitable drawings

In 2014, Sean Griffiths exhibited My Dreams of Levitation at RoomArtSpace in London. His first piece since the closure of architecture practice FAT, the installation inhabited a series of first floor rooms of a Georgian house and saw wooden copies of the existing skirting boards and architraves displaced and hanging from the ceiling. My Dreams of Levitation forced visitors to duck and weave, taking unexpected journeys through the otherwise empty space. It also reflected moving property boundaries in the capital. Ultimately, though, the exhibition was Griffiths first foray into exploring the minimum requirement to make architecture.

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This journey, perhaps, might be what Tim Ingold defines as a “line.” To the British anthropologist, life is not lived in places, but along paths.

“By habitation I do not mean taking one’s place in a world that has been prepared in advance for the populations that arrive to reside there,” he argues in his book, Lines: a Brief History. “The inhabitant is rather one who participates from within in the very process of the world’s continual coming into being and who, in laying a trail of life, contributes to its weave and texture.”

Furthermore, Ingold eschews the “pervasive metaphor” of building blocks—for life, thought, and the universe—instead adopting notions of weaving, threading, twisting and knotting, a theory Gottfried Semper was also on board with. And like Semper (who drew from Marc-Antoine Laugier), Griffiths too has his eyes set on architectural reduction.

In his latest exhibit, Griffiths continues this exploration. Entering Tontine Street in Southeast England by walking from Folkestone Central railway station, it’s easy to miss Levitation I, a 3-D cube painted on the façade of HOP Projects’ gallery. The narrow pavement means you really have to crane your neck to see the distorted cube, which is best viewed from an island in the middle of a junction not meant for pedestrians. Other than that, you can see it across the street, but this results in an arduous journey to get back to the gallery itself.

Colored three shades of green to indicate light and shadow, Levitation I conflicts with the building’s rudimentary window arrangement. It serves as a preamble for the even more incongruous Levitation II.

Deliberately disorientating, Levitation II inhabits the gallery space inside. The area in spatial terms, if you ignore the art, is by all means weird. This is the result of various forms of usage before Tomás Poblete and Nina Shen-Poblete of HOP Projects took over in July this year. It can only truly be understood in plan and section, but visitors do not have access to these drawings and so Griffiths’ laconic interventions continue to disrupt visitors’ perceptions.

On the floor is a grid made from pebbles from the nearby beach. The grid has been rotated so not to align with the room’s geometry, failing to run parallel with any walls and sending viewers equally off-kilter. The pebbles are loose and could easily be kicked, but the overriding instinct is to walk with trepidation and avoid disrupting the order, which is ironic given the spatial purpose. Evidently, others have thought the same. Despite the gallery being open and apparently unstaffed (I later found out they reside above) the pebbled grid appears untouched.

More lines can be found on the walls and ceiling, this time found in the form of colored masking tape. These, though, are not as connected. Inside the gallery they vary in thickness and in length, spanning the white surface in a warped perspective like the experience of looking up at Levitation I. As you move around inside, some lines match up and the shapes can be read as more traditional, orthogonal forms. Some perspectives require you to step outside the gallery altogether for this view to come into alignment. It can be a fun game to shuffle left and right to make this happen as you stand there with a camera, but expect some odd looks.

The game of illusory perspective has, admittedly, been done before. But in the context of the façade, the pebbles on the floor, and the bizarre gallery space itself, its effect is amplified. The real trick, however, is at a much finer scale. Up close, so close your nose almost touches the wall, the masking-taped lines are revealed to be curved. Again, this behavior may result in glances cast in your direction.

Does all of this manifest as an inhabitable drawing? Griffiths hopes so; he’s certainly on the right path.

Levitation I + II HOP Projects 73 Tontine Street, Folkestone Through December 2
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Two Cuban artists uniquely capture Detroit’s built environment—both its decay and hope for the future

Two Cuban artists, Alejandro Campins and Jose Yaque, feature in the City of Queen Anne’s Lace exhibition now on view at the Wasserman Projects gallery in Detroit. Using painting, sculpture, and drawing, they embody the emotion of Detroit's past, present, and future. Campins' works, laconic in style, are similar to those of Polish artist Joseph Schulz, whose Form 14 (archetypal of Schulz's style) exhibits architecture without detail. That work was cited by critic Stephen Parnell in his essay "Post-truth architecture." "Stripped of just a few elements, such as lettering, mundane architecture can reveal an uncanny elegance," Parnell said. The same could be said of Campins' paintings, if not for the moody tones and visible brush strokes (he used oils, watercolors, and also pencil) that convey the opposite. His works represent an abandoned Detroit, yet, despite their sense of silence, there are symbols of optimism: A green traffic signal and blank billboard can be interpreted as signifiers of opportunity. Yaque's work, meanwhile, is more explicitly optimistic. Made from Detroit's recycled trash, a large-scale installation rises up from the ground, topped with grass, flowers, and other greenery. The work appears at a glance to be molded by layers of sediment and soil (and Detroit's history)—almost as if a section of the earth's crust lifted from the ground. The piece physically dominates the gallery; exactly what is atop the chunk of recycled earth is unknown and out of sight, but we know from what we do see is that the land upon which is grows is evidently fertile. This piece also references the exhibition's name. Also known as a "Wild Carrot," Queen Anne's Lace is a flower that is commonly found sprouting from the city's decaying buildings. While most often associated with Detroit's downfalls, the plant has substantial nutritional value. Yaque also uses a more traditional medium. Like his Cuban counterpart, he draws, though Yaque employs charcoal to depict Detroit's urban vernacular. Yaque's technique allows his drawings to be nostalgic as they don the faded aesthetic of a century-old photograph. Smudging, often applied to the based of a work, connotes energy—the lost energy of the lonely landmarks and time passing by, wind-like and invariably contributing to the building's demise. Unlike his built work, these images hark back to a Detroit that is certainly consigned to memory, with buildings either no longer used or repurposed. However, in a similar vein to his sculpture, this reference point is only implied. City of Queen Anne’s Lace has been curated by Rafael DiazCasas, an art historian and independent curator based in New York City. The exhibition came about after Wasserman Projects founder Gary Wasserman saw Campins' works while in Havana. Through DiazCasas, the two discussed the parallels between Detroit's and Cuba's history. Inspired by this, Campins visited the Michigan city for himself, later introducing Yaque to the city too. The pair encountered much Wild Carrot during their foray into Detroit. According to a press release, they found the flower to be symbolic of change and natural rebalancing. This sentiment formed the basis of their work for the exhibition, promoting a feeling of hope while looking at Detroit through an alternative lens. City of Queen Anne’s Lace is on view at Wasserman Projects through June 24, 2017.
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P! Gallery hosts its final exhibition with artworks by Celine Condorelli

P! Gallery on Broome Street, just off Bowery, has been a hugely important center for displaying graphic arts and design since it opened five years ago. Started by graphic designer Prem Krishnamurthy of Project Projects, it has staged over 40 shows since it opened, but now the gallery is closing. Its final exhibit, created by U.K.-based artist Celine Condorelli, is appropriately titled Epilogue and focuses on her research into issues of display and “cumulative labor and support structures.” The starting point or inspiration for the exhibit is graphic designer Herbert Bayer’s 1930s technical exhibit drawing Extended Field of Vision (borrowed from a private collection for Epilogue) that features his oft-used device of “an exaggerated eye atop a male visitor’s body that observes planes of display in every direction.” The exhibit's press release notes Bayer’s several “blind spots within existing histories” (i.e. his ambiguous position during the rise of National Socialism) and his later reticence to acknowledge this compromise. Its an important qualifier to the designer's successful later career but the exhibit does not engage these political issues. Instead, the exhibit puts forward and reflects on Condorelli’s artistic practice that focuses on exhibition display and design. A second—but equally important—subtext for the show is P!’s five-year-long project of exhibits on design. It begins in the gallery’s Broome street picture window, which features a multi-layered window covering that colorfully frames the views between the street and the exhibition in the gallery. A series of Condorelli’s exhibit-inspired drawings line the gallery walls and a section cut-out of the gallery’s wall is repurposed into an upholstered seating unit for visitors to ”rest, converse, and observe.” A sculptural corrugated plastic room divider/curtain directs the public into the small gallery space to confront the exhibit and to celebrate the unfortunate closing of the gallery. The installation moves deliberately between historic references of exhibit design and the soon-to-be-shuttered gallery. Krishnamurthy started P! as an experiment in collapsing the boundaries of design, graphic arts, and architecture. He achieved it more than any other space in New York during this period and P! will be missed. P! is at 334 Broome Street; Epilogue runs through May 21, 2017.