Posts tagged with "Getty Research Institute":

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Latin American cities at the turn of the century go on view at the Americas Society

Starting March 21, the Americas Society will host the exhibition The Metropolis in Latin America, 1830-1930. The exhibition is a leading feature of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, an exploration of Latino and Latin American art across 70 cultural institutions in Southern California. Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA is an initiative led by the Getty Research Institute, where The Metropolis in Latin America was previously on display. The exhibition presents a century-long narrative of six Latin American capitals: Buenos Aires, Havana, Lima, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, and Santiago de Chile. Within this arc of time, these cities transformed from provincial seats of power in the Spanish empire to full-fledged republican capitals. This shift from Iberian urban regulations to independent national authority was expressed through a diverse set of novel and imported models of architectural design and urban planning. The cities of Latin America maintained most of their colonial structures until the mid-nineteenth century. The gradual adoption of modern architectural repertoires, coupled with massive rural migration to the cities, encouraged the removal of colonial-era vestiges in favor of new civic buildings, burgeoning residential quarters and centers of industrial production. Cocurated by Maristella Casciato and Idurre Alonso, The Metropolis in Latin America will display the dramatic transformation of these six Latin American capitals in a number of mediums, including maps, plans, prints and photographs. The historical scope of featured pieces range from Hernan Cortes’ Map of Tenochtitlan (1524) to the modernist utopia depicted in Le Corbusier’s drawings of the City of Buenos Aires (1929).
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Getty Research Institute acquires Frank Gehry archives

The Getty Research Institute (GRI) has acquired a major archive of work by Frank Gehry. The collection—known as The Frank Gehry Papers—contains material spanning over 30 years of the architect’s work and was acquired by the GRI through a combination of gifts and purchases. Thomas Gaehtgens, GRI director, touted the acquisition in a press release: “This extensive archive, covering the first three decades of his illustrious career, offers an in-depth look at the genesis of Gehry’s distinctive style and includes many of the projects for which he is internationally known.” The archive spans work produced during a period from 1954 to 1988. With the acquisition, the GRI is increasing its already expansive array of modern and contemporary architecture collections. The Gehry archives will serve to “connect with threads” between GRI’s expansive modern and contemporary architecture collections, according to Gaehtgens. The archive contains a combination of presentation and study models, project drawings, correspondence, photographs, slides, and sketches relating to 283 projects, roughly spanning the period between the Romm House and the competition entry for the Walt Disney Concert Hall. This era encompasses work on some of the architect’s most groundbreaking buildings. The archive contains roughly 1,000 sketches, 120,000 working drawings, 100,000 slides, and hundreds of boxes of records. There are also 168 working models and 112 presentation models in the collection. Importantly, the collection also includes various digital collections, including files pertaining to early designs for the Vitra museum from 1989, the Disney Concert Hall, and the perhaps soon to be realized Grand Avenue project. Certain works from the archive will be on view at the upcoming GRI exhibition Berlin/Los Angeles: A Space for Music that opens April 25. Maristella Casciato, senior curator of architectural collections at the GRI added that Gehry’s work during this period serves as an important bridge between the high modernism and early postmodern eras, saying “Gehry was a powerful figure in this evolution. He contributed to the essential concepts which put Los Angeles and its particular architectural vision at the center of the global architectural discourse.” In announcing the acquisition, Gehry stated, “I’m honored by the attention of the Getty Research Institute delving into the history of my work, my beginnings, and other things that I never thought anybody would be interested in” adding, “I’m very moved that this great institution, with its resources to search for the best examples of creativity in our world, has found me an interesting party. I will be forever grateful.”
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Getty Research Institute’s Maristella Casciato on digitization, cross-cultural pollination, and the rising importance of postmodernism

West editor Antonio Pacheco sat down with Maristella Casciato, the new senior curator of architectural collections at the Getty Research Institute, to discuss her recent appointment. The position—left vacant for nearly three years after Wim De Witt’s departure for Stanford University’s Cantor Center for Visual Arts—puts Casciato at the helm of one of the most important research archives in the world.

Casciato, formerly the associate director of research at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, as well as a licensed architect and expert on 20th century European architecture, shared some of her goals for the GRI, including the pressing need to increase digitization efforts, the rising importance of postmodernism, and the value of cross-cultural pollination to the field of architecture.

The Architect’s Newspaper: What do you see as your role as senior curator of architectural collections at the Getty Research Institute?

Casciato: For me, this is a research position, meaning that anything I’m engaging with here at GRI is part of a larger research process, including acquisitions.

It’s important to consider what the GRI had in mind as an institution for the position when they hired me. They have been looking for someone who is fully embedded in the architecture world as a licensed architect, who understands architecture, and who can look at buildings as part of a particular discipline. They were also looking for an architectural historian, someone who can look at the possible relationship between architecture and history. Not someone who simply considers history as a tool for architecture, but who uses history as a way to expose architecture to many layers of understanding across time.

Tell us about your acquisition goals for the Getty’s collection.

My idea is that we have to look at more than one beautiful drawing, because one beautiful drawing doesn’t help us build a solid research center. One drawing, you can hang that on the wall for an exhibition, but who comes here for a single drawing? Scholars come if there is enough documentation to write a paper. So, my idea is to always look at the acquisition with relation to collecting complete records for a project—the papers, working drawings, the final drawings—because if you hold on to some of these aspects of history, whoever is writing the history in the future will have it easier. You have to provide enough meat and bones to complete your narrative. That’s our philosophy.

For example, one possible acquisition is a set of drawings by Eric Mendelsohn of a power station in Berkeley, California. We currently have a collection of Mendelsohn’s papers in the special collection. [The GRI’s existing collection] are not architectural projects, though, they are documents we received from his daughter—lectures, notes, and so on.

So, the requirement going forward for a new acquisition is first, that the documents relate to an architectural project and second, that project be one in the U.S. that will give us another perspective into Mendelsohn’s work. Mendelsohn is someone who has worked in Europe, of course, then he went to Israel, and he came to the U.S. He’s someone who has lived his life as an immigrant architect. [The Berkeley power station project] is a project that happened toward the end of his life with a very interesting brief: It’s a nuclear lab in Berkeley. It’s part of a very important plan in the U.S. that happened in the middle of the Cold War, where the nuclear research was still extremely relevant and several architects were involved in a program.

In another case, I was recently discussing a portfolio of 12 photographs taken as part of a survey by Princeton University students of the National Arts School in Havana, Cuba, with a colleague who questioned why these documents were a priority for our acquisition. My response was that these photographs are an important form of documentation of this incredible architecture. This is a place where architecture needs to be documented. It’s not an issue of aesthetics here, it’s an issue of recognizing the value of certain buildings in Cuba that represent an immense effort in terms of technique, such as the vaulting, the brickwork, and the forms. Those buildings have represented such an effort in making architecture valuable in Havana that we have to document that phenomenon, period. These buildings might be restored, they might disappear; we need to have this documentation.

Is the exhibition, Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA starting up again?

Yes, we are also working on a research project for PST on photographs of 19th century Latin America at the end of the colonization era, as many of those countries were becoming republics. We have photographs from Argentina, Cuba, and Brazil; it’s incredible documentation that shows how some Latin American cities became metropolises as they entered the 20th century. It will be an exhibition specifically on late 19th century and early 20th century urban planning that looks at how the new cities developed with leisure becoming a new component of urbanism: the new infrastructure, the new parks, the developments of certain port cities, and so on. São Paulo, for example, was a small city until the coffee boom of the 19th century when it became the modern place we know today. Looking at those transformations will cover a gap between the very incredible Spanish colonial period and the 20th century depicted in the [2015] MoMA show (Latin America in Construction: Architecture 1955–1980), which covered the modernist city. What happened in between?

So is the broader absorption and appropriation of modernism something that interests you?

Yes, but cultural transfer goes both ways. My earlier research relates to when Europeans were exploring what was considered the “known” Western world and what I’ve seen is that they received culture too. It’s a concept that has been used in other disciplines like sociology, but it is not fully understood within architecture. For younger PhD students, this idea of cultural transfer is a way to enter a multidisciplinary and a multicultural approach. So, for the Latin American exhibition, we are looking at this transfer in both directions because locals interpret it in one way and the foreigners in another, but there are examples where the two transfers come back together and that’s one of the things that makes Latin America so interesting.

Also, being in Los Angeles, we are in the best position to look toward the Pacific. Australia, as part of the British Empire, looks to the west, but from here in L.A., we can look east to Australia and Japan, but also the Philippines and Indonesia. If we understand this as an encounter between the west and the Pacific, it could be an interesting way of reconsidering this idea of cultural transfer. And Los Angeles could be the center of this new process.

Modernism is an important part Los Angeles’s history, but increasingly, postmodernism is being re-evaluated in terms of its architectural-historical significance. How do you think that is going to play into what you do here?

Los Angeles, for postmodernists, was the most fruitful ground. The issue is that postmodernism here is not one pediment or column; it’s a very ludic architecture and it’s very valuable. I’ve noticed that PhD students are more and more interested in postmodernism and I think we would be very interested in increasing our postmodern collections. I visited the offices of Jon Jerde, who designed Horton Plaza in San Diego, and thought, “This might be very interesting as an acquisition.” Victor Gruen was so important in establishing the idea of the mall, but postmodern architects made this mall not a closed box, but an open, civic space. And this is an important shift that we need to think about, so I would really value having some of these experiments in our collection.

LACMA was recently gifted John Lautner’s Sheats Goldstein Residence. How does the GRI view having an actual building as a part of its collection, as opposed to collecting only building documentation?

I think there is a big difference in approach between a museum that collects items and a research institute. Here, for example, the Getty Conservation Institute works very closely with the Eames House, but that’s because there is an Eames Foundation who is overseeing the restoration. I don’t think for GRI it’s so important to own these kinds of artifacts, to make sure that, for instance, the Eames House is preserved, conserved, and properly restored—there’s an Eames Foundation, they can deal with that. For us, it’s more important to understand that the documentation is well preserved (which allows the Eames Foundation to do its job). I’m glad LACMA is taking the house, but for me, it’s more important to keep archives, like we do for the Lautner Foundation, and allow scholars to come and work.

Documents conservation is a big issue with architecture; digitalization, to make architecture available everywhere else, is a big issue. Our digitization project is one of my major priorities. We need to digitize as much as possible so that people, if they cannot come here, can have access to these archives. Foundations can’t really do this because they need devices, climate control, and the skill of the conservators who can make sure the drawings can be properly kept, etc. I think this is our major mission.

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Getty appoints Maristella Casciato as Senior Curator of Architectural Collections

When Wim de Wit stepped down in 2013 from The Getty Research Institute (GRI) after 20 years of overseeing architecture and contemporary art, and co-curating the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time: Modern Architecture in L.A., the design community wondered who could fill the vacuum created by his departure. This week, two-and-a-half years later, the GRI announced today the appointment of architectural historian and curator Maristella Casciato as Senior Curator of Architectural Collections. “Maristella Casciato is an exceptionally accomplished scholar and curator who is passionately committed to the study of architectural history and the preservation of architecture. She is the ideal steward for our tremendously significant architecture holdings,” said GRI director Thomas W. Gaehtgens. A historian with expertise in 20th century European architecture as well as research interests that include the architecture of postcolonial India and non-Western contributions to city planning, Casciato previously was chairwoman of the Do.Co.Mo.Mo and the associate director of research at the Canadian Centre for Architecture. AN reached Casciato by phone on her second day on the job. The Architect's Newspaper: Welcome to Los Angeles. What are some of your hopes and plans for the architecture collection at the GRI? Maristella Casciato: Well, as you know, architectural work is changing and so is the scholar's work in archival documentation. As a professor for almost 40 years I come from a research environment, and I’ve seen my own scholarly research going very much towards multidisciplinary and the field is expanding. If you look at the GRI collection as it is now, it is great in terms of architecture, with a variety of collections and data and different media. But in terms of architecture, the archives are distinct: You have the Southern California archive; you have the Avant Garde archive. What I wish to do, really, is to try to break all this separation. My scholarly aptitude is for finding and developing micro-histories—connecting or networking some of the documents or the protagonists of one specific movement to another field. And that’s what I like. I like to break borders. Instead of boundaries I try to merge histories. And I also insist that instead of case studies, micro-histories can become a paradigm for wider thinking. So, it’s not necessarily about fixing any one building in time but about telling the story of a series of people and projects across time. Yes, this is my way of working on architectural history. It is extremely important for architecture because if we think of architecture as frozen within boundaries the we will keep going with the existing cannon—this is avant garde, this is not avant garde, you know, the classification. Why classify something simply as postmodern when the process is interesting? [Architecture] is not only the result, but it’s the process. Looking at process is a way to engage with the producers and you look at them as part of an overarching development, which could be artistic or cultural. I know it’s a bit challenging, but in many fields I see that this is going on, so I think we have to also bring this to architecture.
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Wim De Wit Stepping Down At the Getty

Major news in the world of architectural scholarship. Wim de Wit, Head of the Department of Architecture and Contemporary Art at the Getty Research Institute (GRI), is stepping down. He's moving to Stanford, where he will be Adjunct Curator of architecture and design at the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts. De Wit's wife, Nancy Troy, has been a professor of art at Stanford since 2010. Since coming to the Getty in 1993, de Wit has organized major exhibitions like Shaping the Great City: Modern Architecture in Central Europe, 1890-1937 (2001), Lessons from Bernard Rudofsky (2008), and the current show Overdrive: L.A. Constructs the Future. He also helped amass one of the finest architectural collections in the world, with particular strengths in pre-World War II European modernism and postwar California architecture. The GRI archives include papers and materials from John Lautner, Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Pierre Koenig, Ray Kappe, Julius Shulman, Reyner Banham, Lebbeus Woods, Philip Johnson, Aldo Rossi, Bernard Rudofski, Daniel Libeskind, and Coop Himmelb(l)au, among many others. De Wit's last day at the Getty will be July 31. According to Getty spokesperson Julie Jaskol, the research institute will begin an "international search" for de Wit's replacement. In the interim, Glenn Phillips will take over as acting head of the department.