Posts tagged with "Philadelphia Museum of Art":

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Patricia Urquiola Talks Self-Driving Cars, Technology, and the Future of Design

Last week, Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola was awarded the Design Excellence Award from Collab, an affiliate group of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, in conjunction with the opening of the first solo exhibition of her work. Known for her inventive and playful approach to both architecture and design, Urquiola shared her experiences studying under Achille Castiglioni, integrating new technologies, designing self-driving cars, and working with virtual reality for Milan Design Week 2018. Early Years “What can I say? I’ve been very lucky. I studied architecture in Madrid and then moved to Milan to attend the Polytechnic University, which was outside of my comfort zone as an architect. Many of the teachers there were also working designers and they were the most interesting people: Vico Magistretti, Achille Castiglioni, Maddalena De Padova, and many others. It was an incredible time to be in Milan. They were all so generous, Vico in particular had a way of taking energy from everyone and putting it all together.” Design and Technology “Technology is absolutely an advantage. Since opening my studio in 2000, technology has changed so much—not only in terms of communication, but how it lets us mix technology and craft. For Salone del Mobile I am doing a virtual reality project in my studio, which of course will not be physical. But, even when I am designing physical things like furniture, light fixtures, and kitchen appliances, it has all evolved to be connected in some way to computers. We should always be open-minded. It doesn’t mean losing a curiosity for things that are crafted, but it means you have to remember the humanistic side and use the technology and the energy to manage it all. We had to become human before we became cyborgs! On Being a Woman in Design “I’m not prejudiced… it does mean you have to do things double-well [as a woman]. I have two daughters, and even though they aren’t in design, I want them to feel comfortable and be fantastic at what they do… I want them to do double-well because that is very good, regardless. It doesn’t mean losing yourself as a person, but you do have to deal with challenges. I don’t think we should look at limits as a limit but as a challenge. Of course there was prejudice when Ferrari asked me to do the exhibition for them, but Ferrari is not stupid—they know that I am a person who can create these experiences and do it well. And I am so happy with the exhibition, because you enter it with this Ferrari red and then you lose the red and really get under the skin of the car. It was about breaking limits and breaking prejudices because they just aren’t necessary.” The Future of Cars  “We have a lot to do in a very short amount of time. I am working with car companies on self-driving cars. We need very modern designers because all cars right now are more or less the same on the inside: There’s a place to buckle your seatbelt, your seats, and lots of leather, you know. But there are thermal reactive, intelligent fabrics that could work much better and other fantastic solutions we can do. When we have the self-driving car we will basically just be living inside of it while it is moving so it becomes architecture. And they need us. The creative community of architects and designers, we can do it.”
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A James Turrell "Skyspace" pavilion will land at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

A permanent James Turrell pavilion will be coming to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, although critics initially raised questions of its appropriateness, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The City of Philadelphia's Historical Commission approved the installation of the modern pavilion last month, paving a spot for the artist to build on an iconic rocky outcrop behind the museum. The pavilion is being built with Philadelphia-based KSK Architects and is a part of Turrell’s Skyspace series. Every Skyspace varies, but they all feature a proportioned chamber with an aperture in the ceiling and computerized light installations that are meant to evoke meditation and contemplation.

This new pavilion will be a free-standing structure with an opening in the canopy for a framed view of the sky. A twice-daily show at sunrise and sunset with colored lights will be projected onto the underside of the canopy. There are already two other pavilions on the outcrop, and Turrell’s will be the third—a modern, 21st-century piece. It is being paid for by an anonymous donor and is only the second commission the museum has installed (the first being Sol Lewitt’s garden composition).

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the pavilion was initially denounced as an “alien spaceship” by one Historical Commission member; a National Park Service official also warned that it could ruin the iconic landscape. (The site overlooks the historic Fairmount Water Works.) After several changes, including blending the canopy more into its environment and obscuring the lights, the pavilion gained approval from both commissions.

Despite initial objections, Dan McCoubrey, head of the commission’s Architectural Committee, said that “it’s a very logical place for a pavilion,” as reported in Plan Philly. “It’s a pavilion that’s contemporary in style. We have a rustic pavilion, a neoclassical pavilion, and now a wonderful contemporary pavilion.”

Inga Saffron's article in the Inquirer pointed out that while the museum did get approval from the Art and Historical Commissions, there was little public engagement process for the pavilion. 

There are more than 80 Skyspace installations across the world, including Turrell's first Philadelphian one in the Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting House. There is no set timeline for the project yet.

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Francis Kéré's diverse work featured at Philadelphia Museum of Art

Berlin-based, Burkina Faso–born Diebedo Francis Kéré is far from a typical architect, and his current one-man exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, on display through September 25, is also far from typical.

Kéré, 51, was born in Gando, an agricultural village in the West African nation of Burkina Faso, which has one of the world’s poorest and least educated populations. The first son of the tribal head of Gando, he was the only child in his village permitted to attend school, which he did in Burkina Faso’s second largest city, not far from Gando. He apprenticed to a carpenter there and in 1985 received a scholarship for a training program in Germany. After taking night classes in Berlin to earn his high school diploma, he studied architecture at the Technische Universitate and established his architecture practice there in 2005.

One of his earliest projects—which won him the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2004 and a prominent role in MoMA’s 2010 exhibition, Small Scale, Big Change: New Architectures of Social Engagement—is the 1999–2001 primary school he designed for Gando, which illustrates the cover of MoMA’s exhibition catalogue. It consists of three detached, rectangular classrooms, constructed of adobe and cement bricks, hand-made by locals; the school is covered with a corrugated metal roof and a dry-stacked ceiling of clay bricks that lets hot air escape from the classroom interiors.

According to the MoMA catalogue—which describes the construction of the school as “truly a community endeavor”—some Gando workers who built the school subsequently became skilled laborers on other projects, while local families’ interest in the school skyrocketed, with the enrollment of children who previously did not attend school from surrounding villages.

Kéré’s work in Gando continues. It’s illustrated in the Philadelphia exhibition with photographs, and actual building materials and tools, such as clay and wood samples, machine-pressed and hand-formed bricks, and laterite stones. He has designed teachers’ housing and an extension of the primary school, both complete, while a primary school library and a center for sustainable construction technologies and research are under construction.

Tall kiosks throughout the exhibition feature photographs of Kéré’s past, present, and future projects in Africa, including the Center for Earth Architecture in Mopti, Mali, and the Obama Legacy Campus in Kogelo, Kenya, birthplace of President Barack Obama’s father, as well as his work in Europe and the United States. The former includes a Camper pop-up store at the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany; an installation at this year’s Fuorisalone in Milan inspired by the social and spatial dynamics of a typical African village; and the repurposing of former military barracks in Mannheim, Germany, into a hub for local engineering industries, now under development. His only U.S. project so far is the Place for Gathering, a “seating terrain” of locally-sourced wood that was designed for visitors from around the world attending the Chicago Architecture Biennial.

Also unusual in the Philadelphia exhibition is the subject matter and presentation of three videos, all shot in Africa and never displayed before. One video about a recently built school in Koudougou, Burkina Faso, depicts many stages of the project, all performed by locals without the use of heavy machinery. Seating here is provided by chairs made in Philadelphia, using the same materials (steel rebar and plywood) and design as Kéré’s chairs for Burkina Faso schools. Another video, which depicts overhead enclosures—including tree canopies, traditional thatch, and modern roofs made of steel trusses—was shot skyward and is shown on a large monitor hanging from the ceiling; a viewing platform below encourages visitors to lie back and observe. The third video, projected from the ceiling directly onto the floor below, explores the concept of shadow, whether in a classroom with chalkboards and desks, or under a baobab tree, and how shadows facilitate learning. One can walk into the projection, literally stepping into the gathering place.

Visitors pass the final part of the exhibition, a site-specific installation called Colorscape, as they enter the exhibition’s primary gallery, Suspended from the museum’s ceiling are steel frames threaded with hundreds of pieces of Philadelphia-made lightweight cord in many different colors. The rectilinear layout of the frames represents the formally-planned grid of William Penn’s Philadelphia, while the paths and spaces carved from the mass of strings represent the organic grid of Gando.

Those passing through the variously colored elements also can hear the Sounds of the Village, audio recorded in both Burkina Faso and Philadelphia, the former including sounds of the wind, birds, and chickens, the latter sounds of local streets and a Philadelphia Flyers hockey game. Just as Kéré enlists local people to work on his projects in Africa, Philadelphians—including University of Pennsylvania architecture students, museum staff, volunteers, and visitors—helped construct this installation.

In Gando and other agrarian societies, children learn from their elders, who teach them orally; they also learn by doing. Similarly, since he started his practice, Kéré has aimed to communicate design and architecture simply and directly, to be understood by African laborers not educated in reading sophisticated plans or architectural drawings, as well as by children. All these concepts inform the Philadelphia exhibition, stimulating thought and visual pleasure.

The Architecture of Francis Kéré: Building for Community runs through September 25, 2016. For more on the exhibit, visit here.
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Giant Escalator Soon to Improve the Philadelphia Museum of Art's Famed Rocky Stairs

The infamous "Rocky" steps leading up to the Philadelphia Museum of Art will soon be revamped with a new 72-foot escalator beginning in spring 2016. The climb to the museum, which was most notably featured in the iconic movie scene with Sly Stallone, is being transformed to enhance accessibility in time for the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia next July. And more importantly, this overhaul will be completed in preparation for the next Rocky sequel, ensuring that the action hero, at the ripe age of 68, with his creaky knees, can gracefully scale the stairs once again. In a statement about the visionary project, VISIT PHILADELPHIA's president & CEO, Meryl Levitz, said, “It’s entirely fake. April Fools’!" While the steps will remain intact, change is underway with Frank Gehry's plan to expand the museum's gallery space under the West Terrace, which does sits atop the famous staircase.  
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On View> Philadelphia Museum of Art shows off design objects by Vitra

  Vitra—Design, Architecture, Communication: A European Project with American Roots Philadelphia Museum of Art, Perelman Building, Collab Gallery 2525 Pennsylvania Avenue, Philadelphia, PA Through April 26, 2015 In its new exhibition, Vitra—Design, Architecture, Communication: A European Project with American Roots, the Philadelphia Museum of Art explores the history of the famous Swiss furniture company from its early licensing partnership with Herman Miller to new collaborations with world-renowned contemporary designers, such as Verner Panton, Antonio Citterio, and Jasper Morrison.     Vitra’s evolution will be tracked through a collection of about 120 design objects, furniture, models, publications, and videos. This will be supplemented by archival material and historic objects from the Vitra Design Museum in Germany. These materials include a plywood toy elephant by Charles and Ray Eames, a series of Alexander Girard’s Wooden Dolls, and George Nelson’s 1948 furniture catalogue for Herman Miller.
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Gehry on his Philadelphia Museum of Art commission and his future nautical plans

When Frank Gehry’s renovation of the Philadelphia Museum of Art is complete, the iconic institution won’t necessarily look like one of his signature works—at least from the outside. The architect isn't touching the icon's Beaux-Arts exterior, but is, instead, transforming the museum’s interior to improve circulation and boost gallery space. But even then, Gehry’s work won’t be all that “Gehry.” AN recently toured the museum’s exhibit on Gehry’s masterplan and got a chance to hear from the man himself about the museum renovations. On the tour, Gehry explained how he reimagined the building’s interior with a distinctive signature, but one that is inspired by the building’s DNA. “I think if it’s built, you’ll know somebody like me was here,” he said. This renovation has been a long time coming. And it will be a long time still before it's finally realized. The idea to update the museum was born in the 1990s and completing Gehry’s entire overhaul could take 10–15 years more. “If they wait five years, I’ll be 90,” Gehry said. “So for me, get going.” Given his age, and his storied career, AN asked Gehry about what else he wants to accomplish. “I’m so superstitious,” he said before explaining that he wants to increase his involvement in arts education. He mentioned his participation in the Turnaround Arts initiative—a presidential program, which aims to close the achievement gap through arts and music education. He told a story about going into a school in California and teaching kids how to plan and imagine cities. Gehry added that children are often marginalized in “ghetto schools.” “That’s what I’m interested in, that kind of stuff," said Gehry. "I am also designing a sailboat." Which, of course seems entirely appropriate given his predilection for sailing. He does, after all, already own a boat called FOGGY, which stands for his initials: Frank Owen Gehry. These days, it seems, every starchitect needs a boat in his or her oeuvre. Hear that Zaha and Norman? Frank will see you at the regatta.
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Review> The Philadelphia Museum of Art Explores the Art & Architecture of Fernand Léger

Fernand Léger is famous for his colorful paintings, many of which feature machine-like forms. He was also at the center of Paris’ avant-garde in the 1920s, not only in painting, but also in graphics, set and costume design, film-making, and architecture. That is the thesis of Anna Vallye, curator of this fall’s major exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Léger: Modern Art and the Metropolis, inspired by the museum’s Léger masterpiece, the monumental 1919 painting, “The City.” Léger was born in 1881 to a cattle farmer in Normandy, France. He trained as an architect and moved to Paris in 1900 to become an architectural draftsman, later transitioning to painting seriously in his mid-20s. He also served in the French army during World War I. When he returned from the front, he painted “The City,” an almost eight-foot-by-ten-foot “mural” painting that Vallye compares to Picasso’s pivotal 1907 work, “Les Desmoiselles d’Avignon.” She wrote in the exhibition catalogue, “If the ‘Desmoiselles’ is a world of fragments that converge in the ‘startled consciousness of (its) viewer’…’The City’ is a throbbing surface with no point of convergence, a bristling aggregate of equivalent signs (disk, pedestrian, letters, smoke) and formal effects.” In the 1920’s, Léger socialized and sometimes collaborated with a wide-ranging group of artists and architects, whose works are on lavish display in this exhibition—of its approximately 180 works, only one-third are by Léger. Thus, in the section focusing on what Vallye calls “publicity,” there are striking posters by Jean Carlu, Francis Bernard, and Cassandre for everything from a record company to a railway. Also here is a snippet of Abel Gance’s film, The Wheel, depicting close-up views of the wheels of a train in motion. Léger's design for a poster for it is nearby. There is also Léger's own experimental film, Mechanical Ballet, made in 1923 with Dudley Murphy and Man Ray. The film had no story line or script, but an array of often abstract images and a score by George Antheil for sixteen player pianos, three airplane propellers, a siren, and seven electric bells. And there are Léger's ballet set and costume designs, such as his multi-colored, abstract, early 1920’s backdrop and accompanying costumes for the Ballets Suedois’ Paris production of “The Skating Rink,” themselves inspired, according to Vallye, by Charlie Chaplin’s 1916 film, The Rink. The final section of the exhibition explores the influence of Léger's architectural training on his later designs, as well as the interaction during the 1920s between architects like Le Corbusier and Robert Mallet-Stevens and furniture designer Eileen Gray with painters like Léger and Theo van Doesburg. Highlights here include a 1982 reconstruction, after the 1923 original, of van Doesburg’s and Cornelius van Eesteren’s model of the utopian de Stijl private house, an explosion into space of planes and primary colors, and similar designs for l’Architecture Vivante, an avant-garde architectural magazine by Gray, Jean Badovici, van Doesburg, van Eesteren, Vilmos Huszar, Le Corbusier, and his cousin, Pierre Jeanneret. The dialogue between Léger's abstract 1924-25 “Mural painting” and more figurative 1926 “Accordian” and “Still Life (The Cameos)” paintings, with earlier still life paintings by Le Corbusier and his colleague, Amedee Ozenfant, is fascinating. For Léger, said Vallye, mural paintings were meant to be a “presence in space. They affect the way you experience the space around them, they are meant to dominate space. If you put a red couch in a room, it changes the temperature of the whole room. Léger wanted painting to do the same thing.” Léger: Modern Art and the Metropolis, through January 5, 2014, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, . It will be on display at the Correr Museum in Venice from February 8 to June 2, 2014.
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On View> "Marc Newson: At Home" Opens on November 23 at The Philadelphia Museum of Art

Nearly three decades after he was launched into design stardom by his biomorphic, aluminum Lockhead Lounge (above), famed Australian industrial designer Marc Newson will soon receive his first solo museum exhibition in the United States. Presented by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, "Marc Newson: At Home" will collect furniture, clothing, appliances, and Newsons’ 021C Ford concept car within a mock, six-room home in the museum’s Collab Gallery. Gathered from collections across Europe, Japan, and the United States, in addition to Newson’s personal cache, the objects on display will highlight the various facets of the designer’s distinctive style of flowing lines, bulbous forms, bright colors, and industrial references which helped to define an era of industrial design. The exhibition opens November 23rd and runs until April 20, 2014. Newson's signature riveted chaise lounge, both one of his most recognizable and rarest works, will be exhibited in the living room along side the matching, cello-shaped Pod of Drawers (1987), Super Guppy lamp (1987), and honeycombed, marble Voronoi Low Shelf (2008), among other works. The kitchen will contain a more attainable collection, including the curving, plastic Dish Doctor dish rack (1997), dinnerware by Noritake, glassware by Iitalla, cutlery from Alessi, and the Champagne Coffret Magnum (2006) for Don Pérignon. Newson's playful forms and vibrant colors take hold of the children's room, wherein the classic, three-legged Embryo Chair (1988), modular, plastic Bunky Bunk Beds (2010), and "Rocky" Rocking Horse create a vibrant, Jetsonian environment. To catch a glimpse of some Newson-designed clothing from G-Star, head over to the adult bedroom, which will also contain the retro Nimrod chair (2003) and transparent Atmos clock for Swiss watchmakers Jaeger LeCoultre (2008). The minimalist, streamlined Wall Hung "Invisi II" Toilet and Wash Basin (2012) take center stage in Newson's bathroom, while the 021C concept car, designed for Ford and exhibited at the Tokyo Auto Show in 1999, is housed within the garage.
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On View> Craft Spoken Here at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Craft Spoken Here Philadelphia Museum of Art 26th St. and Benjamin Franklin Pkwy. Philadelphia, PA Through August 12 Since it was founded in 1876, the Philadelphia Museum of Art has collected and exhibited crafts; the collection today includes 20th- and 21st-century works from across the globe. With Craft Spoken Here, the Museum presents the medium of crafting as a common language of technique, material, and form that defies cultural boundaries and historical categorization. Drawing from the museum’s collection as well as works on loan from artists and private collections, the exhibition will include some 40 works by acclaimed and lesser-known craftsman alike, with contemporary pieces from 1960 to the present, including The One, 1985 by Rebecca Medel (above). Representing the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Europe with works in ceramic, glass, metal, wood, lacquer, paper, and fiber, the works on display show the breadth of the medium and highlight the qualities of craft that transcend culture and time.