Matter, Light, and Form: Architectural Photographs of Wayne Thom, 1968-2003 WUHO Gallery 6518 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles Through December 20, 2015 Best known for his keen documentation of Late Modernism, Wayne Thom’s architectural photography brings drama and beauty to a period marked by corporate and developer-driven design. Now, the Julius Shulman Institute at Woodbury University presents an exhibition of Thom’s work at the WUHO Gallery in Hollywood. Curated by Nicholas Olsberg and Andrea Dietz, the show spans the photographer’s five-decade career and is organized into three sections based on typologies: towers, pavilions, and plazas. The exhibition title Matter, Light, and Form speaks to the photographer’s belief in architecture as sculpture. According to the curators, Thom has never “lit” a piece of architecture, instead he would wait for days for the right light to hit a building. “[T]o paraphrase Louis Kahn, sometimes buildings don’t know how beautiful they are until the camera’s eye falls upon them,” noted Olsberg. In July, when AN profiled Thom’s work, writer Daniel Paul made a plea for an institution to acquire Thom’s archive. Later that month, the University of Southern California Libraries, Special Collections announced that it would purchase and manage the archive, thus securing Thom’s legacy and singular architectural eye.
Posts tagged with "Photography":
Cairo's Townhouse gallery is hosting an exploration of Egypt's housing crisis through the lens of 18 photographs by Anthony Hamboussi. The views encapsulate urban and architectural vistas that tell the story of "housing real estate in all sectors of the economy, formal and informal, from high-end developments to state-built “affordable” housing and piecemeal private investments." But act fact, SURPLUS! Housing from the Periphery closes on November 4. The selection is distilled from a larger pool of 180 photographs called “Cairo Ring Road,” which Hamboussi collected over a four-year span. Presented as large-format prints, the photographs are universally dystopic, portraying vast uninhabited landscapes frozen in a single moment of time. Hamboussi focuses his camera on varying housing typologies, from the ashwaiyyat, desert gates communities common in Cairo, to the city's hinterland edges. For more information, visit the Townhouse gallery's website.
Thursday night, Barbara Kasten’s first major retrospective opened at the Graham Foundation as an offsite event of the Chicago Architecture Biennial. Set in the Madlener house, a turn-of-the century Prairie-Style mansion, the exhibition brings together a roughly chronological overview of the artist’s practice from the 1970s until today. The works on display are of an astonishingly contemporary quality—many of the framed photographs follow the aesthetic paradigms of current net—or Tumblr art featuring primitive geometric shapes of varying surface texture lit in a rich palette of pastel colors forming surreal spatial compositions. Kasten started her career working with fibers, with some of the most impressive works in the show being a series of cyanotype prints from the 1970s achieved by laying down fiberglass molds onto large sheets coated with chemicals. The images evoke seemingly three-dimensional rippled fabric brought to the flat plane through a technical process. Moving further into the third dimension Kasten started to build large-scale studio sets in the 1970s. Her forms highly geometric at first, she increasingly started adding more specific elements such as column details from architectural catalogues. These photographs are highly reminiscent of much more recent images circulating on the internet produced with 3d modeling and rendering software. Many of the analogue processes used by Kasten in this phase of her work can be applied particularly well in the virtual domain. The backgrounds are simplistic and contained, there is no natural light or environment to complicate the render process, and the objects are geometric primitives or sourced from catalogues rather than created from scratch. Despite formal similarities a significant difference separates the ethereal digital spaces from Barbara Kasten meticulously constructed environments. As Kasten points out in a recent interview, weight and gravity play an important role in the construction of sculptures. The props used by Kasten are never mounted in place but rest on or adjacent to each other through gravity. By the 1980s Kasten moved on to incorporating existing buildings into her sets, transforming them through light, color, and mirrors to create compositional photographs. She first worked with corporate headquarters and financial centers and later turned to museums as different kind of spaces of authority. Depicting these composed, lasting, authoritative buildings with temporary, fragile, colorful and disorienting sensibility she produced what Sylvia Lavin coined a kiss, or a powerful statement through a gentle gesture. The images produced in this series act as records of an atmospheric transformation of a number of establishment-reinforcing spaces. On the third floor of the Madlener house the show culminates with a site specific installation. With moving light projections directed at sculptural forms it is like one of her photographic stages come to life. It is a beautiful experience yet also feels like an unmasking of a magicians trick—with the mechanism behind the photographs exposed, the stage-like installation loses some of the precision and specificity of the highly controlled still frames. The piece is most successful at illustrating the incredible breadth of Barbara Kasten’s work, blurring the boundaries between art, installation, and architecture—despite the fact that all the illusions are based on the limits of physical space.
Last year artists Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero led a collaborative effort to take over Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House with kaleidoscopic light and video loops. That project, INsite, followed similar work at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater and Robie House, and imbued Mies' modernist touchstone with a vivacity often lacking in the contemporary experience of midcentury interiors. (Read AN's review of Luftwerk's INsite installation here.) Now that work will live on as a show, INsite ONview, which runs September 11 – November 15 at the Matthew Rachman Gallery in Chicago. Photographer Kate Joyce's images of the original installation will be on display, along with “dynamic, kinetic ephemera based on the installation.” Luftwerk also recently announced they would mount an installation at Chicago's Garfield Park Conservatory. That project, dubbed solarise, opens September 23.
Kim Stringfellow’s Jackrabbit Homestead The Autry in Griffith Park 4700 Western Heritage Way Los Angeles Through August 23 The California desert has long been an object of fascination for creatives and explorers fleeing the monotony and sprawl of Los Angeles. Artist Kim Stringfellow follows in that tradition with Jackrabbit Homestead, an exhibition that explores—through photographs and audio interviews—a collection of dilapidated 1950s cabins and the surrounding reclamation of land and structures in this harsh landscape. The show also introduces local artists, and investigates the area’s contentious relationship with land use and ecology, especially as water runs short. Stringfellow is a winner of the Autry’s Theo Westenberger Award for Artistic Excellence honoring contemporary women whose work in photography, film, and new media transforms how we see the American West.
Photographer Wayne Thom captured Late Modernism like no one else, and now his archive is looking for a home
As 1970s and 1980s architecture returns to vogue, a new recognition of those associated with its making and documentation also arises. So it is with Wayne Thom, long the preeminent architectural photographer of the large, Late Modern building by the large firm. Thom began photographing in the late 1960s and his work in Los Angeles, the Western U.S. and beyond to the Pacific Rim documented changing tastes and approaches toward the architectural subject. Hundreds of images are on view on his website. It’s a distinctive and significant body of work, but one without a home. Presently Thom is looking for an organization or institution to take on his sizeable and meticulously organized archive. As time goes on, Thom’s remarkable work seems increasingly ill-suited for sequestration within any one house, including his own. Born in Shanghai in 1933, Thom was raised in Hong Kong, and emigrated to Vancouver in 1949 with his family that includes brother Bing Thom who went on to become a highly noted Canadian architect. Arriving in the States in 1964, Wayne graduated from Brooks Institute of Photography in 1968. By the following year he was working with A. Quincy Jones (“A.Q.”) who gave him his big Los Angeles break. Jones, and others whom Jones later introduced on Thom’s behalf, were impressed with approaches that would over time become Wayne Thom hallmarks. These include the use of natural light only, no props whatsoever, and big buildings—particularly the high rise, as his subject. A breakthrough assignment, Wayne’s prominence further rose with his image of the 1971 CNA Park Place Tower in the Westlake section of Los Angeles. Completed by Langdon & Wilson, CNA Park Place was the first all-over smooth-grid mirror glass skin building—a soon to be corporate vernacular—completed in the Western United States, and likely the Country. Thom’s image of the building overlooking Lafayette Park and the people within it won the First Award of the Pittsburgh Plate Glass (PPG) Architectural Photographers Invitational in 1973. Among his clients through the 1970s, Thom frequently worked with the A.C. Martin office where he photographed a variety of projects including their various Downtown LA projects, the underrated (and unfortunately renovated) Sears West Coast headquarters, and even an A.C. Martin–designed jet interior. In that decade he also began steady, multi-year work as the primary photographer for William Pereira (“Bill”); San Francisco’s Transamerica Building was among his many Pereira assignments. Among other publications, Thom’s images were featured in Progressive Architecture, Architectural Record, Architectural Forum, and Domus—where he photographed for Gio Ponti, the magazine’s founder. His award-winning Bonaventure Hotel image is the February 1978 Progressive Architecture cover. Architect Arthur Erickson, whom Thom knew since his much earlier Vancouver years, tapped him to assist in assembling the team of associate architects, landscape architects and designers that ultimately won the 1980 competition to redevelop Bunker Hill sponsored by the City of Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency. In a highly publicized coup, they battled against the “All Stars” team, which included Barton Myers, Frank Gehry, Ricardo Legorreta, Charles Moore, Cesar Pelli and others under Maguire Partners Development. Yet says Thom, “We won the battle but lost the war;” aside from a single Erickson building and the hardscape (Two California Plaza was completed by A.C. Martin) the rest of Erickson’s winning scheme was never realized. Thom continued in full-time practice until 2013, when he curtailed his workload. Living in Rowland Heights, he maintains meticulous records for his thousands of negatives and slides plus hundreds and hundreds of proof books and presentation prints. Now, he’s interested in releasing all of it. In addition to his artifacts, the photographer’s memory is institutional and he seems to have known every single Los Angeles Late Modernist, with insightful if not funny tidbits on most of them. If it all possible, his basic hopes are that archive stay intact and be made available to the public.
David Hartt: Interval Art Institute of Chicago 111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago Through October 11 Canadian artist David Hartt examines the culture and built environment of a given locale through the changing needs and values of its community. For this essayistic series of films and photographs, Hartt selected two economically and geographically isolated sites: Whitehorse in the Canadian Yukon and Sakhalin Island, a Russian territory at the tip of the Japanese archipelago. The exhibition is accompanied by a musical score by composer Mitchell Akiyama, and backed by a series of walls simulating the reflective exterior of the Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles. Hartt’s work focuses on the “periphery of their respective societies” as a precept for commenting on their centers. Meanwhile, the exhibition’s title calls attention to temporal and spatial displacements that occur at these sites in an increasingly globalized world.
The water is so clear right now in Lake Michigan, you can see sunken ships beneath the crystal waves
Winter ice is melting around the Great Lakes, revealing cerulean waters below—and, in northern Lake Michigan, an open graveyard of shipwrecks. Lake Michigan's Manitou Passage is a popular diving destination for shipwreck-seekers, but this year the Spring weather has conspired to produce an unusually plain view of the sunken ships. The U.S. Coast Guard Air Station of Traverse City, Michigan said last week in a Facebook post that an air crew first glimpsed the exposed wrecks during a routine patrol of the northern Michigan coastline. Though still a chilly 38.8 degrees Fahrenheit, the water will soon warm, welcoming recreational swimmers, divers, boaters and an influx of nutrient runoff from towns and farms in the watershed. That will usher in algal blooms and again obscure the wrecks currently visible through the crystal clear water.
Gregory Ain: Low-Cost Modern Housing and The Construction of a Social Landscape WUHO Gallery 6518 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles Through April 26 Gregory Ain was a pioneer in the development of low-cost modern housing, and many of his efforts fused radical, left-wing politics and cooperative living with architecture. And a new exhibit in Los Angeles spotlights five of the architect’s most innovative housing projects. Projects included in the exhibit at Woodbury University's WUHO Gallery in Hollywood are Dunsmuir Flats, Park Planned Homes, Avenel Cooperative Housing, Mar Vista Housing, and Community Homes Cooperative. The show consists of classic black and white photographs by Julius Shulman and contemporary color shots by Korean artist Kyungsub Shin. Shin’s photos—first commissioned for the 2011 Gwangju Design Biennale in South Korea—document how Ain’s small-yet-well-resolved houses—clustered to lower costs, share resources, and create social connections—can still accommodate contemporary lifestyles. "People are highly attracted to these houses today,” said show curator Anthony Fontenot. "There's something very comfortable about them, but they're still strikingly modern." The show also includes original materials, such as Ain’s “manifesto” of the planned community, fleshed out with drawings, documents, letters, and other archival materials. "We could learn a lot from looking at his ideas," said Fontenot. "Our own ecological, economic, and political climate demands that you cannot exist on your own."
Like a lone pea out of its pod, the desolation of a solo row house waxes stark in Baltimore-based photographer Ben Marcin’s new series: Last House Standing. Often painted in garish colors at variance with their boarded-up windows and battered brickwork, the row houses are an architectural quirk of certain cities along the eastern seaboard. Marcin’s fascination stems from the details that come to the fore only when one house is left standing—once indistinguishable in a cookie-cutter row of identical three-story walk-ups. “My interest in these solitary buildings is not only in their ghostly beauty but in their odd, almost defiant, placement in the urban landscape...They were clearly not designed to stand alone like this,” Marcin wrote on his website. Many row houses received the wrecking ball long before the housing bubble burst, when population decline caused entire streets of row houses to be vacated. Naked trees, subdued skies and surrounding vacant lots add to the spellbinding, ghost town–like ambiance of Marcin’s shots, each building's endurance a “defiance” of sorts. The first abandoned dwelling to catch his eye was a bright-blue three-story building with six front windows that had been boarded up and painted white, and a door which had been AWOL for years. The pretty 19th-century cornice on the roof, however, remained intact. Marcin scoped out more desolate domiciles by bike in East and West Baltimore, his fixation eventually luring him to Mid-Atlantic cities in New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania. The 55-year-old software developer at the Social Security Administration regularly consults Google Maps to discover more empty lots populated by a lone building. “They’re kind of like me. I was a bit of a loner in life by choice. And these subjects are standing out there by themselves,” Marcin told the Baltimore Sun. Baltimore authorities have plans to demolish the remaining row houses in favor of new housing developments, despite protests from residents at hearings. Marcin aims to archive every number of the dying breed before it's too late. Marcin's previous exhibition, A House Apart, connotes this same sense of abandonment, showing awkwardly perched ramshackle dwellings and tiny, speck-like cabins amidst barren desert. In The Camps, Marcin hunted for the makeshift dwellings of the homeless—one of which is merely a blanket draped over a thistle of branches.
Chicago's Harrington College of Design on Wednesday abruptly announced it will merge with Columbia College. Jim McCoy, Harrington's vice president of operations, told AN the school will no longer accept new students, but won't shut the door on its existing student body. “Everyone that's enrolled in Harrington, we will teach them out,” said McCoy. Students in the downtown college's associate, graduate, and bachelor programs will continue to take Harrington classes through August 2018—even students who took a semester off can finish their degrees, McCoy said. “We do not want to lock them out.” After the summer term, at which point Harrington will vacate its leased space in Chicago's Loop, students will attend class in facilities owned by Columbia College. Students who complete their degrees within about a year can request a diploma from Harrington, McCoy said, but bachelors finishing their degrees after that time will earn credentials from their new alma mater, Columbia College. McCoy said declining enrollment had put pressure on Harrington's administration to make the move now or face the possibility of shutting students out in a few years while they were still part-way through their academic programs. “It just became obvious,” McCoy said, “to get back to where it was financially stable would have taken years, and we felt this was in the best interest of the students.” Over the last five years McCoy estimated Harrington's enrollment has declined by 30–40 percent. He credits increasing competition, including from online programs, for the drop. But also to blame may be the college's select program offerings. For 84 years Harrington has offered highly specialized programs in graphic design, interior design, and photography. “Those are great fields. They will continue to be great fields,” said McCoy. But they could not sustain business at Harrington. Crain's Chicago Business contextualized the financial situation of Harrington's owner, the suburban Schaumburg-based, for-profit company Career Education:
Like many private education companies, Career Education has struggled with declining enrollment over the past few years and has been losing money. The company's 2014 revenue fell to $736.9 million from $834.1 million in the year prior, and its loss widened to $178.2 million from $164.3 million in 2013.Nationally enrollment has declined at for-profit universities, as well. “We're saddened,” said McCoy. “We are. We are happy to have been able to partner with Columbia College, and the underlying thing is we're not closing the door on our students.”
Review> Richard Estes's photorealistic paintings of New York on view at the Museum of Arts and Design
Richard Estes: Painting New York City Museum of Arts & Design New York Through September 20, 2015 The first exhibition of art at this institution originally and primarily devoted to craft consists of photorealist paintings spanning 50 years by one of the most accomplished masters of the style. And in the dispassionate way typical of this artist and the genre, they show some subtle changes that have taken place in the cityscape. Richard Estes is one of the most successful—and to me the most interesting—of the artists who worked in a style that challenged the dominance of abstract painting and sculpture in the late 1960s and ’70s, without ever quite supplanting it. Though photorealism uses the camera, rather than direct observation or drawing, it reasserts painting’s ability to analyze, describe, and interpret its subject matter in a way that the Pop Art of the time never tried to do. And yet most photorealism, especially Estes’, is pretty deadpan. He is more interested in how we see and how the camera distorts vision than in what is goes on in the places he paints. Estes was born in Kewanee, Illinois, in 1962, studied art at the Art institute of Chicago, and came to New York in 1958. By 1967, he had abandoned the manner of the earliest painting in the show, Seated Figures, Central Park c. 1965, which has big loose brush strokes and human figures in a landscape, for a more precise photographic style focused on buildings, streets, and vehicles. To him, the streets of New York are one big studio. So are the subways, buses, and ferries he rides, and the bridges he crosses to discover different perspectives. But what he thinks of these places is not revealed. There are no signs of the financial crisis of the 1970s or of the rise of homelessness. There are no graffiti-strewn subway cars. Shop fronts suggest that the owners and their patrons are doing okay. But Estes’ pictures provide an enduring sense of life in New York—what it is like to wander the streets, be a part of a lively street scene, and yet a dispassionate observer. Estes is a modern flâneur with an acute ability to observe surfaces but little interest in what goes on beneath them. Still, the show has some stories to tell. A painting of Union Square from c. 1975 shows cars parked on pavement where the farmer’s market now thrives. One of the Guggenheim Museum from 1979 (commissioned by the Museum) shows a rotting rotunda before the Gwathmey Siegel addition was built. A chromogenic print of Times Square in 2003 depicts the area before the pedestrian plazas were built. And a 2009 view of the Time Warner Center on Columbus Circle depicts it from a window of the museum close to the spot where the painting hangs in the show. The exhibition, organized by Patterson Sims, who was also the curator of recent Estes shows at the Smithsonian and Portland Art Museum in Maine, is a welcome addition to MAD’s programming. It contains displays that show the craftsmanship involved in Estes’ prints. And, it provides historical background to the new painting-sized photographs and photo-enhanced paintings shown in galleries today.