Things that are 100
In 1972 Robert Rauschenberg sat on a ladder, drink in hand (and probably quite a few already downed) to talk about painting. The ladder was in his studio, the chapel of a former orphanage in a place not yet called Noho.
Just knowing that it might still exist, and living nearby in the 1990’s, I was thrilled when I thought I might have found it; I parked my car in a Lafayette Street lot, spying a bit of the gothic windows. Turns out I was right.
When I visited Christy MacLear at the Rauschenberg Foundation last month I had forgotten about it, but it knocked me out when she opened the door and we sauntered into his studio. Exactly as he had left it, but no longer in black and white.
It’s a beautiful space with even more light than when Rauschenberg drawled to Emile de Antonio, as the buildings behind were removed to make…a parking lot.
I met Rauschenberg only once (here it comes) at the White House new year’s eve celebration in 2000. We talked about his studio near Cooper Union, where Carin went to school at precisely the time of the film. In an evening of bold face names (including, of course, Bill and Hill) Rauschenberg may have been the only genius. And it felt electric to stand in his studio, even 5 years after he permanently departed it.
EUR 1 & 2
4 Mar 2013
a nation of poets, artists, heroes, saints, philosophers, scientists, navigators, travelers…of dissemblers and disassemblers
For my birthday we went to Rome, a place that makes everyone seem young, and had dinner in the Ghetto at a restaurant our friends suggested. Piperno is unchanged by time, the only thing in a tiny piazza on Monti de Cenci. Whether it is really Jewish Roman food can be debated, but whether it is sublime cannot be. Plus, it was around the corner from our hotel.
When I stepped out to use the bathroom our friends asked Carin if they could order a small birthday cake and she agreed I could bear the temporary embarrassment. Later the lights went out and for a moment we thought it was a power outage, but it was just my cupcake of a celebration entering the room and everyone there sang (incredibly as it was Rome) “Happy Birthday”. Including the table next to us where Gerhard Richter was having dinner.
Now that Gerhard Richter has sung “Happy Birthday” to me, I am hoping this is just the beginning of celebrity participation in my life’s events. Here are a few of the next random appearances I would like to request:
Keith Richards: colonoscopy
Michael Bloomberg: tax audit
Lena Dunham: facial
Elvis Costello: suit alteration
Tina Fey: Mother’s 90th birthday
Stephen Hawking: my nephew’s graduation
Ricky Jay: the next Bar Mitzvah I am forced to attend
Barney Frank: choosing my next cellphone plan
Robert Caro: really long plane flight
Woody Allen: Netflix queue rearrangement
Please see what can be arranged.
The brilliance of Bilbao, and you know I mean the museum, not the town, is that under all that sumptuous shrouding is a very sensible and usable museum. Despite what some say about the original Guggenheim and its offspring they are both remarkable places to view art. The Wright building for its continuous storyline, always with a view to the whole space; and the Gehry for its equally imaginative collage of museum typologies united by the skin that spawned the Bilbao Effect. They both, for entirely different reasons, are buildings that actually like art.
Rome’s MAXXI seems so resentful of the fact that it must contain ‘other’s’ art, that it does its best to make that experience subservient to the real art on display; Dame Hadid.
This is a building nearly consumed by the most sinuous and confounding circulation route ever devised since Norman Bel Geddes designed the Futurama building at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. But Futurama was entirely about the trip. It was a ride, literally, through time, scale, space and narrative that began at the winding ramps outside and ended in a full scale intersection in the New York of the future.
MAXXI, on the other hand, attempts to create a future through style rather than content, a feat that will age as surely as Rome has endured. The insult is made even more confounding by the remarkable exposition in the architectural model exhibition currently (permanently?) on display. There the losing entries in the international competition show us what might have been, making it even clearer that the winner was to be more art than art museum, more brand image than content.
While ZH may deserve a paean for any number of reasons, why must it impersonate an art museum? Perhaps because it is less dangerous than imitating a Fire Station…though some artists may disagree.
Inside Outside Inside
The Villa Guilia is, even more than the Glass House or Jacque Tati’s film “Playtime”, about transparency, layering and the ambiguity of inside and outside.
Without the technical option to use glass as a literal transparent membrane, or the ability to span large spaces without massive vaulting or domes, the rooms of the Villa Guilia depend instead on the genius of form in light. Designed by, among others, Michelangelo, the villa employs a robust grid and a deft manipulation of scale (two of his favorite architectural tropes). In the end they are as finely wrought and structurally explicit as anything by Mies and as spatially layered and sequenced as anything by Le Corbusier.
And they manage, as Colin Rowe noted in 1950, all this modernity (and mannerism) a mere 400 years before any of the above.
Pyramid of Cestius : Cone of Starn
Rome 12 BC : 2013 AD