Anthony Vidler

  • Gordon Matta-Clark, Bronx Floor: Boston Road, 1973, gelatin silver print, 11 × 13 7/8".


    This exhibition promises to explore dimensions of Matta-Clark only touched on in previous retrospectives, homing in on his architectural projects of the 1970s. The artist adopted the sobriquet anarchitect, with a bow to the art brut painter Jean Dubuffet and in explicit opposition to his professional education at Cornell. But the work to be exhibited in the Bronx this fall—which will include preparatory drawings and documentation of his famous cuttings, including the highly complex incision through two seventeenth-century Parisian town houses

  • Zaha Hadid, Overall Isometric—Day View, 1983, acrylic on paper, 52 × 72 1/2". © Zaha Hadid Architects.

    Zaha Hadid

    I FIRST MET ZAHA in London in 1976. I was a visiting critic in Elia Zenghelis and Rem Koolhaas’s studio at the Architectural Association, and I was asked to set a mini-exercise connected to my work on eighteenth-century utopias. I presented the students with a series of passages from the Marquis de Sade describing the spaces of debauchery. Their task was to find a mode of representation appropriate to the textual description. The responses were predictable—some overillustrative, others soberly diagrammatic. Zaha came into the review late, right at the end, carrying a small origami cube that

  • Page from Nicolas Schöffer’s La Ville cybernétique, (Tchou, 1969). Design for Centre de Loisirs Sexuels (Center of Sexual Recreation).


    A generation ago, it was “The Machine” that let architects down—tomorrow or the day after it will be “The Computer,” or Cybernetics or Topology.

    —Reyner Banham, “Stocktaking 1960”

    TODAY, ARCHITECTURE has apparently been revolutionized by the shift toward computation in every area of professional practice—from conception to fabrication—which has authorized structural systems previously only imagined, developed formal systems that abandon traditional geometry in favor of topology and its parametric generators, and enabled an unprecedented rigor and efficiency in the analysis of


    Ten scholars, critics, writers, and artists choose the year’s outstanding titles.


    Imagine that you are listening to a spirited conversation between a French art historian and a German painter. De Rouget and Daimler, as they are called, are at lunch on a recent October Sunday near Pontarlier. It is where Degas vacationed briefly in 1904 and where absinthe is made. In Il était plus grand que nous ne pensions: Édouard Manet et Degas (Paris: Nouvelles Éditions Scala/Collection Ateliers Imaginaires), Éric Darragon, author of a subtle biography of Manet and writings on contemporary German

  • View of “Gordon Matta-Clark: 'You Are the Measure,'” 2007, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Foreground: Gordon Matta-Clark, Splitting: Four Corners, 1974. Photo: Sheldan Collins. All works by Gordon Matta-Clark: © 2007 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

    Gordon Matta-Clark

    THE ALL-TOO-BRIEF, mercurial career of Gordon Matta-Clark (1943–1978) has attracted increasing interest over the past ten years. Thanks to monographic studies by Pamela M. Lee and Corinne Diserens, published in 2000 and 2003, respectively, and several recent exhibitions in San Diego and New York, Matta-Clark’s ten years of frenetic productivity are becoming known to a larger public. The show currently on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York is, however, the first retrospective of Matta-Clark’s work since that held at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, in 1985. The many


    Finding inspiration in jellyfish and geopolitics, architects today are working within radically new frames of reference.

    ARCHITECTURE, AFTER SEVERAL DECADES of self-imposed autonomy, has recently entered a greatly expanded field. Against neorationalism, pure language theory, and postmodern citation fever, architecture—like sculpture some decades earlier—has found new formal and programmatic inspiration in a host of disciplines and technologies from landscape design to digital animation. Where former theorists attempted to identify single and essential bases for architecture, now multiplicity and plurality are celebrated, as flows, networks, and maps replace grids, structures, and history. Where arguments once

  • Deconstructivist architecture in 2003

    IN 1988, when the Museum of Modern Art mounted the “Deconstructivist Architecture” show, curated by Philip Johnson and Mark Wigley, the seven architects assembled beneath this ambiguous banner— Peter Eisenman, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, Daniel Libeskind, Bernard Tschumi, and Coop Himmelb(l)au—were unambiguously seen as “theoretical,” dismissed as such, and excoriated by both proponents of various “postmodernisms” and conservative anti-intellectuals. Any idea that “Deconstructivism” was a movement of consequence beyond the art gallery was rejected out of hand. Yet nearly

  • Left: Dia:Beacon, basement before renovation, 1999. Photo: Michael Govan. Right: Richard Serra, Torqued Ellipse II, 1996, and Double Torqued Ellipse, 1997. Installation view, Dia:Beacon, 2003. Photo: Florian Holzherr.

    Anthony Vidler on Dia:Beacon

    THE RECENTLY OPENED DIA:BEACON, its permanent collection installed in galleries inside a converted box factory, is by all accounts a major success. Despite the obvious gaps in the collection, tied to the vicissitudes of the last twenty years of collecting, critics have cited a number of factors contributing to the exhilarating effect of a visit: the appropriateness of the huge former printing sheds for art that demands a spacious setting, the ability for living artists to collaborate in the installation and in some cases provide new site-specific work, the elegant gardens designed by Robert

  • Gordon Matta-Clark, Bingo, 1974. Installation view, Niagara Falls, New York.

    Anthony Vidler on Gordon Matta-Clark

    THE “DILEMMAS” OF Gordon Matta-Clark, to cite the title of Liza Bear’s celebrated 1976 interview with the artist, were not entirely of his own making. They were more the result of an increasingly specialized world of art criticism and practice, a world that was, despite the attempts of successive avant-gardes since the Futurists, still more or less divided along traditional lines. It was Matta-Clark’s apparent indifference to these divisions—between sculpture and architecture, photography and film, performance and installation, and above all the permanent and the transitory—that has given rise

  • Bernard Tschumi, Folie Transformation, 1986, ink and watercolor on paper,  26 1/16 x 20 3/4

    1988: “Deconstructivist Architecture”

    “DECONSTRUCTIVIST ARCHITECTURE,” curated by Philip Johnson and Mark Wigley, opened at the Museum of Modern Art in June 1988. It seemed at first sight to be a heterogeneous affair, cobbled together from drawings and models of the mostly unbuilt work of seven architects assembled beneath a neologism suggestive at once of the Russian avant-garde movement of the ’20s and the interpretative approach to literary and philosophical analysis pioneered by Jacques Derrida. Following the tactics employed by Johnson and Henry-Russell Hitchcock in their 1932 “Modern Architecture” exhibition at MoMA, “

  • Aformal Affinities

    A conceptual building is as likely to be aformal as it is to be formal.”
    —Reyner Banham, 1955

    “MORE GARBAGE HAS BEEN WRITTEN about [Frank Gehry] than any other architect of his generation,” Reyner Banham noted in 1987, “but all attempts to push him into any known taxonomy—even postmodernist—tend to leave him uncategorised.” Banham himself had tried often enough to place him. In his breakthrough 1971 book Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies, he attempted to assimilate Gehry into the LA Modern tradition, from R. M. Schindler forward, as he saw the Danziger Studio and

  • The Writing of the Walls

    But the world, mind, is, was and will be writing its own wrunes for ever, man, on all matters that fall under the ban of our infrarational senses for the last milchcamel, the heartvein throbbing between his eyebrowns, has still to moor before the tomb of his cousin charmian where his date is tethered by the palm that’s hers. But the horn, the drinking, the day of dread are not now. A bone, a pebble, a ramskin; chip them, chap them, cut them up allways; leave them to terracook in the mutthering pot: and Gutenmorg with his cromagnom charter tintingfast and great primer must once for omniboss step