Michael Meredith

  • passages January 17, 2014

    Ulrich Franzen (1921–2012)

    I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN FASCINATED by the work of Ulrich Franzen, because to me it represents an as-yet poorly understood transformation and expansion of the legacy of architectural modernism. Franzen’s work certainly wasn’t postmodernist, and his most famous buildings, such as the Philip Morris headquarters or his buildings for Hunter College, both in New York, are well known for their kind of late-modern, Brutalist style. Like many other prominent architects of his generation, he had trained at the Harvard Graduate School of Design under Walter Gropius after World War II, and so there was no question

  • passages September 24, 2013

    John M. Johansen (1916–2012)

    I MET JOHN JOHANSEN while I was working on an exhibition for the Harvard Graduate School of Design. The idea behind the show was to work within the collection and the archive of the school, and as I looked through the archive I started thinking about this problem of a generation of architects who were educated under Walter Gropius at the GSD in the early 1940s during and after the war. It was interesting because they were erased from my own education, some half a century later, because they were an in-between generation, late modernists who came between the high modernists like Gropius who have

  • the Krabbesholm studios

    In this era of the unprecedented intersection of art, architecture, and design, cultural institutions are often on the front lines of exchange between these fields, whether operating as incubators for new forms of hybridized production or as the last bastions of traditional disciplinary distinctions. Michael Meredith and Hilary Sample, founders of New York–based MOS Architects, have repeatedly crossed professional divides and engaged artistic practice in their work—both in direct collaborations, such as in their 2004 design with Pierre Huyghe for a puppet theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts,

  • picks June 24, 2004

    Sze Tsung Leong

    Sze Tsung Leong’s photographic series “History Images” documents urban construction sites throughout China. There are obvious similarities between Leong’s large-format photos and Andreas Gursky’s: Both artists play with scale and expansive, encompassing space in order to overwhelm the viewer. But while Gursky’s photographs pop and sparkle with richly saturated spectacles of capital investment—luxury hotels, offices, stores, trash heaps—Leong’s are empty and muted, pervaded by a melancholic atmosphere that expresses ambivalence toward the rampant urbanization of China. This general tone

  • Liam Gillick

    For the last ten years Liam Gillick has been preoccupied with the construction of the social. His spare, cerebral installations investigate relationships between artistic practice and the networked systems that establish the social realm—written language, iconography, economics, architecture, design, and, particularly, the elusive notion of “place.” Gillick’s work is always articulated within a retro-avant-garde vocabulary of Minimalism to Donald Judd, Dan Graham, Barnett Newman, El Lissitzky, and Piet Mondrian, among others. These references to previous avant-garde practices themselves

  • picks June 19, 2003

    Zaha Hadid

    Zaha Hadid's signature drawings—eyeballed perspectives delineated by ghostly, phosphorescent white lines on black backgrounds—started her career in the early 1980s. For years her work existed almost exclusively on paper, but the 1998 commission to design Cincinnati's Center for Contemporary Art constituted a turning point. Now, her drawings are being transformed into buildings at an astonishing rate, although sleight-of-hand draftsmanship remains at the core of her work. The array of recent projects at Artists Space—represented by models, digital animations and paintings, as well as drawings—is

  • “Reconfiguring Space: Blueprints for Art in General”

    In a conversation with Allan Kaprow published in Arts Yearbook’s “Museum World” (1967), Robert Smithson speculated about the possibility of a museum composed of different kinds of emptiness. How to create flexible, supportive open space remains the fundamental challenge for architects and designers who hope to build museums or galleries, as the recent exhibition “Reconfiguring Space: Blueprints for Art in General” made evident. Five finalists—kOnyk, Acconci Studio, Freecell, Leslie Gill Architect, and Natalie Jeremijenko/Laura Kurgan Design—were selected from an open competition to redesign the

  • John Hejduk

    There was something jarring about “Sanctuaries.” The exhibition consisted of models and drawings that were among the last works of architect John Hejduk, who constructed few buildings but was an influential presence during his twenty-five years at the Cooper Union school of architecture, where he was dean until his death, in 2000. There his star students included Daniel Libeskind, Elizabeth Diller, Stan Allen, and Toshiko Mori. Today, Hejduk’s work remains as enigmatic as it was during his life. Fearless in its personalized poetics, figuration, and overt spirituality, it’s the type of stuff that

  • “Perfect Acts of Architecture”

    “Perfect Acts of Architecture” brought together six series of early and seminal drawings that established the careers and ideologies of five of today’s preeminent architects: Peter Eisenman, Daniel Libeskind, Rem Koolhaas, Thom Mayne, and Bernard Tschumi. All but one of these projects, Eisenman’s “House VT,” ca. 1976, are not constructed or are impossible to build. And that’s what makes them “perfect.” The drawings provide critical and theoretical platforms by negating the architectural realities of commerce—of client, function, material, building code, site, and budget. The architects even

  • “Infotecture”

    A loosely conceived exhibition of projects by architects and designers, “Infotecture” surveyed design methodologies that represent and organize information at a time when we are constantly communicating, shopping, watching, and working via high-speed technologies. On display were books, computer programs, clothing, videos, architectural drawings, and sculpture by nine participants, the best-known of whom were Diller + Scofidio, 2x4, and Rem Koolhaas/OMA.

    For the digitally minded architects in this exhibition, information has replaced space as the new universal. As Richard Powers states eloquently

  • Sarah Oppenheimer

    Sarah Oppenheimer’s installation Hallway, 2002 came across as the hybrid work of an artist, architect, and social scientist. Sixteen floor-to-ceiling cardboard panels like oversize components of build-it-yourself flattened boxes were conjoined seamlessly flush with the walls of the gallery. The white cardboard on white walls made distinguishing between setting and packaging impossible. Parts of the panels were unfolded into the room in various configurations, creating partitions and revealing the beige plywood substratum of the wall. At the end of the room was a white metal office table with a

  • Simon Starling

    Simon Starling’s recent installation looked back at the modernist attempt to dissolve the barriers between art and the environment while recasting modernism itself as a cage. A well-orchestrated hybrid of disciplines and references, the work fell into the categories of painting, sculpture, industrial design, architecture, and music without fitting into any of these.

    The show, titled “Inverted Retrograde Theme, USA,” was arranged in two parts. Hanging at eye level near the entrance were three lamps with stacked red, white, blue, and green metal shades, based on Paul Henningsen’s ’50s pendant

  • Fred Sandback

    For the past thirty-five years Fred Sandback has been creating barely-there yarn installations that exist somewhere between object and line, sculpture and drawing. The thin fuzzy line of Sandback's yarn is chock-full of an art-historical spatial discourse that connects his work to both Alberto Giacometti and Barnett Newman, who seem to provide some of the groundwork for Sandback—as do Karl Ioganson's “Constructions” in wire and string, though those lines are resolutely unfuzzy. (Sandback's prints, not on view here, bear a striking resemblance to Ioganson's drawings.)

    Sandback's current

  • The Russian Avant-Garde Book: 1910–1934

    This comprehensive exhibition of 300 Russian artist’s books and manifestos, organized by MoMA curator Deborah Wye and guest curator Margit Rowell, reminds us that the goal of breaking down the barriers between creative disciplines is nothing new.

    This comprehensive exhibition of 300 Russian artist’s books and manifestos, organized by MoMA curator Deborah Wye and guest curator Margit Rowell, reminds us that the goal of breaking down the barriers between creative disciplines is nothing new. With infectious slogans like “Real materials in real space” and “Art into life,” the Russian avant-garde’s production was anything but autonomous. Even if their dream of integrating art into everyday life through industrial production went unrealized, we’re left with a compelling record of photomontage propaganda