Michael Wang

  • “Lebbeus Woods, Architect”

    In 1995, Lebbeus Woods imagined San Francisco creatively transfigured by the very earthquakes that threaten it. These “Inhabiting the Quake” drawings depict an architecture that amplifies and arrests seismic forces, modeling them as arched, fractured, and splintered forms. SF MoMA’s major exhibition, which opens under the cloud of the architect’s recent death, will showcase these drawings in the city that inspired them, alongside works from thirty-five years of Woods’s speculative practice. The seventy-five drawings, collages, sketchbooks,

  • film July 13, 2012

    Coming Together

    DURING THE LAST WEEKEND IN JUNE, while most of Europe took a break from focusing on Greece’s precarious economic future to follow the Euro 2012 finals, I traveled to the tiny Greek village of Lyssaraia, in the heart of the Peloponnese, to attend the third installment of Gregory Markopoulos’s monumental Eniaios. The silent film, when it is finally printed in its entirety, will run approximately eighty hours in twenty-two “orders.” I was among more than two hundred guests who had come to see three of these orders, newly printed thanks to the fund-raising efforts of the filmmaker Robert Beavers,

  • “Metabolism, The City of the Future"

    Perhaps the most ebullient critique of doctrinaire postwar modernism, the Japanese Metabolist movement of the 1960s and ’70s understood the city as a living organism.

    Perhaps the most ebullient critique of doctrinaire postwar modernism, the Japanese Metabolist movement of the 1960s and ’70s understood the city as a living organism. Inspired by images of cellular development, its members imagined a city subject to dynamic processes of growth and decay wherein cantilevered residential blocks unfurled above old neighborhoods, structural systems arose along helical spines, and chunks of the urban landscape detached themselves from shore to float on the sea. Some eighty Metabolist projects will be on view

  • Hans Hollein

    Framing the Pritzker-winning architect as an artist, the exhibition foregrounds his multidisciplinary work in sculpture, writing, and design.

    “Everything is architecture,” declared Viennese architect Hans Hollein in April 1968. Appearing in the journal Bau, the proclamation accompanied images of what this expanded architecture might encompass: astronauts, bubbles, a pill. Such objects of contemporary life also fuel his “Transformation” collages, 1963–68, in which a spark plug, blown up in scale, becomes a gleaming tower, and an aircraft carrier, rising out of a barren landscape, suggests a fortified city. For the first comprehensive retrospective of his work (and the first exhibition in the recently relocated

  • diary May 09, 2011

    Rem Cycle

    “REM,” AS ARCHITECT REM KOOLHAAS is known in architecture and design circles, knows how to draw a crowd. Tickets to his New Museum–sponsored talk last Wednesday at NYU’s Kimmel Center, the keynote address to the heavily publicized “Festival of Ideas for the New City,” disappeared well before the event. (Heard on the blogosphere: “That guy sells out venues like Lady Gaga.”) And so it was a surprise to show up to a remarkably civil occasion—with plenty of seats to spare. “It’s a real insider event,” the gentleman seated to my left whispered, peering at the architecture- and art-world-heavy front

  • INTO THIN AIR: THE MERGING OF ARCHITECTURE AND THE ENVIRONMENT

    IN 1976, THE PRESIDENT of Union Carbide attempted to reassure the company’s Manhattan employees about their imminent relocation to Danbury, Connecticut. In a human-relations spot, he described their two presumed concerns: “The first is, What will it be like to work in this new building? And the second is, What will it be like to live in the Danbury area?” Kevin Roche, who had been commissioned to design the company’s new headquarters, understood these twin considerations of work and life as one and the same. Corporate America’s favored architect, Roche wanted the offices of the world’s third-largest

  • Anne Tyng: Inhabiting Geometry

    Best known for her twenty-five-year collaboration with Louis I. Kahn, architect Anne Tyng has received comparatively little recognition for her own rigorously theorized practice.

    Best known for her twenty-five-year collaboration with Louis I. Kahn, architect Anne Tyng has received comparatively little recognition for her own rigorously theorized practice. The work of securing her legacy has been limited, for the most part, to setting the record straight on her involvement with several of Kahn’s key projects (notably the unbuilt City Tower, with its novel space-frame construction). But the ICA show foregrounds Tyng’s independent career. Working with consulting curator Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss, the ninety-year-old architect has designed inhabitable

  • Marc Newson

    In the machine age, designers turned to the most advanced technologies of travel as sources of inspiration. Le Corbusier wrote odes to ocean liners and airplanes. Charlotte Perriand fell into raptures over automobiles. Marcel Breuer fashioned his tubular steel chairs after the handlebars of an Adler bicycle. Today, the current of influence may flow both ways: Design might influence transportation technology, too. Or so Australia-born, London-based designer Marc Newson’s second solo show at Gagosian seems to suggest. “Transport” presents Newson’s designs and prototypes for, primarily, private

  • “Rising Currents”

    POLAR ICE IS MELTING, warmer water is expanding, and coastal cities—confronted with projections of eroded coastlines and ever more frequent flooding—are grappling with the looming question of how to keep the water out. As early as 2004, researchers at Stony Brook University in New York were proposing the construction of three floodgates to protect New York Harbor. Sited at the Narrows between Brooklyn and Staten Island, at the upper end of the East River, and in the tidal strait between New Jersey and Staten Island, these defensive barriers would hem in the New York metropolitan area in the

  • diary October 31, 2009

    The Fischer King

    New York

    THERE WAS A CARNIVAL FEEL to the New Museum’s Tuesday fete for the crowd-pleasing “Urs Fischer: Marguerite de Ponty.” Art-hungry hordes lined up for their dose of the uncanny, whether taking turns being shocked by Noisette, a lingual jack-in-the-box that sprung from a gallery wall, or queuing for entry to Service a la francaise, Fischer’s hall of mirrors silk-screened with images of consumer detritus rendered luminous by studio strobes.

    Despite the dazzle, the three-floor show, which its curator, Massimiliano Gioni, was calling a “tour de force of perception,” also sustained deeper questions into

  • film October 09, 2009

    Modern Love

    MODERN ARCHITECTURE found its greatest proponent not among its designers and manifestoists, but in a twenty-five-year-old college dropout with a penchant for pictures. Or at least so goes the claim of Eric Bricker’s directorial debut, Visual Acoustics (2009), a documentary portrait of the architectural photographer Julius Shulman. In 1936, Shulman, wholly ignorant of anything to do with architecture, accompanied a draftsman from Richard Neutra’s office on a visit to Neutra’s recently completed Kun residence in Hollywood. Shulman sent his snaps to the architect and unwittingly jump-started a

  • Frank Lloyd Wright

    HALF A CENTURY AFTER PHILIP JOHNSON acidly proclaimed Frank Lloyd Wright “the greatest architect of the nineteenth century,” a new traveling retrospective makes the case for Wright’s relevance to the twenty-first. “Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward,” organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, explores Wright’s expression of interior spaces on his buildings’ exteriors, as in the perfect example of the Guggenheim’s concrete coil. With a generation of architects modeling building shapes with functionally coded blocks of blue foam, external form is

  • diary April 12, 2009

    Oh Jesus

    New York

    I ARRIVED TUESDAY EVENING at the New Museum’s inaugural triennial, “The Generational: Younger than Jesus,” an appropriately Eastertide roundup of fifty vernal artists, to the sounds of stomping feet, shattering glass, and the twangs of Shahzad Ismaily’s noise performance—all part of artist Liz Glynn’s 24 Hour Roman Reconstruction Project. The hullabaloo marked the sacking of Rome by the Visigoths, which, according to Glynn’s accelerated history—her cardboard and hot-glued Eternal City had been “founded” the previous evening—was timed to occur precisely as the “Generational” opened its doors for

  • film April 10, 2009

    Form and Function

    SUCCEEDING THE NEW YORK UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL after its fifteen-year run, “Migrating Forms,” organized by former NYUFF programmers Nellie Killian and Kevin McGarry, continues the late festival’s focus on recent experimental film and video while widening its international scope. The festival name, borrowed from filmmaker James Fotopoulos’s skeletal tale of sex and cysts, also alludes to the programmers’ desire to relocate moving-image work originally developed for gallery audiences into the context of cinema.

    Several films structured around the unraveling of national memory clearly benefit

  • diary March 18, 2009

    Show Boat

    New York

    TWO MONTHS AGO, when architect Frederic Schwartz learned that the Lieb House—one of Pritzker Prize–winning architect Robert Venturi’s earliest buildings and an icon of postmodernism—was slated for demolition by developers, his reflexive response took the form of a question: “How much?” Too much for him alone, it turned out. But with the help of Venturi’s son, Jim, he tracked down a couple of Venturi aficionados who eagerly accepted an unusual proposal: The house would be lifted off its original beachfront lot in Barnegat Light, New Jersey, where it had stood for exactly forty years, and floated

  • picks January 16, 2009

    Yael Bartana

    “Space is not the background for their actions,” writes architect Eyal Weizman in reference to the inhabitants of the Israeli-occupied territories in Palestine, “but rather the medium that each of their actions seeks to challenge, transform or appropriate.” In her latest museum exhibition, Yael Bartana shows video work that documents this politicized contestation of space. Overpass traffic grinds to a halt during the nationwide minute of silence honoring Israel’s fallen soldiers (Trembling Time, 2001), SUVs compete in the working-class sport of mounting rocky bluffs near Tel Aviv in a possible

  • MICHAEL WANG

    IT WAS IN 1943 that R. Buckminster Fuller made his famous announcement that during the preceding two years he had slept for an average of two hours a day, napping for thirty minutes at six-hour intervals. This “Dymaxion Sleep,” as he called it, followed the Dymaxion House, the Dymaxion Car, and the Dymaxion Map. For Fuller, whose global enterprise relied on the utopian logic that design might intervene consistently across any scale, the body itself was a “complex pattern integrity”—a reproducible structure rather than a physical entity. Obliterating the line between architecture and the

  • film July 12, 2008

    Silent Nights

    IT IS DIFFICULT to separate the form of Gregory Markopoulos’s Eniaios, his eighty-hour magnum opus, from his idiosyncratic biography. At the vanguard of the American experimental film scene in the 1950s and ’60s, Markopoulos emigrated to Europe in 1967 and withdrew his films from circulation. Two weekends ago, and sixteen years after Markopoulos’s death in 1992, the second installment of the film, cycles three through five of the twenty-two-cycle work, was projected, for the first time, at the site outside his ancestral village of Lyssaraia in the Peloponnese specified by him as the only suitable

  • diary July 12, 2008

    Country Dance

    Beacon, NY

    After the Friday-night premiere of Mark Morris’s interpretation of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet—in which, faithful to the recently unearthed pre-Stalinist score, the star-crossed lovers survive for a last dance—I followed the Hudson down from Bard to Beacon on Sunday to see the Merce Cunningham Dance Company perform amid Dia’s monumental Richard Serra Torqued Ellipses. It was my second “Event,” as these performances are billed, in a year (I saw another at the grounds of the Philip Johnson Glass House), and the fourth in a series at Dia, each held in a different gallery. Here the staging, with

  • diary June 26, 2007

    Canaan Ball

    New Canaan, CT

    Last Saturday, A-list arts patrons, the usual Whit Stillman–esque twentysomethings, and a smattering of artists and architects descended on New Canaan, Connecticut, to celebrate the public opening of Philip Johnson’s Glass House. The exclusive (and expensive) gala picnic doubled as a fund-raiser, with the goal of purchasing several acres north of the property, thereby preserving the Glass House’s famous view. “Two McMansions were slated to be built on that hill,” announced Christy MacLear, executive director of the property, in her welcoming address. “Not on our watch,” she added to scattered