Philip Nobel

  • Dia:Beacon


    The big new space for big newish art that the Dia Art Foundation will open this May in Beacon, New York, should be a very big deal. Dia:Beacon’s impeccably renovated industrial building, designed by Robert Irwin and OpenOffice architects, makes 240,000 square feet of gallery space available to Dia’s curators to arrange their seldom-seen trove of oversize installations and comprehensive series. This embarrassment of elbow room has been tailored to the biggest works of Dia’s big collection of big-impact artists, including Dan Flavin, Joseph Beuys, On Kawara, Hanne


    In 1999, PIERRE HUYGHE and PHILIPPE PARRENO purchased the rights to a manga drawing from a Japanese firm and called on a dozen artist friends to realize works based on that cartoon character, whom they named Annlee. The fruits of their communal effort were brought together for the first time in “No Ghost Just a Shell,” a traveling exhibition that began its international tour at the Kunsthalle Zürich last year. Philip Nobel considers the venture, currently on view at both the Institute of Visual Culture, in Cambridge, England, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

    I met Annlee one day last August, in the Fifty-seventh Street gallery of Marian Goodman, who represents Pierre Huyghe, one of the men who until recently might have been referred to as Ann’s co-owners but who have been reduced, through their own legal sleight of hand, to being just two among her many employers (handlers? puppeteers?). I was a little nervous. I had heard so much about Ann: how she had been created in the strangeness of Japan by a kind of manga talent agency, how she was condemned to death by commerce, given life by art, and was now facing some unknowable third state—release.

    I knew

  • Eyebeam Museum of Art and Technology, street view (computer rendering),
New York, 2001.

    Diller + Scofidio

    For twenty-five years now, Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio have labored to import the possibilities of art into architecture. The pair’s deliberate attempts—performance pieces, video, installations, exhibitions, and even a few buildings—have earned them an award from the James Beard Foundation, an Obie, and, in 1999 (cha-ching!), a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, a first for architects. With “Scanning: The Aberrant Architectures of Diller + Scofidio,” these critical darlings are getting their much deserved retrospective, cocurated by Aaron Betsky and K. Michael Hays. It contains new work,

  • Philippe Starck.

    Philippe Starck

    How do you celebrate Philippe Starck, creator of all things creatable, whose rise from nightclub stylist and Ian Schrager muse to French national treasure has, as he hoped it would, bent our understanding of the interplay between products and marketing, designers and design? How about with an installation of twelve talking Starck heads in a dark, velour-draped hall, where each robot effigy comments on an image of its master’s work projected opposite onto giant bronze-framed screens? That rather perfect Starckian hell greets visitors to this exhibition of the designer’s “mental universe,” organized

  • Philip Nobel


    1 Sam Mockbee Let us now praise famous men. It can be hard for an architect to do something high-minded—build for the rural poor, say—and not come off as a missionary or a Birkenstock kook. Sam Mockbee was neither. He didn’t play the game of shock (you know who you are), but neither did he condescend with the traditional forms it is always said “people” crave. Still, his low- or no-cost buildings in Hale County, Alabama, could rival any avant production (and didn’t look out of place at this year’s Whitney Biennial). One, a community center for Mason’s Bend, has a fish-scale

  • Ricola Warehouse (Baselstrasse, Laufen, Switzerland, 1986-87), 1994.

    Herzog & de Meuron

    When architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron appeared on the scene a decade ago, they were packaged as gurus of Minimalism, a bracing gust of Swiss mountain air. With their touching faith in rectangles, they were beyond reproach. Students aped them; their fans multiplied. Then the overblown Tate Modern opened and the picture got fuzzy. More recently, their failed collaboration with Rem Koolhaas on an Ian Schrager hotel put them perilously close to the fashion-art nexus from which they had at first seemed such a delightful reprieve. Is the Swiss team’s seduction

  • Lebbeus Woods, La Chute - The Fall, 2002.

    Unknown Quantity

    What would we do without the French? While every architect and his barber is musing about what grand thing will rise downtown, our friends in Paris have organized an hommage to New York in the form of a show organized by bunker archaeologist and maître d’oblique Paul Virilio. Ground Zero offerings by a dozen artists—among them indomitable futurist Lebbeus Woods—are set in the context of industrial disasters, natural catastrophes, and in Virilio’s words “happy accidents.” The hope is that this raked-beret treatment will offset the sensationalizing effects of the mass media.

  • Pierre Huyghe and Phillippe Parreno, The Ann Lee Project, 2002.

    No Ghost, Just a Shell: The Ann Lee Project

    Poor Ann Lee. Pierre Huyghe and Philippe Parreno purchased the manga-in-waiting from a Japanese clearinghouse. Because she was so simply drawn, they got her on the cheap. That price was also a reflection of her place in the anime food chain: Ann was never meant to survive her adventures. Now she’s been condemned to a different fate. Once they got Ann home, her adoptive fathers invited friends Liam Gillick and Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster over to have their way with her. Records of these play dates—paintings, neon works, even rugs—make up this show organized by Kunsthalle

  • Out of Site

    Architecture: art. Art [architecture]. Architecture = Art? Where one fief ends and the other begins—and all the encroachment along the frontier—is becoming a fallback fascination in both weary camps. Into the fray comes “Out of Site.” Organized by the New Museum’s Anne Ellegood, the show focuses on “fictional architectural spaces and topographies” as elaborated by fifteen young artists—among them the brilliant Haluk Akakçe. There are imaginary lands, futuristic cityscapes (some critical, some just plain fun), and—what else?—the obligatory site-specific demonstrations of

  • Austrian Cultural Forum

    MANY BUILDINGS, over time, are given colloquial labels that distill their symbolic freight, mediating between an architect's intentions and the mystification of a public confronting new forms. But it is rare for a building to debut with any caption other than the designer's own. By the time it opens to the public later this month, the Austrian Cultural Forum in Manhattan—a twenty-four-story tower tucked into a town-house lot on East Fifty-second Street—will have been compared variously to an Easter Island megalith, a Gillette Mach 3 cartridge, and a bit of Secession ornament writ very

  • Philip Nobel


    1 Best Exit: Morris Lapidus (1902-2001) God bless Morris Lapidus for showing us how to go out in style. Five decades ago the architect was excommunicated from modernism for having too much fun with a series of Miami Beach hotels. He carried on so quietly that many assumed he had died, until he was swept up in the sudden love for all things midcentury. Lapidus began his belated victory lap by claiming Frank Gehry had stolen his licks. And when he was honored at the White House last year, he didn’t wallow in his glory. A few minutes before the ceremony Lapidus was railing to the press

  • Irving Underhill, New York from Brooklyn, N.Y., 1908, postcard.

    Divided We Fall

    New York City is, at its healthiest, a crucible of one-upmanship. So it was heartening to find that spirit alive—indeed, thriving—in the immediate aftermath of September 11. Personal accounts from those not directly affected that day (and there is no one in the city at more than three degrees of separation from the dead) have sometimes taken a distinctly competitive, closer-than-thou cast. Watching both towers fall was, sadly, a commonplace. An apartment coated in what we’ve all agreed to call “dust” was worth more. Seeing the first plane hit—not through the filter of television—trumped all.