Suzanne Stephens

  • Design Deformed

    THE OPENING EXHIBITION OF the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, “Man TransForms: Aspects of Design,” is a puzzling pastiche of past art exhibitions, past Contemporary Crafts Museum shows and current window display. Its evident appeal to the public, which has been flocking to the museum since its October 7th opening, fails to diminish the sense of acute embarrassment most design professionals feel about the show. Architecture and design are not exhibited enough in New York for the design community to be able to shrug off a gimmicky haphazard representation of its efforts. Current arguments debating whether

  • MoMA’s Castle in the Air

    THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART’S latest plans to turn over its air rights to a condominium tower development should surprise few MoMA watchers. For years, the Modern has been examining the real-estate possibilities accruing from its midtown location and low-rise buildings. In its quest for larger spaces to display stashed-away art treasures and in its desire to attain financial solvency, the nonart-oriented assets become treacherously tempting. Like an aging belle convinced that she must soon cash in on what nature or circumstance has bestowed upon her, the Modern has taken to flirting with rich,

  • “Such Good Intentions”: Architecture for the Arts at Purchase

    THE NOW HALF-COMPLETE ARTS college of the State University of New York at Purchase is clearly a problem child. It is the product of strong cultural aspirations wedded to a governmentally sponsored education system, conceived in a climate of high expectations. Its program, that of a professionally oriented school for the performing and visual arts coupled with a liberal arts college, was to be unique in the state-supported educational system. Yet, as it seeks to establish itself as a cross-disciplinary interactive community of artists and scholars, it stumbles on weakened financial support. Its

  • Big Deals and Bitter Endings, The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

    DESPITE THE PUBLICITY AND THE brouhaha, the Hirshhorn Museum is really just another building. True, its circular shape makes it a little unusual in Washington, D.C., but even that’s not enough to set it apart completely. In a city of inflated monumentality, leviathan scale, unharmonious proportions, and grossness of detail, this edifice bespeaks “inclusion”—it includes all that. But, while being inclusive of the stylistic imagery of Washington’s big and bland architecture, the building, designed by Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, is very “exclusive.” Its monolithic form, solidly