Critics’ Picks

Study of human perception, ca. 1937–41, ink on paper, 8 1/2 x 5 1/2".

Study of human perception, ca. 1937–41, ink on paper, 8 1/2 x 5 1/2".

New York

Frederick Kiesler

The Drawing Center
35 Wooster Street
July 25, 2013–July 24, 2008

In looping curves and obsessive scribbles, the visionary architect Frederick Kiesler’s fluid line skitters from sheets creased with folds to lined notebook paper to thin cardboard, mapping a deliberate course between touch and vision, between the body and the outside world. Frameless and exhibited on a sinuous table designed specially by nARCHITECTURE, Kiesler’s drawings are presented as a stream of the interconnectedness, or “correalism,” that preoccupied the antifunctionalist architect. “Drafting is grafting vision on paper. . . . Blindfolded skating rather than designing,” Kiesler wrote in an article for Art News in 1960. In fact, texture, not structure, is Kiesler’s principle concern, and in this show one finds bleeding ink blotches drawn in loose spirals, dry tempera brushed in thick calligraphic ellipses, egg shapes outlined in sweeping gestures, and womblike forms traced and retraced so many times as to cause undulations in their paper support.

Kiesler’s drawings do not suggest specific models for utopian living but rather probe what it means “to dwell” or, in Heidegger’s phrase, “the manner in which we are on the earth.” Studies of human perception, plans for fantastic vision machines, and diagrams detailing the birth of new objects displayed alongside exhibition designs for Peggy Guggenheim's Art of This Century gallery and renderings of Kiesler’s famous, though never realized, Endless House attest to the artist’s desire to track the process by which man and his art come into being, determined not by teleological functionalism but by the nature of the human spirit.