Zaha Hadid


The Baghdad-born, London-based architect Zaha Hadid is one of the most important contemporary exponents of sculptural architecture. This term—which became prevalent at the beginning of the twentieth century—is most often applied to asymmetrical, freestanding, and labyrinthine structures whose plan and layout cannot be reconstructed from a single frontal viewpoint. Rather, the viewer has to walk around and through the building to comprehend it. Sculptural architecture is thus the corollary to sculpture “in the round”: It is predicated o n movement and activity.

The organizers of Hadid’s ICA retrospective—like most commentators on her work—stress that she has shown “an uncompromising commitment to modernism.” Yet these models, drawings, and paintings are a fascinating mixture of ancient, modern, and archetypal. They variously suggest Islamic calligraphy, Futurist force

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