Maurizio Cattelan: If that’s ‘All’ there is my friends…

Cattelan at the Guggenheim

The Maurizio Cattelan exhibition ALL ended its run at the Guggenheim last weekend and I wanted to share some quick thoughts about the show, especially in light of what seems to have been a mostly negative reception from some of our more prominent art critics. But more than that, I’m also hoping that by posting what is little more than a few ill-informed observations jotted down in a notebook about an artist whose work I had never seen before stepping into Frank Lloyd Wright’s atrium late last year, I’ll instigate a bit of a sea change for Life Without Buildings. Basically, I want it to be more fun. After years of hard work and school, writing architectural history has actually become an honest-to-god, bill-paying job and now more than ever I need a place to experiment with different forms of criticism and documentation, to work out new projects, to make mistakes, and to write about things that are little less serious. This will be that place. So that’s happening.

But back to the Cattelan show. I loved it.
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Considering ‘Reconsidering Postmodernism’

Vanna Venturi House

Vanna Venturi House
Last weekend I attended Reconsidering Postmodernism, a two-day conference in New York City organized by the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art. The event was convened in an “attempt to illuminate postmodernism’s overall cultural impact.” Whether or not it achieved that goal is debatable – but unfortunately, it wasn’t often debated, as you’ll see below. I’ll be writing a couple articles on the event later, so what follows is really just an informal summary via tweets, retweets, and a little additional commentary. This is also a bit of an experiment, as I’m using storify for the first time to put everything together.

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New York by Gehry: A Review In Which Your Architecture Critic’s Personal Issues May Be Interfering With His Job

New York by Gehry

The following post was originally written as an entry to McSweeney’s 2011 Column Contest. It didn’t win. But I had a lot of fun writing it so I thought I’d post it here. As proposed, it was an architectural criticism column written from the perspective of a somewhat emotionally dysfunctional critic who sees his own failures in the monumental structures that obsess him. In the resulting reviews, personal narratives converge with professional critique. Descriptions and opinions of the buildings emerge through seemingly inadvertent revelations of his personal crises and social conflicts. Over the course of the columns, a larger narrative is revealed in which the reader learns more about the critic – his failures, fears, aspirations, and his romantic and professional pursuits. In this introductory column, your critic experiences the five stages of grief –denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance– in his critique of the Lower Manhattan skyscraper New York by Gehry.

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Sol LeWitt: Structures, 1965-2006: The Ruins of a New York that Wasn’t

Sol LeWitt's Pyramid (Munster)

Sol LeWitt's Pyramid (Munster)

Standing in front of the concrete blocks on a warm June morning, I found myself wondering if they were the ruins of a forgotten city – or maybe a fragment of this city’s forgotten history. The fractured masonry corner before me couldn’t truly be a ruin, though. It was perfectly crafted – too perfectly crafted. Its edges were precisely stepped and though it stood in the middle of City Hall Park, no vines or weeds had broken through the flawless mortar. What kind of ruin doesn’t age or weather? Yet there it was, as if it had always been there. In fact, when I looked at it, it seemed as if I couldn’t not remember it being there. But beyond that there was another feeling; something tugging at the edges of my consciousness, challenging me to look closer, to remember something else.

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