Why settle for an ordinary vacation home when you can have a “baroque event”? Frieze recently visited artist Pablo Bronstein—who you may recall from the mythical architectural history of the Metropolitan Museum of Art that he conjured in 2009—on the east coast of Kent, England, where he is embracing a “mid-century, slightly granny” aesthetic and the “pleasurable mess” of baroque architecture. “I think that it has no shame,” he says. “Baroque architecture does everything it possibly can to appeal, to amuse, to impress, to show off, to seem heavy or grand or important. It’s really sort of desperate architecture.” Watch Bronstein discuss art, architecture, taste, and the playful pathos of postmodernism.
Whether you live in the NYC area or need an excuse for a fall visit, check out Open House New York weekend on October 11 and 12. The event, now in its twelfth year, invites the public to explore architecture, design, and cultural sites throughout the five boroughs. Among the more than 200 sites that will open their doors (many typically closed to the public) are the 425-square-foot “Manhattan Micro-Loft” atop an Upper West Side brownstone, the meticulously restored Williamsburgh Savings Bank building at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge, and Kickstarter’s new Brooklyn headquarters, located in the remnants of the historic Eberhard Faber Pencil Factory. Listings of all OHNY Weekend sites will be posted on the OHNY website on September 30, and reservations can be made beginning at 11 a.m. on October 1. Be quick, because once the event guide hits newsstands on October 2 as an insert in Time Out New York, the waitlists—and disappointments—are bound to follow.
The Architecture & Design Film Festival returns to New York next month with a slate of more than 25 designtastic films that will screen at Tribeca Cinemas. Kicking off the five days of cinematic pleasures on October 15 will be the world premiere of Marco Orsini’s Gray Matters, a documentary about designer and architect Eileen Gray.
Pay no heed to the clunky title; the film is a historical, scholarly, and cinematic investigation of Gray’s life and career—well beyond the headline-making $28 million auction sale of her Dragons chair. Orsini and his crew followed Gray’s own travels, from the Irish countryside to London, from Paris to the Riviera, and drew upon never-before-seen footage and candid interviews with scholars, curators, auctioneers and collectors, including four living peers and collaborators of the artist. Here’s the trailer, best enjoyed while relaxing in a concrete modernist villa:
You need only browse a Candida Höfer monograph to realize that Denmark knows good libraries. It’s a strength that the Danish Agency for Culture—in partnership with Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects—has seized upon to create a new award recognizing the best public library of the year. The inaugural winner, announced earlier this month in Lyon, France (bibliothèque country!), is Australia’s Craigieburn Library, located in Hume City, Victoria and designed by Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp.
The Aussie institution bested fellow nominees in the United Kingdom (the Library of Birmingham, designed by Mecanoo Architecten), the Netherlands (De Boekenberg, a.k.a. Book Mountain, in Spijkenisse, designed by MVRDV), and Denmark (Copenhagen’s Ørestad Bibliotek, designed by KHR Arkitekter). The judges settled on Craigieburn because it “distinguishes itself as a significant modern construction with a strong, recognizable architectural concept” and “with its open and flexible space…creates a democratic meeting place, open to diversity and interaction.”
There’s a new set of design honors up for grabs, and those with a Y chromosome need not apply. Architectural Record is recognizing the design leadership of women architects with its Women in Architecture Awards, which will be presented on October 9 in Manhattan following the magazine’s Innovation Conference. The five inaugural recipients, selected by an independent panel of architects, scholars, and critics, and announced this week, are:
- Design Leader, honoring an architect with significant built work and influence: Merrill Elam of Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects
- New Generation Leader, honoring an architect who is rising in the profession: Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang
- Innovator, honoring an architect who has made a mark in innovative design, materials or building type: Sheila Kennedy of Kennedy & Violich Architecture
- Activist, honoring an architect who has used her skills to design for social change, effect the public realm or perform pro bono work: Erinn McGurn of SCALEAfrica
- Educator, honoring a professional who has helped the advancement of women: Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, former dean of the University of Miami’s School of Architecture
Lions travel in prides and coyotes in bands, while owls gather wisely in parliaments and crows take flight in murders that are only occasionally bloody. But what is the appropriate collective when referring to architects? A pilaster of architects, perhaps? Or a cantilever? A keystone, maybe, or a spandrel? Mexican-born, New York-based Carlos Huber has settled on club, presumably the kind for belonging to rather than brandishing. The architect-turned-fragrance entrepreneur, who holds a master’s in historic preservation from Columbia, is preparing to launch the latest addition to his Arquiste line of scents: “The Club of Architects,” a woody-vanilla blend created by perfumer Yann Vasnier. The fragrance, now available for pre-order from the fine-smelling people at Aedes De Venustas, is meant to evoke a group of architects gathering in days gone by for a drink (or six) in the Fumoir Bar at Claridge’s in London. Think Art Deco splendor—dark woods, leather, velvet—meets gin fizz, a splash of citrus, and peals of laughter at jokes in which curtain walls figure prominently.
Billie Tsien and Tod Williams are heading to the White House. The architects are among the just-announced recipients of the 2013 National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the federal government. “Whether public or private, their deliberate and inspired designs have a profound effect on the lives of those who interact with them, and their teaching and spirit of service have inspired young people to pursue their passions,” reads the official citation. They will receive their Robert Graham-designed medals (pictured) from President Obama at a ceremony in the East Room on Monday afternoon.
Williams and Tsien will be joined by fellow 2013 medalists artist James Turrell, documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles, director and Dreamworker Jeffrey Katzenberg, representatives of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones, writer Maxine Hong Kingston, musical theater composer John Kander, novelist, poet, and essayist Julia Alvarez, musician Linda Ronstadt, and arts patron Joan Harris.
Watch the ceremony live on Monday at 3:00 p.m. EST here.
The Japan Art Association has announced the winners of the twenty-sixth Praemium Imperiale, the international arts prize established “in memory of His Imperial Highness Prince Takamatsu to celebrate the human spirit as expressed through the genius of the world’s artists.” The 2014 laureates are Steven Holl (architecture, pictured), Martial Raysse (painting), Giuseppe Penone (sculpture), Arvo Pärt (music), and Athol Fugard (theatre/film).
Each winner receives 15 million yen (approximately $150,000 at current exchange rates) and a ticket to Tokyo, where they’ll collect their medals in an October 15 ceremony headlined by Prince Hitachi of Japan, who Wikipedia describes as “currently fourth in line to the Chrysanthemum throne.” This year’s crop of Praemium Imperiale laureates joins a roster of artists that includes everyone from Frank Gehry and Jasper Johns to Ingmar Bergman and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Artists are nominated for the prize through international committees in each of the five fields that make recommendations to the Japan Art Association’s board of trustees, which ultimately selects the winners.
The nearly year-long parlor game of “Who will replace Barry Bergdoll at MoMA?” has, at long last, come to an end with today’s announcement that Martino Stierli has nabbed the plum role of Philip Johnson chief curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art. Stierli is the Swiss National Science Foundation Professor at the Institute of Art History of the University of Zurich, where he teaches the history of modern architecture. Beginning in March 2015, he will oversee the MoMA department of architecture and design’s special exhibitions, installations from the collection, and acquisitions. Stierli has a tough act to follow in Bergdoll, who stepped down last summer in leave-’em-wanting-more fashion—and in the midst of a stellar Le Corbusier exhibition—to become Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History at Columbia University, although he remains a part-time curator at MoMA.
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