Monday, May 27, 2013

Who says we cannot dance about architecture?

 Trying to come to grips with Le Corbusier--an on again/off again endeavor of mine for decades--a presence forever looming, like the Chapelle Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp, one of my favorite buildings, yet forever unattainable-- but also like so many of his other buildings (realized and not) that leave me cold--the cavalier trajectory of his urban vistas--how I so appreciate what he wrote and what he painted, the lightness of line and all that emphatic certitude, while so mistrusting the outcomes of his architecture--admiration mixed with wariness.
 Regardless, what most intrigues are his polymathic means to singular goals-- starting with his self-declared alias (a mask that lays bare?), and the oft-remarked fact that, when he gained French citizenship, he entered "homme de lettres" as his occupation on his identity card/passport.  

A belletrist then, a self-declared citizen of the Republic of encompass all else, or at least to order the others: the architect, the painter, the designer, the one who sketches.

Two months before he died, in his final interview, Le Corbusier said: “...not being able to build certain things, I could draw them; but not being able to explain them entirely in drawing, especially when it came to urbanism, I had to explain them, so I wrote.”

So maybe we can actually dance about architecture...

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Unique Gestures, Already Pre-Determined

Johannes Vermeer, Lady In Blue Reading A Letter (c. 1662-'65)

I am fascinated by the emerging field of Big Data, and the data mining/analysis that proceeds from the ever larger sets of statistics we gather.  Just when you think you are truly individualistic, you discover that you are but one point on a curve, acting in accordance with the laws of large crowds.  Disconcerting.

How to reconcile the individual and our preciously random actions, with the story told by the trends plotted across millions and now billions of us?

The private and personal, of import only to the reader and the writer (what is the Lady thinking?), juxtaposed with the geometries of collection and the analytics of abstraction (the map on the wall was Big Data in Vermeer's time).

Something I muse on... more to come in future blog posts...

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Upon repeated visits...

Mary Cassatt, Five O'Clock Tea (1880)

I return to paintings, the way I revisit a favorite novel, or order the same dish at a specific restaurant: with anticipation of acquaintance spiced by the knowledge that I will discover something new.

Recently, as I gaze at Cassatt's tea drinkers, I find myself examining the pattern of the upholstery.   I also notice more than before the vase in the painting hanging over the mantlepiece.

When I next look at the picture, what other nuance might strike me?