Archive for the ‘Architecture’ Category


March 31, 2011

from Parallelograms

From the great minds (Leah Beeferman and Matthew Harvey) behind Tessellations, comes Parallelograms, another collaborative web project.

From the site:

“Parallelograms is an online publication and multi-artist project exploring the relationship between images and interpretation. Each week, we provide an artist, writer, designer, or collaborative team with an image found online. We then ask them to create a unique web project in response to this image. New projects are published at the beginning of the week and past projects are archived chronologically.”

Some past contributors include Pierre Le Hors and Lucas Blalock, among others.

This week brings a response from Yoonjai Choi and Ken Meier, the dynamic duo behind Common Name, who have also been instrumentally contributing to the design of my photographic book series.

Each week’s post of Parallelograms is dramatically different so make sure to look through the archives.

The Archigram Archival Project

April 25, 2010

Enviro-Pill Poster by Archigram

Speculative proposal for a pill for inducing architecture or virtual and imaginary environments in the mind.

Archigram were way ahead of their time back in the 1960’s but are still ahead of the curve judging by the incredible and overwhelming Archigram Archival Project, an in depth database of their collective works and proposals now online.

Give yourself a lot of time and get ready to get lost.


The High Line

June 15, 2009

highlineThe High Line in Operation Years Ago

Also while I was away, The High Line has officially opened and it seems to be an all around success. I had the opportunity to check it out while it was still under construction a few months ago and I was very impressed by what I saw.

This park has incredible potential, finally something New York City can really be proud of.

Looking for Mushrooms in Berlin

May 10, 2009

133380Carsten Höller, Mushroom, 2004

I’ve been in Berlin for the past week and have taken in quite a bit of serious walking, eating beyond delicious Wiener Schnitzel and viewing art all over this great city.

Remarkably, some of the most memorable work I have seen here is anything but straight photography.

Here are some of the highlights:

robert-bechtle1975Robert Bechtle, Foster’s Freeze, Escalon, 1975

I caught the small but wonderful exhibition Picturing America: Photorealism in the 1970’s at the Deutsche Guggenheim. The exhibition had three amazing and classic Robert Bechtle paintings which were the definite stand out. There is something very of the moment about what he depicts, as if he has really frozen an awkward moment in time.

Of course Chuck Close is there with two great large and very detailed portraits but I also gained further appreciation for Richard Estes and re-discovered the British painter Malcolm Morley, who’s paintings in the exhibit all seemed to anticipate the large format photographic style of printing images with a thick white border.

edgar_leciejewski_06Edgar Leciejewski, Portrait V, 2008

Moving on from photo-realism, although somehow related, I found the above photograph by Edgar Leciejewski at a small exhibition of his work at Parrotta Contemporary Art.

The image online doesn’t do the large format photograph any justice. The portrait taped to the wall in the photograph is a highly pixelated digital printout that you can’t see unless you are standing right in front of it, (think of a Thomas Ruff Jpeg). Something about the pixelization of the image within the photograph but not the entire photograph itself is quite a mind bending experience, almost like being on mushrooms. It’s a subtle but memorable image for me. The work overall is reflexive of the artistic process with most of the photographs depicting blank studio walls with the marks, objects and images that adorn them.

tb_sblueten05_600pixThorsten Brinkmann, 2009

At Kunstagenten, situated on the lovely gallery filled street of Linienstrasse, I caught my second dose of Thorsten Brinkmann’s colorful and performative work. I wrote about his work in 2007 after having seen a great installation of his at Art Basel Miami.

The new work on view in Berlin is really an extension or a continuation of the older work but with a further emphasis on Morandi-like still life photographs, found and dada-esque sculptural readymades, as a well some more abstract photographic portraits. There is also a great and funny video on view in the cavernous basement gallery which is very much worth sitting through.

Overall I like the development and the direction Brinkmann is moving in. The attention to scale, surface, texture and light is engaging and the combination of objects is unusually surprising. I still had some questions and doubts about the overly large print sizes and the lack of image quality but this time those issues seemed to fall to the side and I could just appreciate his wacky creations for what they really are. This isn’t really about photography per say but a about a playful way of seeing the world and the possibilities that objects and costumes can create in a performative sort of anthropomorphism.

Last year, Hatje Cantz published an extensive catalogue of his work and that was nice to see as well.

mushrooms_groupCarsten Höller, Mushrooms, 2004

Carsten Höller appears to have a bit of an obsession with mushrooms. By chance I encountered some of his tripped out Mushroom photographs at Niels Borch Jensen Galerie. The gallery specializes in limited edition prints by well known artists such as Olafur Eliasson, Tacida Dean and Thomas Demand among many others. The Mushroom series of prints by Höller were on a wall in a back gallery and they drew my attention for whatever reason, most probably their reddish hues of color. They are delicately beautiful and hallucinatory images.

By the look of the photograph posted below, I wish I could have seen the installation he presented at the Fondazione Prada in Italy
where he hung giant spinning mushrooms from the ceiling.

mushrooms_milanCarsten Höller, Upside Down Mushroom Room, 2000

Lastly, my friend and wonderful host, Markus Esser, took me to visit Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s elegantly masterful Neue Nationalgalerie situated near the Potsdamer Platz.


Luckily there was no exhibition currently on view and we got to experience the enormous gallery completely empty. It was quite a treat.

newton_nova_1971Helmut Newton, Nova 1971

I guess one last thing worth mentioning is that I visited the Helmut Newton Foundation as well and was really just curious to see what an entire museum devoted to one photographer would be like. Although the museum does exhibit work by other artists, it currently has an exhibition devoted to the work Newton made after he was fired from French Vogue in 1964. Newton isn’t my favorite fashion photographer but I left the museum with a new found appreciation for him as well as his wife June.

getimageRogier van der Weyden, Bildnis einer jungen Frau

The only exhibit that I didn’t get to see but really wished I had was The Master of Flémalle and Rogier van der Weyden at the Kulturforum Potsdamer Platz.

That would have been the icing on the cake.

Le Corbusier's Unite d'Habitation – Marseille

July 1, 2008

Hallway, Le Corbusier’s Unite d’Habitation, Photo by James

While visiting Marseille during my recent trip through France, we spent one night at the Le Corbusier designed Unite d’Habitation (Cité Radieuse).

Although it’s a essentially a residential building (some offices too), they have a hotel that occupies one of the floors as well as a pretty upscale restaurant with nice balcony seating.

Le Corbusier’s Unite d’Habitation, Photo by James

Unite d’Habitation was originally designed as low income public housing and was an attempt by Le Corbusier to realize his urban planning ideas as represented in his writings on The Radiant City (Cité Radieuse).

Although the building is recognized today as a great piece of modernist architecture, most residents at the time (it was finished in 1952) found the building and the apartments too strange and modern as well as inconveniently located. The building is not really in the center of the city and getting there can be a pain especially considering the crazy traffic we experienced. As a result of this, the building is now mostly occupied by middle class residents. The apartments have become hard to get, not to mention expensive in relation to other buildings in the area.

Le Corbusier’s Unite d’Habitation, Photo by James

I believe most of the apartments in the building are rather large and span at least two floors. Each apartment is designed to go across the width of the building so they have two large windows on either side with balconies.

It was a great experience to stay there (reasonably priced as well) and gave us the chance to explore the building, the communal roof deck, the rooms and the hallways. For a small fee of 5 Euros per person, one can even visit a few select apartments to see what they look like. All the original designs of the rooms, closets and kitchens are now protected so you actually get to see them the way Le Corbusier intended.

The building is now under an intense and complete make-over to restore the façade back to it’s original splendor. As it stands now, one can very clearly see the difference between what it was (how it aged) and what it looked like in the beginning (the restored part). The change is dramatic and I’m looking forward to another visit once the restoration is complete.

See a few more photos here and visit the official website as well.

Hotel info can be found here.

The New Museum Reborn

November 30, 2007

Rendering of the New Museum Façade by S A N A A
Rendering of the New Museum Façade by S A N A A

I had the opportunity to see the New Museum this morning as part of a press introduction to the new building. I certainly don’t think of myself as a press photographer but was happy to be there photographing the building anyway. I was surely the only person around shooting film.

The building, designed by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa is impressive and well designed. It’s modern but not cold, clean but not sterile. There are wonderful touches like a dramatic staircase squeezed between a narrow corridor joining the 3rd and 4th floors. Everything is finished in subtle shades of grey or white except for the elevators (crazy Chartreuse) and the bathrooms (you’ll have to see for yourself) in the basement. The concrete floors have been allowed to develop cracks which contributes a strong sense of time as well as a playfulness to the building. I really enjoyed walking around.

I should note that the premiere exhibition on view is titled Unmonumental: The Object in the 21st Century. I’m usually not that big on sculpture (all three gallery floors are devoted to sculptural work displayed on the floor or hanging from the ceiling) but many of the pieces are strong and fascinating to look at.

They are doing something special with this exhibition as they will expand upon what’s already there by installing a second show in February titled Collage: The Unmonumental Picture. In March they will expand the exhibition further with The Sound of Things: Unmonumental Audio. That means that all three exhibitions will be happening simultaneously. I expect the results to be confounding as well as exhilarating. I’m surprised I have never seen something like this done before at a major museum.

All in all I was impressed with my experience. I’m looking forward to going back and seeing how the space and exhibition develops.

The museum officially opens to the public this Saturday, December 1 at noon with 30 free continuous hours sponsored by Target. All the tickets have been given out but you might be able to get in anyway if you show up at some odd hour in the middle of the night or morning.

The Ultimate Home In The Sky

October 11, 2007

One Madison Park, New York
One Madison Park, New York


While flipping through the latest “Art Issue” put out by W Magazine, I came across this line of text accompanying the photograph shown above in an advertisement for One Madison Park, a new luxury high rise residency in New York City. Prices will start at $6,900,000. It immediately struck me as absolutely strange and ridiculous. I love how they don’t mention that the building is actually located on 23rd Street.

Ok, who’s buying?

Herbert Muschamp, 1947-2007

October 3, 2007

Vincent Laforet for The New York Times, Ground Zero on August 16, 2006
Vincent Laforet for The New York Times, Ground Zero on August 16, 2006

I was always a big fan of Herbert Muschamp’s writing in The New York Times. I was surprised and upset to learn that he died last night in Manhattan. Between 1992-2004, he was the main architecture critic at The Times. After that he continued to write random articles for their T Magazine. His writing always presented his honest opinions combined with his sometimes wicked sense of humor.

I vividly remember picking up the Muschamp edited post 9/11 issue of The New York Times Magazine. He brought together a powerful team of great architects and designers to come up with fresh ideas for the future of ground zero and downtown New York. I remember being very excited and feeling inspired by the ideas presented and hoped that the people in power would listen. It’s really too bad that none of the proposals were ever incorporated into what is now a very watered down and un-inspired master plan.

Read The New York Times obituary and also take some time to read Muschamp’s essay Don’t Rebuild. Reimagine.

Candida Höfer

September 25, 2007

Candida Höfer, Teatro Nacional de Sao Carlos Lisboa I, 2005
Candida Höfer, Teatro Nacional de Sao Carlos Lisboa I, 2005

Last weekend I walked over to Chelsea to see some of the fall shows happening around town. At Sonnabend Gallery, I found a new body of work by Candida Höfer, one of the German photographic art stars (Gursky, Ruff, Struth) who studied with Bernd and Hilla Becher at the Düsseldorf Academy of Art in Germany.

I’ve seen her work many times before, but the photographs never seem to impress me. I’m not saying that her photographs aren’t beautiful or interesting to look at. The photograph shown above is probably my favorite from the current show and I’m happy to see that she’s finally switched cameras from a Hasselblad to a 4×5 which I think is better suited to the kind of work she does. Part of me is just annoyed with what I believe she is getting away with and the other part of me finds the work lazy.

I know that some of my work has elements in common with Höfer’s. We’re both interested in architecture as well as the use of that architecture in the world, we both prefer our spaces empty and with subtle hints of human presence, we both work in color and print fairly large photographs (though Höfer’s are much much larger). In the end I’m not quite sure what she is getting away with nor with who but I guess what it boils down to is that I don’t care much for her life project, it seems too simplistic and easy.

Here is what she has said about her work:

“I photograph in public and semi-public spaces that date from various epochs. These are spaces accessible to everyone. They are places where you can meet and communicate, where you can share or receive knowledge, where you can relax and recover. They are spas, hotels, waiting rooms, museums, libraries, universities, banks, churches and, as of a few years ago, zoos. All of the places have a purpose, as for the most part do the things within them.”

Two of her most recent bodies of work are called In Portugal (on view at Sonnabend) and Louvre. Point your camera at any space or gallery of the Louvre and I think most (competent) photographers would come away with some pretty dramatic photographs, but isn’t that because the place itself is so dramatic and historic to begin with. I’ve felt a similar feeling for Struth’s Museum photographs as well although they are quite different in that they have people in them.

The question I’m asking myself is: What makes the photographs of these places so special or interesting and when does a photograph of architecture become more than just a document of that place? I guess I’m really asking the big question: when does a photograph of anything become art?


September 11, 2007

View From Odaiba
View From Odaiba at Dusk

Odaiba is an artificial island in Tokyo Bay. It’s a pretty strange place and quite a pastiche of time and space.

One of the weirdest buildings I have ever seen can be found there. It’s the Fuji Television Headquarters designed again by Kenzo Tange. I’d really like to know what planet he came from.

Fuji Television Network Building
Fuji Television Headquarters, Odaiba (via