Affirmation or Desecration?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Desecration? Or delight? (Sara Hart)

When you enter the lobby of the I.M. Pei-designed East Wing of the National Gallery of Art, the building’s credits are prominently etched in stone. Why do you think Pei’s name has been rubbed to the point of illegibility? Are visitors paying homage or expressing disapproval? Perhaps it has something to do with those pesky panels? Whatever the case, it’s not pretty.

2 Responses to “Affirmation or Desecration?”

  1. Ian J. Cohn says:

    People have obviously considered Pei’s name to be, literally, a touchstone – their connection with him in much the same way that people have rubbed figures at the entrance to cathedrals, or tombstones within. Curiously, I discovered this as I myself, without thinking too much about it, raised my hand to touch the letters, and then I realized that something was very, very different. It takes years for this sort of a patina to develop, further “proof” of the primal, physical connection that architecture, at its best, is capable of achieving. And, this can’t have come just from visiting architects! Despite Ms. Hart’s claim that the credits are prominently etched, they are in fact on the side, small in scale, monochromatic with the stone, low key to the point of being almost “invisible.”

    I never would have believed this possible – and now wonder if there are any other similar examples in the modern era.

  2. Henry Smith-Miller says:

    It is interesting that you noted the homage paid to I. M. Pei. Just several days ago while visiting the spetacular and wonderful building, I, too, noticed, the erasure of his name, a certain testimony to his great talent.

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