Mr. Carter. (Courtesy the Observer)
PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARDS
Who among us hasn’t been following the pruning at our beloved Condé Nast? “Cold,” we gasped as the swag was packed up and shipped to the catacombs under 4 Times Square. “Just plain mean!” we stammered when Gourmet was euthanized. Cold and mean are economic realities across the board these days, so we soldier on. Recently, however, we learned of a totally out-of-character editorial move at Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter sent letters, via FedEx, to 80 architects, critics, historians, and others asking them to contribute to an “opinion survey” from which the “five most important” buildings or works of engineering or infrastructure since 1980 would emerge. Respondents were then asked to name, in their opinion, the single most important work completed thus far in the 21st century. The letter went on to promise a lavishly illustrated feature, including interviews with the winning architects.
This is not the way we evaluate art, design, and architecture. This is the way we pick the best corned-beef sandwich in town. One of the esteemed invitees opined that if the survey went out to all the usual suspects, then we can expect the winners to be the usual and suspect as well. Another cynic pointed out that the survey relieves the magazine from having to pay a real writer. (Forbes did something similar in 2002, but its search was for the ugliest.) Yet another voter suggested that the article be a roundup of architects who have designed showrooms or headquarters for *Vanity Fair advertisers: Koolhaas, Marino, Koolhaas, Pawson, Koolhaas.
BACK TO THE FUTURE
Eavesdrop is giddy about the opening of Bauhaus 1919–1933: Workshops for Modernity at MoMA. Much to see and do. And yet, we’d like to draw your attention to a footnote, one of those insider’s jokes with historical significance beyond its visual impact. Think back to 1975. Arthur Drexler, MoMA’s director of architecture and design, had just mounted *The Architecture of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, which many thought was an anachronistic exhibition for a modern museum. As an ironic joke, Suzanne Stephens, now deputy editor at Architectural Record, and Susana Torre, a practicing architect in Spain, designed a “bring back the Bauhaus” button for the 1975 opening. Both Stephens and Torre, alumnae of MoMA’s Architecture and Design Department, wanted to acknowledge the shock value of presenting a show based on a 19th-century academy. According to the package notes, when offered a button at the opening, Drexler refused but by the end of the evening he was caught up in the spirit of the occasion. We are happy to announce that now that MoMA has indeed brought back the Bauhaus, the button has been reissued. Go buy one before someone introduces “bring back the Beaux.”
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