Decon Artists: Wigley, Tschumi, Eisenman Reflect on MoMA’s Landmark “Deconstructivist Architecture” Exhibit
On January 22, Mark Wigley, Bernard Tschumi, and Peter Eisenman took the stage in MoMA’s theater to reflect upon Deconstructivist Architecture, the landmark 1988 exhibit curated by Wigley and Philip Johnson. The press release at the time described the featured architects—including Coop Himmelblau, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, and Daniel Libeskind, along with Tschumi and Eisenman—as “obsessed with diagonals, arcs, and warped plans.”
In a where-are-they-now moment, Wigley said, “It occurred to me that only Daniel Libeskind thought the show was about the future, and he still seems to be designing for the show, and that seems to be not a good idea.” And the sniping didn’t stop there. Eisenman, despite refusing to hold the microphone to his mouth, could be overheard saying what kind of exhibit he would—or rather, wouldn’t—do, if given the chance: “Well, it wouldn’t be like the biennale of last fall, which was sort of a discount supermarket of everything that was going.” “Including you,” zinged Wigley.
The first panel of this week’s conference at Columbia’s GSAPP, “Permanent Change: Plastics in Architecture and Engineering,” got down to business a few minutes late on Thursday morning. After a brief welcome, Dean Mark Wigley ceded the floor to Michael Bell, the first speaker in the line-up for “The Emergence of Polymers: Natural Material–Industrial Material.” But the pace picked up as Bell and subsequent presenters took listeners on an intense romp through the role of plastics in architectural history, providing background for the nine panels to follow through Friday evening.
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For Whom the Buell Tolls
There are some whispers coming from the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture at Columbia University’s GSAPP. Our ears immediately perked up, because we never hear anything much from that stone corner of the academic groves. Founded in 1982, the center’s first director was Robert A.M. Stern, who was followed by Gwendolyn Wright, Richard Buford, Joan Ockman (who stepped down about a year ago), and Reinhold Martin, who currently holds the post. The whispers have it that Professor Martin is changing the center’s mild mission to a more politically left-leaning agenda. Some female members of the 12-person board of advisers are also miffed that he’s held boys-only dinners, like a recent bash with board members Peter Eisenman, Stern, and GSAPP Dean Mark Wigley. Could another Penguin Club be in the making?