As East Asian cities continue to modernize and densify, monotonous and dehumanizing blocks tend to replace the finely-grained, small-scale architecture and urbanism such as Beijing’s Hutong, Tokyo’s small wooden houses, and Singapore’s traditional villages. These “urban ecologies that have evolved over the course of centuries,” as Dutch firm MVRDV explains, foster a social interconnectivity in these communities, forming the basis for a new exhibition currently on view in Seoul, South Korea.
The Architecture and Legacy of Pietro Belluschi
Oregon Historical Society
1200 Southwest Park Avenue
Through September 9
Shortly after migrating from Italy in 1922 and graduating from Cornell, Pietro Belluschi began practicing architecture in Portland with A. E. Doyle. He would quickly become one of the most important architects in America, first building churches, homes, and office buildings in Oregon and later throughout the country. Belluschi’s early work in Oregon contributed to the style of Pacific Northwest Regionalism, reflecting the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright and the Arts and Crafts movement as well as the nascent modernist style. In 1951, when he became dean of the School of Architecture and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Belluschi continued to innovate in the field of modernism by collaborating with firms on buildings around the country. For the first time, Belluschi’s contributions to architecture will be exhibited along with personal mementos from the Belluschi Family archive.
Currents 35: Tara Donovan
Milwaukee Art Museum
700 North Art Museum Drive
Through October 7
The work of Tara Donovan demands close reading. By using strict rule-based systems, Donovan accumulates individual pieces of material into installations that defy easy identification. Milwaukee Art Museum chief curator Brady Roberts explains, “Donovan’s process involves selecting one material and finding one unique solution for its construction, whether it’s folding, gluing, stacking, or pressing.” Taking cues from 1960s conceptual artists like Donald Judd and Sol LeWitt, whose works rely on rule-based processes, Donovan obscures her quotidian materials to compose spectacular objects. The exhibition includes several major works including Haze, a 32-foot wall covered in approximately three million straws, Unititled, 2008 on polyester film (detail, above), and Drawing (Pins), 2011 composed of gatorboard, paint, and nickel-plated steel pins.
Edward Burtynsky: Oil
Nevada Museum of Art, Feature Gallery South
160 West Liberty Street, Reno, NV
Through September 23
One of the most important topics of our time, oil and its industry serve as the departure point for the work of one of the most admired photographers working today. From 1997 through 2009, Edward Burtynsky traveled the world chronicling oil, its production, distribution, and use. Through 50 large-scale photographs, Burtynsky illustrates stories about this vital natural resource, the landscapes altered by its extraction, and the sprawl caused by the development of infrastructure needed to transport it. Behind the awe-inspiring photography is an epic tale about the lifeblood of mankind’s existence in the 21st century. Curated by the Center for Art + Environment, Oil forces the viewer to contend with the scale and implications of humanity’s addiction to energy.
Ball-Nogues Studio: Yevrus 1, Negative Impression
960 East 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA
June 1–July 8
On display at the SCI-Arc Gallery is Los Angeles–based architecture practice Ball-Nogues Studio’s Yevrus 1, Negative Impression, which attempts to call into question the current fashionability of abstracted and digital forms. Through an assemblage of non-architectural objects represented very literally, the project represents a new type of site survey. The objects selected to be part of the structure were picked from the Los Angeles suburban landscape (a pool, above) and become the elements of an installation. The architects used digital scanning technology to make biodegradable paper-pulp castings of 1973 Volkswagen Beetles and speedboats for a lookout tower in the gallery. Yevrus (“survey” spelled backwards) is a new technique pioneered by the firm that rethinks the site survey by utilizing it not as a tool for construction and engineering, but as a methodology of deriving form, creating structures, and realizing meaning.
Lauretta Vinciarelli was a quiet but powerful presence on the New York architecture scene since the 1980s when she began producing “imaginary architectural settings” of buildings and landscapes. I considered it a great honor to be invited to her Soho loft to look and talk about her latest work 10 years before her death in 2011. It’s too easy as an architectural journalist covering the daily rough and tumble of urban architecture to get jaundiced about the profession, but Vinciarelli’s extraordinarily beautiful and quiet drawings and paintings remind me why we still believe in the power and hope of great architecture.
Lara Favaretto: Just Knocked Out
22-25 Jackson Avenue
Long Island City, NY
Through September 10
Lara Favaretto’s installations and sculptures at once perform and memorialize their decay. Often incorporating elements from previous installations in new works and using discarded industrial material, Favaretto makes futile and impermanent gestures, ephemeral monuments to aspiration and failure. The works describe loss: found paintings encased in yarn, obscuring and preserving the original; cubes made of confetti, decomposing throughout the span of an exhibition; car-wash brushes, whirling and wearing down against metal plates (above). These mechanisms celebrate futile motions, becoming memorials imbued with the reality of their own obsolescence.
Craft Spoken Here
Philadelphia Museum of Art
26th St. and Benjamin Franklin Pkwy.
Through August 12
Since it was founded in 1876, the Philadelphia Museum of Art has collected and exhibited crafts; the collection today includes 20th- and 21st-century works from across the globe. With Craft Spoken Here, the Museum presents the medium of crafting as a common language of technique, material, and form that defies cultural boundaries and historical categorization. Drawing from the museum’s collection as well as works on loan from artists and private collections, the exhibition will include some 40 works by acclaimed and lesser-known craftsman alike, with contemporary pieces from 1960 to the present, including The One, 1985 by Rebecca Medel (above). Representing the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Europe with works in ceramic, glass, metal, wood, lacquer, paper, and fiber, the works on display show the breadth of the medium and highlight the qualities of craft that transcend culture and time.
The Outdoor Office
The Art Institute of Chicago
111 South Michigan Avenue
Through July 15
Jonathan Olivares takes a human-centered approach to industrial design and research. His 2011 book A Taxonomy of Office Chairs, published by Phaidon, provides an encyclopedic history of the office chair from 1840 to present day; building on this research, Olivares presents the speculative project The Outdoor Office (above). The advent of mobile communication means that work can be done outside of traditional offices and that the utility of outdoor space is no longer limited to recreation and leisure. Olivares examines how productive work environments can be created with new types of outdoor furniture and architecture, with consideration of privacy, shelter, and adaptability. The exhibition showcases the research and results of his findings, with images drawn from television, film, and existing offices, in addition to conceptual projects and models developed for new outdoor work spaces.
Stefan Sagmeister: The Happy Show
Institute of Contemporary Art
University of Pennsylvania
118 South 36th St., Philadelphia, PA
Through August 12
While Stefan Sagmeister is known as a graphic designer, his work often subverts the boundary between design and art. For his first museum exhibition in the United States, Sagmeister will present a vision of his journey to find happiness, taking over the second-floor galleries and Ramp in addition to interstices throughout the museum. The narrative of the exhibition is structured using personal maxims as expressed through typographic investigations. Alongside these maxims appears social data from psychologists, anthropologists, and historians, contextualizing Sagmeister’s experience within the larger factors of age, gender, race, and economics. “I am usually rather bored with definitions,” Sagmeister explains. “Happiness, however, is just such a big subject that it might be worth a try to pin it down.”