Le Corbusier at the MoMa

Kanika Pruthi of Saffronart discusses Corbusier’s ongoing retrospective at the MoMA in New York and how it drafts an unconventional picture of the famed architect

Corbusier in Chandigarh, India

Corbusier in Chandigarh, India. Image Credit: http://theblondeambitiondaily.blogspot.com/

New York: Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes opened this month at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. A retrospective exhibition on a grand scale, it surveys the biographical development of the architect’s ideas about landscape and topography. In the words of guest curator Jean-Louis Cohen, it undertakes a restorative task by challenging his long held reputation as proponent of austere, uniform modernism and to re-skew Le Corbusier from his bad reputation of constructing generic buildings with a gaping lack of sensitivity and addressal of the site at large, by presenting to the visitor a dazzling breadth of the architect’s creative genius.

Legislative Assembly Building, Chandigarh

Legislative Assembly Building, Chandigarh. Image Credit: http://aujourdhuivalery.blogspot.com/2012/02/chandigarh-legislative-assembly.html

Encompassing his work as an architect, interior designer, artist, city planner, writer, and photographer, the exhibition transforms the sixth floor into a grand tour of the multiple facets of Le Corbuseir’s life and his many undertakings and achievements. The exhibition is accompanied by an extensively researched and impressively put together catalogue in the format of an altas, fastidiously listing the major projects the architect undertook during his lifetime.

The exhibition space displays four reconstructed interiors, models of buildings, complementing photographs by Richard Pare, Corbusier’s early purist paintings, sketches, drawings, watercolor, furniture and film, all together documenting his many travels and engagements. The exhibition’s fourth section is devoted to Corbusier’s plan and buildings in Chandigarh, India. Three plaster architectural models and 11 ink and pencil perspective drawings work in concert with Pare’s photography to reveal Corbusier distinct connection with Chandigarh, and the role that Punjab’s landscape played in (literally) shaping his grand plans for the capital city.

Palace of Assembly, Chandigarh

Palace of Assembly, Chandigarh. Image Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Le_Corbusier_buildings

As noted in the opening pages of the catalogue Corbusier is one of the rare architects to have built on three continents before the advent of commercial interconnected jet service. The sheer volume- of material and discourse, produced by the exhibition is a clear indicator of the uncontested standing of the architect in the field. His major criticism has centered on the apparent disconnect between his structures and their surroundings. The validity and longevity of this critique can be ascertained by the retrospective’s herculean undertaking to establish the relationship between Corbusier and landscape- a very specific and noteworthy point of focus.

As illuminated by the catalogue essays, Corbusier approached landscape from different angles- some manifest while others latent. Contrary to popular belief, he had a keen interest in landscape, evident from his paintings, drawings, writings and travels, which are inherently attached to the appearance of landscape. He developed an understanding of the building as a type of viewing device for the landscape into an object of contemplation in ways quite distinct from the picturesque tradition.  He actually went on to develop a notion of landscape that included both the microscopic scale of a building’s immediate environment and the small landscape that it created or sustained, such as terraces, the macroscopic scale of urban ensembles and large terrains. He was attentive to both the grand landscapes of mountains and coastlines as well as the urban cityscapes. His pocket sketchbooks document this lifetime interest.

Aptly stated in the catalogue, “Le Corbusier was engaged not with the ways in which things are similar around the world but rather with the ways in which they are distinct, with layers of culture that resonate even in worlds in mutation from the forces of modernization.”

The exhibition will be on until September 23, to learn more click here.

‘Huma Bhabha: Unnatural Histories’ at MoMA PS1

Installation shot: Huma Bhabha: Unnatural Histories at MoMA PS1

Installation shot: Huma Bhabha: Unnatural Histories at MoMA PS1

Manjari Sihare recommends Huma Bhabha’s Unnatural Histories, currently on at MoMA PS1

New York: If you are in New York or surrounding areas, please visit Huma Bhabha’s (Pakistani, b. 1962) first solo exhibition at MoMA PS1. Titled “Unnatural Histories“, the show comprises nearly 30 sculptures and more than a dozen photo-based drawings including some new works, never seen before. The exhibition is on view on the 2nd floor of MoMA PS1 until April 1, 2013.

Bhabha, a New York based artist of Pakistani origin, is best known is known for her engagement with the human figure and for her use of found materials, working primarily in sculpture. Having exhibited her work since the early ‘90’s she was recently included in the 2012 Paris Triennial at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, and in the 2010 Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City. Bhabha was included in a group exhibition of sculpture at City Hall Park in New York City organized by the Public Art Fund as well as a group exhibition focusing on intercultural dialog at the Stedelijk Museum Bureau, Amsterdam, both in 2010. She has also exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art and The New Museum, both in New York City, and was included in the 2008 Gwanju Biennial, South Korea. Her current solo exhibition at MoMA PS1 includes a sculpture that was first shown at MoMA PS1 in Greater New York 2005.

Huma Bhabha, Thot and Scribe, 2012, Mixed Media. Courtesy: The Artist and Salon 94. Image credit: MoMA PS1

Huma Bhabha, Thot and Scribe, 2012, Mixed Media. Courtesy: The Artist and Salon 94. Image credit: MoMA PS1

MoMA PS1 is one of the largest and oldest organizations in the United States devoted to contemporary art. Established in 1976 by Alanna Heiss, MoMA PS1 originated from the Institute for Art and Urban Resources, a not-for-profit organization founded five years prior with the mission of turning abandoned, underutilized buildings in New York City into artist studios and exhibition spaces. P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, as it was then known, became an affiliate of The Museum of Modern Art in 2000.

To learn more about the show and Bhabha, please read Karen Rosenberg’s review in the New York Times.

The Otolith Group presents: The Radiant

Elisabetta Marabotto explores one of the MoMA’s night of films in New York

London: Yesterday the MoMA presented the latest movie by the Otolith Group as part of “Documentary Fortnight 2013: MoMA’s International Festival of Nonfiction Film and Media”.

The Radiant by The Otolith Group, 2012

The Radiant by The Otolith Group, 2012. Image Credit: http://otolithgroup.org/index.php?m=current

The artist collective founded in 2002 by Anjalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun, in its latest production, reflects upon the terrible happenings which followed the Great Tohoku earthquake in Japan in March 2011.

The Radiant examines different issues around nuclear energy, the past and future threat that radiations can cause and it uses the illuminated cities and villages as an example of what can be changed to avoid these tragedies and must not happened again.

More information on the documentary fortnight and this video work can be found on the MoMA website and the Otolith Group‘s website.

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