subject he cares about most

Jonathan Jones in the Grauniad (via rodcorp, again!) on Serra and Gehry:

Serra is on video in a little cinema in Gehry’s museum, talking about how he loathes architects. But surely you must be grateful to Gehry, objects the interviewer. “Oh, yeah! I should be grateful!” says Serra. He goes on to assert that he draws better than Gehry – “and Frank would agree” – and to argue that architects are just plagiarists who cannibalise sculpture.

Jones carefully weaves his way through the tension between artist and architect, sculpture and building. Ending with a confidence that I dream of seeing more often in architecture criticism.

This is as good as it gets. If you don’t like this, you don’t like modern art. If you do, you must revere Serra.

As you might expect, I like the power behind the seemingly simple put down about drawing better than Gehry, and along the way he draws in comparisons with Borromini and Bernini. I was reminded of some other notes I’ve been meaning to move off the piece of scrap paper in my back pocket:

Quotes from Simon Schama’s immensely enjoyable series on BBC4 a few months ago, The Power of Art, taken from the episode on Rembrandt (chosen because they fit nicely over the landscape of entries I’ve been making about drawing and sketching over the last few years).

Here too, in his drawings, just a few summary lines here and there, that manage to conjure up an entire scene. It’s a huge compliment don’t you think? Making us his partner in completion. Giving us the benefit of the doubt that we wouldn’t want anything so boring as the literal details.

And just look at the sketchiness of the whole thing. He doesn’t care about finish any more. In fact, Rembrandt’s in the process of doing something which horrified academicians – he’s abolishing the difference between a sketch and a painting, and he does it for the subjects he cares most about.

Serra, Gehry, Rembrandt – just a few summary lines here and there.

Elsewhere in an entry about the impending MoMA Serra exhibition, Adam Greenfield talks about where those summary lines meet:

Torqued Ellipse even manages something I didn’t think anything or -one could pull off: it redeems the single most wretched thing on Manhattan’s skyline, the Chippendale crenelation on the pediment of Philip Johnson’s atrocious AT&T Building. When you stand just so in Ellipse, in the hour before dusk, the two circles rhyme, the enclosing curve of the sculpture coming neatly into alignment with the egregious Johnson. It’s a moment of grace that I very much doubt is accidental.

Check the comments for further links to images and a fascinating anecdote about the tension between Mies van der Rohe and Henry Moore.

As for me; I spent my morning drawing summary lines through a presentation that moved from drainage proposals, through circulation, to car parking, around planning law, past environmental physics, into self-sufficiency from office to garden, touching on renewable technology, arguing the current market conditions, imagining various future societal conditions, exploring funding recycling and the balance between scientific post occupancy research and anecdotal quality of life dividends. Ultimately demonstrating that after all that you could still swing a cat.

For someone who just cannibalises sculpture, I sure do make a meal of it.

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