Acknowledging the parallels between society’s physical and psychological constructions, architect Lebbeus Woods has depicted a career-long narrative of how these constructions transform our being. Working mostly, but not exclusively, with pencil on paper, Woods has created an oeuvre of complex worlds—at times abstract and at times explicit—that present shifts, cycles, repetitions within the built environment. His timeless architecture is not in a particular style or in response to a singular moment in the field; rather, it offers an opportunity to consider how built forms impact the individual and the collective, and reflect contemporary political, social and ideological conditions, and how one person contributes to the development and mutation of the built world. Lebbeus Woods, Architect brings together works from the past forty years by one of the most influential designers working in architecture. Beyond architects, he has been hailed by designers, filmmakers, writers, and artists as a significant voice in recent history, his works resonate across many disciplines for their conceptual depth, imaginative breadth, lasting beauty and ethical potency. The exhibition centers on transformation as a recurring theme, providing a framework for understanding the experimental nature of the work.
This exhibition originated at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and will be on view at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University, November 22 through March 2, 2014.
Lebbeus Woods, Architect is curated by Joseph Becker, Assistant Curator of Architecture and Design, and Jennifer Dunlop Fletcher, Helen Hilton Raiser Associate Curator of Architecture and Design, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Lebbeus Woods, Architect is organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
The exhibition at The Drawing Center is made possible by the generous support of Elise Jaffe + Jeffrey Brown, Steven Holl + 32BNY, Edward Cella Art + Architecture, Friedman Benda, and Stéphane Samuel and Robert Melvin Rubin. Additional support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
Special thanks to the Estate of Lebbeus Woods.
The media sponsor is The Architect’s Newspaper.
Image: Lebbeus Woods, Photon Kite, from the series Centricity, 1988, Graphite on paper, 24 in. x 22 inches, Purchase through a gift of the Members of the Architecture + Design Forum, SFMOMA Architecture and Design Accessions Committee, and the architecture and design community in honor of Aaron Betsky, Curator of Architecture, Design and Digital Projects, 1995-2001, © Estate of Lebbeus Woods.
Len Lye’s career was marked by a lifelong fascination with movement and an aspiration to compose motion; the movement of the drawing hand was an important touchstone for his works in various media. In New York Lye is now well known for his animated experimental films. In the 1920s, however, Lye began to make what he termed “motion sketches”; abstract drawings that attempted to render the movement of his subjects, rather than their appearance. Motion Sketch reintroduces scholars and audiences in New York to Lye’s multidimensional practice specifically in relation to drawing. Describing his drawing practice in his own carefree prose, Lye said that doodling “cultivates a vacuous seaweed-pod state of kelp as a skull which is attached to a pencil betwixt the arm and the fingers held doodling in turn ‘twixt you and the paper in a rather bemused, empty, harmonious state of an attitude, eyes periphering said paper.” Lye’s kinesthetic approach to drawing—related to Surrealist automatism and anticipating aspects of Abstract Expressionism—also informed his practice in painting, photography, film and sculpture. Not limited to works on paper; the exhibition will instead reveal how Lye’s concept of "doodling" underpinned his approach to much of his work.
The exhibtion will include a selection of paintings, drawings, and photograms, never before seen in the United States. In The Drawing Center’s Lab gallery, an extensive film program will be presented on video, including such landmark films as Tusalava, 1929; A Colour Box, 1935; and Free Radicals, 1957/1979.
Len Lye: Motion Sketch is curated by Gregory Burke, Executive Director/CEO of both the Mendel Art Gallery and Remai Art Gallery of Saskatchewan and Co-Curator of the Montreal Biennale, 2014; and Tyler Cann, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at the Columbus Museum of Art. This exhibition is presented by The Drawing Center in collaboration with the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery (New Plymouth, New Zealand) and draws primarily from the Len Lye Foundation Collection.
Len Lye: Motion Sketchis made possible with the support of Creative New Zealand. All Souls Carnival (1957). Courtesy of the Len Lye Foundation. From material preserved and made available by the New Zealand Archive Ngā Kaitiaki O Ngā Taonga Whitiāhua. Courtesy of of thee Museum of Modern Art. Digital version by Park Road Post Production and Weta Digital Ltd. Tusalava, (1929); Rainbow Dance (1936); Trade Tattoo (1937); Colour Flight (1938); Courtesy of the Len Lye Foundation. From material preserved and made available by the New Zealand Archive Ngā Kaitiaki O Ngā Taonga Whitiāhua. Free Radicals (1958/1979); Tal Farlow (1980); Particles in Space (1980). Courtesy of the Len Lye Foundation. From material preserved and made available by the New Zealand Archive Ngā Kaitiaki O Ngā Taonga Whitiāhua. Digital version by Park Road Post Production and Weta Digital Ltd. A Colour Box (1935). Courtesy of the Len Lye Foundation. From material preserved by the BFI National Archive and made available by the New Zealand Film Archive Ngā Kaitiaki O Ngā Taonga Whitiāhua.
Len Lye, Drawing for Head Man of the Seed World, c. 1930, Ink on paper, 10 3/5 x 8 3/10 inches, Courtesy of the Len Lye Foundation Collection, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery.