Last year the Getty shed its image as an aloof castle on the hill by bringing together 60+ LA Art museums and institutions in a region-wide celebration of the Southland’s artistic heritage. This year it is doing something similar for LA’s architecture, sponsoring eleven exhibits in a project the Getty calls Pacific Standard Time Presents Modern Architecture in L.A. Danielle Rago tells us more about PSTP, below.
However, there is one show that will be part of this season of architecture shows that is not officially part of PSTP. It is called Neverbuilt and it takes a look back at unbuilt visionary projects for Los Angeles by the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright, Lloyd Wright, Frank Gehry, and Richard Neutra (above, Luckman & Alexander’s unbuilt star-shaped Hollywood Museum atop Griffith Park; LA City Archives), many of them for the public realm. Neverbuilt, to be exhibited this summer at A+D Museum (whose show Windshield Perspective, is part of PSTP), is raising its own funds, and has five days to go to reach its February 14 goal on a Kickstarter campaign. I spoke to Sam Lubell, co-curator, about what you will see at Neverbuilt, and how the making of the show has become a public project in itself.
By Danielle Rago
Modern architecture, its aesthetic and message of modernity, openness and personal freedom, is synonymous with Los Angeles. From the iconic and experimental structures by architects like R.M. Schindler, Richard Neutra and A. Quincy Jones to the free-spirited designs of the 1970s and 80s by the likes of Frank Gehry, Eric Owen Moss and Thom Mayne (that were arguably a reaction to the strictures of late Modernism), an architecture of modernity characterizes not only the city itself but also its way of life.
This rich heritage is now to be the subject of a broad Getty-sponsored survey of architecture and planning, entitled, “Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A,” and continues the Pacific Standard Time cross-institutional collaboration the Getty launched last year.
Although this iteration is smaller in scope and scale than the vast survey of LA art, Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A., 1945-1980, it still includes eleven exhibitions and accompanying programs and events in and around Los Angeles from April through July 2013, at institutions including A+D Architecture and Design Museum, Cal Poly Pomona, Hammer Museum, J. Paul Getty Museum, LACMA, MAK Center, MOCA, SCI-Arc, and UC Santa Barbara. It will also include a CicLAvia tour past LA’s Modern architectural landmarks on Wilshire Boulevard (photo, below left, by Gary Leonard, shows a past cicLAvia on Wilshire with the 1929 Bullocks Wilshire, now Southwestern Law School, designed by John and Donald Parkinson).
While the exhibition is intended to provide a comprehensive look at Modern architecture in Los Angeles and hopes to broaden public knowledge and greater appreciation for LA’s heritage, it must also, according to LA-based architect Eric Owen Moss, “continue to remain relevant to the present and contemporary condition of the times.” Moss, who spoke at a recent press preview and whose Samitaur Tower in Culver City (above right, in photo by Tom Bonner) will be in MOCA’s show, stressed the importance of not emulating or replicating Los Angeles’ modern architecture in such a way that it becomes something “substantial, predictable, teachable and learnable.” Instead, he is interested in continuing to “look at architecture in an experimental way, that continues to be something which is at least an aspiration of perpetual unknown.”
Diverse shows will straddle both past and present: MOCA plans a look at the “sculpturalist” tradition exemplified by Gehry, Mayne and Moss and being continued by younger Angeleno architects, with a show called A New Sculpturalism; LACMA will look back at the evolution of its museum complex (the original 1965 building designed by William Pereira, is shown in this photo, below right, from LACMA’s archive, left) and explore new plans for its campus by the Swiss Modern maestro, Peter Zumthor. Meanwhile the Getty’s own show Overdrive: L.A. Constructs the Future, 1940-1990, will examine LA’s built environment and “rapid postwar evolution into one of the most populous and influential industrial, economic and creative capitals in the world.”
The summer of shows certainly raises some provocative questions: How does one characterize the Modern tradition in LA? What makes it essentially Angeleno? And where is LA architecture going now? Of the two strands in LA architecture – Modern and, to use MOCA’s terminology, “Sculptural” – which one is dominant? Or are they interconnected? And is LA still a global influencer? Finally, what does it means to institutionalize and museumify architecture? Does it make it art?
Danielle Rago is an independent curator and writer who examines the mediation of contemporary architecture.
Exhibitions receiving Getty Foundation grants include:
§ A New Sculpturalism: Contemporary Architecture from Southern California (MOCA)
§ The Architecture of A. Quincy Jones (working title) (Hammer)
§ Reconsidering LACMA: Peter Zumthor and the Presence of the Past (LACMA)
§ Technology and Environment: The Postwar House in Southern California (Kellogg University Art Gallery at Cal Poly Pomona)
§ Everything Loose Will Land (MAK Center for Art and Architecture)
§ Windshield Perspective (A+D Architecture and Design Museum)
§ A Confederacy of Heretics: The Architecture Gallery, Venice, 1979 (SCI-Arc)
§ Outside In: the Architecture of Smith and Williams (Art, Design & Architecture Museum, UC Santa Barbara)
Support for related public programs has also been provided to:
§ Center for Land Use Interpretation for On-Site Office Trailers: Invisible Architecture of the Urban Environment, an exhibition of original photography and related construction site tours.
§ Community Art Resources, Inc. for CicLAvia: Modern Architecture on Wilshire Blvd, an architectural guide and special programming as part of their June 2013 car-free/open streets event.
§ The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens for the online exhibition, Form and Landscape: Southern California Edison and the Los Angeles Basin, 1940-1990, and public programming.
§ Los Angeles Conservancy for Curating the City: Modern Architecture in L.A., 1940-1990, an interactive online resource as well as tours, public programs and print material.
§ Machine Project for The Machine Project Field Guide to L.A. Architecture, a performance series at architectural sites across the city.
§ Pasadena Heritage for a tour of modernist homes in the Pasadena area and a related lecture and oral history project.
§ The UCLA Architecture and Urban Design Department for Architecture Beyond Architecture, a series of discussions about the dynamic and interdisciplinary future of architecture.
Exhibitions will run from April through July 2013, with much of the related programming including lectures, films, tours and panel discussions taking place during Architecture Month, mid-May to mid-June 2013.