Model of the Langen Foundation at Raketenstation Hombroich by Tadao Ando Architect & Associates
In August 2011, I began working at Carnegie Museum of Art as the special projects assistant for White Cube, Green Maze: New Art Landscapes, and I have spent the past year working with curator Raymund Ryan to plan the exhibition. I’m a detail-oriented person, and a huge part of my work has been gathering and organizing the information for every object in the exhibition. For the architectural models—a crucial part of the exhibition—that means managing a daunting array of attributes: dimensions, materials, weight, current location, scale, completion date, number of parts, packaging and installation instructions, digital images, etc.
Curator of architecture Raymund Ryan and special projects assistant Emily Rice reviewing exhibition models in the Heinz Architectural Center
Working largely through email, I have been in contact with dozens of architects, artists, curators, and gallerists on four continents. Often it took several attempts to hunt down one missing piece of information. There will be a handful of new objects created specifically for this exhibition, and I followed their progress from initial concepts through digital models and mock-ups to final fabrication.
A model of Rodrigo Cerviño Lopez’s Adriana Varejão Gallery at Instituto Inhotim
Each object in the show was collected from its home in early summer of this year and transported to Pittsburgh via the somewhat mysterious and extremely meticulous network of international fine art shipping companies (a subject deserving its own blog post!). They arrived in crates bearing collections of tags, stencils, warning labels, and barcodes. As teams of art handlers began to unpack the objects, I saw these things that I had come to know with such familiarity for the first time.
Assistant registrar Gabriela DiDonna checking the condition of the Grand Traiano Art Complex Museum Building model by Johnston Marklee
No matter how much research went into a particular object, there are always surprises. Every single model is a thrill. In a few cases, I had only seen a single, low-resolution image of a model; but seeing them in real life, they have a much richer level of detail than I had expected. The model of the Langen Foundation by Tadao Ando is a good example, where the model evokes both the building and the feeling of its site, Raketenstation Hombroich, in a beautifully subtle way. I had seen drawings of the new wall-mounted model of Seattle’s Olympic Sculpture Park that Weiss/Manfredi created for this exhibition; to see it assembled on the spot was truly impressive.
Olympic Sculpture Park model by Weiss/Manfredi
In most other cases, I’ve received extensive documentation of the works, yet the experience of seeing them in the gallery is still exciting. I had seen photos of Johnston Marklee’s models of the Grand Traiano Art Complex, but situated in the gallery atop custom-designed bases built by the artist Walead Beshty, it’s clear the photos didn’t do them justice. The four models of Ryue Nishizawa’s Teshima Art Museum are simple and minimalist, yet I didn’t expect the set to have so much distinctive personality. You should come see all of these for yourself!
The exhibition opens at 6:30pm on Friday, September 21—I hope to see you there!
Related websites: Read more about the show and hear curator Raymund Ryan on the Modern Art Notes podcast.
The exhibition presents works by:
Raimund Abraham (New York City); Tadao Ando (Osaka); Arquitetos Associados (Belo Horizonte); Tatiana Bilbao (Mexico City); Rodrigo Cerviño Lopez (São Paulo); Rudolf Finsterwalder (Stephanskirchen); Erwin Heerich (Düsseldorf); HHF architects (Basel); Oliver Kruse (Hombroich); Johnston Marklee (Los Angeles); Ryue Nishizawa (Tokyo); Rizoma Arquitetura (Belo Horizonte); Hiroshi Sambuichi (Hiroshima); Álvaro Siza Vieira (Porto); TOA (Taller de Operaciones Ambientales, Mexico City); Topotek 1 (Berlin); Weiss/Manfredi (New York City)