Dictionary of Art and Artists



History of

Architecture and Sculpture



















Part I. ARCHITECTURE - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,
Part II. ARCHITECTURE - 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20,
Part III. ARCHITECTURE - 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29




Although it claims to deal with the substance as well, in the end Post-Modernist historicism addresses only the decorative veneer of the International Style. Spurred by more radical theories, Deconstructivism, another tendency that has been gathering momentum since 1980, goes much farther in challenging its substance. It does so by likewise engaging in appropriation. Oddly enough, it returns to one of the earliest sources of modernism: the Russian avant-garde. The Russian experiment in architecture proved short-lived, and few of its ideas ever made it beyond the laboratory stage. Recent architects, inspired by the bold sculpture of the Constructivists and the graphic designs of the Suprematists, seek to violate the integrity of modern architecture by subverting its internal logic, which the Russians themselves did little to undermine. Nevertheless, Deconstructivism does not abandon modern architecture and its principles altogether, and remains an architecture of the possible based on structural engineering.

Deconstructivism is a new term that combines Constructivism and deconstruction. Strictly speaking there can be no architecture of deconstruction, because building puts things together instead of taking them apart. Deconstructivism nevertheless follows similar principles and is symptomatic of postmodernism as a whole. It does so by dismembering modern architecture, then reassembling it again in new ways. Although it claims Michelangelo, Bernini, and Guarini as its ancestors, Deconstructivism goes far beyond anything that can be found in earlier architecture. We will find little common ground among its practitioners. The main devices they have in common are superimpositions of clashing systems or layers of space, and distortions from within that subvert the normal vocabulary and purposes of modern architecture.



The history of ideas has shifted its emphasis since the 1920s from a Utopian world view to a self-absorbed hermeneutics which, in its criticism of "cynical reason", knew of no argument which could itself not be criticized. Frenchman Jacques Derrida seems to stand at the point of intersection of philosophy and architecture,- starting from works of literary criticism, he discovered his interest in architecture when Bernard Tschumi invited him to a discussion on the Park La Villette in Paris.

Following the conversion of the never-completed livestock market halls for the new Paris abattoir into the "Cite des Sciences et de 'Industrie", an international competition was held for a "Park of the 21st Century" in the surrounding 136 acres of unused land. Architect Bernard Tschumi won the competition with his strategy of "a discontinued building, ñ whole which is split into a number of landmarks distributed over the entire site". Covered galleries along the main axes and serpentine paths link the main attractions of the site, whose focal points are red pavilions, its "folies". Avenues trace the geometric plan and enclose open areas of lawn. Not only the buildings are considered objects here, but also the space between them, fully in the spirit of concrete poems, which similarly determines the reading of words by means of spatial caesura and omission. And poetic is indeed the word for those parts of the park already completed.

Derrida formulated his thoughts in an essay entitled "Point de folie - maintenant l'architecture", whose ambiguous meaning might be as variously translated as "No madness at all - maintaining architecture" and "Point of madness - now architecture". For him, architecture becomes a significant event, but to questions on its content "an answer will not be provided by gaining access to a meaning whose fulfilment would ultimately be promised us. No, it is precisely a question of what happens to that meaning." Tschumi's "folies", which are actually only playful pavilions for various leisure activities, can be seen in this context as contributions to the discussion on the possible transformations of architecture within a self-created reference system of points, lines and planes.

Derrida describes the red point in his "structure as open to combinatorial substitutions or permutations, which relate it as much to other frivolities as to its own parts". These "folies", recalling the "follies" of English garden architecture, "primarily, but not solely, deconstruct the semantics belonging to architecture". Derrida also defines architecture itself as "an inhabited construct, a heritage which embraces us even before we have attempted to think it". This naturally means that manipulations performed by architects can only be understood as such in so far as the viewer also shares the heritage in question. In order to develop critical significance, therefore, deconstruction would have to refer to a socially-established language of form, a general understanding of architecture. Many critics, however, see Tschumi's concept of heritage above all in Russian Constructivism, and in the works of Leonidov and Tschernikov in particular. James Wines from the SITE office noted by way of contrast that the cut and slashed house ruins of sculptor Gordon Matta-Clark indeed embody the concept of the dismembered archetype and thereby encourage critical consideration of the unquestioning daily perception of architecture.

Frank Gehry's buildings, which make strong reference to concrete urban chaos and local traditions, can be interpreted along similar lines. Widely-employed as a skeletal structure in Los Angeles is the stucco box with a wooden lath frame, concealed within simple and cheap industrial parts in such a way that associations with improvised architecture cannot be altogether dismissed. But Gehry employs his means with such sophistication and subtle colouring that the artistic intention is immediately apparent. Where he fills the inner courtyard of a law school with borrowings from the classical vocabulary of a Roman forum, it is both understandable and fully in the spirit of his client. At the same time, these "quotations"
- not truly such since they remind rather than quote - are robbed of their original components and their monumentality in such a way that the final result develops congenially out of the surrounding urban space Plywood panels intended as lining boards are combined with ridiculously weak aluminum struts and inlaid plexiglass strips into a small chapel. Columns lose their bases and capitals to become nothing more than cylinders of concrete or galvanized iron; their significance is revealed only by their positioning within the site. Gehry also plays - as in the Edgemar Center in Santa Monica - with purely constructive alienation effects, creating a crown from a distorted cube of steel framing, for example. Originally subordinate architectural elements begin to lead a life of their own: stairwells, chimneys and porches are clearly overemphasized.

A programme to revitalize Culver City, in the greater area of Los Angeles, resulted in Eric Owen Moss transforming a rather insignificant city with few outstanding buildings into a Mecca for devotees of architecture. With the help of supportive clients, he converted and extended existing architecture, chiefly former industrial buildings, to house businesses from the media sector. In the case of the Samitaur Building, for example, he added a 100-metre-long bar on stilts over the street area. An entrance area and staircase on one corner, and a tiny, central inner courtyard, erupt sharply out of the rational development of the body. Three sides of the pentagonal courtyard, with its flat water basin spanned by a bridge, project beyond the facade. Moss describes the sculptural entry area as a changing object, either a sphere or a cylinder, if not a pumpkin, although originally an hour-glass, with the sand inside it representing the visitor mounting the stairs.

Daniel Libeskind's Jewish Museum in Berlin is more about content than form. Libeskind uses striking forms not as ends in themselves, but as carriers of meaning. The ground plan of the metal-clad Jewish Museum recalls a bolt of lightning,- it has no entrance of its own, but is accessed below ground from the neighbouring Kollegienhaus. Next to the main museum building Libeskind erected a pentagonal Holocaust Tower. Here, as in the main building, the sharp-edged slits that are the windows create strange moods, which reinforce the idea of a building surrounding a historically produced void, namely the destroyed Jewish culture. "The new annex is conceived as an emblem, a symbol, in which the not-visible reveals itself as an empty invisible. The museum is to be built around a void which runs through the building, a void into which the public are to enter." For Libeskind, all the components of his work are meanings in another sense, too; their position within the ground plan points to these meanings, their interpenetration is the vocabulary from which his syntax arises. Thus he says of the windows, they are "the actual topographical lines which link the residences of Germans and Jews in the immediate surroundings and radiate outwards". Understanding of this architecture comes only with logical thinking and conscious intent on the part of the visitor.




Although Deconstructivist designs have won major awards, their experimental approach and ambitious scale have discouraged actual construction. The most advanced designs to get off the drawing board have generally been relatively modest affairs, but no less exciting for that fact. The roof conversion for a Viennese lawyer's office by Coop Himmelblau (fig.
1250) has well been described as "a writhing, disruptive, animal breaking through the corner." The internal disturbances are incorporated into the structure itself: "It is as if some kind of parasite has infected the form and distorted it from the inside." This is directly akin to how deconstruction uses language.

Roof Conversion Project, Vienna.



Coop Himmelblau

Coop Himmelblau, also rendered Coop Himmelb(l)au, avant-garde architecture firm that rose to prominence in the 1980s and ’90s. The two central members were Wolf D. Prix (b. December 13, 1942, Vienna, Austria) and Helmut Swiczinsky (b. January 13, 1944, Poznań, Poland).

Coop Himmelblau was founded in 1968 by Prix, Swiczinsky, and Rainer Michael Holzer; Holzer left the partnership in 1971. The firm’s name—German for “Blue-Sky Cooperative”—was a wordplay describing their efforts to “make architecture light and fluctuating like clouds.” In the 1970s Prix and Swiczinsky, who had both studied at the Technical University of Vienna, created designs that dematerialized the heaviness of conventional architecture through unexpected airy angles and complicated spatial solutions. These exuberant results were achieved through a process that Prix described as “draw[ing] with one’s eyes closed,” a technique comparable to the automatic drawing practiced by Dadaists and Surrealists in the 1920s and ’30s.

By the 1980s Coop Himmelblau had seen their designs become built works. Their commissions featured bold angular forms and open complex series of spaces, as demonstrated in their conversion of a legal office’s attic space (1983–88) in Vienna and their addition to the Funder Factory (1988) in St. Veit an der Glan, Austria. Such buildings, looking like angular explosions of metal and glass, served as shocking disruptions of their traditional surroundings and of people’s expectations of architecture. This type of design merited their inclusion in the famous Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.) exhibition “Deconstructivist Architecture” in 1988, since their work seemed to “deconstruct” the clean lines, rectangular shapes, and rigid spatial planning of Modernist architects such as Le Corbusier.

In the late 1980s Prix and Swiczinsky moved to Los Angeles, where they opened a studio and began to design exhibition installations, such as “Expressionist Utopias” (1993) at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and “Paradise Cage” (1996) at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles (with artist Kiki Smith). They also ventured into the realm of household furnishings, designing the unsettling tilting “Vodol” chair for the furniture manufacturer Vitra in 1989. Coop Himmelblau’s later buildings, which continued to challenge architectural standards, include a Constructivist-inspired angular steel-and-glass structure for the UFA Cinema Center (1993–98) in Dresden, Germany; the futuristic glass SEG apartment tower (1994–98) in Vienna; and an addition to the Akron (Ohio, U.S.) Art Museum (begun 2004).

Encyclopædia Britannica


Coop Himmelblau. Funder Factory Works 3 in St. Veit/Glan, Austria, 1988-1989

Funder Factory Works 3. Axonometric projection of the overall complex

Coop Himmelblau. Funder Factory Works 3 in St. Veit/Glan, Austria, 1988-1989

Coop Himmelblau.
"Ufa-Palast" cinemamovie theatre in Dresden, 1993-1998

Coop Himmelblau. "Ufa-Palast"



Eric Owen Moss.


Eric Owen Moss

Eric Owen Moss (b. 1943 in Los Angeles (LA), California) practices architecture with his eponymously named LA-based 25-person firm founded in 1973.

Throughout his career Moss has worked to revitalize a once defunct industrial tract in Culver City, California.

Moss received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1965, his Masters of Architecture from the University of California, Berkeley, College of Environmental Design in 1968 and a second Masters of Architecture from Harvard University Graduate School of Design in 1972. Moss taught at Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) in 1974 and was appointed director in 2002. He has held chairs at Yale and Harvard universities, and appointments at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna and the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen.

Moss received a 1998 AIA/LA Medal for his architectural work as well as the Business Week/Architectural Record Award in 2003 for the design and construction of the Stealth project, Culver City, California. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and received the Distinguished Alumni Award for the University of California at Berkeley in 2003. Moss received the 2007 Arnold Brunner Memorial Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. There are ten published monographs on the work of Moss' office.


Eric Owen Moss. Samitaur Building, Culver City, California, 1990-1996

Eric Owen Moss.
Prittard & Sullivan Building, Culver City, California, 1995-1997

Eric Owen Moss. "The Box", Culver City, California, 1990-1994.
"The Box", Isometric projection



Daniel Libeskind.


Daniel Libeskind

Daniel Libeskind, (born May 12, 1946, Łódź, Poland), Polish American architect known for introducing complex ideas and emotions into his designs.

Libeskind first studied music at the Łódź Conservatory, and in 1960 he moved to New York City on a music scholarship. Changing his artistic aims after arriving, he began to study architecture under John Hejduk and Peter Eisenman at Cooper Union. After receiving his master’s degree in the history and theory of architecture from the University of Essex, England (1972), he became known as an academic, especially for his time teaching at the Cranbrook Academy of Art (1978–85) in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

Libeskind’s international reputation as an architect was solidified when in 1989 he won the competition to build an addition to the Berlin Museum that would house the city museum’s collection of objects related to Jewish history. Despite a decade of opposition through local politics, the building itself was completed in 1999 and opened as a museum in 2001. Libeskind, who lost most of his family in the Holocaust, worked to convey several levels of meaning in the building. The base of the complex runs in a broken, zig-zag pattern, creating a floor plan that resembles the Star of David, which Jews were forced to wear displayed prominently on their clothing during the Nazi occupation. Throughout the length of the museum runs a space known as the Void, which is a path of raw, blank concrete walls. Visitors can see the Void, but they cannot enter it or use it to access other parts of the museum; in this way, it suggests both notions of absence and paths not taken. Crooked slices of window allow light that creates a disorienting, almost violent feeling throughout the structure, while, at the same time, an adjacent sculpture garden creates a sense of meditative silence. Because the spatial experience is so powerful, many felt that the building might better serve as a memorial without any installations. Controversy swirled over this proposal until, in 2000–01, Libeskind remodeled the building somewhat to facilitate its museum function.

On the basis of the recognition he earned for this project, Libeskind received a number of museum commissions in the late 1990s and early 21st century, including the Felix Nussbaum Haus (1995–99) in Osnabrück, Germany. In 2003 Libeskind won an international competition to rebuild the World Trade Center site in New York City. During the competition phase, much debate arose over whether a new, taller structure should be built or the site left untouched as a form of memorial. Libeskind’s plan thoughtfully addressed both these visions, combining a glass tower, designed to be the tallest in the world, with open memorial gardens that represent the “footprints” of the two fallen towers. His design was praised by both the architectural community and the general public, but ultimately commercial and safety concerns overrode the original design, and all that remained of Libeskind’s vision was the overall height of the building: 1,776 feet (540 metres), a reference to the year in which the Declaration of Independence was approved by the U.S. Continental Congress.

Libeskind continued to be sought after for Jewish projects. Among these were the interior of the Danish Jewish Museum (completed 2003) in Copenhagen, a glass courtyard (completed 2007) for the Jewish Museum in Berlin, and the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco (completed 2008). He was also tapped for a variety of art-museum buildings—including the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal (completed 2007), an extension of the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto; and an extension to the Denver Art Museum, Frederic C. Hamilton Building (opened 2006) in Denver, Colo.—and many other structures.

Encyclopædia Britannica


Daniel Libeskind. Jewish Museum, Berlin, 1989-1999

Daniel Libeskind. Jewish Museum, exhibition space

Daniel Libeskind. Felix Nuhbaum Museum in Osnabruck, Germany, 1996-1998

Felix Nuhbaum Museum in Osnabruck.
Interior view

Daniel Libeskind. London Metropolitan University, London



Frank O. Gehry.


Frank O. Gehry

Frank O. Gehry, in full Frank Owen Gehry, original name Ephraim Owen Goldberg (born Feb. 28, 1929, Toronto, Ont., Can.), Canadian American architect and designer whose original, sculptural, often audacious work won him worldwide renown.

Gehry’s family immigrated to Los Angeles in 1947. He studied architecture at the University of Southern California (1949–51; 1954) and city planning at Harvard University (1956–57). After working for several architectural firms, he established his own company, Frank O. Gehry & Associates, in 1962 and established its successor, Gehry Partners, in 2002.

Reacting, like many of his contemporaries, against the cold and often formulaic Modernist buildings that had begun to dot many cityscapes, Gehry began to experiment with unusual expressive devices and to search for a personal vocabulary. In his early work he built unique, quirky structures that emphasized human scale and contextual integrity. His early experiments are perhaps best embodied by the “renovations” he made to his own home (1978, 1991–94) in Santa Monica, Calif. Gehry essentially stripped the two-story home down to its frame and then built a chain-link and corrugated-steel frame around it, complete with asymmetrical protrusions of steel rod and glass. Gehry made the traditional bungalow—and the architectural norms it embodied—appear to have exploded wide open. He continued those design experiments in two popular lines of corrugated cardboard furniture, Easy Edges (1969–73) and Experimental Edges (1979–82). Gehry’s ability to undermine the viewer’s expectations of traditional materials and forms led him to be grouped with the deconstructivist movement in architecture, although his play upon architectural tradition also caused him to be linked to postmodernism.

Treating each new commission as “a sculptural object, a spatial container, a space with light and air,” Gehry was rewarded with commissions the world over throughout the 1980s and ’90s. These works possessed the deconstructed quality of his Santa Monica home but began to display a pristine grandeur that suited his increasingly public projects. Notable structures from the period include the Vitra Furniture Museum and Factory (1987) in Weil am Rhein, Ger.; the American Center (1988–94) in Paris; and the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum (1990–93) at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

Gehry’s reputation soared in the late 1990s. By that time Gehry’s trademark style had become buildings that resemble undulating free-form sculpture. This form arguably reached its zenith in his Guggenheim Museum (1991–97) in Bilbao, Spain. In that structure Gehry combined curvaceous titanium forms with interconnecting limestone masses to create a sculptural feat of engineering. He further explored those concerns in the Experience Music Project (1995–2000) in Seattle. Constructed of a fabricated steel frame wrapped in colourful sheet metal, the structure was, according to Gehry, modeled on the shape of a guitar—particularly, a smashed electric guitar. As with the Guggenheim structure, he employed cutting-edge computer technology to uncover the engineering solutions that could bring his sculptural sketches to life. In his 2008 renovation of the Art Museum of Ontario in his hometown, Gehry retained the original building (1918) but removed an artistically unsuccessful entryway that had been added in the 1990s. Although the updated museum shows many characteristic Gehry touches, one critic called it “one of Mr. Gehry’s most gentle and self-possessed designs.”

Gehry became known for his work on music venues. The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles was designed before the Bilbao museum but was completed in 2003, to great acclaim. The Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago’s Millennium Park was completed in 2004. Gehry also built a performing arts centre (1997–2003) for Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., and designed the New World Center (completed 2011) for the New World Symphony orchestral academy in Miami Beach, Fla. As the 21st century continued, Gehry continued to receive numerous large-scale commissions.

Although critical opinion is sometimes divided over his radical structures, Gehry’s work made architecture popular and talked-about in a manner not seen in the United States since Frank Lloyd Wright. Among Gehry’s many awards are the Pritzker Architecture Prize (1989), the National Medal of the Arts (1998), and the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal (1999).

Encyclopædia Britannica


Frank O. Gehry. The Architect's House in Santa Monica, California, 1978

Frank O. Gehry. Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, California, 1981-1984

Frank O. Gehry. Loyola Law School.
Steps between the main building
and the courtyard

Frank O. Gehry.
Edgemar Center in Santa Monica, California, 1984-1988

Frank O. Gehry. Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, 1991-1997

Computer generated wire model

Frank O. Gehry. Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.

Frank O. Gehry. Deutsche Genossenschafts Bank, Berlin, 1995-2000

Frank O. Gehry.
Disney Music Concert Hall, Los Angeles, California, 1987-2003

Frank O. Gehry.
Disney Music Concert Hall.
Entrance hall


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