"I dwell on Libeskind here because his project is close to my interests, but also because he exposes most clearly the intellectual tendencies of current public building on a grand scale. And the ROM project shows, more than any other current major building, how monumental-conceptual architecture shares the problem of evanescent novelty with conceptual art. Indeed, conceptual art is an important enabling condition of the current architectural scene. Without the pioneering slyness and precedent of clever self-promotion in the Seth Seigelraub (sic) stable of 1960s New York post-Pop artists, today’s architectural highwire artists would probably not exist or function in the global limelight. In a new book, art historian Alexander Alberro usefully unearths the roots of conceptualism in American art. Seigelraub, an accomplished impresario, successfully packaged Lawrence Weiner, Dan Graham, Sol LeWitt, Douglas Huebler, Carl Andre, Robert Barry, and Joseph Kosuth, and sold them as a new art-world brand.Their group exhibitions at Windham College in upstate New York and at Manhattan venues, from Seigelraub’s downtown galleries to the School of Visual Arts, established new norms of intellectual playfulness in an art scene at once moribund and confused."

Monumental/Conceptual Architecture, The Art of Being Too Clever By Half, by Mark Kingwell

- bill 3-07-2004 10:33 pm

kingwell must either be too young or his cross dicipline has failed him in really getting conceptual art. I found his take on coceptual architecture usefull but that may just be my cross dicipline failing me.

Mark Kingwell, a brief biography of the noted political and cultural theorist

Mark Kingwell was born in Toronto in 1963 and educated at the University of Toronto, Edinburgh University and Yale University, where he graduated with a PhD in 1991. He is the author of three books: Better Living: In Pursuit of Happiness from Plato to Prozac (Viking, 1998), a Globe and Mail Top Ten Book and winner of the 1998 Drummer-General's Award for Non-Fiction; Dreams of Millennium: Report from a Culture on the Brink (Viking, 1996), a finalist for the 1997 Gordon Montador Award in social commentary and a Maclean's top ten non-fiction pick for 1996; and A Civil Tongue: Justice, Dialogue, and the Politics of Pluralism (Penn State, 1995), winner of the 1996 Spitz Prize in Political Theory.

He has taught at Yale, York University and the University of Toronto at Scarborough, where he is currently Associate Professor of Philosophy. A contributing editor forSaturday Night, Shift and Descant magazines, Kingwell writes essays, columns, reviews and scholarly articles that have appeared in more than 40 publications, includingHarper's, Adbusters and Utne Reader. He also speaks frequently on cultural and political issues for television and radio.
- bill 3-07-2004 10:39 pm [add a comment]

"Seigelraub"--pathetic. Young fogey Kingwell did some homework but is dead wrong about Gehry, et al. His description of 60s-style conceptualism (Their works included lined-up bales of hay, grids laid over fields, chunks of plaster removed from gallery walls. Titles and descriptions took on new importance, overshadowing, even contradicting, the “works” themselves. Ads or mock contracts referring to artistic works became the works. Often elaborate imperative or passive-voice instructions—“A can of aerosol paint is sprayed for exactly two minutes six inches from the floor”—defined the projects, making their actual execution more and more irrelevant.) is accurate, as far as it goes, but the common denominator is that it's all about rigor and reduction. It's the exact opposite--a violent reaction to--the kind of arbitrary, confectionary design you see in the so-called "monumental/conceptualists." Gehry is an abstract expressionist wannabe, an "intuitive artist working in architecture." Libeskind, too--even though his forms are faux-crystalline. The conceptualists were "all about the grid," to the extent they had formal concerns at all.

- tom moody 3-08-2004 12:45 am [add a comment]

"Concepts, as I shall use the term, and the monumental-conceptual architecture they allow, are freefloating and undemanding, such that the mere play of ideas, the juggling of concepts, is seen as a sufficient justification, an end in itself."

I found that article useful and interesting too. But despite Kingwell's elaborations am failing to make the connection between architectural works that are both monumental and spectacular, and a tradition of artwork that is rooted in shedding spectacle to the point of letting go of objects themselves. Kingwell doesn't seem to like conceptual art very much, and I do. Take Lawrence Weiner's ‘Declaration of Intent’ (1968): “(1) The artist may construct the piece. (2) The piece may be fabricated. (3) The piece may not be built. [Each being equal and consistent with the intent of the artist, the decision as to condition rests with the receiver upon the occasion of receivership.]” One aspect of removing the object from the idea is an objectification of the idea itself. Rather than, as Kingwell suggests, de-sensualing the art experience, I would say this work sensualised the thought experience. In this way, content becomes more important, not less important, and a great big, empty-headed, flashy glass building doesn't really fit into the model.

Kingwell seems to think that concepts in and of themselves are fluff. But another possible trajectory from conceptual art might be an exploration of the concrete elements of thought and the physiological location of consciouness - a pretty hot topic these days for philosophers and physicists. If you based an architecture on such interpretations of conceptual art, you'd probably get something pretty different from Libeskind. But then, I'm an "undergraduate" thinker, so what do I know?
- sally mckay 3-08-2004 1:12 am [add a comment]