Edited by Stanley Abercrombie -- Interior Design, 6/1/2007 12:00:00 AM
Richard Serra Sculpture: Forty Years
by Kynaston McShine, Lynne Cooke, John Rajchman, and Benjamin H.D. Buchloh
New York: Museum of Modern Art, $75
420 pages, 381 black-and-white illustrations
Some of the most intriguing and moving interiors of the last 40 years are not inside buildings but instead at the hearts of the monumental sculptures of Richard Serra—work that's now being honored at New York's Museum of Modern Art. The handsome and thorough exhibition catalog quotes the artist as saying, "I consider space to be a material. . . . I attempt to use sculptural form to make space distinct." He has accomplished precisely that throughout his career as well as in the three pieces created specifically for this show.
La Maison de Verre: Pierre Chareau's Modernist Masterwork
by Dominique Vellay
New York: Thames & Hudson, $60
160 pages, 83 illustrations
The Maison de Verre may be Paris's most private and mysterious house. It is seldom open to the public. Hidden from the street beyond a small courtyard, the facade of translucent glass blocks also hides any view of the interior. And the very existence of the house, completed in 1932, had been almost completely forgotten until it was rediscovered by architect Richard Rogers and publicized by historian Kenneth Frampton in the 1960's.
The house was designed by Pierre Chareau, an architect better known for interiors and furniture. A founder of the Union des Artistes Modernes, he contributed rooms to 1925's Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris. He moved to New York at the onset of World War II, and his few U.S. designs include a now-demolished painting studio for Robert Motherwell in East Hampton, New York, and an upstate house for the widow of conductor Pierre Monteux.
Here, at last, the wonders of the Maison de Verre receive a thorough presentation. The text is by a woman who often visited the house after it was built for her grandparents and later lived there herself. The fine photographs, by François Halard, are printed as full-page bleeds.
Certainly the most striking exterior element is the glass-block facade, which glows at night. Inside, one is impressed by the number of stairways, some of them with open risers and no handrails, others folding into the ceiling. Also impressive are the many sliding and swiveling screens that divide the flowing plan. Several are fabricated of heat-strengthened textured glass, several of wire mesh, and several of duralumin, an alloy of aluminum, copper, manganese, and magnesium. The house's steel structure is visible, with exposed bolts, as is much of the plumbing and wiring systems. Bathrooms and a soundproof telephone booth have lights that turn on automatically when a person enters. Two-sided cupboards open into both bedrooms and corridors. Windows are remote-controlled, and the ventilation system is wheel-operated. A bidet swivels away when not in use. Besides a Cuban 19th-century mahogany dining table paired with mahogany chairs from the same era, Chareau designed all the furniture. Everywhere is delight and surprise.
What They're Reading. . .
Principal and creative director of Gensler
The Art of Rebellion 2: World of Urban Art Activism
by Christian Hundertmark
Mainaschaff, Denmark: Publikat Verlags, $40
208 pages, 715 illustrations (700 color)
With a personal library of 1,200 titles, John Bricker enjoys an embarrassment of design riches. And those resources don't go to waste on his brand-development and retail projects. "It's about diversity of information," he says. Lately, he's been struck by the diversity of ideas in graffiti artist Christian Hundertmark's second survey of street art around the globe. "It's temporary, immediate, and very current," Bricker says. "I think the idea of temporary design reflects the fact that the world is moving very quickly." Always highly sensitive to a client's evolving needs, he just completed a prototype boutique for Armani Exchange and is currently reconceptualizing a Las Vegas retail environment—read "mall."—Deborah Wilk
Art of the Classical World in the Metropolitan Museum of Art
by Carlos A. Picón, Joan R. Mertens, Elizabeth J. Milleker, Christopher S. Lightfoot, and Seán Hemingway
New York, New Haven, and London: Metropolitan Museum of Art and Yale University Press, $75
520 pages, 643 illustrations (595 color)
Conceived by Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates and under way for 15 years, the transformation of the galleries housing the Metropolitan Museum of Art's enormous classical collections is finally complete. For those unable to visit New York, this lavishly illustrated book is the next best thing. For those who are, the book will make their visit even richer. Images and descriptions of hundreds of individual artifacts are complemented by photography of both the new installation and earlier designs.