1   b   c   d   e   f   g   h   i   j   k   l   m   n   o   p   q   r   s   t   u   v   w   x   y   z


The Spectacle of the Innocent Eye: Vision, Cynical Reason, and the Discipline of Architecture in Postwar America   Kazys Varnelis   1994

Ultimately though, the publication of Five Architects was the work of one man: Peter Eisenman. One day in the New York art and architecture bookstore of George Wittenborn, Eisenman, who has described himself as a "regular," approached the owner and mentioned that he had a idea for a book to be published from the tapes of CASE Seven. Wittenborn agreed on the condition that the architects put up their own money for the edition of five hundred copies. Eisenman initially thought to call the book Cardboard Architecture, but the other members of the group refused, feeling the title to be too associated with Eisenman's own work. Wishing already to somewhat defuse the bounds of the group, they decided against the alternative title of the book Case Seven and instead chose to put only their names — "Eisenman Graves Gwathmey Hejduk Meier" centered on the cover of the book.471
No illustrations of the architects' work appeared on the cover which may have recalled Johnson's 1966 book — the same volume that would make "Cocktail tables look handsome..."472--with its use of emphatic black Helvetica type on a stark white background. The format was also roughly the same size as Johnson's book, but took the rectangular folio format and expanded it into the rather unusual format of a square roughly 10 1/2 by 10 1/2 inches. The book was divided into two sections, thirteen or so pages of prefatory texts by Arthur Drexler, Colin Rowe, and Kenneth Frampton establishing the theoretical linkage and justification for the work which was presented in 120 subsequent pages divided so that each architect received exactly twenty-four pages. Eisenman and Meier would introduce their own work, Graves's work was introduced by William La Riche while Gwathmey and Hejduk provided no introductory texts. Each architect presented two projects: one from the original CASE Seven meeting and one from the intervening years, except for Hejduk who presented three. The prefatory texts of the first fifteen pages would be graphically distinguished from the introductions by Eisenman, Meier and La Riche by being set in two-columns while the latter were set in a three-column format.
Throughout the book, black and white images were the rule: the lack of color reproduction obscured the color in Graves's work, although one color image, a projection of Hejduk's Bernstein House, did exist. Almost all the renderings were hard line, ink drawings without any gradations of tone.

Thus, by constructing the authentic, genius architect in opposition to the political romantic, Drexler created a radical binary opposition, perhaps informed by Stern's position against revolution in 40 Under 40. Architecture, according to Drexler, cannot really be architecture unless it concerns itself solely with the domain within its own parameters. Drexler's statement that "We are all concerned, one way or another, with the social realm," empties any expressly political position of meaning. If we are all concerned with society, then we don't have to pay any particular attention to it, it comes naturally. In addition, the "considerable awareness of what is going on in the world" he attributes to the Five can't be found in any of the work shown in Five Architects. While Eisenman, Graves, and Meier had already participated in designing urban housing by this time, this is not what is represented in Five Architects. Instead, all of the projects were the same building-type: single family houses that only the very rich could afford, set in idyllic country settings, with the exception of Hejduk's work which floats in the stark white void of the glossy paper rather than being set on a site. The point of this conscious decision to avoid anything to do with housing474 is that there is no purpose in reproducing it if the audience for the book is architects and it is also a catalog for prospective purchasers, and what is being sold is the building as an art object.

In fact, Eisenman had already spent a great deal of time on precisely this topic: his 1963 dissertation, The Formal Basis of Modern Architecture, was concerned with a theoretical elaboration of a language of architecture, an attempt to work through the same problems that Rowe, Slutzky, and Hejduk were concerned with by investigating the consequences of the deformations an ideal architectural object would be subjected to from prosaic matters such as site, program, circulation.491

Hejduk's projects included lists as well — one for program, one for surfaces, and one for idea-concept — but the role they played seemed to be different. The program list--"Garage, Walk, Entry, Living, Dining, Kitchen, Gallery, Storage, Bathroom, Bedroom" for House 10, "Entry Walk, Living, Dining, Kitchen, Music-Library, Bathrooms, Bedrooms" for the One-Half House and "House" for the Bernstein house seemed to be more a parody of the idea of program than anything else. Attempts to find the disparate elements in House 10 would be frustrated: the house was much more about an abstract geometry than anything else. This reading was supported by the abrupt "House" entry for the Bernstein House which served to poke fun at the other two lists. The surfaces list served to describe the appearance of the house: "Glass As Shown, Interior Walls-White, Exterior Walls-Stainless Steel or Chrome" for House 10, "Exterior-yellow, blue, red, black, white, gray" for the Bernstein House, and "Glass as Shown, Interior walls-white, Exterior walls-white" for the One-Half House. Finally, the ideas behind Hejduk's projects were embodied in a third list that would recall some of the means of putting objects together--and the three projects were obsessively concerned with putting together simple geometries in relationships--using compositional principles of a visual language. Thus for House 10, the Idea-Concept list was "Horizontal Extension, Hypotenuse, Three-Quarter Figure, Point-Line-Plane-Volume, Bio-Morphic--Bio-Technic, Structure, Time, Projection," for the Bernstein House, "Color-exterior-primaries, interior-white," and for the One-Half House, "One half of a square, One half of a circle, One half of a diamond."494 Thus, Hejduk's work differed from that of the others in its lack of concern with the site, representing only whatever compromises the architect may have had in his own mind.
494. Hejduk, Five Architects, 87, 93, 103.

The lesson of the debate of the Whites and Grays, that creating a polemical group was an event that would garner notoriety was not lost on other architects: the hosting architects (Tim Vreeland, once a member of CASE, Anthony Lumsden, Frank Dimster, Eugene Kupper, Cesar Pelli, and Paul Kennon) for the debate between the Whites and Grays in L. A. became known as the Silvers. The Silvers were a rather different group from their East coast colleagues, proud of their pragmatism and generally working on large commercial projects such as skyscrapers and office buildings consisting of large "warehouse spaces," distinctively sheathed in thin, often undulating reflective membranes of glass.512 In 1976, in an event entitled "Four Days In April," the Silvers presented their work publicly and discussed it both with an audience and with California historian David Gebhard, and architects Charles Moore, John Hejduk, and James Stirling.513 While their work, less formally sophisticated and more obviously commercial, received far less attention than that of the Whites and Grays, the mirrored curtain-wall of the Silvers crept over many American cities in the late 1970s and 1980s. For Pelli, who appeared to be the leader of the Silvers, the group was a ticket out of Los Angeles. Soon considered a rising star of the architectural vanguard, Pelli would be one of Johnson's kids by 1978.514
512. Charles Jencks, "The Los Angeles Silvers: Tim Vreeland, Anthony Lumsden, Frank Dimster, Eugene Kupper, Cesar Pelli, Paul Kennon," A+U October 1976: 9-20 and "Images From A Silver Screen," Progressive Architecture (October 1976): 70-77.
513. "Four Days in April," L. A. Architect April 1976: 1.
514. Wayne Fujii, "Interview: Philip Johnson on Philip Johnson," GA Document Special Issue 1: 1970–1980 Summer 1980: 12–20

Also in 1976, it became apparent that something had happened to Michael Graves's work: chunky structures, façades, and pediments supplanted the cubist-inspired International Style. Meier and Gwathmey began moving away from building houses and teaching and towards building multimillion dollar projects. About this time Hejduk moved away from the mainstream of the architectural vanguard, towards his "architecture of pessimism."520
Also since the reprint, the members of the Five began to disassociate themselves from the group. Apparently, once the publicity value of the group became exhausted, the architects began to feel that they were best represented as individuals rather than as members of a group. Both Meier and Gwathmey have denied the existence of the Whites as a group. Meier explains "we taught in similar institutions, we went to one another's juries, but there was no official group. It was simply a group of people who talked to one another at the time."521 Although Gwathmey agrees that "it wasn't a group. We were all associated through teaching and we've been friends and not friends over the years." he also recounts how at a dinner to celebrate a show by John Hejduk in 1979 "We all laughed about it, you know, because it was a kind of time and incident that provoked enough interest to make what's happening today available–meaning that there's a huge debate about architecture and its relevance, and post–modernism and how it relates, if it does, and so forth."522
520. See Frame 5 of John Hejduk, Mask of Medusa: Works 1947-1983, (New York: Rizzoli, 1985), especially p 90.
521. Barbaralee Diamondstein, American Architecture Now, (New York: Rizzoli, 1980), 106.
522. Gwathmey in Diamondstein, 66.

The Oppositions section consisted of an examination of current work of architecture. Joan Ockman has provided a list of names of the architects examined in chronological order between 1973 and 1980: "Robert Venturi, Richard Meier, Werner Seligmann, James Stirling, Aldo Rossi, the Five Architects, Venturi again, Stirling again, Meier again, Aldo van Eyck, Philip Johnson (his writings, not his buildings), Giuseppe Terragni (resurrected, I believe to fill a hole in the issue), Michael Graves, Rossi again, Mario Botta and the Ticino school, Venturi a third time, the Japanese Hiromi Fuji, and the Japanese 'new wave' including Isozaki, Shinorhara, Ito, and Ando." Ockman points out that for Rossi, Botta, and some of the Japanese, this was the first significant attention they received in the American media.
The composition of the list reveals its that whatever the stated intents of the journal, it remained confined to a narrow scope: the Five as a group, Meier on his own (twice), Michael Graves on his own (once), Venturi (three times), Philip Johnson, Werner Seligmann (associated with the Five through his ties with Rowe and Hejduk since the days of the Texas Rangers), only one dead architect (Terragni), and the rest rising stars of the international circle.

While architectural drawings and reproductions had been appreciated for their formal qualities by audiences outside of the discipline at least as far back as Giovanni Battista Piranesi's Vedute di Roma and a number of important exhibits of the drawing were mounted in the late 1960s and 1970s--notably Hejduk and Slutzky's Diamond and Square and The Education of an Architect--it was during 1976 and 1977 that the architectural drawing proliferated in the museum and gallery as an art object and attracted an unprecedented degree of popularity.

Significantly, Gebhard and Nevins linked a lack of interest in intellectual issues among American architects with the "almost nonexistent" use of architectural drawings to solve theoretical problems.637 Gebhard explained that architectural drawing was essential to theoretical work:
American architecture of the mid-seventies is in a much more splintered position than in any period since the 1930s. Though this division exhibits itself through style, its actual basis is due to a diversity of intent. And if the intent has intellectual substance, drawings remain, as in the past, the principal means to convey it.638
The group of contemporary architects Nevins and Gebhard picked was telling: Michael Graves, Mitchell/Giurgola, Peter Eisenman, Hardy Holzman and Pfeiffer, Frank Gehry, Charles Moore and William Turnbull, Venturi and Rauch, and John Hejduk. The list would be a start in establishing whose architectural drawings would be considered interesting. The stakes were high. As Gebhard wrote,
Most contemporary architects, historians, and critics would either deny or feel uneasy about claiming the primacy of the drawing, but if they are uneasy with what has been termed 'paper' architecture as opposed to 'real' architecture, they may well be indicating that their primary allegiance is to building, not to architecture.639
That Gebhard and Nevins's book was only a start became evident as contemporary architectural drawings expanded into the gallery system during the fall of 1978 with three major exhibits of architectural drawings held in New York at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, the Drawing Center, and the Leo Castelli Gallery.
638. Gebhard in Gebhard and Nevins, 70.

The catalog for the first two exhibits was edited by Robert Stern, who was also the organizer of the Drawing Center show and was published by the English journal Architectural Design under the title "America Now." Significantly, the implication of the title was that by 1978, American architecture could be represented best not by images of buildings but by drawings. This was only logical as these exhibits did an excellent job of representing the work of the kids, as Stern wrote: the works in the exhibits illustrated "the debate between the late Modernist group and the Post–Modernists, a debate which has taken earlier form as one between 'exclusivists' and 'inclusivists', 'Whites' and 'Grays.'" The drawings selected, would lead to an understanding of contemporary architecture by showing how architectural drawing would be "a part of the conceptual process."640 This resurgence of interest in drawing, Stern wrote, was the result of an opposition to the modernist emphasis on building three-dimensional models which, by focused on three dimensional form at the expense of surface. Most of the architects selected by Stern to submit their drawings were expected: Graves, Venturi, Eisenman, Mitchell/Giurgola, Greenberg, Venturi, Moore, Tigerman and Stern himself. The exhibit at the Cooper Union, organized by Richard Oliver, was broader in its scope but also included its share of the cardboard architectural vanguard: Moore, Stern, Hejduk and Venturi.
640. Robert A.M. Stern, "Drawing Towards A More Modern Architecture," Architectural Design June 1977: 382–383. p 382.

The Castelli shows were matched by the opening of the Max Protetch gallery in 1979, specializing in architectural drawings. In establishing his gallery, Protetch turned to his friends kid Peter Eisenman and Five Architect alum John Hejduk to ask them for advice. Protetch explains that the two were upset to learn that the first show at his gallery was by kid Michael Graves, "Of course, they thought I'd be showing their work first," Protetch says, "but Graves just seemed so right at the time." Indeed, the show was a critical and financial success establishing both Graves and Protetch at the forefront of the architectural design scene.645
645. Benjamin Forgey, "Dealing in the Art of Innovation; Max Protetch and His Two Decades on the Aesthetic Edge in Washington and New York," The Washington Post December 29 1989: Style, page D1.

The importance of this publicity to architects can be seen in what was in the culminating moment in the ascent of the architectural reproduction: Arthur Drexler's "Transformations in Architecture" exhibit at MoMA in 1979. The exhibition drew criticism for its method of presentation: one image per building, covering 406 separate buildings.649 Drexler explains that his intent "was to show how an architectural idea becomes devalued through a process of repetition and variation, until it loses its original quality and intent and becomes something very different." But equally important, we can see that whatever their worries about the reproduction, architects were terribly concerned about being represented, even if the exhibit drew negative conclusions. The principle of the spectacle applied: that which is good appears, that which appears is good. Alternatively, Drexler's own principle could be used: "It doesn't matter how critical they are, as long as they spell your name right."650 Thus when Drexler omitted John Hejduk, the Five mobilized to counteract, as Drexler explains, "Peter conducted one of his round-the-clock terror campaigns" to boycott the show until Hejduk was reinstated. While he was not successful in getting Hejduk reinstated, Eisenman's boycott achieved a remarkable amount of publicity.651
649. See Martin Filler, "Gran Rifiuto on 53d Street," A+U August 1979: 146-147 and "Response: Arthur Drexler on 'Transformations'," Skyline Summer, 1979: 6.
650. Eisenman, "Five + Ten", 8.
651. Drexler in Diamondstein, 69.

After exploring the genealogy of the innocent eye and its arrival in architectural pedagogy and thinking, I will examine the writings of two cardboard architects who have been among its more noted educators, John Hejduk and Peter Eisenman, in order to shed light on its particular repercussions in architecture.

The phrase itself "the innocent eye" is generally attributed to late nineteenth century art critic John Ruskin and it is to Ruskin as advocate of the innocent eye that we must turn to clarify the concept's genealogy.689
689. On the innocent eye within Ruskin's broader obsession with eyes and visuality, see Jay Fellows, The Failing Distance. The Autobiographical Impulse in John Ruskin, Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1975, especially chapter one. Significantly, in his Mask of Medusa, John Hejduk cites Fellows's book, 50, 90, includes a lengthy excerpt from it, 55 and calls Fellows "my friend in space," 5. He also dedicates his book Soundings, New York: Rizzoli, 1993 to Fellows, 5.




Quondam © 2020.11.19