A Haunted and Haunting Installation @Cooper Union
Hélène Binet, Jan Palanch Memorial, Altanta
John Hejduk led the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at Cooper Union for 25 years; this exhibit serves as a tribute to his achievements and importance of his role in the training of generations of architecture students. John Hejduk is a form master very much in the classic Bauhaus tradition. As per his Bauhaus predecessors, his practice as a pedagogue and mentor was intimately tied to his practice as an architect. Two large scale architectural structures have been built in the plaza in front of the Foundation Building at Cooper Union. These large cubic forms share an affinity of scale, color and form with the famous “Astor Place Cube” installed in 1968. It's terrific that these pieces are so accessible to passersby as they are the most dramatic and imposing components of this exhibition. These forms are titled House of the Suicide and House of the Mother of the Suicide – honors the Czech dissident Jan Palach, whose self-immolation was in protest of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. This ultimate sacrifice is commemorated each time the structures have been built: in Atlanta, Georgia in 1990 and now in New York. In the gallery we see the work as documented by an exceptionally talented photographer, Hélène Binet. That Hélène Binet shares in the celebration of the Bauhaus and cubist aesthetic is immediately apparent. The photos are exquisite examples of architectural photography in the grand tradition of modernist formalism. In a city that contains much in the way of public sculpture, these memorials contribute greatly to the richness and vitality of the streets of New York. Two other photographs on exhibit are worth noting.
Hélène Binet, Wall House, Groningen
Charles Gwathmey, Astor Place Tower, Manhattan
The photograph of the Wall House 2 is an exquisite portrait of a gem of a building. While it is of this century it is in dialogue with the entire modernist tradition and must have served as an inspiration to the students in the architecture program at Cooper Union. The photograph of the Berlin Tower could be mistaken as something right out of László Moholy-Nagy’s Vision in Motion publication from 1957.
New Exhibition Documents Seven Built Projects Designed by Architect John Hejduk
Cooper Union, Arthur A. Houghton Jr. Gallery, 2nd Floor, 7 East 7th Street, between Third and Fourth Avenues - New York, NY 10003
Wednesday, March 29 - Sunday, June 11, 2017