Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Interview Exclusive: Barry Bergdoll @ MoMA


Photo: Barry Bergdoll/Image: Museum of Modern Art


Max Eternity - Today I had a phone conversation with Barry Bergdoll, the Chief Curator of Architecture at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). I have had brief encounters with Bergdoll before, but today our talk was more focused and uninterrupted. Bergdoll, who's also a professor at Columbia University, has been one of the more prolific figures to take an interest in the the preservation effort for Atlanta's Downtown Central Library, designed by Marcel Breuer.

Last year, in a Metropolis Magazine article written by Jonathan Lerner, Bergdoll, Jon Buono, Isabelle Hyman and John Szabo, discussed the future of Central. I was interviewed as well, and so was Commissioner Rob Pitts, who is promoting the demolition idea.

In January of this year, Bergdoll gave a talk at the library entitled "Marcel Breuer: The Invention of Heavy Lightness" where, using the Central Library and the Whitney Museum--both built by Breuer in a 15-year sequence--he spoke about Breuer's ability to create monumental spaces that seem to hover and float above ground--adjacent sidewalks and streets.

Bergdoll has been involved with numerous book projects, as writer and editor, and most recently he, along with another curator at MoMA, Leah Dickerman, recently completed an epic exhibition in celebration of last year's 90th Anniversary of the Bauhaus, entitled 1919-1933: Workshops for Modernity.

-click image to visit t MoMA online-

Interview: Barry Bergdoll

Max Eternity (ME): Beyond functionality, what role does architecture play in the everyday experience?

Barry Bergdoll (BB): Firmness, commodity and delight. It's delight and beauty, and it's a sense of civic spirit--an ethos about things that matter in society.

ME: It hasn't happened since 1938, so what prompted MoMA to launch such a tremendous retrospective of the Bauhaus school this/last year? Is something especially relevant now?

BB: Well the nominal reason was the 90th anniversary of the Bauhaus and the 80th anniversary of the museum--MoMA--a museum inspired by the Bauhaus. Anniversaries are not important, because they happen. What was relevant, was to look back at different media, seeing how they influence each other--how media cross pollinates. Fixed and moving with still. how hybrids mix in. So it was, lets just look at avant garde art a century ago with different eyes.

-The Whitney Museum of American Art/Image: Wikipedia -

ME: Recently I heard you speak in Atlanta, the title of your talk was "Marcel Breuer: The Invention of Heavy Lightness." We know that Breuer was both a student and instructor at the Bauhaus, yet what of this heavy lightness, as you say?

BB: The Atlanta library is a perfect example, the Whitney as well. It's a kind of gravitas of monumental forms. It's holding them aloft in the air--this idea that a heavy object can be light, floating above the sidewalk--the street. People think of the Whitney as an inverted ziggurat. but it's a hollow, inverted ziggurat, because it's transparent on the ground floor level. It's not like a pyrimid or ziggurat, because it gets heavier as it rises.

What Breuer was doing in his late career was thinking of how [he could] I can go back to monumentality--the ancient large scale forms, not reproduce it, but create it in a modern way--the way that you create that with steel form and concrete structures. So Breuer creates a synthesis with primitive monumentality and modern structural lightness.

- The Atlanta-Fulton Central Public Library/Image: Wikipedia -

ME: Breuer built many houses. One I've recently discovered is the Weizenblatt house in North Carolina, but I read last year that you had taken an interest in the Frank House, located in Pennsylvania?

BB: Yes, that's the earliest American example where Gropius and Breuer were able to realize, in this country, the idea that a building was a total work of art. They did the building and the furniture, and had an impact on the landscape as well. Everything was a part of the total design concept.

ME: I understand one of your fields of study is the history of exhibiting architecture, and the museum challenges and practices associated with that. What's this about?

BB: That's simple. It's a simple problem, that you can't bring buildings inside a museum. So you have to figure out how to exhibit something that you can't put in a gallery. Unlike paintings and sculpture, where you bring things in to let people see, with architecture you have to try and create a relationship with a work of art of something that's not there.

ME: I recently saw a video interview with Richard Miers at the Big Think website. In that interview, Miers was asked if architecture was art. In response he said that all buildings weren't architecture, but that good architecture was art?  Your thoughts on this, In other words, what defines a building as architecture--as art?

BB: That's a pretty wide open statement. To ask on a scale, where do you put the threshold--when do you say? I say yes, architecture is art.

- MLK Central Library in Washington D.C. by Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe/Image: Wikipedia -

ME: So many important buildings that have found themselves at risk of being demolished, are public structures, like for instance the Central Library in Atlanta and the Mies Van Der Rohe designed MLK Library in Washington DC. We know that architects and historians are interested in these sites, but what about the people they serve, who often times have no knowledge of a building's history? How might they be better informed?

- Breuer's Atlanta Library, 2012 (Image: Max Eternity) -

BB: I think one of the things that's mystifying is why children are not taught in school about architecture?  Because of this, when a building is at risk, you end up with a small group of people fighting a battle that most people didn't even know about. Architecture concerns everybody. It's the art form that really  influences the quality of our daily lives most directly. If our schools would take that on we'd have a much more engaged citizenry.

ME: Thanks for taking the time to speak with me

BB: Great. Nice talking with you again.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Interview Exclusive: Brenda Galina @ MoDA



Max Eternity - Moments ago I had a chance to chat with Brenda Galina, Director of the Museum of Design Atlanta (MoDA). Along with Architects Institute of America - Atlanta, the Atlanta Public Library System and others, Galina and MoDA have been largely responsible for the fruition of one of the brightest exhibition achievements in the recent history of Atlanta's museum scene--the Marcel Breuer Retrospective. (All images courtesy of Vitra Design Museum)


Marcel Breuer 1902 - 1981

Max Eternity (ME): Brenda, thanks for taking the time to chat with me.

Brenda Galina (BG): It's my pleasure.

ME: So, first I'd like to ask a simple but important question, what's the role of artistic institutions?

BG: I think it's probably a lot of roles. there's one that comes to mind--to bring to the public their specific form of artistic endeavor...what ever that is. It's to showcase the finest of what they can create, also educating the public about what good architeture and sculpture is. These things enhance the quality of life for the public.

ME: How would you describe your experience with the Breuer exhibition, what's the response so far?

BG: I think people that have seen the exhibit, folks that aren't architects of historians, are really impressed. People are really just surprised to see these original pieces, especially the chairs.

As well, most people are stunned by the architecture, because so many don't realize what a modernist Breuer was at the time. So they are pleasantly surprised by how timeless Breuer was--his work.

ME: If lessons are to be learned by Breuer, what is it that he has taught us from a design perspective and as ordinary citizens?

BG: It's the same answer almost, because good design is lasting. Nobody will argue that his was expert design. And when you look at it today, it's as current as it was 50 years ago.

ME: With that in mind, what would you say is the role of a museum when it comes to cultural heritage?

BG: Well, I think [pause] it's to bring an awareness to the public of the magnitude of the Central Library, for instance. So, I think it's all just a matter of pointing out to the public the merits of good architecture and design.

ME: Is architecture art? I ask, because I've had this discussion with some, who seem to think that architecture is not art, because of its utilitarian nature. Others however say, yes, it is art. What's you view on this?

BG: I think good architecture is art. There's nothing more beautiful than seeing a beautiful building.

ME: So beyond the Breuer experience, what's the mission of MoDA, and are there any future development we should be aware of?

BG: MoDA's vision has always been to bring excellent design to the public eye. We're constantly seeking good design. And I think Marcel Breuer is one of the biggest names. This is one of the top exhibitions we've ever had.

Architecture is an important part of our programming. And next year, Februrary, we have our traveling show "Beyond Sticks and Bricks." The exhibit spotlights many of Atlanta's outstandig design examples, as the entire focus is to help the public to understand what it might mean to be "Green" while also giving them the tools to make a difference. This can help to raise an awareness about what living, working and playing in the Atlanta area can be--beyond the architectural significance, while also telling the story of individuals in various environments and locals.

ME: Brenda, I look forward to it.

BG: Thanks Max.

- Click here to visit the Museum of Design Atlanta-

Friday, January 8, 2010

October 27, 2009 - January 16, 2010: Breuer Retrospective @ Central

Image Credit: Susan B.


Max Eternity - A special thanks goes out to art historian, curator and photographer, Susan B, who took these recent photos of the "Marcel Breuer Retrospective" exhibition currently on display at the Breuer designed, Central Library in Downtown Atlanta. The exhibit, co-hosted at the Museum of Design Atlanta and The Atlanta-Fulton Central Public Library has been on display since October of 2009, and is soon to come to a close on January 16, 2010.

In the last 2 years the Central Library has found itself at the center of a controversial restructuring plan for the entire public library system, which threatened to see the building torn down, to be replace by a newer, slightly larger building a few blocks away. However, with a terribly stalled national economy and a renewed interest in architecture of the Modernist-era, the building has surprisingly become more popular--more appreciated.

Over the weekend I had an email exchange with John Szabo, Executive Director of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System, who made these remarks about the Breuer Retrospective:

“The Central Library’s ‘Marcel Breuer’ exhibition has brought in thousands of people since it opened, both local patrons and many new visitors from the Southeast and the world. Both those visitors who are well-informed about Breuer’s place in architectural history and those who are meeting his work for the first time, take away a greater understanding of Breuer and his last completed project, the Central Library. The exhibition is a wonderful way for us to celebrate not only Marcel Breuer but also the Central Library. We hope that those who have not yet come to see the exhibition will use the last two weeks in January to stop by and see what the Atlanta Journal-Constitution named one of the ’10 Best Art Exhibitions of 2009.”

Since the exhibition's well-attended opening reception, there has been a steady stream of lectures and presentations going on at the building. Yet beyond that, not just in Atlanta, much has been written and said about the legacy of the Bauhaus school, where Breuer studied and taught, as this year the now defunct institution celebrates its 90th Anniversary.

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is currently displaying its first major exhibition of the Bauhaus since 1938, entitled "1919-1933: Workshops for Modernity", and many books and magazine articles have been published on the subject as well, indicating a new, resurgent interest in Modernism, for which the Bauhaus is largely responsible for introducing to the world nearly a century ago.

The presentation at Central will reach its peak next week, when Professor Barry Bergdoll, Chief Curator of Architecture @ MoMA, arrives to give his on site talk and presentation bearing the title "Marcel Breuer and the Invention of Heavy Lightness."

The following images are all courtesy of Susan B:

Scale model of Atlanta's Central Library by Marcel Breuer (notice the
left, South-facing side of the building in the adjacent photo)

Scale model of Atlanta's Central Library (notice the original,
sculpted, forecourt plaza design, its asymmetrical gradation)

Scale model of Atlanta's Central Library by Marcel Breuer

Scale model of St. Johns Abbey

Scale model of St. John's Abbey (cross-section)

Scale model of St. John's Abbey (campanile in foreground)

Scale model of Bronx Community College

Scale model and site photos of Bronx Community College

Scale model of Baldegg Convent

Scale model of Baldegg Convent

Scale model of the Whitney Museum of American Art

Scale model of the Whitney Museum of American Art

Assorted furniture (circa: 1925)

Plywood and tubular metal furniture assortment (circa: 1925)

Various chaise lounges and tables (circa: 1925)

Large plywood table and matching chairs (circa: 1925)

Stackable plywood chairs (circa: 1925)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

ArtWorks Magazine: The Bauhaus Effect

The Bauhaus Effect

by Max Eternity


“Every work of art is a child of its age”

Vasily Kandinsky


Originally published in ArtWorks Magazine (December 2009)

This year marks the 90th Anniversary of the Bauhaus school, with a century having passed since one of its former instructors, Kandinsky, wrote that noteworthy quote in his book, “Concerning the Spiritual in Art”. In that single introductory line, Kandinsky reveals the magnanimity of the artistic forest, and the proverbial trees.

A creative zenith of the 20th Century, Kandinsky gave the world great art, great words and many brilliant ideas. So it should come as no surprise that in the decades since his passing, neither he nor the school where he once taught have yet been forgotten. And why should they be? After all, Kandinsky is one of the founding fathers of abstract art, and the German Bauhaus school is the place where the modernist aesthetic was conceived—incubated—cultivated--formed.

Walter Gropius, descendent of two architects sharing the same name—father and great-uncle—Martin Gropius, founded the Bauhaus in 1919. Thereafter, with his expanding portfolio of buildings, Gropius would introduce to the world an elegant simplicity of reductive design, combining minimalistic functionality, tectonic geometry and timeless, aesthetic beauty. Several buildings would be built to house the school, though the Gropius designed Dessau site remains the most recognized of the Bauhaus’ three locales—WeimarDessau--Berlin.

Being co-ed, another specific impact that the school had on design and education was its embrace of women. And though female students were strongly encouraged to work with fabrics and textiles, as opposed to industrial design and buildings, at various points through Bauhaus history, women would make up to 50% of the overall student body. With one of the more notable standouts being Anni Albers, who, after the Bauhaus had closed, along with her husband Josef, migrated to the US at the behest of Phillip Johnson--another towering figure of Modernism.

Mrs. Albers is in-part credited with elevating the craftsmanship of the loom to fine art status, but as Bauhaus alumni go, she is not the only woman of tremendous success and achievement. There’s also Lilly Reich, a collaborator to van der Rohe who in 1930 was the first woman at the Bauhaus to teach interior design, which included furniture design. And then there’s Marianne Brandt, a photographer who, like her male colleague Wilhelm Wagenfeld, is better known for her industrial designs of exquisitely sculpted, household objects--lamps, ashtrays, tea infusers.

Wall hanging "Slit Tapestry Red/Green" by Gunta Stolzl, 1927/28

“The women of the Bauhaus set up a leadership structure of their own…Anni Albers and Gunta St√∂lzl…produced ambitious and exciting textiles that explored different permutations of design” says the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) Curator in the Department of Painting and Sculpting, Leah Dickerman. As well, Dickerman says, the women weren’t just following the lead of the men, because “the weavers rejected the idea that their work should solely be expressions of visual art.” Consequentially she says, the Bauhaus women “developed a huge range of textiles.”

Yet in this celebratory year, while many rejoice that historic institution’s worldwide contributions in art and design, others are loathe to bury the memory of Early and Mid-Century Modernism deep into the obscurity of our recent past....

- End Excerpt -

This article can be read in its entirety, including a selection of rare photos, in the December issue of ArtWorks Magazine. Print version available nationwide at Barnes & Noble bookstores.


About Max Eternity:

Max Eternity, contributing writer to Artworks Magazine and Editor and Publisher to Art Digital Magazine, is a digital-aged Renaissance man who creates innovative print types reflecting the Bauhaus and Mid-Century Modernism. Via a network of informational web portals, Eternity advocates for artistic and social concerns ranging from architectural preservation and digital literacy to government transparency and the Afro-Euro fine art construct. An avid inventor, he currently has over a twenty utilities in various stages of development.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Celebrating Bauhaus & Breuer: Eternity @ Central

Beginning next week, in celebration of the German Bauhaus school, Alma Mater to Marcel Breuer, architect of Atlanta's Downtown Central Library, there will be on display an exhibition on loan from Vitra Design Museum--serving as a retrospective of Breuer's 50-year career. The exhibition and presentation(s) is being co-hosted by the Museum of Design Atlanta and The Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System. In advance of that event (Oct 27 - Jan 16) I was asked to collaborate on a 3rd Floor curio display for the celebration. The curio display and the ensuing,much larger exhibition pays homage to Breuer in relation to this year's 90th anniversary of the Bauhaus school where Breuer at one time studied and later taught.

In celebration of the 90th Anniversary
of the Bauhaus school

The Atlanta-Fulton Central Public Library

Designed by Marcel Breuer

Eternity poses adjacent 90th Anniversary Breuer-Bauhaus curio display
Designed by Jackson & Eternity
Photo: Velisa Caldwell

90th Anniversary Breuer-Bauhaus curio display
Designed by Jackson & Eternity
Photo: Velisa Caldwell

Walter Gropius designed Bauhaus Dessau site as illustrated by Eternity
Photo: Velisa Caldwell

90th Anniversary Breuer-Bauhaus curio display
(above) MoDA poster, (below) Illustration of Bauhaus Dessau by Eternity
Photo: Velisa Caldwell

90th Anniversary Breuer-Bauhaus curio display
Designed by Jackson & Eternity
Photo: Velisa Caldwell

90th Anniversary Breuer-Bauhaus curio display
Designed by Jackson & Eternity
Photo: Velisa Caldwell

90th Anniversary Breuer-Bauhaus curio display
Designed by Jackson & Eternity
Photo: Velisa Caldwell

Eternity stands in front of Breuer's Atlanta Library
Photo: Velisa Caldwell

Breuer's Atlanta Library @ Farlie Street
Photo: Eternity

Breuer's Atlanta Library @ Farlie Street
Photo: Eternity

Breuer's Atlanta Library @ Farlie Street
Photo: Eternity

Friday, October 16, 2009

"Marcel Breuer: Design and Architecture"


Press Contacts:

Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System
Kelly Robinson - 404 730 1865

Museum of Design Atlanta
Amanda Leesburg - 404 842 0040

Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) in partnership with Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System Presents Marcel Breuer: Design and Architecture.

ATLANTA - To Kick off their 2009/2010 season, the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) partners with the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System to present a dual location exhibit featuring the work of world-renowned furniture designer and architect Marcel Breuer (1902-1981), arguably one of the most influential designers of the modernist period. Open to the public October 27-January 16, 2010, the exhibit will be housed at both the MODA galleries and Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System's Central Library, the last major public building Breuer designed.

"I can think of no better place to celebrate the architectural work of Marcel Breuer than in one of his own buildings," said Brenda Galina, executive director of MODA. " We are honored to share this special exhibit with the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System and give Atlantans this unique opportunity to experience the work of this important and innovative designer." Read more.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Breuer's Atlanta Library chosen for 2010 WMF Watch

October 6, 2009 - This morning in New York, The World Monuments Fund announced its 2010 WATCH LIST, continuing the organization's biennial tradition of of bringing international attention to threatened cultural heritage. 93 sites from 47 countries were chosen, some dating back several centuries, with one in Africa dating back 2 million years. The youngest site to received "at risk" or "threatened" recognition is the Atlanta-Fulton Central Public Library. The building was designed by Bauhaus alumni, Marcel Breuer. Press release follows:

Press Contacts

Holly Evarts, World Monuments Fund, 646-424-9594, or

Jeanne Collins & Associates, LLC, 646-486-7050, or




For Immediate Release—New York, NY, October 6, 2009Bonnie Burnham, President of the World Monuments Fund (WMF), today announced the 2010 World Monuments Watch. For more than 40 years, WMF, a nonprofit organization, has worked to preserve cultural heritage across the globe. The 2010 Watch includes 93 sites now at risk, representing 47 countries. These include 9 sites from the United States and 15 dating from the 20th century. The Watch is WMF’s flagship advocacy program, and it calls international attention to threatened cultural heritage.

Ranging from the famous (Machu Picchu, Peru) and remote (Phajoding, a monastery high in the mountains of Bhutan), to the unexpected (Merritt Parkway, Connecticut, U.S.) and little-known (desert castles of ancient Khorezm, Uzbekistan), the 2010 Watch tells compelling stories of human aspiration, imagination, and adaptation. The need for collective action and sustainable stewardship are common themes running through the 2010 list, and the 93 sites vividly illustrate the ever-more pressing need to create a balance between heritage concerns and the social, economic, and environmental interests of communities around the world.

The 2010 Watch makes it clear that cultural heritage efforts in the 21st century must recognize the critical importance of sustainable stewardship, and that we must work closely with local partners to create viable and appropriate opportunities to advance this,” said Ms. Burnham. “The sites on the 2010 Watch list make a dramatic case for the need to bring together a variety of sectors—economic, environmental, heritage preservation, and social—when we are making plans that will affect us all. Greater cooperation among these sectors would benefit humanity today, while ensuring our place as stewards of the Earth for the next generation.”

Comprising products of individual imaginations, testaments to faith, and masterpieces of civil engineering, among other types of creations, the sites on the 2010 Watch are irreplaceable monuments to human culture. They are found in every type of environment, from urban centers and small towns to barren plains and riverside caves, and they are threatened by war, natural disasters, urban sprawl, and neglect. They range from the prehistoric to the contemporary, and include schools, libraries, municipal buildings, places of worship, roadways, aqueducts, row houses, bridges, gateways, parks, follies, cultural landscapes, archaeological remains, historic city centers, castles, private houses, forts, tombs, and ancient petroglyphs and cave art.

Download full press kit here.