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.