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Thursday 04.30.09

« Architecture or installation art? | Main | First Weekend Picks May 2009 »

Installation art or architecture?

Ok, yesterday I pointed out how top architects were often doing more intellectually and visually engaged installations than the installation artists who emerged during the past 2 decades have.

To counter my own argument, here are three artists who can and do often out-install most of those architects:

Cornelia Parker's Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View (1991)

2009 Turner Prize finalist Roger Hiorns' piece Siezure (photo by Nick Cobbing) is a great example of doing something no architect could get away with

The irreverent and ecclesiastical Jason Rhoades whose talent goes way beyond Kippenberger's but had a similarly too short life

Still none of these are a great thinkers like Rem Koolhaas is (and maybe that is what I long for). In the past artists like Bruce Nauman, Donald Judd, Robert Smithson and Robert Irwin were easily out-thinking or comparable with their architectural contemporaries. Obviously artists have more freedom and have a lower financial threshold to execute a project.

Also, I wonder if artists might simply be inherently more hermetic and less civic in their approach than architects? (to make a broad generalization, they don't practice an inherently applied art) Basically, I set up this false contest with its Janus-like paradoxes only for argument's sake, there are new artists waiting to hit the interational stage that could really upturn this particular apple cart.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 30, 2009 at 10:50 | Comments (3)


1.) To repeat....$$$$. A building project gives 1% to the arts and keeps 99% for architecture.
2.) Bruce Nauman is 3 years older then Rem Koolhaas. Why are we trying to compare a new or mid career artist, who has had a much smaller budget, with a architect in the twilight of his career?
3.) The tilted arc

Posted by: brokencookie [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2009 11:40 AM

I fear getting into this kind of pissing contests between mediums. Installation art and architecture usually have very different agendas. It's like comparing painting and sculpture, and trying to pick a winner.

However, I will agree that Rem Koolhaas tends to destroy all others in comparison. He's just too good. :)

Posted by: Calvin Ross Carl [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2009 11:48 AM

Koolhaas didnt become an internationally famous figure to people outside the architectural community till the 90's. Neuman was internationally famous as an artist in the 70's. Age doesnt matter... it's the era in which they emerged. Koolhaas embodies his age (the 90's and aughts) as well as Nauman did during the 70's.

Granted those concerns from the 70's are still valid today but they are concerns that were birthed in that earlier era and have a certain historical patina on them now which they cannot be extracted from. For argument's sake, if Serra hadn't emerged as a major world figure with high profile sculptures in the 70's and 80's I would accept him as a new voice in the 90's. But he didn't so Im not changing my rules. You can set your own rules... they are just as valid.. I just think it's even more arbitrary to go by age.

In the 90's Koolhaas proved he could practice, not just theorize.

Right now the new art of the past 20 years has no answer for Koolhaas, period. I'd love to see it.

Instead of postmodernism or modernism Koolhaas accepts a kind of cosmopolitan series of paradoxes... it's pluralism that makes a point of questioning if it is truly pluralistic (and not some feel good catch all term like modermism, postmodernism or even pluralism... it's reflexive and permiable). I loved that Koolhaas proposed a hospital for the homeless in Seattle's public library. Too bad it wasnt done... it was a kind of counter-intuitive brilliance, but because he's a pragmatic architect and not an artist he couldnt say "it has to have the homeless hospital" or it doesnt happen.

This isn't really a pissing match as much as a question, are the new top artists as ambitious as the new top architects today? no... but that will change. Especially if we ask the question. Yes it is a false contest but an interesting one with a goal in mind.

I think Andrea Zittel can compete with the architects as well.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2009 12:25 PM

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