Zaha Hadid : Exhibition at Guggenheim NY

on Saturday 05 August 2006 - 00:35:44 | by admin
Visit the Exhibition at Guggenheim NY

An exhibition entitled "Zaha Hadid" runs through Oct. 25 at the Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Ave. (at 89th Street), New York. Hours: 10 a.m.-5:45 p.m. Saturday to Wednesday, till 7:45 p.m. Friday; closed Thursday. Information: 212-423-3500
or Click Here to visit the exhibition page of guggenheim.org

The stories behind

The Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati by Zaha Hadid
This was the first built commission by architect Zaha M Hadid named Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati. And somehow this was a breakthrough for her after her two long decades of loboring on developing her complex theories and paintings.
And she had never looked back... Hadid became the first woman to win the Pritzker Award (2004). Pritzker is the heighest honor for architects. Many of her designs and concepts are heihgly praised worldwide. She becomes one of the most influencial architects of these days. Became a worldwide celebrity designer and showered with handreds of commissions.

Having an exhibition in a major musium of an architect is no doubt an another level of achievement in the career. Now Zaha Hadid's works are being exhibited in that very spiral ramp of Guggenheim of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Read What Critic Says

[this part is written by Inga Saffron]
"The Guggenheim retrospective is a big, messy affair that is likely to be difficult for the average design civilian to process - a little like the mercurial Hadid herself. Yet the show's strength is its tornado swirl of paintings, architectural models, and furniture. Her futuristic imagery can be unsettling, and her buildings aren't necessarily what you'd like to see in your neighborhood. But by the time you've completed the pilgrimage to the top of Frank Lloyd Wright's ramp, where her all-white kitchen resides in royal splendor, you sense that you are in the presence of an important artistic force....[read more]Even when Hadid was unknown among the public, she was a cult figure among young architects. A graduate of Britain's prestigious Architectural Association and protege of Rem Koolhaas' design office, she set up a small practice in a former red-brick London grammar school in the early 1980s and began turning out competition entries.

Post-modernism was then in vogue, and every new building seemed to come accessorized with cartoonish versions of classical columns and pediments. But Hadid was already working in the next dimension. She refused to submit the kind of viewer-friendly renderings that cultural institutions and cities love to show to the public. Her entries were dominated by large, nearly abstract paintings, obsessively inked and drawn. They depicted her proposed buildings the way the crew on alien spacecraft might glimpse them as they hurtled toward Earth, as blurred swooshes and elongated bars of color.

Those images were such a new way of seeing and thinking about buildings that they must have been almost incomprehensible back then. Even so, in 1983, Hadid managed to win a competition for a Hong Kong hotel project called the Peak with paintings that are drawn with fish-eyed perspective and show a precariously cantilevered structure sliding like a Dalí clock off a Hong Kong mountain. Not surprisingly, the hotel was never built.

Seeing Hadid's early paintings is the real treat of the Guggenheim show. They make clear that, decades before she broke through with buildings like the Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati and the BMW plant in Leipzig, Germany, she had already refined her singular architectural vision. Like Kasimir Malevich, a Russian Constructivist painter who was one of Hadid's early influences, you can see the architect struggling to free her imagery from the earthbound constraints of gravity and perspective.

The lack of early commissions worked to Hadid's advantage. Because she wasn't bound by the need to produce functioning buildings and piles of construction documents, she could let her imagination ramble. She invented a world where buildings are composed of disjointed geometric forms colliding in space. The sharp angles, fuzzy colors, and absence of a discernible ground plane are her attempt to capture the exhilarating feeling of speed and movement that is so much a part of modern life. But along with all that energy, her paintings also convey the unease and dislocation that are the downside of our fast-paced lives. Many of these hand-painted images from the '80s look like something architects might churn out on a computer - today.

When no one would hire Hadid to translate her imagined world into concrete buildings, she turned her jagged slashes into furniture and sculpture. Her Bitar sofa from 1986, a languorous, boomerang-shaped chaise longue perched on stiletto heels, is the furniture equivalent of her Hong Kong hotel. Conveniently, it's displayed alongside the competition paintings.

Later, you see how those same dangerous angles hopscotched through time, finally settling into real architecture with Hadid's Leipzig BMW plant and the Phaeno Science Center in Wolfsburg, Germany, both completed in 2005. The same aesthetic imagery is then rendered back into furniture with her new all-white, injection-molded Z.Island kitchen, which looks like it came from the set of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Hadid's provocative imagery can be less appealing when it is rendered in hard concrete. The Guggenheim curators speak rapturously in the show's wall panels about the urban qualities of Hadid's buildings. But as far as I can see, she has been forced to work in real urban conditions only once, with Cincinnati's contemporary-art museum. She pulled off the project spectacularly. Her compressed horizontal panels pack a huge amount of pulsing energy and motion into the tiny corner site. In true urban fashion, the futuristic jigsaw puzzle sidles right up to its early 20th-century neighbors.

Everywhere else, Hadid is constructing stand-alone sculptures that require little interaction with their surroundings. Sure, they're thrilling to look at, and full of intriguing social ideas. You can't help admire the ideas behind the BMW plant, where the assembly lines snake above the cubicles of white-collar workers, to help them feel closer to the company's product. But you can't help wondering if the smell of motor oil and noise of clanking metal are driving the office employees nuts.

Ditto with the Phaeno Science Center, a swoosh rendered in velvety concrete and set, like the Bitar sofa on its stiletto heels, on Corbusier-like columns. Hadid supposedly elevated the building to create an "urban plaza." But even the formal architectural photos can't hide the rain puddles and murky light of the building's underbelly.

Those are just some of the problems that result when architectural theorists hit the ground. Now that Hadid is required to design buildings that will stand up, some of her creations appear a little earthbound. As the commissions pour in, you wonder whether Hadid will have the time and solitude to continue her groundbreaking visual explorations.

It's a testament to her influence that many architects have absorbed Hadid's wild imagery and are now incorporating it into mainstream work. Polshek Partnership, which designed a presidential library for Bill Clinton that punctuates the space over the Arkansas River, was clearly familiar with the Peak.

None of it detracts from Hadid's accomplishments. Her ability to imagine the future helped move architecture into the future. You just can't help wondering whether she'll thrive in that brave new world."
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