Friday, May 18, 2012

Hobbits in China

EMBT Designs Zhang Da Qian Museum in Neijiang, China
Architectural Record web page, May 15, 2012
Architecture Record, Chinese Edition

Benedetta Tagliabue is still going strong, 12 years after the death of her husband, Enric Miralles. She's a remarkable architectural survivor and a wonderful person, but..... This latest conceit reminds me of those glory days when Frank Stella briefly turned into an architect, serving up a model for an Orangerie-thing in poor-old recently-liberated Dresden, with domes of cantaloupe and trembling flan -- at least that's what they looked like to me as I contemplated them in his studio, at the urging of his loyal pal Phillip Johnson. Now the Chinese are the gumptious lot who will fall for just about anything.

As the article was a news piece and I wasn't yet quite so tired of all this, nothing of the above is reflected in the actual text. The biggest piece of news was that Zhang Da Qian, whom I had never heard of, was the top-selling artist worldwide at auctions last year, outpacing Picasso for the first time in 14 years -- a sign of the strength of the new Chinese buying public.

Here's another zinger from my text:
"Picasso's portrait of Zhang, his face surrounded by dashing blots of ink for hair and beard, inspired the layout for the pavilions' rings of structural fins. Zhang's traditional rendering of a grove of bamboo provided the concept for the pavilion's vertical development. The fins' irregular profiles, designed using folded and cut paper, derive from this drawing and other sources, including a photograph of the artist and his paintings of a woman and a mountain landscape. It also refers to a large boulder from his garden in Taiwan, which he brought from California, and under which he is buried."
I'm still looking for the stones and ladies and photographs and waving groves of bamboo in those fins.

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