***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***
October 29, 2013
THE BROAD MSU PRESENTS VISIONARY WORK OF LANSING-BORN ARCHITECT LEBBEUS WOODS
Exhibition Explores The Radical And Imaginative Nature of Woods’ Experimental Projects
Lebbeus Woods, San Francisco Project: Inhabiting the Quake, Quake City, 1995; graphite and pastel on paper; 14 1/2 in. x 23 in. x 3/4 in. (36.83 cm x 58.42 cm x 1.91 cm); Collection SFMOMA, Accessions Committee Fund purchase; © Estate of Lebbeus Woods
EAST LANSING, Mich. – From November 22 through March 2, 2014, the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University presents Lebbeus Woods, Architect, bringing together over 100 works from the past 35 years by one of the most influential architects working in the field. Recognized beyond architecture, Lebbeus Woods (1940–2012), who was born in Lansing, Michigan, has been hailed by leading designers, filmmakers, writers, and artists alike as a significant voice in recent decades. Notably, Zaha Hadid, architect of the Broad’s newly inaugurated building, cities Woods as a key influence.
“Lebbeus was a very close friend and great architect. His visionary work explored the fantastic potential and dynamism of space with radical proposals and powerful drawings that were extremely influential,” says Hadid.
Woods’ works resonate across many disciplines for their conceptual potency, imaginative breadth, jarring poetry, and ethical depth. On view in the Broad’s own visionary spaces, Lebbeus Woods, Architect offers compelling insight into the infinite potential of profound architectures, whether real or imagined, to inflect our lived experience. This travelling exhibition features drawings and models from major national and international collections including San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), MoMA, the Whitney, MAK Vienna, and the Getty Research Institute.
“This extraordinary exhibition highlights one of the most significant design and architecture minds of our time. Woods might be called a late twentieth-century Futurist,” says Michael Rush, Founding Director of the Broad MSU. “What is most compelling to us is our own architect, Zaha Hadid's, devotion to him.”
Woods worked cyclically, returning often to themes of architecture’s ability to transform, resist, and free the collective and the individual. As an architect whose work lies almost solely in the realm of the imagined, proposed, and the un-built, his contributions to the field opened up new avenues for exploring, charting, and inscribing space. Lebbeus Woods, Architect provides a thematic, rather than chronological, framework for understanding the experimental and timeless nature of Woods’s work.
Acknowledging the parallels between society’s physical and psychological constructions, Woods created a career-long narrative of how these constructions transform our being. Working mostly, but not exclusively, with pencil on paper, Woods created an oeuvre of complex worlds - at times abstract and at times explicit - that present shifts, cycles, and repetitions within the built environment. His timeless architecture is not in a particular style or in response to a singular moment in the field; rather, it offers an opportunity to consider how built forms can enhance or hinder individual thought and how a single individual can contribute to the development and mutation of the built world.
In 2011, Woods wrote: “In my work, architecture is meant to embody an ideal of thought and action, informed by comprehensive knowledge of the physical world.” The exhibition explores Woods’s evolutionary thinking through the recurring themes in his projects, including the political, ethical, social, and spatial implications of built forms. Many of Woods’s projects addressed cities damaged by war, such as Zagreb and Sarajevo, or damaged by nature, as in the San Francisco earthquake drawings. Additional works considered political divisions of space, like in Havana, Berlin, or Jerusalem. Woods also explored alternative architectures, which could complement and provoke existing tropes, as seen in Nine Reconstructed Boxes (1999) and High Houses (1996). And possibly further afield, Woods suggested entirely new approaches to organizing space, as seen in his Centricity (1987–88) and Conflict Space (2006) series.
This exhibition marks the first major presentation of an architect’s work at the Broad MSU, and it will welcome in a series of powerful programs and exhibitions over the next several years dedicated to examining our built environment.
About Lebbeus Woods
Born in Lansing, Michigan, Woods studied at the Purdue University School of Engineering (1958–60) and the University of Illinois School of Architecture (1960–64). He worked for Eero Saarinen and Associates, and Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo Associates (1964–68) before moving into private practice. Woods concentrated on theory and experimental projects since 1976, exhibited, lectured, and published his projects worldwide, and wrote numerous articles of criticism about architectural practice and theory. Woods was a professor of architecture at Cooper Union, where taught until his death in 2012. His works are held in the collections of major museums internationally, including MoMA, the Whitney, MAK Vienna, and the Getty Research Institute. Woods’s projects and writing can also be explored in the archives of his blog at lebbeuswoods.wordpress.com
Lebbeus Woods: Architect is organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and curated by Joseph Becker, Assistant Curator of Architecture and Design, and Jennifer Dunlop Fletcher, Helen Hilton Raiser Associate Curator of Architecture and Design. The presentation of Lebbeus Woods: Architect at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at MSU is made possible by the Broad MSU’s general exhibitions fund, and support from Bill and Linda Demmer.
Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University
The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, a new Zaha Hadid-designed contemporary art museum at Michigan State University, is dedicated to exploring global contemporary culture and ideas through art. Opened on November 10, 2012, the dynamic 46,000-square-foot museum serves as both a teaching institution and a cultural hub for East Lansing and the region. In keeping with MSU’s commitment to applying knowledge to benefit society and further the global common good, the Broad MSU’s program of original and traveling exhibitions, initiatives with living artists, performances, and educational offerings for students, faculty, and the community make the museum a center for questioning and understanding the modern world. With a collection containing 7,500 objects from the Greek and Roman periods through the Renaissance and on to the Modern, the Broad MSU is uniquely able to contextualize the wide range of contemporary art practices within a firm historical context. The museum is named in honor of Eli and Edythe Broad, longtime supporters of the university who provided the lead gift of $28 million. For more information, visit broadmuseum.msu.edu.
Michigan State University
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Broad Art Museum at MSU
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