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This article by Nicole Plett was prepared for the February 28,
2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
His Audience in Suspense
I cannot imagine any building whose walls touch the
ground," said Le Corbusier, both a founder and an avid
of the International Style in architecture. Most of us, of course,
can scarcely imagine otherwise.
Should we look at, read, or listen to the big, dynamic drawings that
are the centerpiece of "Le Corbusier at Princeton 14-16 November
1935" at the Art Museum, Princeton University? Measuring some
16-feet each, these gestural colored drawings are so charged with
the vigor and enthusiasm of their maker, it’s as if, through them,
we can still hear the great man speak. Displayed flat, what was once
ephemera — chalk on tracing paper — is now sandwiched between
enormous slabs of heavy glass.
Acknowledged as the 20th century’s foremost master of design thought,
Le Corbusier’s life span extended from 1887 to 1965 — a generous
swathe that took him from a 19th-century childhood right through the
mid-century excitement of prosperity and progress.
His 1935 American lecture tour, sponsored by the Museum of Modern
Art, was designed to generate support for his desire for major urban
design commissions. It generated 300 yards of expressive drawings
which he left in his wake as gifts to his hosts. Delivered in French,
the lectures were accompanied by simultaneous translation by American
architect Robert Jacobs.
During the tour, Corbu’s revolutionary theories on urban planning
were placed front and center. His concept of "La Ville
or "The Radiant City" shows its humanistic colors with a
that places a big central block of housing at its heart. Looking at
the plans today, one marvels to see factories, business district,
and heavy industry ring the housing blocks, in direct opposition to
the way we experience our empty-centered cities today.
Clearly Le Corbusier loved to talk, and never pulled his punches.
"I prefer New York! It’s hideous, but it’s honest," he
"It is the city of hard labor, but it doesn’t try to hide
A product of the French rationalist tradition, Corbu’s lecture
gives us pie charts showing how our days are divided, and a wonderful
sunrise to sunset arabesque line that describes our 24-hour "solar
day." If we lived in center city, he reasoned, we’d have at least
three additional hours of leisure time each day.
"Current architecture is sad, chlorotic, nerveless, spiritless,
without consciousness of its means," writes Le Corbusier.
The effects of such proselytizing are vividly conjured in the
film that accompanies the show. Made by Pierre Chenal in 1931 and
on loan from the MoMA collection, it opens with images of Corbu’s
signature metaphor. We see a sleek, ’30s automobile, an airplane,
and a Corbu-designed single family home. In this century of
innovation, Corbu desires a house that is "une machine a
— "a machine for living."
Many of his ideas were as pleasing as they were revolutionary: rooms
that do not require artificial light, pillars to float the house above
the landscape, roof gardens for family recreation. Yet despite the
reverence in which he is justifiably held, hindsight provides a
funny side to the business. Take the two women in high-heels who pop
up to the roof garden, with a barefoot man in trunks, for a session
of calisthenics before work.
More chilling is the film’s closing section that shows the ancient
alleys of old Paris followed by the images of the architect as he
tackles a Paris map with a thick crayon. In a big, bold stroke he
proposes a death knell for the old center of Paris. Why? To make room
for identical, cruciform blocks of high-rise housing. "Une ville
moderne!" "A modern city!" In our own era of the attempted
renewal of the failed urban renewal of the 1960s, it’s hard to imagine
where the next inspiration lies.
— Nicole Plett
of photography by Aaron Usiskin, a Chapin School alumnus who earned
his MA from the Savannah College of Art and Design. To March 9.
Road, 609-924-6700. "Mel Leipzig: A Realist’s Vision of Family
Life," an exhibition of paintings. Leipzig is a professor of art
and art history at Mercer County Community College whose paintings
are in collections at the New Jersey State Museum, Yale Art Gallery,
Newark Public Library, and the White House. Gallery hours are Monday
to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. To March 9.
609-683-4480. The new student-run professional gallery features
senior thesis work by Deborah Hay, Sookyoung Lee, and Claire
All profits go directly to PHS art programs. Monday to Friday, 3 to
5 p.m.; and by appointment from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. To March 1.
Library Place, 609-497-7990. "Reflections," works by sculptor
Lynda Juel. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 9:30
p.m.; Saturday to 4:30 p.m.; Sunday 2 to 9:30 p.m. To March 30.
1200 Stuart Road, 609-921-2330. "Within the Material World:
Artists From India," a group show featuring 14 contemporary
from India. All profits from sale of the artwork will be donated to
the earthquake relief effort in India. Gallery hours are Monday to
Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. To March 30.
"Ancient Cultures Revisited: Etchings by Jorg Schmeisser, Painted
Panels and Sculpture by Sally Spofford," a presentation of works
reflecting civilizations in Cambodia, Central America, Greece, Japan,
Morocco, Russia, and Turkey. Gallery hours are Tuesday to Saturday,
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. To March 24.
Corbusier at Princeton: 14 to 16 November 1935," an exhibition
of sketches and works related to the French architect’s Princeton
residency; to June 17. Also "Seeing Double: Copies and Copying
in the Arts of China," an exhibition of Chinese art; to July 1.
"Great Impressions: Art of the Print in the Western World,"
to March 19. On extended view in the Bowen Gallery, Richard Serra’s
"Weight and Measure" etchings. The museum is open Tuesday
through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. Free tours
of the collection are every Saturday at 2 p.m.
The Graduate School continues its centennial observance with the
"A Community of Scholars: Graduate Education at Princeton,"
an exhibition of more than 100 photographs, documents, and artifacts
that chronicle the evolution of graduate studies at Princeton. Library
is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Wednesday to 8 p.m.;
Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. To April 8.
Library, 609-258-5049. "Art Deco Paris: 1900-1925," a portrait
of the spirited, affluent Parisian society of the early 20th century
through "pochoir" (or stencil) prints. The show features 100
color prints, including a folio by Matisse, reflecting the era of
jazz, tango, high fashion, and modern art. Library is open Monday
through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Wednesday to 8 p.m.; Saturday and
Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. To April 8.
ACM Siggraph’s Traveling Show, "TechnoOasis," an exhibit of
digital paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures, and Web-based
projects by artists throughout the world. Gallery hours are Monday
to Friday, noon to 3 p.m.; Thursday 7 to 9 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 to
3 p.m. To March 28.
A panel discussion is scheduled in conjunction with the show on
March 14, at 7 p.m., featuring three TechnOasis artists, Linda
Majzner, Thomas Porett, and Francine Bonair.
609-896-5168. "David Dewey, Past and Present," an exhibition
of oils and watercolors by the author of "The Watercolor
The artist currently heads the art department at Lyme Academy of Fine
Arts in Connecticut and teaches at Parsons School of Design in New
York. Gallery hours are Monday to Thursday, 2 to 8 p.m.; Friday to
Sunday, 2 to 5 p.m. To March 4.
609-252-6275. "Contemporary Still Life: Vanitas to Veritas,"
featuring works by 13 artists from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New
York. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and
and holidays, 1 to 5 p.m. To March 4.
Art: An Exhibition of Trenton Students Art Work." Artworks’
Through Art (LTA) and Access to Art are educational outreach programs
for students in the Trenton public schools. LTA, an educational
developed by the Guggenheim Museum in New York, brings artists into
the schools to work with classroom teachers to reinforce core
concepts through art. Open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
To March 22.
Trenton, 609-394-4023. "Through the Years in the Trenton
an exhibition of works by Tom Malloy, artist and Trenton resident
since 1923. In the main lobby gallery that is always open. To March
Recent sculpture and drawings by Christopher Rothermel. Gallery hours
are Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. To March 1.
609-586-0616. Fall-Winter Exhibition. In the Domestic Arts Building:
"James Dinerstein: New Sculpture," recent works in cast
"Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture."
Show continues to April 8. Open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to
9 p.m., year round; Sunday is Members Day. Adult admission is $4
through Thursday; $7 Friday and Saturday; and $10 Sunday. Annual
start at $45.
609-292-6464. "TAWA: Eyes on Trenton," a juried exhibition
of works in all media that focus on the city of Trenton. Juried by
longtime TAWA and New Jersey State Museum member Molly Merlino,
Margaret O’Reilly, and registrar Jana Balsamo, the show features 65
works by 53 artists; to May 10. In the Friends’ Cafe Gallery,
by Seow-Chu See," to March 4. Museum hours are Tuesday through
Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.; Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Free.
Also on view, "Americans on the Silver Screen," an exhibit
of movie posters, press books, and lobby cards dating from 1934 to
1970 that explores the role of movies in creating and perpetuating
stereotypes of ethnic Americans.
609-298-6970. A group theme show, "Bedtime Stories," featuring
works by Antonelle, Lombardi, Levine, Kelly, and others. Gallery hours
are Thursday through Saturday, 4 to 8 p.m. To March 31.
A new gallery in the tradition of "Art’s Garage," featuring
the paintings of Hopewell artist Alan Taback. Taback began his career
as a plein-air painter, moved to portraiture, and has most recently
turned to abstract figurative work. The gallery is open weekends,
and by appointment.
An exhibit by wildlife artist Beatrice Bork. Working primarily with
watercolor and gouache, her art focuses on capturing an expressive
moment in nature by observing the daily struggles that are full of
action, drama, or humor. Shop hours are Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m.
to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. To March 30.
908-735-8415. "Donna Lish: Changing Metaphor," a one artist
show of abstract sculpture built of beads, plastic threads, and found
objects. Also, the "2001 Annual Members’ Exhibition" featuring
work by area artists in all media, juried by artist and arts writer
Carol Rosen. Museum hours are Tuesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Both shows run to March 18.
Road, 609-921-3272. Recent oil paintings by Don Jordan whose work
has been shown in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York. Jordan is
a member of TAWA and Artsbridge. To March 23.
"I have become increasingly aware of images resulting from both
the cognitive and emotional aspects of life’s experiences," says
Jordan. "My challenge is to paint the spirit of those images with
a balance of design, color, and intensity."
A shared show by professional nature photographer Walt Marz and
newcomer Mark Gaal. To March 3.
Walt Marz, a long-time Plainsboro resident, has photographed all over
the world including Canada, China, Africa, and Peru. His photos have
been published in "Audubon," "New Star Ledger,"
Jersey Outdoors," "People," and "WildBird." Gaal,
an eighth grader at St. Ann School, began his serious photography
hobby at age 10 when his mother, a professional wedding photographer,
gave him a little Minolta. He now uses two powerful cameras and enjoys
being around experienced photographers.
Branch, 908-725-2110. "Mixed Moxie: Creative Highlights from
Artists." Jurors Idaherma Williams, Cori Haveson, and Jim Jeffers
selected 55 pieces of varied media from students across the country.
Best of show awards presented in categories of mixed media,
and photography. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Friday, 11 a.m.
to 4 p.m.; Saturday, 1 to 4 p.m. To April 7.
New Brunswick, 732-932-7237. The newly expanded and renovated museum
features "Traffic Patterns: Images of Transportation in American
Prints between the Wars," to April 22. "Switch on the Night:
The Amazing Art of Leo and Diane Dillon," to April 1. "Collage
and Assemblage from the Dodge Collection," to April 1. Museum
hours are Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday and
noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $3 for adults age 18 and up; free for
children and students; admission is free on the first Sunday of each
Also, "Opening Up: A Half-Century of Artistic Dialogue between
Japan and the West" (ongoing). "A World of Stage: Designs
for Theater, Opera, and Dance from the Riabov Collection," to
Fifth anniversary group show features works by all 18 of the co-op
gallery’s members. Gallery hours are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday,
11 a.m. to 6 p.m. To March 4.
"Lambertville & the Surrounding Area," the Lambertville
Society’s 21st annual juried art exhibition. Artist Sally Spofford,
invited to jury the show, selected awards to the following artists:
Marge Chavooshian, Steve Zazenski, Elsa Hermann, Mike Filipiak,
Farnham, Robert Sakson, Vincent Ceglia, George Bramhall, and Ranulph
Bye. Gallery hours are Wednesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. To March
609-397-1006. "The Logik of Josh Owen," an exhibition of
furniture and lighting designs. Owen is a 1994 graduate of Cornell
who earned his MFA in furniture design in 1997 at the Rhode Island
School of Design. Gallery hours are Thursday through Sunday, 12 to
5 p.m. and by appointment. To April 30.
Owen’s furniture has user-friendly, interactive features such as his
"Occasionally Remarkable Tables" filled with thermochromatic
liquid crystals that change color in response to temperature (much
like mood rings). He is the principal and owner of Owenlogikdesign,
an industrial and graphic design studio in Philadelphia. He also
Owen says his "design strategy anticipates a flexible,
individuated relationship between user and object." His projects
are on the Web at www.owenlogik.com
"Kings and Queens," the new gallery’s debut exhibit features
works by Van Arno, Rich Borge, Ron English, Ward Sutton, Eric White,
and Ulana Zahajkewycz. Gallery proprietor Jonathan LeVine says he
strives to link nostalgia with modern taste including toys to harness
your imagination. Gallery hours are Thursday through Monday, 11 a.m.
to 7 p.m. To March 25.
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