Naum Gabo’s Material Gamble

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What the statue is supposed to look like. Model for “Construction in Space: Two Cones,” 1927. Photo © Nina & Graham Williams/Tate, London 2011 via the Tate Museum.

Brittle, brown, and crumbling, Naum Gabo’s sculpture “Construction: Two Cones in Space” is a harbinger of what is to come for artwork fabricated out of plastic. The sculpture, part of the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, has so deteriorated that it is no longer feasible to display.

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The state of the sculpture today, housed in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s storage.

Gabo was a key member of the Russian Constructivists, an avant-garde group active in the beginning of the 20th century. The Constructivists had many radical ideas: the autonomy of material, imbuing everyday objects (such as chairs and utensils) with aesthetic concerns, and using contemporary materials and technology to wipe away the past. Gabo’s use of plastic was rooted in another of their beliefs: in using contemporary materials to create a new art.

Read the full article at Architizer here.

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Skate This!

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Image via.

What makes a great “skate spot”? Smooth surfaces, sweet inclines, and such bonus features like ledges, steps, rails, and transitions help. Now, skateboarders, being a notoriously inventive and industrious bunch, could have fun in any parking lot with a curb. But built environments that push skateboarders to new feats of daring offer more options than just a flat surface to roll on.

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Rest Stop by J. MAYER H.

Modernist architecture, for example, with its embrace of concrete, marble, and granite, has proved a great boon to the sport. Two of the most famous skate spots in history—the Embarcadero in San Francisco and Love Park in Philadelphia—were built as public plazas in the Modernist style. The Embarcadero’s Gonz Gap, created by a gigantic concrete wave, and Love Park’s low granite benches helped transform these spaces into, to paraphrase Le Corbusier, “machines” for skating.

See the full collection of architectural projects I curated for Architizer here.

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Image via.

Sculpture For Skateboarding

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Traditionally, skateboarding parks are separated from the general public—the skateboarders are relegated to their concrete area, the metal fences a boundary between them and the rest of the city. However, most skateboarders don’t desire this sequestration, no matter how great the park is. Skateboarders want the freedom to take their four wheels and plywood planks where they want, when they want.

Read the complete article at Architizer here.

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 Photos: RedBullContentPool 

Paul Philipe Cret’s Rodin Model Found

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Most museums push the majority of their collections so deep into climate-controlled storage that they’re rarely (if ever) seen by the general public. But sometimes these crates have been in storage for so long that no one—not even the museum’s directors and curators—knows what’s inside of them.

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Such was the case at the Rodin Museum. Set between the Barnes Foundation directly across the street and the Philadelphia Museum of Art further down, the Rodin Museum is a frequently overlooked jewel of a building in Center City Philadelphia. Paul Phillipe Cret, the architect responsible for most of the buildings lining the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, designed it; he also designed the original Barnes Foundation in Merion, Pennsylvania. Like the Barnes, the Rodin Museum houses the collection of one man, Jules Mastbaum, an early film mogul with an obsession for, yes, Rodin. The collection of sculptures, notes, and drawings is actually the largest group of Rodin’s work outside of France.

Read the full article at Architizer here.

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Discontented With The Barnes Foundation

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Photo: K. Scott Kreider

The Barnes Foundation, the recently relocated art museum in Philadelphia, is no stranger to controversy and acrimony. Its move from Lower Merion to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway was a long and litigious journey involving many of Philadelphia’s cultural heavy hitters, including Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell. The intricacies of the plot are too detailed and winding to describe here (see the movie “Art of the Steal” for a good primer on the issues involved), but it’s needless to drag out that point: the move has concluded, and the collection is now housed in a new building by Tsien and Williams.

Read the complete article on the Architizer website here.

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Yarn Bombing Rocky And The Philadelphia Museum Of Art

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Photo: Constance Mensh.

To many visitors and tourists to Philadelphia, the steps leading to the east entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art are synonymous with the cinematic prize fighter Rocky Balboa.  Sylvester Stallone most likely had no idea the scene would become a lasting cultural touchstone–the run up the stairs was only a small part of Rocky’s workout routine, which also included one armed pushups and using frozen hunks of meat as heavy bags. Yet, it was Rocky’s tread dash and victorious fist pump in the air that still inspires people to recreate the scene themselves.

Rain or shine hundreds of people complete this rite every day.  In 2007 the Museum acknowledged the situation, and in an act of acquiescence to the public, installed a larger than life bronze sculpture depiction of the pugilist at the base of the stairs.  The statue created a second spot for touristic photo opportunities and also saved many people the run up the stairs to prove their love of the fictional boxer. There was no need for exertion since most had come for some type of commemorative photo with Rocky, not the Art Museum.

Read the full article on Architizer here.

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Photo: Conrad Benner.

Haas And Hahn Paint Germantown Avenue In Philadelphia

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Photo: K.Scott Kreider

The dynamics of a band of musicians playing jazz depend heavily on communication, both verbal and nonverbal. All players involved need to listen to and respond in the moment, hanging onto the musical structures of rhythm and melody to bring a group of sounds into a cohesive whole.  The Dutch art duo Haas and Hahn, comprised of Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn, have embarked on a mural project that is strikingly similar to the high wire act of jazz improvisation.

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Photos: K.Scott Kreider.

The artists were commissioned by the City of Philadelphia and its Mural Arts Program to paint a section of Germantown Avenue as part of an ongoing revitalization effort targeted at stagnant commercial corridors. Located in the central part of North Philadelphia a few blocks east of Broad Street, the neighborhood is better known for its abandoned houses than its arts scene. The pair began the project a year ago, moving into a tiny white house directly behind the Village of Arts & Humanities.

Read the full article at the Atlantic Cities here.

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Photo: K.Scott Kreider