Raymond Hood and the American Skyscraper brings together examples of Hood’s most compelling, uniquely American experimentations with the skyscraper form. The exhibition employs Hood’s skyscrapers as a lens through which to examine architectural education and genesis as well as architectural technology and illumination. It will include approximately 75 architectural drawings, photographs, models, videos, and books that explore a selection of Hood’s built and unbuilt skyscrapers including: Tribune Tower, Chicago, 1922; American Radiator Building, New York, 1924; Tower City, unbuilt, 1927; Daily News Building, New York, 1930; McGraw-Hill Building, New York, 1931; and Rockefeller Center, New York, 1930–39.
Curated by: Dietrich Neumann and Jonathan Duval
Image: Donald Douglas, McGraw-Hill Building under construction, ca. 1930. Raymond Mathewson Hood papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
In conjunction with the exhibition Raymond Hood and the American Skyscraper, the Bell presents a selection of photographs from our collection by Berenice Abbott (American, 1889-1991). Drawing its title from theories of space by philosopher Henri Lefebvre, this grouping offers 1930s New York as a location of contrasts, not simply through the mastery of shadow and light that Abbott’s work exudes, but through the conceived space of architects and urban planners in stark relation to the lived space of the city’s inhabitants. Many of these images reveal skyscrapers looming ascetically over bustling landscapes of vernacular signage and structures. People, so often excluded from architectural photography, are vital to many of these cityscapes, a visual reclamation of urban land use by the public that Abbott celebrates.
Curator: Kate Kraczon
Image: Berenice Abbott, Foundation Company (West Street), 1938
Lisa Reihana’s extraordinary 60-foot-long video—in Pursuit of Venus [infected]—is based on eighteenth-century views of the Pacific Islands as presented in the historic French wallpaper Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique (Native Peoples of the South Pacific), 1804–1805. Reihana reimagines the wallpaper as a vast digital scroll that moves through live-action vignettes placed within an idealized background inspired by the original wallpaper, and asks viewers, “Who tells the story and how do images, past and present, shape our understanding of history?” Reihana has revised the narrative to critique notions about Pacific culture and history that originated with the European voyages of exploration during the eighteenth-century Age of Enlightenment and persist even today.
Curated by: Jo-Ann Conklin
Image: Lisa Reihana, detail from in Pursuit of Venus [infected]