Monday, May 30, 2011

SPANS: Photographs from the Esther McCoy Papers

Where: Archives of American Art, American Art Museum

When: through June 5, 2011

Esther McCoy was an architecture critic and historian who worked from the 1950s through the 1970s. This display shows some of the photographs she used in her articles.

She reported on trends in architecture around the world, so the photographs include shots of Brasilia, geodesic domes, tent-like structures by Frei Otto and hyperbolic paraboloids (which are thin shells). The inflatable architecture reminded me of the roof over the Metrodome, which collapsed last winter under the weight of a particularly heavy snowstorm. They look great, but are not the most stable of structures.

This exhibit is the first I've seen that actually incorporates the museum into the exhibit. There is a drawing on the ceiling that looks like a Gothic arch. In addition, the room itself looks out into the courtyard with its controversial covering. They've put a loveseat in the room, so that you can sit down and look at the courtyard roof. There were those who objected to the span when the building was most recently renovated, but as far as I'm concerned, you couldn't ask for a nicer space to relax when the elements are too forbidding for outside seating.

Verdict: this is a neat little show, well worth seeing even if you're not an expert on architecture.

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