Book List of the Week

Christian Wassmann’s Book List: Cross-Referencing

By Steve Kroeter September 30, 2013
Christian Wassmann, architect (New York)
View Christian Wassmann’s Book List

“As a student I spent a lot of time in the library doing research for my projects, but I never liked to borrow books,” notes architect Christian Wassmann in the introduction to his book list. “I preferred to own them, mark them with notes, and collect articles, press releases, and other information inside the front cover. I always tried to find the most important books on a specific artist, architect, or subject, study them, and then cross-reference them.”

Cross-referencing is a hallmark of Wassmann’s work, which extends from site-specific installations and art exhibitions to furniture, interiors, and buildings including the East Village Radio station in New York, the Curved Wall House in Miami, and the “Fibonacci Spiral” construction for the threeASFOUR fashion show. His mentors include both artist Robert Wilson and architect Steven Holl.

Works on artists known for exploring space and spatial constructs, such as Constantin Brancusi, Pablo Picasso, and Gordon Matta-Clark, are highlights of Wassmann’s book list. About Object to Be Destroyed: The Work of Gordon Matta-Clark by Pamela Lee, Wassmann comments, “Like many great artists, Gordon Matta-Clark was educated as an architect and became a game-changing artist by questioning his environment and making liberating suggestions. With his surgical cuts through buildings he de-functionalized architecture and turned it into art. Matta-Clark was a poet of space.”

Christian Wassmann in his library. He says about the books that have inspired him: “This ever-expanding archive represents everything I was ever interested in. The collection now serves as an extended memory that I can revisit at any time or dive deeper into a subject if desired.” 

Among Wassmann’s architecture selections are books devoted to Buckminster Fuller and the Eameses as well Le Corbusier’s Ronchamp, which contains Le Corbusier’s plans and sketches for the Chapel of Notre Dame du Haut, one of the legendary modern architect’s most revolutionary creations and “my favorite building,” Wassmann remarks. “Almost every book by Le Corbusier could be on my list but this one is off the shelf and on our desks at the Studio all the time.”

Books from many other fields also turn up on Wassmann’s list. All of these books, he writes in the introduction to his book list, helped him “to see and realize previously hidden connections.” Super Constellation (in German) by Christoph Asendorf, on the influence of air and space travel, “explains how something that was invented in an aeronautical context, often for military purposes, later influenced other fields, culture, and society at large.” You Are Not a Gadget, by Silicon Valley’s Jaron Lanier—a pioneer in the field of virtual reality, who in recent years has spoken about the perils of an Internet that values the opinion of the crowd and computer algorithms over human judgment—is another book choice. Wassmann’s judgment: “Today a lot of information can be found on the Internet, but for me books have more authority due to the good authors, editors, and publishers who make them.” 

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