Sylvia Lavin Editor
Kimberli Meyer Editor
MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Los Angeles, at the Schindler House; Nürnberg, Germany: Verlag für moderne Kunst Nürnberg, Los Angeles and Nürnberg, Germany, 2013, English
Nonfiction, Architecture
9 x 12 inches, hardcover, 344 pages, 120 in color
ISBN: 9783869844527

Published on the occasion of an exhibition of the same name organized by the MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Los Angeles, at the Schindler House, May 9-August 4, 2013, as part of Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A. Essays by Sylvia Lavin, Margo Handwerker, Alex Kitnick, Suzy Newbury, Peggy Phelan, and Simon Sadler; and period documents by Robert Ballard; Reyner Banham; Billy Al Bengston; Denise Scott Brown; Judy Chicago; Barry Commoner; Peter de Bretteville; Environmental Communications; Victor Gruen and Claudia Moholy Nagy; Rem Koolhaas; Leonard Koren; Jan Martin Lester; Peter Plagens; and Bernard Tschumi.

On 1 book list
Alissa Walker

“Tip the world on its side,” Frank Lloyd Wright supposedly said, “and everything loose will land in Los Angeles.” Maybe he was talking about L.A.’s buildings, which at first glimpse seem haphazardly scattered across Southern California’s famously chaotic urban landscape. But I take it to mean L.A.’s residents: the dreamers, the punks, the weirdos, the outsiders, the nuts, the freaks, the geeks, who are the subjects of this appropriately named exhibition and its appropriately sprawling, rollicking catalogue.

The show, which took up residence in the Schindler House this past summer as part of the MAK Center’s contribution to Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A., examines the intersection of two nascent, experimental, and eventually influential scenes, as L.A.’s contemporary art and contemporary architecture worlds grew up together during the 1970s. As the two movements matured, they became intertwined in a sort of infinite cultural feedback loop, with architects like Frank Gehry, Craig Hodgetts, and Thom Mayne working alongside artists like Ed Ruscha, Robert Smithson, and Larry Bell, exploring new technologies together (this period saw the birth of the personal computer, after all) and employing an increasingly DIY aesthetic. The visionary curator and writer Sylvia Lavin spent years uncovering a vast trove of works to support this thesis, and after a few contextual essays, the book presents these works intelligently organized but largely unadulterated, thanks to the smart design of Roman Jaster and Colleen Corcoran.

While the entire book is an indulgent visual treat (worth getting for Archigram’s wacky collages alone), the most compelling section is “Works on Paper,” where for 172 pages the designers simply reproduced a jaw-dropping collection of untreated ephemera from the period: personal letters from Denise Scott Brown, notes and drawings by Judy Chicago as she dreamed up The Dinner Party, a children’s book about housing by Victor Gruen’s studio—all of which give the reader the same sense of discovery one imagines Lavin might have had combing some dusty basement archives. Throughout the catalogue, but here especially, the personalities of the projects emerge and you begin piece together the importance of this moment as well as the uniqueness of its artists and designers. They all landed here, and L.A. is so very lucky that they did.

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