Continuing the Poetry of Nowhere series

His certainty of judgment is what came across in the architecture: the right treatment for that window, the right way to put the door in the walls, the right colors; the opposition to the gaudy. The architecture not being the thing championed, but the purpose whether it was a loft or a gallery or a museum. It always felt so good being in his spaces.
- Agnes Gund, president emerita, The Museum of Modern Art, New York

New York – A new book, Architect for Art: Max Gordon
(Marquand Books, 146 pp, hardcover, $40, ISBN: 978-0-615-39579-1) presents a rare opportunity to enter the art world of the 1970s and 1980s and witness firsthand how a master of architectural simplicity set the standard for the relationship between art and architecture. Max Gordon (1931–1990) became the go-to architect for spaces for contemporary art following the opening of his first major commission in 1985 – the Saatchi Gallery at 98a Boundary Road. Architect for Art: Max Gordon will be published on May 1, 2011.

The book is authored by Max Gordon’s brother David Gordon, the former director of the Milwaukee Art Museum and secretary (director) of the Royal Academy of Arts in London; Nicholas Serota, director of Tate; Kenneth Frampton, Professor of Architecture at the Graduate School of Architecture at Columbia University; Jonathan Marvel, an architect and friend of Max Gordon;as well as an excerpt from a text by Max Gordon entitled New Museum Architecture and Contemporary Art.

Seven of Max Gordon’s major works are featured including the Saatchi Gallery and the Fisher Landau Center for Art, the homes of several art collectors, as well as Gordon’s own home at 120 Mount Street in London. Gordon’s sketches and professional drawings illustrate his major plans; and lavish photographs of the completed works provide an excellent record of his accomplishment. The projects are introduced by statements from clients: Doris Lockhart Saatchi, Charles Saatchi, Emily Fisher Landau, Lewis and Susan Manilow, Keith and Kathy Sachs, Jackie Brody and David Juda. Gordon’s own apartment is described by Doris Lockhart Saatchi. A detailed chronology incorporates quotations from friends and collaborators: Richard Serra, Carmen Gimenez, Alanna Heiss, Lawrence Luhring, Bob Holman, Jasper Johns, Jennifer Bartlett, and Richard Gluckman.

Architect for Art: Max Gordon is the first book on this master of architectural simplicity in the service of contemporary art. Gordon was an art collector himself, a friend of the most influential artists of the 1970s and 1980s, a champion of the art of the times, and the inventor of Tate’s famed Turner Prize. He created an architectural legacy in New York and London that remains an ever-present influence on the display of contemporary art.

Gordon’s architectural maxim can be best summed up by the phrase “no trim.” Make everything as simple and functional as possible; highlight the art not the architecture; use light to create space.


Gordon studied architecture at Cambridge University, the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, and Harvard University Graduate School of Design. He worked under Gordon Bunshaft in the New York office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and was a partner in two architectural practices in England. He was the design partner for New Scotland Yard, the headquarters of London’s Metropolitan Police Service.

In 1981, he set up his own firm, Max Gordon Associates. Following the opening of the Saatchi Gallery, he became a sought after architect for spaces for contemporary art, including museums, galleries, collectors’ homes, and artists’ lofts. He died prematurely at age 59 in 1990.

Nicholas Serota has written a special essay for the book that traces a direct link between the Saatchi Gallery and the hugely successful Tate Modern of 2000, and, in assessing Gordon’s role in the art world, credits him for the suggestion for an annual art prize to be awarded by Tate that became the Turner Prize. Kenneth Frampton has written about Gordon’s architecture. Jonathan Marvel analyzes Gordon’s particular stylistic vocabulary. Gordon’s brother David has written a biographical essay.

Gordon had an enormous circle of friends, admirers and acquaintances in New York, Los Angeles, London, and Europe who sought his advice, came to his famous parties, and were encouraged to get things to happen. He was a founding member of Tate’s Patrons of New Art. He was on the Museum of Modern Art’s prestigious International Council and was the only non-American to serve on the Museum’s trustee committee on architecture and design.

As David Gordon notes, “Max was a creator of beautiful and functional spaces and an inspiration to artists, designers, museum curators, and lovers of contemporary art. This is a personal book that includes Max’s sketches and humorous cartoons. He was a much-loved figure, and this is reflected in the warmth with which he is written about and described.”

The Authors

Nicholas Serota has been director of Tate since 1988. He was previously director of the Whitechapel Art Gallery and of the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford. As a curator, his most recent exhibitions have been Donald Judd and Cy Twombly at Tate Modern and Howard Hodgkin at Tate Britain. Serota has been a trustee of the Architecture Foundation and a commissioner on the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment. He is currently a member of the Olympic Delivery Authority, which is responsible for building sporting and cultural facilities for the 2012 London Olympics.

Kenneth Frampton was trained as an architect at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. He has taught at a number of leading institutions including the Royal College of Art, ETH Zurich, EPFL Lansanne, the Accademia di Architettura in Mendrisio, and the Berlage Institute in The Netherlands. He is currently Ware Professor of Architecture at the Graduate School of Architecture at Columbia University, New York. He is the author of Modern Architecture and the Critical Present (1980), Studies in Tectonic Culture (1995), American Masterworks (1995), Le Corbusier (2001), Labour, Work & Architecture (2005), and an updated fourth edition of Modern Architecture: A Critical History (2007).

David Gordon is Max Gordon’s youngest brother. His firm, Gordon Advisory, consults on strategy to nonprofits in culture, the arts, and publishing. He was director of the Milwaukee Art Museum after the opening of its Santiago Calatrava-designed addition following a period as secretary of London’s Royal Academy of Arts. He started his career as a journalist at The Economist and subsequently became its chief executive. He has served on boards in England of the Contemporary Arts Society, Southbank Centre, Architecture Foundation, British Film Institute, and Tate, and in the U.S. of the Association of Art Museum Directors. He lives in New York.

Jonathan Marvel, AIA, is a principal at Rogers Marvel Architects in New York. He has taught for over 19 years at schools including Columbia University, Harvard University, and Parsons, and was recently a visiting critic at Syracuse University. He is a former board member of the New York Chapter of the AIA, and currently serves on committees for the Municipal Art Society and the Art Commission of the City of New York, and the boards of the Van Alen Institute and Buckminster Fuller Institute. He has been a member of the New York State Council on the Arts’ Architecture, Planning and Design panel since 2006.

Architect for Art: Max Gordon is published by Marquand Books and distributed in the United States by Distributed Art Publishers (DAP). The hardcover book is fully illustrated and will be available in e-book form. The project editor is Holly LaDue and the designer is Matthew Egan.
Danny Lyon. (1967)

The Life and Death of Buildings
Princeton University Art Museum
July 23- November 6, 2011

PRINCETON, N.J.— The Life and Death of Buildings, opening July 23, 2011 and on view through November 6, 2011, explores the unique relationship uniting architecture, photography and time.

Architecture inhabits and embodies time; whether months or centuries in duration, a building’s life cycle of construction, transformation and afterlife gives tangible form to history and turns public space into an index of the past. A photographic image is literally made of time, showing viewers the projection of an instant in history. When engaging with a photograph of a built environment as it once looked, we find ourselves immersed in an historical experience that was without precedent before the invention of photography in 1839.

“A building concentrates history in one spot; a photograph carries history around the world,” said Joel Smith, curator of photography at the Princeton University Art Museum and curator of the exhibition. “When these two forms of knowledge intersect, our historical imagination is ignited, whether we’re looking at a site in Jerusalem in the nineteenth century or Manhattan’s skyline in August of 2001.”

An indirect meditation on the upcoming 10th anniversary of 9/11, The Life and Death of Buildings doubles as a survey of extraordinary photographs from the 1840s to the present, drawn from Princeton’s collection and a select list of public and private lenders. The exhibition’s central theme—the constancy of architecture’s life and death, as uniquely realized through the camera—is recurringly struck by selections from Danny Lyon’s series The Destruction of Lower Manhattan (1967). A recent gift to the Museum, the 72-image series records the abrupt, unsung demise of the antebellum neighborhoods that were torn down to make way for the World Trade Center. Highlights from the series find their place amid works by an international roster that includes William Henry Fox Talbot, Eduard Baldus, Alexander Rodchenko, Alfred Stieglitz, Laura Gilpin, Bernd and Hilla Becher, and Zhang Dali.

Casting a sidelight on photography’s unique historical voice is a group of major works in other media, each reflecting in its distinct way on time and the lives of buildings. Gordon Matta-Clark’s Splitting: Four Corners consists of the four roof corners of a New Jersey house demolished in 1974; in a gallery context, the empty space in their midst feels both sculptural and historical. A lengthily inscribed Yuan Dynasty painting of a seventh-century royal pavilion exemplifies a Chinese perspective that identifies a monument neither by its form nor by its materials (the pavilion has been rebuilt on its site more than two dozen times) but by the inaugural act of consecration that invests the structure with its meaning. Richard McGuire’s six-page comic Here (1989), a widely influential work in contemporary graphic narrative, keeps the eye fixed on one corner of a domestic interior but leapfrogs through time, pointedly juxtaposing future and past events to suggest the central yet ephemeral role of shelter in human fortunes.

The Life and Death of Buildings will be on view only in Princeton, and is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue by Joel Smith, Princeton curator of photography, distributed by Yale University Press and available in the Museum Store.

Princeton University Art Museum
Paris Through the Window: Marc Chagall and His Circle
Philadelphia Museum of Art
March 1, 2011 - July 10, 2011

Fernand Leger. Contrast of Forms. (1913)

As a symbol of culture, freedom, and modernity, the city of Paris held a magnetic attraction for artists from around the globe during the early decades of the twentieth century. Most painters and sculptors, as well as poets and writers, settled in a vibrant area of Paris known as Montparnasse, which was sprinkled with art galleries, artists’ residences, and cafés. It was here that Alexander Archipenko, Marc Chagall, Moïse Kisling, Moïse Kogan, Jacques Lipchitz, Louis Marcoussis, Amedeo Modigliani, Chana Orloff, Jules Pascin, Chaim Soutine, and Ossip Zadkine established studios and discovered each other’s work.

This exhibition includes more than 70 paintings, sculptures, and works on paper by these émigré artists and their French colleagues, all of which were created in a unique atmosphere of mutual encouragement and support in Paris during the early decades of the twentieth century. Interwoven throughout is the story of Chagall’s formative years in the French capital during the 1910s, his return to Russia during World War I and the rise of the Russian Revolution, and the artist’s triumphant return to Paris in the 1920s as a leading figure of the city’s thriving avant-garde.

Marc Chagall. Purim. (1916)

Exhibition Details
Hatboro Cleaners

This has got to be the best web site ever created for art book lovers. I could spend hours browsing through the titles, and I love their curated libraries. Fantastic site.

Art Book's Curated Libraries
winter goldfinch. (2008)

John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove

7th Annual Juried Art Show
April 16- May 1, 2011

"Drawn from Nature"

trees. (2011)

Our experience of landscape involves a continual tension between the familiar and the new, the typical and the unique, between the tendency to fall back on comfortable habits of perception and the necessity for a heightened attentiveness to what is unprecedented in every situation. As a photographer my relationship to the landscape I photograph is one of dialogue. I am not simply the interrogator of a passive subject; I, too, am being questioned. I look at this place and ask "What is important here?" and the reply comes back, "What is important to you?". The work that results encompasses both questions. The faith one works with is that the answers have a measure of congruence.

Frank Gohlke
Thoughts on Landscape
Bibliography (cont'd)

The Big Three

Stieglitz, Steichen, Strand
Masterworks from the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Malcolm Daniel
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Yale University Press (2010)

This is the companion publication to the current exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. (Stieglitz, Steichen, Strand runs through April 10, 2011). The book contains all of the plates from the exhibit and a well written essay by Malcolm Daniel, curator in charge of photographs for the museum.
While this book is beautifully printed with high quality image reproductions, it confirms for me the most resonating aspect of the exhibit, and that is the pictorial nature of Steichen's work. The work of Stieglitz and Strand can for the most part be fully appreciated in a high quality book. It is always best to see an actual print on the wall, but I don't believe the difference in visual appreciation is anywhere near as great for Stieglitz and Strand as it is for Steichen. I had never seen actual prints of Steichen's work before I went to this exhibit, and they blew me away. It was as if I was seeing his work for the very first time, and yet I had seen it in books many times.

The images involving Rodin are remarkable. Steichen visited Rodin's studio every weekend for a year before he asked to take portraits of the artist. The images Steichen made of Rodin's Balzac sculpture in the moonlight, using exposure times ranging from fifteen minutes to one hour are superb beyond words, and the image Rodin, Le Penseur is as close to a renaissance painting as a photograph can get.

Edward Steichen. Rodin,Le Penseur.(1902)

There are three versions of The Flatiron Building in the exhibit, hung side by side in a commanding display. They are each slightly different in color toning, and were printed in 1904, 1905, and 1909. Again, I have seen this image in books dozens of times, but realize now that I have never truly seen it.

Edward Steichen.The Flatiron Building, (1905)

The works in this exhibit are all from the Met’s own collection, which began with a gift of photographs from Stieglitz in 1928. Stieglitz considered the acceptance of his gift by the museum’s board of trustees to be nothing short of miraculous in opening “its sacred halls to Photography”, and this exhibit provides a look at the building blocks of photography’s now accepted place among traditional fine art institutions. Masterpieces from each photographer are shown in separate galleries, with works spanning from Stieglitz’s 1893 Winter, Fifth Avenue to a portrait of Stieglitz taken by Strand in 1939. The exhibit clearly separates the distinct style and professional careers of each photographer, and at the same time tells the interwoven story that connects them.

sky patterns. (2011)

One photograph of a clear blue sky was digitally manipulated to alter only the hue in precise increments in a repetitive cycle forwards and backwards on the hue scale. Then I experimented with various pattern displays, some completely random, and others according to gradient levels. Again, just an exercise in visual patterns and sequences.

While I'm on the subject of books, I am a huge fan of self made and small edition photo books and zine formats. I have been to several independent book fairs and wish I could attend more of them. Internet viewing of these types of publications is troublesome because it is very difficult to get an idea of what an artist book is like just from seeing a photo of its cover, or a couple of page views. Thats why book fairs are so much fun... the tactile experience of seeing and feeling these small art projects. A web site I discovered today makes a really nice bridge that attempts to cross over to that tactile experience via the internet. Antenne Books is a distributor of small edition artist books and their web site features really excellent short videos of every book currently for sale. These little clips are shown from a vantage point as if you were holding the book in your hands and turning the pages yourself. Very nice idea! Check them out...

Antenne Books
horizon patterns. (2011)

I've been away from this series for over a year now, but in exploring some repetitive patterns in my work I see how important this group of images was/is in training my eye and sensibilities towards a particular view of the landscape. An important element of my work involves repetition and cycles of color, form, and structure. By viewing groups of images in this format, those patterns reveal themselves and trigger new ideas and directions.

Hey, Hot Shot! 2009

February 10- March 27
Opening Reception: February 12th, 2-5 PM

Project Basho
1305 Germantown Avenue
Philadelphia, Pa 19122

rhawn street. visitation (2011)

For several years this billboard near Rhawn Street and Oxford Avenue said simply... "Say One Hail Mary", and now I just noticed today that it has been changed to the face of Mary. No words, no small print message in the lower corner that I could see. Just the face of Mary on a billboard on a busy street in Philadelphia. The glow that reflects from the setting sun is startling and slightly unnerving in the heat of rush hour traffic.
big marty's. (2011)

I'm thrilled with this image on several levels. It is a building I have been observing for several years, through a series of going out of business sales cycles and eventual vacancy. I have studied it and attempted to photograph it on a couple occasions, but never even snapped the shutter before today.It just never looked right in the viewfinder. But the building and signage always draws me in every time I pass it. There is another location in Penndel, Pa. that has a cartoon caricature of Big Marty himself that stands at least thirty feet high on the building facade, and I have stalked that one for as long as I have this location in Hatboro, Pa. Today's sky combined with the complete snow cover on the parking lot eliminated all peripheral distraction to the landscape that I think was keeping me from making a picture. I was suddenly aware of more than the signage. I could see the faux mountain-scape that appears in so many of my images. When these buildings are wiped clean of the people and automobiles they were intended to attract and serve,they sometimes become symbolic of the untouched landscape they were built upon.

Another recent Amazon purchase, an ex-library book for a couple dollars. It's a bit worn and dirty on the outside, but the interior is perfect and the print quality is incredible in this series from Aperture published in 1978. I own a few issues from the 1990's Aperture series Masters of Photography, but this Steichen book is from a 1970's series Aperture did called The History of Photography. There are 15 books in the series, and this is number 9.

I bought this as part of a personal exploration I am doing after seeing the Stieglitz Steichen Strand exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art a few weeks ago. I've never really paid close attention to Steichen's work, but it left the strongest impact on me after seeing the exhibit and I have started reading as much as I can about him and look very closely at his images.
Zoe Strauss. Atlantic Ocean (2011)

I felt a slight sense of shock and sadness when I opened this month's issue of The Photo Review and read... "This is the last issue of The Photo Review that will appear in print". Editor Stephen Perloff is taking the publication into the green/electronic realm, and all future issues will be delivered as a PDF file by email. In practical terms, this is a good thing for The Photo Review. Issues will now include color images without the burdensome expense of color printing. Likewise, page counts won't matter for an electronic version the way they did for a tightly budgeted small print publication, so Perloff intends to expand the number of essays and reviews in future issues. There is even some thought towards iPad and similar tablet versions down the road. These moves will all open up new opportunities and this transition is exciting in many ways, but I will definitely miss the old printed version arriving in the mail each month. I've got hundreds of them saved in one corner of my library. They represent an amazing archive of photo history with their extensive listings of photography exhibits, lectures, calls for work, etc. The Photo Review has been published since 1976, and a complete set from the beginning to end of printed issues certainly represents a unique time capsule. The late 1970's saw the full maturity of Black & White art photography transcend towards the acceptance of the New Color Photography, and the decades that followed witnessed the digital tidal wave. (Sweeping The Photo Review right out of a print version). A careful chronological study of Photo Review issues would reveal some interesting patterns and trends I would imagine. That would make a fantastic thesis subject for a graduate student out there somewhere!

All the best to Stephen Perloff and the new electronic Photo Review for many years ahead!

The Photo Review (web site)
white on white. (2011)

I have followed the work of Katsunori Yamaguchi for about five years now, ever since discovering him on Flickr, where he is better known as Moonchild1111. His images are darkly obsessive and melancholic, and yet serenely beautiful all at once. I am consistently drawn into and mesmerized by his repetitive thematic sequences. Always keeps me guessing and asking for more. Katsunori shoots almost exclusively with film, and with one of the most amazing collections of cameras and lenses I have ever seen. One of the most interesting things about his Flickr stream is that he lists the camera, lens, and film used under every photograph he posts, and one visit through his images will quickly reveal an incredible collection of equipment.

Katsunori Yamaguchi (flickr images)
the purified landscape. (2011)

Driving around today in the aftermath of an ice storm that coated every surface with a crystalline layer of glaze and left an eerie fog in the air, I was continually astounded at the way these conditions seemed to purify and whitewash the landscape in ways that normal snow cover doesn't always accomplish. I kept coming upon surreal views around every bend in the road. The man altered landscape rendered down to its most basic elements.

Sarah Kaufman
The Nude Redefined: Photographs of Interiors

February 4th- March 6th, 2011

Magill Library/ Haverford College
370 Lancaster Avenue
Haverford, Pa 19041

Sarah Kaufman has been featured several times previously on PHOTO/arts Magazine, beginning with my discovery of her wonderful work in ONWARD 09 at Project Basho.Her continuing series of environmental portraiture is well worth seeing.

Here is Sarah's artist statement for the upcoming show at Haverford College:

The images in this series investigate the space between straight photography and a more interpretive approach. Picturing the world as it is, they speak in the language of descriptive photography, however they ask that world to stand in for one that is more poetic.

The work is an inherently human investigation. I visit people in their homes and ask them to try to show me the world that they inhabit when they are alone. The resulting photographs chase glimpses of this world and explore the relationships among the subjects, their bodies, and their spaces. They reveal the possibility for a quiet intensity within the everyday by prolonging reflective silence as it seeps into the environment. Ideally the viewer can share in this reverence of the quotidian by soaking in the gestures and details within another person's domestic space and routine. Perhaps upon looking at another's moments of absorption, we may recognize something about our own.

The photographs are made on medium format film with available natural light. They are presented as digital Chromogenic prints in both 24 x 24 and 40 x 40 inch sizes in editions of 10.

Sarah Kaufman website
roses lie fallow. 2011

A place I drive past on an almost daily basis, these are the abandoned greenhouses of a once thriving local grower of roses. There is a spooky nature to this place, and in the summertime the roses continue to grow wild inside the structures. Wind and storms blow the glass panels off the framework and the rapidly decaying buildings make it a dangerous and foreboding place to wander around. I've heard this land site is destined to become a large residential development and sooner or later these landmarks on the horizon will disappear.

Roughly half of this edition of 50 self-published books is still available for sale. For a mere $20 you get a signed and dated archival printed book of ten images from my series "In These Hard Times" (2009-2010), and if you purchase one this month I will include a signed 5" X 7" print.

Buy a copy here