Skip to main content

On Renzo Piano's Modern Wing for the Art Institute

I visited the new wing of the Art Institute of Chicago recently. Renzo Piano’s building for the AIC is everything that Libeskind’s Denver Art Museum is not: light, airy, elegant, despite its size; striking without being overwhelming; and it serves the art extremely well. Every space in Piano’s design seems to be filled with natural light, presumably a combination of all the walls of glass and the innovative tile system of the roof. The materials, both inside and out, are beautiful: smooth wood, stone, glass. I know that architects can’t be expected to be the same, or to produce the same kinds of designs, but the difference in the Chicago and the Denver buildings shows a difference of attitude towards human beings. Libeskind clearly doesn’t care one bit about the effect of his buildings on people (except to be pleased when they are provoked), while Piano clearly thinks about how people will use the spaces that he creates.

 Subscribe to Praeterita in a reader


  1. Piano is on the loose in Houston (he better do right!):

    There are some neat graphics with the story. If the link is too bulky to handle, the story appeared in the NY Times on May 27, 2010 in the "Art&Design" section.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Brancusi in Plastic

Artist Mary Ellen Croteau is showing these columns made from recycled plastic cartons and lids in the window of the Columbia College bookstore on Michigan Avenue. They are a playful homage to Brancusi's "Endless Columns", with a serious environmental message for our times:

Mary Ellen also runs a wonderful experimental art gallery in a window space in west Chicago, called Art on Armitage. I will be exhibiting a mixed media piece there during August 2012.

How to etch a linoleum block

Linoleum as a material for printmaking has been used for nearly a hundred years now. Normally, you cut an image out using special gouges similar to woodcut tools, cutting away the lino around the image you want to print. This is called relief printmaking, because if you look at the block from the side, the material that remains stands up in relief from the backing material. You then roll ink with a brayer over the surface of the block, place paper over it, and either print by hand or run it through a press. You can do complex things this way (for example, reduction linocuts), but the beauty of the process is that it is quick, simple, and direct.

A few years ago, I saw some prints that were classified as coming from etched linoleum blocks, and I loved the textures I saw in them. In the last few months, I've been trying to use this technique in my own studio, learning about it as one does these days from websites and YouTube videos. I've also had email exchanges with several pr…

Artist-Writer-Artist: Gerard Woodward

I am extremely pleased that poet and author Gerard Woodward agreed to be interviewed for this series. Gerard and my wife, Patty, were colleagues for a short while at the end of 2008, when Patty taught for one semester at Bath Spa University, where Gerard is a faculty member in the Creative Writing program. Gerard spent the spring semester of 2011 in Chicago on a reciprocal visit. Gerard has published poetry, short-stories, and novels. "Householder", his 1991 collection of poetry, won the Somerset Maugham Award in the UK, and his novel "I'll Go to bed at Noon" was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction. Of his most recent novel, "Nourishment", The Daily Telegraph reviewer wrote: "It is a novel to be savoured, and Woodward is a novelist to be treasured." It turns out that in addition to his success as a writer, Gerard started his adult life in art college, and still draws and paints when he can. So here, from a writer's point of view…