From February 16 through June 2, 2013, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) presents Lebbeus Woods, Architect, bringing together 175 works from the past 35 years by one of the most influential architects working in the field.
Recognized beyond architecture, Lebbeus Woods (1940–2012) has been hailed by leading designers, filmmakers, writers, and artists alike as a significant voice in recent decades. His works resonate across many disciplines for their conceptual potency, imaginative breadth, jarring poetry, and ethical depth. The exhibition features drawings and models from SFMOMA's collection, along with key loans from other major design collections.
Conflict Space 4, 2006 © Estate of Lebbeus Woods, Top: San Francisco Project: Inhabiting the Quake, Quake City, 1995 © Estate of Lebbeus Woods
Woods worked cyclically, returning often to themes of architecture's ability to transform, resist, and free the collective and the individual. As an architect whose work lies almost solely in the realm of the imagined, proposed, and the unbuilt, his contributions to the field opened up new avenues for exploring, charting, and inscribing space. Lebbeus Woods, Architect provides a thematic, rather than chronological, framework for understanding the experimental and timeless nature of Woods's work.
The exhibition is organized by SFMOMA Acting Department Head/Assistant Curator of Architecture and Design Jennifer Dunlop Fletcher and Assistant Curator Joseph Becker.
Unified Urban Field, from the series Centricity 1987 © Estate of Lebbeus Woods
Acknowledging the parallels between society's physical and psychological constructions, Woods created a career-long narrative of how these constructions transform our being. Working mostly, but not exclusively, with pencil on paper, Woods created an oeuvre of complex worlds—at times abstract and at times explicit—that present shifts, cycles, and repetitions within the built environment. His timeless architecture is not in a particular style or in response to a singular moment in the field; rather, it offers an opportunity to consider how built forms can enhance or hinder individual thought and how a single individual can contribute to the development and mutation of the built world.
Concentric Field, from the series Centricity, 1987 © Estate of Lebbeus Woods
In 2011, Woods wrote: "In my work, architecture is meant to embody an ideal of thought and action, informed by comprehensive knowledge of the physical world."
The exhibition will explore Woods's evolutionary thinking through the recurring themes in his projects, including the political, ethical, social, and spatial implications of built forms. Many of Woods's projects addressed cities damaged by war, such as Zagreb and Sarajevo, or damaged by nature, as in the San Francisco earthquake drawings. Additional works considered political divisions of space, like in Havana, Berlin, or Jerusalem.
Photon Kite, from the series Centricity, 1988 © Estate of Lebbeus Woods
Woods's projects and writing can also be explored in the archives of his blog at lebbeuswoods.wordpress.com
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