Photo Essays

Vanquished Modernism Reconsidered in Pink

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Stephen Prina: As He Remembered It at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art presents the furniture of R.M. Schindler as painted and installed by Prina (all photographs by the author for Hyperallergic)

LOS ANGELES — Rudolph Schindler was ahead of his time. A protégé of Frank Lloyd Wright and an early adapter of modernism, he introduced a revolutionary form of architecture to Los Angeles in the early 1900s.

Unfortunately, at the time, no one cared.

His residential designs — in particular the Lovell Beach House and eponymous Schindler House — have since gone on to be canonized by the architectural community for their innovative redefinition of living space, but Stephen Prina still doesn’t care:

“Sometime in the early-to-mid 1980s, Chris Williams and I found ourselves on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles late one night. From across the street, we could see a spotlighted pink object showcased in a storefront window, but, from our vantage point, we could not identify it. We crossed the street to gain a closer look. Conveniently, a label describing the object as a piece of furniture by R. M. Schindler was on display.”

As Prina’s memory proves, forms don’t require a context to be compelling. In fact, the lenses of function and recognition often obscure a form’s inherent beauty, reducing it to little more than a catalog item.

In As He Remembered It, an installation at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Prina reproduced the built-in furniture from two of Schindler’s houses that no longer stand. He arranged the twenty-eight objects in a grid pattern and washed them with Pantone 18-2120 — also known as “Honeysuckle,” Pantone’s “2011 Color of the Year.” The bismuthy pink strips the unmoored furniture pieces of their intended purposes and forces the viewer to consider only the elegant simplicity of their rectilinear constructions.

In the modernist school Schindler helped establish, form may indeed follow function. However, in this exhibit, it is attraction that follows form.

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Stephen Prina: As He Remembered It continues at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles) through Aug 4.

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