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Posted inArt

Trying to Save a Doomed Architectural Babel

Perhaps modeling what would be the architectural icon of your country’s capital off the infamous Tower of Babel isn’t the best idea. But it wasn’t superstition that brought down the gargantuan spiral of El Helicoide — or the Helix — in Caracas, Venezuela. It was economics, politics, and the continuing shadow of surveillance and secrecy.

Posted inArt

Space-Age Architecture in an Unexpected Place

Like ghosts of a future that never arrived, the United States is littered with space age relics that landed in the 1940s to 1960s in the form of diners, banks, motels, and other commercial architecture. While the futuristic style definitely made its mark on the big coastal cities, like with Eero Saarinen’s TWA Flight Center in New York and Los Angeles International Airport’s Theme Building, it was also popular in a much more unexpected locale: on the Mars-like red earth of Oklahoma. Despite being a rather conservative place, the state fostered some pretty wild architecture, and you can still see its remnants as quiet oddities in the cityscapes. Oklahoma City especially has wonderful examples of this retrofuture trend, known as “Googie” architecture.

Posted inArt

Globalization, the Environment and the Effects of Media

ROCHESTER, NEW YORK/ PITTSBURGH, PA — In his new book, Contemporary Art: World Currents, Terry Smith argues that three concerns dominate contemporary art: (1) world-picturing, or the imagination of global interconnectedness, (2) environmental problems and awareness and (3) the effects of social media. On a recent trip to Pittsburgh, I had the opportunity to hear Smith, who teaches at the University of Pittsburgh, speak about these “currents” of art created since the 1980s. When I visited Carnegie Mellon University’s Miller Gallery later that day to review the Pittsburgh Biennial, Smith’s ideas were fresh in my mind and I found myself comparing the exhibition to his understanding of art history.