Daniel Libeskind, until recently, was one of the high-end architect’s of choice for war museums and somber memorials. Jagged, clean-faced metal-clad shapes torn by sharp little windows characterized a style that took trauma and produced memorial. The style was similar to Frank Gehry, but no curves to suggest the wry, playful smile of decadence at work — something I always see just beyond the magnificent and smooth sheet steel smiles of Gehry’s structures. And no 90 degree angles, either; everything is crooked, everything is asymmetrical, everything is torqued into the misshapen fragments that we piece together in turmoil to remember the parts of the past that are not pleasant. A friend who lives in Las Vegas said of the mall Libeskind designed for Las Vegas’s CityCenter: “I can never figure out how to walk around that building.”
With a month on a plane, I had boredom on the brain and packed what books I could to feed it. The worst decision I have made to date was to bring Michael Cunningham’s latest novel By Nightfall with me and read it over the first few days of jetting … because the book’s protagonist, Peter Harris, is an art dealer suffering from a crippling bout of nihilism and, when you’re setting out from New York City to look for what’s happening elsewhere in the art world, the least helpful thing to bring along is a book busy interrogating everything that underpins the creation, enjoyment, and dissemination of contemporary art. But I read on, attentive to detail in a fit of masochistic idiocy, and because I had room in my backpack for two books and the other one I brought was Learning from Las Vegas, which I wanted to save, of course, for Las Vegas.