No spatially sensitive person can bear to be in the Museum of Modern art, at least I can’t. The spaces are designed to be non-spaces for a constant flow of foot traffic—there are no nooks for reflecting pools to form. Most egregious of these of course is the large central atrium which is like the vacant heart of a corporate building, not sized for anything in particular, certainly not anything human in scale, like a work of art.
Someone who understood space like none other was le Corbusier and the MoMA currently has an exhibition up “An Atlas of Modern Landscapes”. The press release explains that it is “the first major exhibition encompassing his work as an architect, interior designer, artist, city planer, writer, and photographer.” It was guest curated by great Corb scholar Jean-Louis Cohen, of the IFA and NYU, one of the foremost experts in the field.
There is no excuse why such an exhibition should be crammed together as though by a child using a computer program. I challenge anyone to walk through on a normal day and not get sick, much less focus on a single object. The walls painted the colors of le Corbusier’s famed polychromie to nauseating effect and the rooms so overcrowded it feels like the “return of the repressed,” 19th century salon edition.
Even more embarrassing is a choice in the reconstruction of “rooms” which themselves could be seen as an indictment of the scale and spaces of the museum, they are swallowed in the scope of the gallery—with the models becoming so many doll houses. Most horrifyingly, each room is centered on windows that opened onto spare line drawings of landscapes that reads “intro to photoshop/design circa 2002.” These diorama would be better served with historical photos of the landscapes, or contemporary photos of the landscapes, or nothing at all.
When you go to a le Corbusier building, especially one like Villa Savoye or the chapel at Ronchamp, what strikes you is how small they are, by which I mean they feel fitted to human experiences.
May the ghost of Le Corbusier haunt every one who touched this show!
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—Contributed by Jarrett Earnest