Apr 27 Fri Molly Barnes at the Roger Smith Hotel Invites Joseph Giovannini – the Architecture Critic of the New York Times

Art to live with
Imposing at some 6ft 3 in tall, Joseph Giovannini is nonetheless a gentle man to talk to even though he is a major disruptive force in a new form of internal architectural art he has pioneered from the early noughts this century which he has named Deconstructivism, and approachable despite his high flying kite tail of institutional affiliations from Harvard to Yale to the Times and the New Yorker and many more, as well as innumerable awards for his thoughtful and appreciative writing about other people’s work, of which no doubt there will be more for his upcoming book Architecture Unbound, for in this case his intellectually well worked out writing, of which he read out samples to do with historical context to introduce his latest work in architecture, will be applied to explaining the roots of the very remarkable new path he is pioneering inspired by the work of Russian avant garde artist El Lissitzky and his paintings of floating geometrical objects, in placing inside rooms and staircases and halls various artistic constructions in spaces otherwise devoted to mundane living and working activities such as sitting or preparing food or sleeping or climbing stairs so that at first glance they look like free floating abstract exhibits in some domesticated art gallery where the owners were unable to pay the rent on their homes as well as the commercial premises, because they combine both uses into one, although in the slides he showed ordinary functions are completely hidden from the eye by the white curved walls of his adaptations which visually replace and hide the vertical and horizontal rectangles of typical bedroom and living room and kitchen spaces as we know them in daily life, and so renters walk into an initially disorientating experience where they might think themselves stepping off the earth into the vertiginous emptiness of outer space among the stars where every white surface and wall of his constructions is curved and dominant and furthermore now incorporates many trompe d’oeil’s in the form of colored rectangles and squares drawn on the surfaces of the ceiling or the walls that appear to be floating in the space, which led us to ask later if Giovannini used light projection to draw them but no, it turned out he uses a laser beam to direct an assistant up a ladder to the ceiling, but while there is no doubt that the shapes he designs deserve and demand priority over mundane needs such as horizontal counters to prepare food in the kitchen, yet he does also provide hidden pull out counters in that case, he explained, but even so it must be a bit of a shock for any visitor who enters his lofts for the first time, lofts now rented in Los Angeles to people who it turns out don’t mind combining their sleeping talking and eating with having their minds blown.

(Web bio) A Pulitzer nominee in criticism who trained in architecture at Harvard, Joseph Giovannini has led a career that has spanned three decades and two coasts. He has served as the architecture critic for New York Magazine and the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, and was long a staff writer on design and architecture for The New York Times. On a contractual or freelance basis, he has contributed to many other publications, including The New Yorker, Architectural Record, Architectural Digest, Art in America, Art Forum, Architecture Magazine, Architect Magazine, Industrial Design Magazine, and Interior Design. A prominent figure in American architecture, he has been an activist critic with a record of discovering emerging talent for major mainstream publications and professional journals. He coined the term Deconstructivism during articles he wrote announcing the movement. Giovannini has written literally thousands of articles for periodicals, and he has also authored numerous essays for books and monographs. As a critic, he has won awards, grants and honors, from the Art World Magazine/Manufacturer’s Hanover Trust for distinguished newspaper architectural criticism, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Graham Foundation, the Los Angeles Chapter of the AIA and the California Council of the AIA. He has put theory into practice in his own architectural practice. Mr. Giovannini heads Giovannini Associates, which has recently completed the conversion of a large trucking warehouse into a community of lofts in Los Angeles, and a 19th-century commercial building, also into lofts. A bicoastal designer, he is currently working on several apartments in New York and lofts in Los Angeles. His lofts, apartments, galleries and additions have appeared in Architectural Digest, Los Angeles Times Magazine, A + U, Domus, House and Garden, GA Houses, Architekur und Wohnen, Sites, and Interior Design. He has taught advanced and graduate design studios at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, UCLA’s Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning, the University of Southern California’s School of Architecture, and at the University of Innsbruck. He holds a Master in Architecture from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. He did his B.A. in English at Yale University, and an M.A in French Language and Literature from Middlebury College for work done at La Sorbonne, Paris.


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