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Lloyd Wright | Press
Goldberg: The Shape of Space
Original blueprints for Chicago's famous Marina City as well as presentation renderings for River City and other projects by one of modernism's unique creators.
"The art of architecture is in change."
All great Chicago architects have seen the world through their own lens. Wright, Sullivan Mies: each one achieved lasting fame through a unique body of work. Bertrand Goldberg was the first Chicago architect to achieve superstar status with simply one project. In the early sixties, Marina City became what Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Museum achieved for Bilbao, an instantaneous icon forever stamping Chicago as an innovator of Modernism.
Goldberg is quoted as saying, "I am a sort of sport, a variation-- the Goldberg variation." His individuality as an artist signaled his understanding of architecture in an industrial age as a social art that's concerned with the individual. "Architecture is the public art that shows people what they've been thinking."
Though most of his drawings are now owned by the Art Institute of Chicago, ArchiTech Gallery has been granted the very first commercial exhibition of the work of Bertrand Goldberg. To be sold are design and construction documents for Marina City as well as presentation renderings for River City and other projects across the country. Prominent will be gigantic original photo murals of his greatest, award winning buildings produced for his many worldwide exhibitions.
In his 1982 essay for Inland Architect, "Rich is Right", Goldberg wrote, "Both in the use of space and in the form of space I discovered that behavior can be influenced by the shape of space."
*Please Link to our Marina City Page, containing Bertrand Goldberg's speech about Marina City presented at the seminar on "Architectural Aspects of Edmonton Civic Centre Plan", Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. September 27, 1959.
Notes on the Exhibition:
I'd been hectoring Geoff Goldberg for years about showing (and selling) his father's drawings. The gallerist in me dreamed of showing the original Marina City drawings. The art dealer in me knew that I could ask a fortune for them.
Geoff and his two sisters had been working on placing their father's archive in the Art Institute. Money certainly wasn't a motivation for them as they'd always had privileged lives, but preserving their father's legacy was.
The transfer of nearly forty thousand items to the museum guaranteed that the Goldberg archives would be the largest of any single architect's at the Art Institute. The vast collection even required a staff of archivists to catalogue everything. The family had kept a number of things, however. Many items had been created for important conferences and museum exhibitions that Goldberg presented. Some were sketches and promotional renderings that they couldn't quite part with. Eventually they decided to let collectors safeguard things they couldn't keep.
Geoff phoned me in the Fall to come by his storage warehouse. He needed help to determine what to do with the large photomurals made for the Paris Art Center exhibition in 1984. A book had been prepared for that show that pictured the images shared in these murals. They were all gelatin-silver prints blown up to gigantic scale. Lurking among these masonite panels were barrels and boxes of renderings made for zoning commission presentations and developmental sketches of projects Bertrand Goldberg built all over the country.
So what if the Marina City drawings had been safeguarded in the museum's vault, these things were terrific. I told him I'd change my schedule for a special show of these starting in the upcoming January. Few of the more modern architects I'd shown had been as distinctly personalized (or as famous, perhaps) as Goldberg, so this would modernize my roster considerably.
I asked Bill how he'd show the photomurals in the gallery and he came up with the idea of slipping them over half-inch blocks of wood screwed into the walls. Wooden cleats affixed to their backs would then project them in relief so the spotlights would provide an actual "drop-shadow" around the edges. Everything else could be matted as always, but instead of using frames, they could be attached to the wall with "L" hooks gripping the plexiglas. This would present a more "office" look to the works giving them more of a "work in progress" presentation than my usual museum approach.
As things were shifted to my storage areas, Geoff called to tell me that the Art Institute was sending back one of the two sets of blueprints and presentation exhibits that they had of Marina City. Storage availability meant that they only needed one of anything. This was the only other complete set of blueline prints the firm kept of their most famous project. They would be equivalent to Ty Cobb's earliest baseball cards for an architecture hound here. Sure enough, I sold several plans and elevations before the show even started.
Since I was lucking out so far, I asked Geoff if we could show (but not sell) some of those mysterious bubblewrapped pieces of furniture the Goldbergs were keeping in storage along with the murals. He was planning to showcase them in his spectacular new townhouse, but the house wouldn't be finished for months so...sure!
We transfered them (still wrapped in their cocoons) to the gallery during the set-up of the show. I discovered them to be a one of a kind prototype of a plywood chair from 1937 and an 8 foot leather and steel bench Goldberg designed for his Marina City office. Nothing could be rarer.
When everything was set for the opening, the legends affixed to the walls and the flowers had been set out, Geoff came by to finally see the finished exhibition. He'd been in bed ill for several days and hadn't seen any of the preparation.
Appearing dazed at the door, he finally muttered, "I can't sell any of this! What will people think of us." When I gathered my wits, I reminded him of our arrangement and convinced him that only serious collectors were liable to buy anything, anyway. They would always revere and treasure what they bought, showcase things well and pass them down. Then two young guys who had bought one of Goldberg's early masterpiece houses walked in the door.
When I introduced them to their hero's son, they couldn't hide their admiration for his father. They wanted to know everything about him from his son. And they wanted to tell him how they were caring for the house, how they were carefully matching new materials to old and ways they were updating the heating system without changing the appearance. They had brought vintage photographs they'd tracked down and had hoped the gallery could direct them to the right contractors. Meeting Geoff was such an obvious delight for them that they talked to him for at least an hour about the house.
When they left, it was obvious to Geoff that this was the right place for the materials to wind up. Nowhere else could he find the right homes for things the family could barely part with. He finally relaxed.
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