ORIGINS OF ARCHITECTURAL PLEASUREby Grant Hildebrand

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  • ORIGINS OF ARCHITECTURAL PLEASURE by Grant HildebrandReview by: Janine J. HenriArt Documentation: Journal of the Art Libraries Society of North America, Vol. 19, No. 2(Fall 2000), pp. 60-61Published by: The University of Chicago Press on behalf of the Art Libraries Society of NorthAmericaStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27949102 .Accessed: 14/06/2014 10:43

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  • thing outside of themselves. Such specific correspondences would limit the work's meaning, whereas pure abstraction, liber ated from any external references, is capable of saying so much

    more."), and this reader wonders why Sandier does not challenge the assertion as it applies to the artist's material?neon?and his

    explicitly religious imagery of the 1990s, both of which are laden with specific, associated meanings.

    In the 1980s, Antonakos created public neon works, charac terized by triangles, circles, squares, and the all-important postmodern squiggle; most assuredly, they are easier to under

    stand, to enjoy, and, some might argue, to forget, than much of his art. But in documenting this category of the artist's oeuvre, Sandler disappoints again. He fails to supply details about the commissions and their public reception, information that is

    important to an understanding of and appreciation for public art. Sandier relied extensively on the artist's unpublished writ

    ings, which may account for the gaps in his comments. The essay snakes leisurely through spacious page layout.

    With images appearing conveniently close to their discussion in the text, one can "read" the book visually. The bibliography is substantial. Also included are an index, chronology, list of per

    manent public installations, and list of selected public collections. The photography is strong, given the challenge of

    capturing light art on film. Previous publications on Antonakos have been both modest

    in size and distribution. Despite Sandler's not fully developed interpretation of the artist and his place in contemporary art, this is the monograph to have. Recommended for purchase for all

    contemporary art collections.

    Jenny Tobias Museum of Modern Art, New York

    New Thinking READING THE CONTEMPORARY: AFRICAN ART FROM THEORY TO THE MARKETPLACE / Edited by Olu Oguibe and Okwui Enwezor.?

    Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, February 2000.?432 p.: ill.?ISBN 0-262-65051-7: $35.00 (pa.).

    Reading the Contemporary is an anthology of twenty-two previously published essays that the editors intend "to sketch the development of a new critical language and method for the evaluation of contemporary African art." The decade of the 1990s witnessed the arrival of modern African art into the

    global arena, launched by the 1989 "Magiciens de la Terre" exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, a controversial yet seminal event.

    The globalization of late twentieth-century art is forcing a

    rethinking of theory and criticism of African art practice both on the continent and in the diaspora. The writers whose essays are included in this volume are at the forefront of this endeav or. Five are artists: David Koloane, Everlyn Nicodemus, Olu

    Oguibe, Chika Okeke, and the late Rotimi Fani-Kayode. Others are academics, critics, or curators: Kwame Appiah, Manthia Diawara, Ima Ebong, Okwui Enwezor, Salah M.

    Hassan, Sidney L. Kasfir, Thomas McEvilley, Kobena Mercer, V. Y. Mudimbe, Laura Mulvey, John Picton, Colin Richards,

    Margo Timm, . Frank Ukadike, and Octavio Zaya. The essays address theory, art practice among Africans locally and espe

    daily internationally, and shifting identities. They address

    photography and cinema, as well as visual arts. Several of the essays were first published in Nka; Journal of

    Contemporary African Art (Ithaca, NY) and Third Text: Third World Perspectives on Contemporary Art (London), two journals that should be (if they are not already) in art libraries covering twentieth-century art. The thrust and tone of these texts are

    biting and edgy, challenging our perceptions about African art

    practice. The point is not to survey modern African art, but to

    present new ways of thinking about it, to move African art out of the periphery and into the global arena, to discard old notions about "Africanity" with all its trappings of exoticism. The sub-text is to disparage or at least implicate those in the West who favor and promote African popular (read: naive) artists, such as sign painters Ch?ri Samba and Middle Art. Theirs is not the face of postmodernism that editors Oguibe and Enwezor want to present. In fact, the balance tilts to the other side by elevating the art practice of those who are oblit

    erating and transcending boundaries rather than those who remain grounded in the parochial and the local. The agenda of

    globalization, cultural nomadism, and hybridity is very much reflected in the choice of essayists. Reading the Contemporary is the latest offering in the Oguibe-Enwezor enterprise. These two peripatetic Nigerian expatriates launched the journal Nka and directed the 2nd Johannesburg Biennale and symposium in 1997; they have curated several exhibitions, are prolific writ

    ers, and Enwezor is director of Documenta XI in 2002. A sturdily bound paperback with a slightly too fine typeface

    for easy reading, this is a weighty tome in both senses. The illus trations are quite adequate but are secondary: this anthology is

    more about text than image. Intended primarily for students of art history, art criticism and cultural studies, it is a book for con noisseurs and collectors, recommended for academic art libraries

    collecting in the area of contemporary art. This publication com

    plements the new single-volume World of Art series' offering Contemporary African Art by Sidney L. Kasfir (New York, NY: Thames & Hudson, 1999). For a bibliographic overview of the

    subject, check Modern African Art: A Basic Reading List at

    http: / / www.s?.si.edu/SILPubHcations/ModernAfricanArt.

    Janet L. Stanley National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution

    Enjoyed Environments ORIGINS OF ARCHITECTURAL PLEASURE / Grant Hildebrand.?

    Berkeley, CA: The University of California Press, July 1999.? 185 p.: ill.?ISBN 0-520-21505-2 (cl., alk. paper): $35.00.

    This book will certainly spark lively discussions among architects and other readers. Grant Hildebrand, Professor of Architecture and Art History at the University of

    Washington, expands on ideas of architectural pleasure pre viously developed in The Wright Space: Pattern and Meaning in Frank Lloyd Wright's Houses (Seattle, WA: University of

    Washington Press, 1991). His premise, based on natural selec tion, is that survival-advantageous conditions and conditions

    Homo sapiens enjoy ought to match (we were selected for our ability to choose good habitats). Inspired by geographer Jay Appleton, Hildebrand sets out to relate our pleasurable

    60 Art Documentation ? Volume 19, Number 2 ? 2000

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  • responses to architectural settings with six archetypal sur vival characteristics.

    The first two characteristics which he claims we need

    together are "refuge" and "prospect": safe in our refuge we can

    look out over our prospect; exploring our prospect, we can easi

    ly retreat to our refuge. Hildebrand illustrates these ideas with

    settings such as the Court of Lions at the Alhambra and Frank

    Lloyd Wright houses. He also discusses interior prospect and concludes that different spatial size and light conditions enhance our comfort and feelings of intimacy and control.

    The next two characteristics are "enticement" and "peril":

    partly hidden vistas urge exploration with the promise of more information ahead. He assumes an evolutionary benefit to

    exploring. Using streetscape and staircase examples, Hildebrand declares that there must be enough light ahead to suggest safety and entice exploration, but to feel at ease, we must see without

    being seen. The opposite, going from bright toward dark spaces, produces anxiety. Settings of peril are defined as places with

    dangers or visible hazards that we can avoid; our sense of con trol creates an enjoyable thrill. Examples include buildings on elevated settings and skyscraper balconies.

    The last two characteristics are "categorizing" and "differ

    entiating." Hildebrand believes that we like order and

    complexity: a complex environment is rich in variety of resources and we must categorize to recognize our food sources

    or predators. He cites examples of complex order in a single building, in a townscape, and in a site. He also discusses move ment and dependence on memory as ways that we enjoy complex order in our surroundings.

    Hildebrand concludes that the terms he has defined may help us to describe, evaluate, and choose satisfying spaces. He believes that human pleasure is a legitimate architectural pur pose and that pleasurable responses to our surroundings transcend societal trends. Herein lies a possible point of con tention. Hildebrand's selection of examples (based on his own

    photographs) appears arbitrary. He explains his lack of early and vernacular examples as technology-related (glazing is needed to

    provide large protected prospects). But Hildebrand certainly seems to oversimplify our needs. For instance, why are court

    yard houses still popular in many parts of the world? From early examples in ancient Egypt and the Near East, to newer examples in China, the Middle East, North Africa, or the New World

    (haciendas), none can be said to offer "prospect." Could it be that in protected urban settings we no longer need this prospect?

    Another concern is the fact that Hildebrand's discussion of architectural pleasure relies solely on visual input. Frankly, some of my most memorable architectural experiences involve sound

    (such as descending into stepwells in Rajasthan). In addition,

    empirical studies among non-western populations would need to be cited to make a case against culturally based ideas of plea sure. Obviously, architects will not want to base their design solutions on Hildebrand's theories alone.

    Regardless of the publication's clear layout, good reproduc tions of black-and-white photographs, extensive footnotes, and useful bibliography, I question the use of a book as the most

    appropriate format for Hildebrand's arguments. In a video or film or virtual reality program, the author could walk us through the spaces he describes. Sharing his obvious pleasure, we might be more convinced. Nevertheless, this title is recommended for

    research libraries, college and university libraries, and academic libraries supporting programs related to aesthetics or evolution

    ary psychology. Janine J. Henri

    The University of Texas at Austin

    Career Development FROM CRAFT TO PROFESSION: THE PRACTICE OF ARCHITECTURE IN NINETEENTH-CENTURY AMERICA / Mary N. Woods. ?Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, September, 1999.?218 p.: ill.?ISBN 0-520-21494-3 (cl., alk. paper): $50.00.

    Mary N. Woods approaches the development of the profes sion and practice of architecture in the United States during the nineteenth century from a practical rather than an artistic angle. Most architectural histories present the architect(s) as the artist(s) and solitary creator(s) of a building, but Woods traces the histo

    ry of architects and architecture by describing the early craftsmen, building workshops, and craft unions who worked

    alongside, collaborated with, and competed with the profession al architect on building projects. She reveals that the architectural

    profession as it is known and practiced today grew from men trained in building workshops or architectural offices rather than solely through the contributions of the professionally trained gentleman architect.

    The author has consulted an immense body of primary archival sources, including personal correspondence and papers of professional societies, individuals, and architectural practices. Secondary sources, such as advertisements, photographs, and

    articles in professional journals of the period, provide the reader with interesting and entertaining personal glimpses into the lives of both well known American architects and unknown

    apprentices, draughtsmen and associates, who played a role in the development of the profession.

    The book is divided into five chapters. Chapter one, "The First Professionals," is devoted to the beginnings of architecture and building in the Colonial and Federal periods. Woods pro vides a well documented account of the life and practice of

    Englishman Benjamin Henry Latrobe and the roles played by other prominent gentlemen architects such as Charles Bulfinch, Thomas Jefferson, and Peter Harrison. She also describes the contribution of the master builder in building projects of the time. Early building projects in this period were accomplished through the collaboration of building artisans such as carpenters, joiners, bricklayers, and masons. Master carpenters possessed both technical and supervisory skills and often became project supervisors and designers. Woods describes the prominent role these individuals played building projects during this period as

    well as the difficulties they had, in spite of their success, of being accepted into colonial society.

    Chapter two, "Professional Organizations and Agendas," describes the development of professional societies such as the American Institute of Architects (AIA, founded in 1836) and the Western Society of Architects (1884). The author points out that the original members of the ALA were not only architects but

    master builders such as Asher Benjamin, Alexander Parris, and Ithiel Town. These master builders, as well as the students of

    professional architects like Latrobe, received commissions for

    Volume 19, Number 2 ? 2000 ? Art Documentation 61

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    Article Contentsp. 60p. 61

    Issue Table of ContentsArt Documentation: Journal of the Art Libraries Society of North America, Vol. 19, No. 2 (Fall 2000), pp. 1-70Front MatterFROM THE EDITORS: The Real World of Virtual Art [pp. 2-2]The Construct of Indexing: Thought Processes in Subject AnalysisIndexing Images for Subject Access: Controlled Vocabularies in the VISION Project [pp. 4-9]Pictoral Archives and EAD: Indexing Collections for Online Access [pp. 10-14]Image Indexing for Multiple Needs [pp. 16-21]

    Metamorphosis of a Mentor: An Interview with B.J. Kish Irvine [pp. 22-26]The Development of A Prototype Russian Costume Database and Web Site [pp. 28-34]Real or Not: Virtual Reading, Virtual Artists' BooksForeword [pp. 35-35]What is It? A Discussion of Virtual Artists' Books [pp. 36-40]Now That You Have It, What Are You Going To Do With It and How? [pp. 41-43]Internet Art Resources: Select Examples [pp. 43-43]

    An Artist Speaks: Working on the Web and Its Antecedents [pp. 44-45]BRAIN WAVEArt and Archaeology of the African Diaspora: New Challenges in Art History Instruction [pp. 46-48]Problems in Provenance Research [pp. 49-51]

    The Review SectionReview: untitled [pp. 52-52]Review: untitled [pp. 52-53]Review: untitled [pp. 53-54]Review: untitled [pp. 54-55]Review: untitled [pp. 55-55]Review: untitled [pp. 55-56]Review: untitled [pp. 56-57]Review: untitled [pp. 57-57]Review: untitled [pp. 57-58]Review: untitled [pp. 58-59]Review: untitled [pp. 59-59]Review: untitled [pp. 59-60]Review: untitled [pp. 60-60]Review: untitled [pp. 60-61]Review: untitled [pp. 61-62]Review: untitled [pp. 62-63]Review: untitled [pp. 63-63]Review: untitled [pp. 64-64]Review: untitled [pp. 64-64]Review: untitled [pp. 64-65]Review: untitled [pp. 65-65]Review: untitled [pp. 65-65]

    Publications Received [pp. 66-69]Back Matter

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