Beyond Buildings


All posts by Aaron Betsky

June 06, 2012

Henry Ossawa Tanner: The Presence of Light, the Absence of Space

One of the joys of my day job as director of the Cincinnati Art Museum is that I get to spend some quality time with amazing art (although it does not happen nearly enough that I can drag myself away from administration). We are currently hosting an exhibition on the work of the painter Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937), which has given me the chance to revel in that artist’s ability to evoke places that are both magical and to revel in the way that, through his handling of his medium, the paintings have become absolutely real. Read more...

June 04, 2012

Photoshop Future

“We live in a time in which the ‘made’ and the ‘born’ are fusing.” That is the central thesis of Next Nature ($32; Actar, Feb. 2012), a collection of images, manifestoes, and thought experiments edited by Koert van Mensvoort and Hendrik-Jan Grievink. With little regards for current limits on technology or production, the authors propose the fusion of nature and human-made forms. They do so with a critical purpose, believing that this synthesis will set us free into a playful universe that respects our resources and offers alternatives to brands and wasteful products (the book records what is going on at their website, Next Nature). They also do it with a fair amount of fun. Read more...

June 01, 2012

More Episodic Urbanism

Last week, I commented on the holy-ness of the American city where I live, Cincinnati. I pointed out that our downtowns are devolving into places of episodic urbanism, environments where what we think of as the great good of intense interaction between people, activities, forms, and images takes place not in a core, but in moments within that core–and beyond its confines. Lars Lerup, who during his deanship at Rice University assembled a crack team of thinkers about sprawl, termed it “stim and dross.” The rhythm of vast stretches of form without meaning and space without borders punctuated by moments of intensity and articulation is clearly visible if you drive out on the highways into the heart of sprawl in America’s heartland. Read more...

May 30, 2012

Episodic Urbanism: The Streets of Cincinnati

It is party season in Cincinnati. As in true in almost all places where the weather drives most people indoors or even to warmer climes in the winter, spring brings a mass movement of bodies out onto the streets. Crowds linger at lunch, turning the voids above underground parking garages into public space. On weekend evenings, sidewalks once whipped by winds now become obstacle courses of swaying bodies moving from bar to bar. In the brief period before the heat of summer sends everybody back inside, downtown is alive. At least, it is in places. Read more...

May 21, 2012

Young Architects 13: Is It Different this Time?

Every year, the Architectural League of New York gives awards to young architects. Over the years, the prize has also been a good measure of what young designers in general are doing in a more experimental mode: it reflects their dreams and aspirations. The work of this year's seven winning designers spans the spectrum of architectural experimentation, from the deformation of tried-and-true building types and methods, to speculations at the far edge of what is physically and perhaps even notionally possible. Read more...


About the Blogger

Aaron Betsky

thumbnail image Aaron Betsky is the director of the Cincinnati Art Museum, and in 2008 he was director of the 11th Venice International Architecture Biennale. Trained as an architect at Yale, he has published more than a dozen books on art, architecture, and design and teaches and lectures about design around the world. Aaron worked for Frank O. Gehry and Associates and Hodgetts & Fung Design Associates as a designer, taught for many years at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, and between 1995 and 2001 was curator of architecture and design at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. From 2001 to 2006 he was director of the Netherlands Architecture Institute in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.