As chairman of the Architectural Association, Boyarsky orchestrated an ambitious exhibition and publication program that situated drawing as not only a representational tool but as a form of architecture in its own right. This book brings together an iconic set of drawings by some of the most prominent architects and artists of our time—including Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Daniel Libeskind, Mary Miss, OMA–Rem Koolhaas, Eduardo Paolozzi, Bernard Tschumi, Shin Takamatsu, and others.
“Drawing Ambience. Alvin Boyarsky and the Architectural Association“
October 25 – January 14, 2018
deSingel International Arts Campus – Expo
Desguinlei 25, 2018 Antwerpen
The combination of critical texts and close-up reproductions of prints, drawings, and the limited edition AA Folio series provides an unprecedented opportunity to explore both the techniques and the imaginative spirit of drawing practices that permeated this time of change and experimentation in architecture worldwide.
Co-organized by the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University in St. Louis and the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence. It is co-curated by Igor Marjanović and Jan Howard. Production of the Antwerp edition of the exhibition Flanders Architecture Institute, deSingel International Arts Campus in collaboration with KULeuven and Piet Zwart Institute, MIARD. The Antwerp edition of the exhibition has been initiated and designed by Riet Eeckhout and Arnaud Hendrickx.
Drawing Ambience was the first public museum exhibition of architectural drawings from the private collection of the noted educator Alvin Boyarsky. The collection features early drawings by some of the most prominent architects practicing today, through a selection of approximately forty prints and drawings that constitutes the bulk of this collection, as well as nine limited-edition folios published by the AA—including works by Peter Cook, Coop Himmelblau, and Peter Eisenman—Drawing Ambience offers a rare glimpse into a pivotal moment in architectural history and the imaginative spirit of drawing that was and continues to be instrumental to the development of the field.
Under his leadership, from 1971 until his death in 1990, the AA helped introduce a wide range of concepts and methodologies that remain relevant today, including new ways of thinking about public space; the connections between contemporary culture and the built environment; the influence of art on architectural practice; and the importance of international, interdisciplinary dialogue. Alvin Boyarsky argued that architecture was not only a profession but also an artistic venture — an open, wide-ranging practice that comprises drawing and publication as much as it engages design and construction.
Through a unique constellation of exhibitions, teaching studios and publication projects, Boyarsky encouraged young architects to embrace the emerging global culture and probe contemporary issues while defining their own visual and spatial languages. Central to this approach was Boyarsky’s conception of drawing, which he saw not only as a representational medium, but also a form of architectural inquiry unto itself.
Encompassing site plans, design proposals, unbuilt works and theoretical investigations, Boyarsky’s collection reflects the collapse of a singular canon of modern architecture and the blossoming of new and varied approaches that are often grouped under the diverse and varied phrase “postmodern architecture.” Highlights range from Eduardo Paolozzi’s appropriations of pop culture, to the technological utopianism of Archigram’s David Greene and Michael Webb, to the gestural mark-making of Libeskind and Peter Wilson.
The AA of the 1970s and ’80s is often considered one of the last great centers of hand drawing to flourish before the rise of computer-aided modeling and draftsmanship. Boyarsky’s collection of architectural drawings, culled from the work of students and practitioners who passed through the school, constitutes a visual record of an important transitional moment. At the same time, its emphasis on the tactile and exploratory foreshadows the renewed interest, in our own digital age, in links between the hand and the imagination.