Lecture: Thursday, November 28 at 8:00 Museum der Dinge, Berlin


Drawn Into Architecture: On Fine Art and Applied Art

Lecture by Allan Wexler on His Work as an Artist and Architect

Introduction by Dr Michael Fehr
Lecture in English; Free Admission
Organized by the Institute for Art in Context, Berlin University of the Arts, in collaboration with the Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge

Thursday, November 28, 2013, 8:00 p.m.
Place: Werkbundarchiv - Museum der Dinge

For more than thirty years, the New York artist Allan Wexler has been purposefully moving between the disciplines of art, design and architecture. In his diverse and original oeuvre, he has analysed and ironized our day-to-day actions and activities by producing crazy things. He turns the logic of utility against itself by taking everyday utensils, such as a chair, as opportunities for artistic investigations, which often lead to fundamental questions, such as whether sitting can be an artistic act.

"My love for architecture grew as I began to investigate fine art. Art distances us from the familiar. Art points at the world. Art and architecture (applied art) are situated on opposite ends of line, an axis. One end is hot one is cold. One is sound one is silence. One is black one is white. These ends are aligned - on the same line. This line is labeled art. An oscillation between these two ends creates a vibration. A sine wave connects fine art with applied art. They are equal but opposite. Fine art resonates with the applied art.

Joseph Beuys made a sculpture of a sterling silver push broom equating work with spiritual ritual and ceremony. The Shakers hang chairs on the wall as if they are paintings. Scott Burton built minimalist sculptures that could be sat upon.  

As a young architect I built buildings in series using the scientific method after listening to Steve Reich’s Phase Music and reading John Cage’s book called Silence. I understood Peter Eisenman’s early houses by studying Sol Lewitt’s Open Cubes. Dan Graham photographs and films inspired me to read Robert Venturi which gave me the encouragement to produce a body of work called Proposals for the Typical House.

Like Italo Calvino’s Baron in the Trees distance gives us insight. The fine artist helps us to see architecture. Our egos don’t allow us to be inspired by living architects, we feel intimidated, perhaps envious. We worry about being derivative. We are afraid to rip-off. We don’t want to be second rate. A painting can break through this psychological wall. A sculpture can enter into our psyche. Music can push us into new directions. A performance can lever out an idea from within a densely packed architectural head."