Yale School of Architecture to Exhibit Recent Work by Daniel Libeskind
“The Work of Daniel Libeskind: Two Museums and a Garden” will be exhibited in Yale School of Architecture’s Main Gallery, 180 York St., Oct. 25-Nov. 19.
In conjunction with the gallery show, Libeskind will deliver a public lecture titled “The Ethics of Memorializing: the Jewish Museum in Berlin” on Tuesday, Nov. 9, at 7:30 p.m. in the Levinson Auditorium of Yale Law School, 127 Wall St. Libeskind’s talk will focus on his recent work in Europe and the experience and philosophy on which it is based. Both the talk and the exhibition are free and open to the public.
Yale School of Architecture and the David and Goldie Blanksteen Lectureship in Jewish Ethics of Yale Hillel are joint sponsors of both events.
Libeskind currently holds the Louis I. Kahn (1901-1974) Visiting Professorship of Architectural Design at Yale School of Architecture. The position was established in honor of the architect of the Yale University Art Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art, who was for many years a member of the faculty of the School. Libeskind is the first to hold this endowed chair. He was the Davenport Professor of Architectural Design at Yale in 1992.
“Libeskind visited Yale before he had built any buildings, and he was a brilliant teacher at that time,” said Dean of the School of Architecture Robert A.M. Stern. “Now he has zoomed into the stratosphere as a building architect, with one of the most complex and provocative new buildings in the world, the Jewish Museum of Berlin. Interest in that project lies not only in the very fact of its being, but in the dazzling forms Daniel has produced for it. We invited him to teach at Yale because we wish to expose our students to the most interesting of talents and points of view in today’s world of architecture.”
The gallery exhibition will be a site-specific installation featuring drawings, photographs and models of two of Libeskind’s most significant recent projects: the newly completed Jewish Museum in Berlin and the Felix Nussbaum Museum in Osnabrueck, Germany. A major component of the installation will be a full-scale model of part of the E.T.A. Hoffman Garden that Libeskind designed for the Berlin Jewish Museum, complete with 17 concrete columns topped with living plants.
The Jewish Museum in Berlin is considered one of the most important buildings of the 1990s. In the works for more than 10 years, the museum opened its doors to tours in January 1999 and, beginning in 2000, will display art, artifacts and historical documents reflecting Jewish life in Berlin. Michael Blumenthal is director of the museum, and Tom Freudenheim, deputy director.
“When I was invited by the Berlin Senate in 1988 to participate in this competition for the Jewish Museum,” Libeskind reflected, “I felt that this was not a program I had to invent or a building I had to research, rather one in which I was implicated from the beginning, having lost most of my family in the Holocaust and myself having been born only a few hundred kilometers east of Berlin in Lodz, Poland.”
Libeskind designed the museum to communicate three ideas: “First, the impossibility of understanding the history of Berlin without understanding the enormous intellectual, economic and cultural contribution made by the Jewish citizens of Berlin. Second, the necessity to integrate physically and spiritually the meaning of the Holocaust into the consciousness and memory of the city of Berlin. Third, that only through the acknowledgement and incorporation of this erasure and void of Jewish life in Berlin, can the history of Berlin and Europe have a human future.”
The Felix Nussbaum Museum, which opened in June 1998, houses the paintings of a German artist whose life was cut short by the Holocaust. The main gallery exhibits Nussbaum’s works of the 1920s and 1930s, representing family portraits, landscapes and Jewish holidays. A long, dim, narrow concrete corridor shows the work Nussbaum created as a fugitive from the Nazis - in exile, as a camp prisoner, and in hiding. The third section of the museum, forming a metal bridge, exhibits recently discovered paintings by Nussbaum.
In Libeskind’s words, “This museum structures the contribution of Felix Nussbaum and illuminates his Jewish spirit and singular destiny. It is not about an abstract statistic of six million Jews who were murdered in Europe. It is about a singular and irreplaceable individual whose life went from light to darkness, from transparency to opacity, from canvas to ash and whose fate offers a deep insight into memory and that which comes to light again with a new hope.”
Born in Poland in 1946, Libeskind came to the United States in 1960. After studying music in Israel, he earned a degree in architecture from Cooper Union (1970) and an advanced degree in the history and theory of architecture from Essex University in England (1972). He headed the Department of Architecture at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, 1978-1985, and then founded and directed Architecture Intermundium, a private non-profit institute for architecture and urbanism in Milan, Italy.
Widely known and highly regarded for his theoretical approach to architecture, Libeskind began to design buildings only about 10 years ago. Since then he has been awarded numerous prizes, including the 1999 Deutsche Architekturpreis for the Berlin Jewish Museum, the 1996 American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Architecture, and First Prize of the Leone di Pietra at the Venice Biennale. His architectural practice is based in Berlin, but his projects extend around the globe.
Libeskind has taught at Harvard, UCLA, the University of London and other universities worldwide. He is author of several books, including “Radix-Matrix: Daniel Libeskind” (1997), “Countersign” (1992), and “Between Zero and Infinity” (1981).
Libeskind’s studio is currently working on designs for a future Jewish Museum in San Francisco and a spiral extension to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London; the Imperial War Museum in Manchester, England; and the Colleges of Public Administration, Teaching, and Art and Architecture in Guadalajara, Mexico.
The Main Gallery is on the second floor of the Art and Architecture Building, 180 York St. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. For information regarding the exhibition, contact Dean Sakamoto, (203) 432-2292.