Lori Bookstein Fine Art is pleased to present “Louis I. Kahn: Building a View,” an exhibition of the fine art of the architect Louis Kahn [1901-1974]. Drawings, watercolors, pastels and oil paintings, as diverse in subject matter as the quaint churches of New England and the rock quarries of Egypt, will be culled from Kahn's travels from the late 1920s to the early 1950s. This is the gallery's second one-person show of the artist's work, following a critically acclaimed booth at the 2008 Works on Paper fair in New York.
Louis Isadore Kahn was born in Estonia to Latvian parents, who immigrated to Philadelphia when he was five. At an early age, Kahn demonstrated an aptitude for drawing, and his eventual decision to pursue architecture at the University of Pennsylvania came at the cost of turning down a scholarship in fine art. At Penn, Kahn studied under the distinguished French architect Paul Philippe Cret, whose Beaux-Arts background were formative for Kahn. Although Kahn’s eventual path would be towards a transcendent modernist vision, this early training, like his dual identity of artist and architect, remained with him for life.
Wherever he traveled, Kahn made studies of the natural and urban landscapes he encountered. “Building a View” will examine how Kahn, on his travels within the United States, and to Canada, Europe and Egypt explored repeating themes and motifs, creating both sketches produced on site and more polished images from memory. Ephemera, including post cards and photographs, will also be on display, and will give additional insight into how the artist made alternative views from a single point of departure.
The exhibition, comprised of some 60 works, will survey the full range of Kahn’s drawing modes, from the rigorous Beaux-Arts drawings of his youth, characterized by attention to compositional balance and detailed observation, to the more subjective and abstracted works of his mature years. In 1950, Kahn was invited to the American Academy in Rome as architect in residence. During this residency, trips to Greece and Egypt made a remarkable impact on Kahn. The influence of the pure, monolithic forms of ancient temples and structures that is so evident in his art would also, in the following two decades, become an elemental part of his architectural ethos.
Kahn’s work can be found in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, Deutsches Architektur Museum in Frankfurt, Germany; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; Williams College Museum of Art and the University of Pennsylvania. His most celebrated architectural projects include the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California (1959–65); the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas (1967–72); the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut (1969–74) and the National Assembly Building in Dhaka, Bangladesh (1962–83). Plans for the Four Freedoms Park, a memorial to President Franklin Roosevelt on Roosevelt Island, were put on hold in the wake of a New York City fiscal crisis in 1975. More than three decades later, the project was revived and ground was broken in March 2010 on the only Kahn structure to be built in New York. The latest updates on the project are available at www.fdrfourfreedomspark.org.
“Louis I. Kahn: Building a View” will be on exhibit through June 25, 2011. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10:30 to 6. For more information or visual materials, please contact the gallery.