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Greg Lynn

Fountain

May 21, 2010 - September 26, 2010

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ABOUT THE EXHIBITION

The Hammer Museum presents a new sculptural work by Los Angeles-based architect Greg Lynn. A fantastical attraction for visitors of all ages, Fountain is sited in the Museum’s outdoor courtyard. As the title suggests, the work is a functioning fountain made out of large plastic found children’s toys that have been cut and reassembled in multiple layers, with water spouting from its top and pooling at its base. Constructed with more than fifty-seven prefabricated plastic whale and shark teeter totters welded together and unified by the application of a white automotive paint, Fountain is a gathering place for the warm summer months.

Greg Lynn’s Fountain is the first architecture and design project guest-curated by architectural historian Sylvia Lavin. As part of Hammer Projects, Lavin will organize a new project approximately once a year over the next three years that will present new works by architects and designers. These projects will be sited in different locations around the Museum.

Organized by Sylvia Lavin, Director of Critical Studies and MA/PhD Programs UCLArchitecture.

 

ESSAY

By Sylvia Lavin

Youth is wasted on the young.
—George Bernard Shaw

The great figures of modern culture, from Jean-Jacques Rousseau to Pablo Picasso, celebrated youthful forms of expression and ascribed preternatural innocence to the child and, through association, primordial virtue to the artist. This romantic view of the “artist-child,” however, is belied by the complex stuff of childhood, none more deceiving than the toy. Toys are the first point of contact between a child and the manufactured world. Frank Lloyd Wright’s mother famously gave him Froebel blocks, commonly credited with inspiring the elemental shapes of the Prairie Houses, while whispering, “you will be an architect when you grow up.” Buckminster Fuller designed his first geodesic dome while playing with peas and toothpicks. Ray and Charles Eames modeled their entire design ethos on homo ludens, not only producing celebrated toys actually intended for children but also considering all their designed objects, from chairs to buildings, as toylike and defining play as the model of architectural use.

Toys are not innocent figures in the history of art but are rather theoretical objects that reveal the transition of things from one state to another: finger paint into painting, inflatable balloons into steel sculptures, and models made of peas into buildings made of complex polymers. Indeed, toys are particularly important to architecture because it is in the nature of the discipline for architects to work with buildings that exist first as models—in other words, at the scale of toys. Some architects—from Le Corbusier to Frank Gehry—become so invested in the model phase that they not only make hundreds of models for a single building but also avidly detour into industrial design, producing all manner of things, from spoons to chairs and coffee pots, because they, unlike buildings, can remain forever as model toys and full-scale objects simultaneously. Greg Lynn’s Fountain enters this tradition strategically rather than innocently, luring toy sharks and whales that would otherwise be destined for a landfill into the space of the museum not because they are the traces of an architectural purity that must be salvaged but because toys are where architectural ideas are most potent. More

 

Hammer Projects is a series of exhibitions focusing primarily on the work of emerging artists. Hammer Projects is made possible with major gifts from Susan Bay Nimoy and Leonard Nimoy and The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation. Additional generous support is provided by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission; Good Works Foundation and Laura Donnelley; L A Art House Foundation; the Department of Cultural Affairs,City of Los Angeles; and the David Teiger Curatorial Travel Fund. Fountain: Greg Lynn has also received major support from The Brotman Foundation of California and Herta and Paul Amir.

 

Hammer Projects is made possible with major gifts from Susan Bay Nimoy and Leonard Nimoy and The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation.

Additional generous support is provided by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, Good Works Foundation and Laura Donnelley, L A Art House Foundation, the Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles, and the David Teiger Curatorial Travel Fund.

Fountain: Greg Lynn has also received major support from the Brotman Foundation of California and Herta and Paul Amir.

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