21 June 2013

Griffin’s Canberra plans on display in Chicago

| Barcham
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It seemed the start of 2013 was filled with me being sent on trips to check out Walter’s plans and Marion’s art being displayed in various galleries around Canberra. Now they’re on display in Chicago as a part of an exhibition exploring the couple’s influence on Chicago’s architecture.

Hopefully RiotACT will send me to check this exhibit out also.

They’re spectacular works of art,” says Northwestern University architectural historian David Van Zanten, chief organizer of “Drawing the Future: Chicago Architecture on the International Stage, 1900-1925,” the eye-popping new exhibit opening April 19 at Northwestern’s Block Museum. “The plans of their main competitors were nice, conventional drawings roughly one meter square, but Marion’s are really gigantic — some of her cross-sections are 20 feet long — and incredibly vivid and elaborate, layered with copper, silver and gold metallic paint. The Australians could have said either ‘Oh my God!’ and run away, or ‘Wow, let’s go with it!’”

The latter response prevailed, and a few of the Canberra drawings — others are too fragile to travel from the Australian capital, which is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its founding this year — are the starting point of “Drawing the Future.” The exhibit examines the work of the Griffins before, during and after the Canberra competition, which was highly influential despite the fact that the capital city was completed in modified form only in the 1960s, long after Walter Griffin’s death.

“Marion’s gift for drawing and presentation probably sold the project to the jurors as much as Walter’s ideas did,” says Corinne Granof, a curator at the Block, which boasts a large collection of Marion’s Canberra competition renderings as well as her drawings for other designs by Wright and her husband. “They have such a strong decorative quality, and reproductions don’t do them justice at all. You really have to see them in person to appreciate how remarkable they are.”

It’s always nice to see Canberra mentioned in overseas media.

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