Facade: Richard Wood at the Lever House

I noticed Richard Wood’s new work being put up at the Lever House the other night. The artist is covering parts of the exterior with patterned fiberglass panels. The British artist designed William Morris-inspired natural patterns and mock Tudor styles in saturated colors to liven up the facade of the once-sleek, Modernist structure.

Prior to this installation, the Lever House had commissioned Barbara Kruger to cover the walls with her typically graphic slogans. Here we have another design-oriented, saturated, flat approach to taking over the building by covering it in the respective artist’s trademark style. It is as if different artists each have their chance to tag the building. Except of course, this is hardly illicit behavior. It is instead commissioned, no doubt for a pretty sum, authorized, and displayed like the status mark it is.

Installation by day- mostly complete

While Kruger’s installation got some flack on this blog, at least it said something. A trite, literal something–but it attempted a statement. Wood’s installation has no such purpose. It is a design–patterns I would buy an H+M skirt or IKEA tiles in quite happily. I think it is attractive. I cannot think of something more devoid of content.
The interest is supposed to lie in playing historical styles against one another. The title of this project, Port Sunlight, is a reference to the history of the building just as his designs refer to the history of architecture. I don’t know–do you think that there is anything more to be said about it? If so, you can check out this press release with more details on it.

3 thoughts on “Facade: Richard Wood at the Lever House

  1. It says something about the drabness of many modernist buildings that ‘wallpapering’ the columns looks like an improvement, at least in your photographs. Perhaps the statement is about how little visual pleasure we get from our built surroundings these days.

  2. What I appreciate about the rotating exhibitions at the Lever House is that the keep it from fading into the background, so to speak.

    I can’t get over what similar approaches both artists took. I wonder how much free rein they have vs. how commissioned.

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