Two photographers, two radically different takes on the Breuer. One sees it as a piece of sculpture, as an abstraction work of art. The other sees it as raw architecture, living space for people and for art.
The Dutch photographer, , is the one worth the trip – and if you see only one part of this fifth floor exhibition focus on the three pictures on the western wall in the room to the left on leaving the elevator. He has been experimenting with the use of rice paper to catch the detail and subtlety photographing raw architecture requires. It took him half a year with his printer to perfect the technique, the proper level of inking. And there they are, frameless, frank accurate intriguing play pens for the eye to run around in. Look at them closely. (The traditionally printed two large photographs on the opposite side of the room, look at from a goodly long distance.)
Let’s reflect on how it is that Holland is a center of photographic innovation and technique: Amsterdam, Rotterdam – and Brabant. Brabant? How? Because that has been where Phillips has been working its magic – like Silicon Valley, like the places where Boeing, Google, Apple are headquartered. Beautiful, magic places where high-tech – highly valued – people like to live: that’s where big companies have learned to give them places to work.
The Dutch photographer reveals the dilemma the Breuer faces – as do other massive buildings from the 60s and 70s. They were built for humanity’s purposes of their times – and those purposes change. IBM’s office complex in rural France went from 3000 to 200 people – and is now empty. And the Breuer, built for the Whitney’s classic, comfortable modern American and European art of the 60s and 70s now hosts exhibitions of photography from India, massive paintings from one of America’s longest serving black painters now exploding into the color and abstract images that nurtured him when he was starting out. The Breuer is a beast – and it demands equally large, massive, mega shaped in your face shows. Let MOMA and the new airy Whitney be guardians of the 20th century’s middle class American and European modern art. The Breuer is a beast in waiting for the big prey of Art for the Future. It is itself as this show demonstrates worthy of being itself an exhibition. Let it be a space for the modern life and art to come.