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Exhibition examines six new museum sites that integrate architecture, art, and landscape
Claude Monet Space in the Chichu Art Museum by Tadao Ando. Benesse Art Site, Naoshima, Japan. Photograph by Iwan Baan.

NEW HAVEN, CONN.- The Yale School of Architecture Gallery presents White Cube, Green Maze: New Art Landscapes, an exhibition examining emerging trends in museum design through six new art sites that share the common thread of moving beyond the traditional “white cube” gallery space, and that juxtapose the experience of culture, art, architecture, and landscape.

The exhibition features newly commissioned photography of these sites by Iwan Baan, one of today’s most influential architectural photographers, as well as architects’ models, plans, and sketches; historical photographs; and maquettes and sketches by key installation artists. Each site represents a unique expression of the ambitions and collaborations of patrons, architects, landscape architects, artists, and curators. The architects range from such established masters as Tadao Ando and Álvaro Siza Vieira, to such emerging practitioners as Tatiana Bilbao and Johnston Marklee. All have ongoing relationships with museum design and collaborate with artists. They are more than conscious of the so-called “Bilbao Effect”—the pressure on architects to design “signature buildings.”

Traditionally, the architecture of art institutions has been monolithic; the exteriors have often been monumental and authoritative, while the interiors—whether with the blank walls of the “white cube” or by invoking classical architecture—have distanced the visitor and the art from time and context. While the “white cube” of the exhibition’s title refers to art critic Brian O’Doherty’s 1976 critique of hermetic, often minimalist twentieth-century galleries, the “green maze” signals the role of landscape and the breakdown of the hierarchical museum experience, freeing visitors to roam and discover, and presenting artists and curators with far more options than those offered by more traditional institutions.

Rather than displaying works of art in minimalist, enclosed spaces, the sites in the exhibition break apart the experience for the viewer into multiple pavilions, often with site-specific art, heightening the role of the landscape in which they are placed. Fragmenting traditional museums, they encourage exploration and non-linear experiences. They often re-use existing buildings, and yet affirm the importance of the spaces between the buildings themselves, and sometimes break down distinctions between “inside” and “outside.”

The six sites or institutions surveyed in White Cube, Green Maze: New Art Landscapes represent a departure from the traditional museum gallery space, as well as from expectations of how a gallery should be experienced. They are:

• Raketenstation Insel Hombroich, near Neuss, Germany, including built projects by Erwin Heerich, Tadao Ando, Álvaro Siza Vieira, and Raimund Abraham.

• Benesse Art Site, Naoshima, Japan, including built projects by Tadao Ando, Hiroshi Sambuichi, Kazuyo Sejima, and Ryue Nishizawa.

• Inhotim, near Belo Horizonte, Brazil, inspired by the landscapes of Roberto Burle Marx and including built projects by Arquitetos Associados, Rodrigo Cerviño Lopez, and Rizoma Arquitetura.

• Jardín Botánico, Culiacán, Mexico, with architectural interventions by Tatiana Bilbao and landscape design by TOA–Taller de Operaciones Ambientales.

• Grand Traiano Art Complex, Grottaferrata, Italy, with projects in design development by Johnston Marklee and by HHF architects and with landscape design by Topotek1.

• Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle, USA, designed by Weiss/Manfredi.

Several of these sites have already achieved recognition, while others are only emerging as important models; all demonstrate the same open-endedness, and a close intertwining of art, design, curatorial vision, and the environment. Exhibition Curator Raymund Ryan stated, “These evolving institutions, appearing almost simultaneously at radically different sites around the world, are forming a new typology that mixes professional disciplines and offers the visitors choice and surprise.”

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