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Rarely-seen drawings by Lawrence Halprin on view at Edward Cella Art & Architecture
Lawrence Halprin, Untitled, 1944, Watercolor on paper, 12 x 16 in.

LOS ANGELES, CA.- Edward Cella Art & Architecture presents Lawrence Halprin: Alternative Scores - Drawing from Life, the first exhibition of a collection of rarely-seen drawings by Lawrence Halprin (1916-2009), a leading figure in American landscape architecture, urban design, and environmental planning during the second-half of the twentieth century. The exhibition reveals Halprin’s almost daily practice of drawing as a means to not only record his diverse visual experiences, but also as a tool to engage with the trials and tribulations of war, the ecstasies of life, and the rawness and beauty in nature. The exhibition includes archival video, photography, and ephemera which provide a historical context for Halprin’s life and work; and highlight the experimental Workshops and happenings that he developed in concert with his wife and influential dancer and choreographer, Anna Halprin.

Lawrence Halprin: Alternative Scores - Drawing from Life is presented concurrently with the Los Angeles A+D Museum’s The Landscape Architecture of Lawrence Halprin. The traveling exhibition, organized by The Cultural Landscape Foundation, debuted in 2016 at the National Building Museum in Washington D.C in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Halprin’s birth. Both exhibitions will be accompanied by special joint programming including tours, lectures and public events which notably highlight Halprin’s work and legacy in Southern California.

The exhibition features the breadth of Halprin’s drawing over seven decades, and highlight his range of styles and approaches to the craft. The earliest works reflect Halprin’s Modernist sensibility that developed at the Harvard Graduate School of Design where he studied with Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Walter Gropius, and Marcel Breuer, among others. Once graduated, he enlisted in WWII in 1943, and served in the South Pacific on the U.S.S. Morrison where he recorded the tropical landscapes he encountered for the first time and the immediate horrors of war though pen and ink. Lost for decades, these drawings were only found after his death in 2009.

Upon discharge in 1946, Halprin arrived in San Francisco and was joined by Anna, where they would remain throughout his life. Processing the post-traumatic stress of his service though drawing, his output began to converge with Anna’s performance-based practice; a visceral, inspirational platform which greatly informed his own work. Aside from his involvement with costume design and visual “scoring” of performative actions, the impulsivity and expressive physicality of Anna’s work becomes visually paralleled in the spontaneity and abstraction in Halprin’s drawings. The Halprins’ intimate personal and artistic partnership was the breeding ground for a lifetime of experimental performance workshops and communal living, which played a significant role in his ideas about landscape design and new graphic techniques to visually represent not only the physical landscape, but the experience of it.

The exhibition also includes drawings of Sea Ranch, a community on the Northern California coast that is one of Halprin’s most notable architectural achievements and heralds a sensitivity to protecting California’s unparalleled coastline. The dramatic rocks and crags of the coast and the relentless power and movement of nature are seemingly Halprin’s greatest sources of awe and inspiration. Lawrence Halprin: Alternative Scores - Drawing from Life offers his naturalist and botanical studies and powerful abstractions, always reflecting a deep engagement with life and an emotional inner-self.

With a resurgent interest in the work of Lawrence Halprin, ECAA is thrilled to present this extensive and singular collection of rare works on paper in the possession of the Halprin family. The exhibition is accompanied by a full-color exhibition catalogue entitled, Personal Space: The Drawing Collection of Lawrence Halprin, with essays by Eva Friedberg, independent scholar of architecture history, urban studies and landscape theory, and an introduction by Charles A. Birnbaum, President and CEO of The Cultural Landscape Foundation. Drawings from the Halprin Family Collection have been recently acquired by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and will be featured in a forthcoming exhibition at the museum, illustrating the legacy of Sea Ranch in the context of California Design.

Edward Cella Art & Architecture represents the Halprin Family Collection.

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