In 1977, The Architectural League and the American Federation of Arts organized an exhibition and publication entitled 200 Years of American Architectural Drawing. Chronicling and appraising the work of 85 architects through more than 200 drawings, the projects examined the role of architectural drawing within the discipline as well as sought to elevate the status of these drawings as an art. In her review of the exhibition in the New York Times, Ada Louise Huxtable wrote:
By any definition, this a major show, and it is also a superb one, both as a record of the American building genius and as a moving experience of a consistently subtle and exquisite esthetic. Many of the drawings are breathtaking in their technical mastery and expressive skills, and their beauty is further enriched by their revelation of conceptual ideals. Here is architecture as it comes straight from the mind and the eye and the heart, before the spoilers get to it.
The League is revisiting the importance of hand drawings and sketches almost 40 years after the exhibition and publication, in an age that relies on digital production, through selections from the book by David Gebhard and Deborah Nevins.
In advance of our November 22nd symposium honoring Michael Graves’ 50th year of practice, Past as Prologue, which includes a session on “Drawing as Thinking,” here we present selections from the publication highlighting four of the group known as the “New York Five”: Peter Eisenman, Michael Graves, John Hejduk, and Richard Meier (Charles Gwathmey’s work was not included in 200 Years). Also included are excerpts from Gebhard’s introductory essay.
Published: November 17, 2014; updates ongoing.
Excerpts from the book’s introduction by David Gebhard looks at themes of style, intent, and value in architectural drawing, situating these works in relation to “high art” of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Michael Graves (b. 1934), an architect and painter, explores architectonic principles and the symbolic meanings of architectural elements, such as doors and windows, in his work.
Richard Meier (b. 1934) considers the duality of public and private space, evident in his dramatic drawings that articulate types of enclosure.
Peter Eisenman (b. 1932) investigates the relationship between plane, line, and volume organized by a rule system he terms “deep structure,” visible in his axonometric perspective drawings.
John Hejduk’s (1929-2000) highly theoretical work is demonstrated in his isometric projection drawings that deal with the organization of shape and volume.
A 1977 book chronicling and appraising the role of drawing in the profession of architecture.
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