Julian Rose

  • Society of the Spectator

    “Art museums are in a state of crisis.” The diagnosis is drastic, the remedy equally so: a radical update of both form and function. Hopelessly out of touch with the pulse of contemporary culture and the rhythms of everyday life, the grandiose architecture of the museum must be rethought in terms of adaptability and flexibility, with inert galleries transformed into sites of ongoing experimentation. Likewise the visitor’s experience, still rooted in antiquated models of passive contemplation, must be reimagined as a process of active participation and immersive engagement. Museums must reinvent

  • Gathering Evidence

    Louis XIV would seem to offer a natural opening for an exegesis of seventeenth-century French culture—during the longest reign in European history, the Sun King presided over both the political ascendance and the artistic efflorescence of his nation. For all the regent’s preeminence, however, the royal rectum seems a less obvious point of entry. Yet that is exactly where Edward Eigen locates his readers when he affirms, with a precision as striking historically as it is startling anatomically, that on “January 15, 1686, Louis complained of a small tumor toward the perineum, at the apex of the

  • Tower Records

    There are fifty-five thousand drawings in Frank Lloyd Wright’s archive. Even for an architect so famously aeonian and prolific—he worked ceaselessly from his early twenties until his death, in 1959, at ninety-one—this seems like a suspiciously high number. The inescapable conclusion is that Wright himself created only some fraction of these images. But then who drew the rest? It is often impossible to tell. Making a building is a complex undertaking, and architecture is by nature a sprawling, conjunctive practice. Wright worked with dozens of students, employees, consultants, and collaborators

  • If These Walls Could Talk

    Readers could be forgiven for assuming that the biographer of an architect might devote her most incisive analysis to the work of her subject, particularly if that subject happens to be widely acknowledged as one of the masters of the twentieth century. The first, bracing surprise in Wendy Lesser's new account of the life of Louis Kahn, then, is that some of its most insightful passages are dedicated to a structure that was not even designed by Kahn, and is surely a serious contender for the title of Worst Building in America. The "monstrosity" in question is New York's current Penn Station,

  • The Creative Architect: Inside the Great Midcentury Personality Study

    "THEY COULDN'T BE quite as wild as artists." This was how a colleague explained the psychologist Donald MacKinnon's choice of architects as subjects for his landmark 1958–59 study of creativity at UC Berkeley's Institute of Personality Assessment and Research. MacKinnon had begun to focus on creativity a few years earlier, but he recognized one clear problem: Creativity could obviously take many forms—from the poet's mad genius to the scientist's brilliant logic. MacKinnon could never hope to gather all creative types into a single study. But what if he could find a middle ground, a creative