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Edward Tufte, Escaping Flatland: Sculptures and Prints

A+D Architecture and Design Museum 304 South Broadway, between 3rd and 4th Streets The Bradbury Building, Downtown Los Angeles

Opening Thursday, November 7 and running until February 2003

-- Edward Tufte

Spend the money to go to the Barnes Foundation, which is best museum I've ever visited. It is near Philadelphia; you need to get tickets well in advance.

There are 96 works of Cezanne there, more than in all of France. Some great Matisse paintings, including a big one similar to and nearly as good as the Matisse red studio painting at MOMA (tied for the best painting of the 20th century with Guernica on my list). Be sure to go up to the second floor (which some miss); it is probably even better than the amazing first floor. Also walk through the gardens. The Barnes Foundation is unlike any museum you've been to, quirky, quiet, intimate, with great art.

Also while in Philadelphia, don't miss the 12' high bronze of Frank Rizzo,a man of great statue, in front of the Municipal Services Building. It is Philadelphia's campy equivalent of totalitarian monuments of the Great Leader. Rizzo's raised arm suggests a Fascist salute; or perhaps he's hailing a cab. (One of Ryszard Kapuscinski's powerful books about totalitarian regimes, Shah of Shahs, describes the methodology of removing statues of Great Leaders, pp. 134-137 of the 1985 edition. Hint: watch how the monument was first built.)

To see my sculptures, go to the 3 sets of photographs elsewhere at the website. Note that if you are ever in Connecticut, there is a way to arrange a visit my sculpture field. And also go to nearby Storm King for 500 acres of modern sculpture. By the way, Washington DC has some great sculpture gardens, particularly the National Gallery.The East Wing of the National Gallery is superb. And of course the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (see Envisioning Information for my discussion).

-- Edward Tufte

Also in Philly is the Arnesberg Collection at the Philadelphia Museum, with the best collection of Brancusis this side of Paris and the most complete set of Duchamps anywhere. And don't forget Frank Furness' Pennsylvania of Academy of Art building.

Storm King is worth the drive up from NYC to see, if nothing else, the David Smiths.

Go to Chicago the see how a city gets a downtown right. November won't be too late to take a river tour of the warehouses. And check out the many, many Frank Lloyd Wright houses in nearby Oak Park and environs.

As long as you're making a grand tour of the U.S., head to the hills of SW Pennsylvania and visit the Kaufmann House, Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater. The cost of the trip is more than worth it; the building will become embedded in your soul. Nearby is Kentuck Knob, an immaculately preserved Usonian House by FLlW, also open for visits. Or stop in Western Wisconsin for a visit to Taliesin or in Phoenix for a visit to Taliesin West, both were Wright's homes. Taliesin West, especially, is unlike anything before it in this or any country.

If direct to L.A. is your only option, here's a few select points of interest:

The Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena; it's not the Barnes but it's pretty good all the same. Then around the corner is the Greene Brothers' Gamble House, their premier excursion in the crafts-built style.

Rudolph Schindler's Kings Road House in West Hollywood., as clear minded an essay on the aesthetic potential of modern living as you'll find. Of course, there's a boatload of Schindlers and Neutras all over the southland.

Check out the office of Charles and Ray Eames in Santa Monica. If you make an advance appointment, you can visit their renowned home in Pacific Palisades.

Further south, in La Jolla, is Louis Kahn's Salk Institute, one of his best. Further north, Julia Morgan's Hearst Castle; whatever you may think of Hearst or his estate, the beauty of the central coast landscape is beyond delight and worth the drive alone.

Downtown, there's Frank Gehry's Disney Theater and Rafael Moneo's new Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels (neither open yet but worth a look), the Museum of Contemporary Art, the L.A. Central library (a gem of a Goodhue design) and, of course, the Bradbury Building, a wonderfully restored building dating from the 1890s. Soon to be full of Tuftes.

I hope you can make it here to sunny SoCal.

-- Steve Sprague (email)

I saw the Salk Institute for the first time a few months ago. Superb, stunning, different, worth the trip to La Jolla, post-Kahn addition not so bad. While in neighborhood, go to gliderport nearby. Great fun.

-- Edward Tufte

Or head out to LLano or California City in the Mojave Desert and catch a sailplane flight; 35 bucks gets you a back seat in a glider (with a pilot in the front!). November is a prime time for viewing some spectacular early morning mirages too.

-- Steve Sprague (email)

Or, take the southern route.

Fly to Houston, take in the Menil collection along with the Rothko Chapel and Barnett Newman's Broken Obelisk next door, then on to Fort Worth to visit the Kimball Museum. Renzo Piano's Menil Gallery and Louis Kahn's Kimball are the among the very best museum buildings in the U.S., and the Menil collection of modern and contemporary art is especially superb.

Then it's on through Texas, stopping in Marfa to visit the Donald Judd complex and Amarillo for Ant Farm's world famous Cadillac Ranch.

Into New Mexico, stopping at Taos for the Pueblo. Vincent Scully's "Pueblo: Mountain, Village, Dance" is a great introduction to the cultural and aesthetic insights of the southwest native building cultures. And spend a night at Walter De Maria's mile square Lightning Field sculpture (call way, way in advance for a reservation).

In Arizona, the Grand Canyon (mystical and awesome) and Hoover Dam (the dams have strangled the Colorado but I'll forgive "them" this one, it's a marvel). Jim Turrell's Roden Crater project in northern Arizona would be an interesting stop as well but it won't be ready for visitors until '04. And, as mentioned above, a stop at Frank Lloyd Wright's Talisein West near Phoenix is a must.

A night in Las Vegas (one pull on the right slot and the trip is paid for!).

Finishing, of course, with the Tufte opening in L.A. and a martini at Musso and Frank Grill afterwards.

-- Steve Sprague (email)

Allow me to build on the suggestions from Steve Sprague and encourage at least a quick stop in Santa Fe, New Mexico, home to many galleries and one of the largest markets for art in the US. Lunch at The Shed, near the historic Plaza, followed by an excursion out to the Shidoni foundry to view the sculpture garden and see a pour, would be an agreeable way to head to Taos. I can also recommend a stop in the village of Chimayo to visit the Santuario de Chimayo with its healing dirt, and perhaps a meal at Rancho de Chimayo, another good choice for local cuisine.

I have often thought that the Tufte sculptures would be most interesting in the New Mexico sunlight. Perhaps someday!

-- Claiborne Booker

Response to ET sculpture and print show in Los Angeles--and better alternatives!

Lynn and I did Philly and LA on airmiles. Ignore my petulant quibbles - you are the business! Why doesn't the whole world know?

-- Martin Ternouth (email)

Response to ET sculpture and print show in Los Angeles--and better alternatives!

Since Dr. Tufte speaks so highly of the Barnes collection...Corbis (digital image company owned by Bill Gates) published a CD-ROM about 6-8 years ago called "A Passion For Art", which covered the Barnes collection. A low-res screen display can't remotely do justice to artwork (the Gates kids are going to grow up thinking all paintings are the same size) but it's at least a darn good exhibit catalog.

Happenstance gave me the privilege to be around when the guy who authored the disc was doing the final edits. It's got some interesting and unusual UI, and some good albeit dated mechanisms for higher-resolution display.

It looks to be available at

-- Matthew Dunn (email)

Response to ET sculpture and print show in Los Angeles--and better alternatives!

That CD-ROM celebrated CD-ROMness rather than the paintings at the Barnes Foundation; viewers were asked to admire the interface not the paintings.Interfaces should be endlessly self-effacing, especially when the content consists of some of the greatesst artworks ever.

There is a beautiful book with superb large-size reproductions of many Barnes' paintings: Great French Paintings from the Barnes Foundation (New York: Knopf, 1993). This classic art catalog also shows some good photographs of the walls of the Barnes, giving an idea of Dr. Barnes' unusual, quirky, and intriguing arrangements.

-- Edward Tufte

Response to ET sculpture and print show in Los Angeles--and better alternatives!

ET's comment of 2002-08-10 about "the best museum I have ever visited" stuck with me. Thus I noticed a story in a recent Wall Street Journal (Weekend Journal, 2003-07-11 or 2003-07-18) about the Barnes collection. It seems that elements of the Philadelphia "art community" are about to exert a stranglehold of sorts on Dr. Barnes' legacy.

The Barnes Foundation website provides some background information.

The Barnes Foundation is also the subject of a recent book.

-- Jim Linnehan (email)

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