William Kentridge, J. Mayer H., and Simon Ungers at SFMoMA

There is a lot going on at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art right now, here’s a brief synopsis of a few of the shows.

The William Kentridge show on the 4th floor was great, but I would probably have to budget most of a day to really see all of the work. Much of it is in video format and requires a substantial amount of time to watch. Unfortunately, his Drawings for Projection series were being shown in the smallest room with a very limited amount of seating. Had the accommodations been better, I probably would have watched the full cycle of these films during today’s visit. The large number of original drawings that accompanied all of the video work was well-presented and helped me to appreciate his process as I had only seen his work in video format in the past.

I was looking forward to J. Mayer H. architecture exhibition mostly because I hadn’t been to an architecture exhibit at SFMoMA in a while and I thought this was going to be a real show. Unfortunately, it was an installation that consisted of kiosks  with TV screens mounted in them showing a variety of patterns. I know, I know- Mayer is inspired by patterns (hence the show’s title “Patterns of Speculation”). There are also videos projected on the walls showing images of renderings (wait, can you have an “image of a rendering”?) and built work. There are no drawings, and there is no information telling you what you’re looking at, and there is nothing about the process of how patterns of numbers translate into buildings.  If you have no attention span and low expectations, you’ll be satisfied. After seeing the breadth of the Kentridge exhibit on the top floor it was a little hard to take this “show” seriously considering it would fit in my apartment with lots of room to spare. Maybe this is a sign that I’m too old-fashioned.

Simon Ungers, Silent Architecture (Library rendering), 2003-2004. Inkjet print on paper mounted on Fortex
Simon Ungers, Silent Architecture (Library rendering), 2003-2004. Inkjet print on paper mounted on Fortex, Photo from SFMoMA

The next room is filled with intriguing rusted steel models of theoretical projects (Library, Theater, Museum and Cathedral) by the late Simon Ungers. Apparently influenced by Ledoux and minimalist sculpture (think Donald Judd + Richard Serra), each model is for a particular building type  is made up of idealized forms. Each piece is on a custom wood base with an accompanying drawing on the wall behind it. While the work is a bit outside my normal architectural intersts, it’s an interesting show from a practitioner who built few buildings before an untimely death.

By Mark

Mark is an architect in San Francisco.