Beams of Light and Concrete: Tadao Ando Comes to the Saint Louis Art Museum
In contrast to the Oxford-influenced architecture of Washington University, the Saint Louis Art Museum is exhibiting the startling minimalist works of Tadao Ando. Perhaps this exhibit will acclimate Saint Louis residents to the new Pulitzer Foundation of the Arts, the second building in the US designed by Ando, the internationally renowned Japanese architect. The Saint Louis Art Museum is exhibiting a collection of examples of the architect’s previous works, including fourteen of his previous projects from his native Japan, ranging from humble chapels to outdoor annexes.
The distinctive trademark of Ando’s style is the interplay of geometric shapes with light and color. Upon entering the exhibit, viewers are confronted with these starkly beautiful contrasts as they encounter a large wall with a portion cut out of the bottom, where underneath a large pool of water reflects light onto the pale dark walls. This theme of contrast is both effective in result and simple in construction.
Unfortunately due to the physical impossibility of transplanting buildings, the viewer’s understanding of Ando’s work is limited to peering in at small wooden models and gazing at photographs of buildings. Despite these barriers, one is still able to grasp the ideas of Ando’s architecture.
One particularly striking example of Ando’s innovation is The Church of the Light. This simple building is a rectangular box with a section cut out of one wall in the shape of a cross. The rest of the square room remains unlit, creating a sharp distinction as the sunlight seems blinding in the darkness of the room, and the cross made solely of light becomes substantial. Like many of Ando’s pieces, the polarity within this building, though simple in design, is powerful in presence.
Another striking example of Ando’s work is the Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum. The building was constructed on a small island in the Inland Sea of Japan. Most of it sits underground, incorporating it into the beauty of earth around it. Another illustration on view is The Annex of the Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum in Okayama. It appears as a large oval of water that is cut beneath the ground, providing a magnificent reflecting pool for the sun and sky. Although only a circle of concrete and water, the smooth curves of the stone and brilliant reflected blue of the water will astonish the viewer.
Ando is hailed as one of the preeminent living architects in the world. He has received international architecture awards from 1979 until the present day, and is an honorary fellow at the Institutes of Architecture in the United States, England, Germany, France and Scotland. His style of architecture, with its bare contrasts and use of natural elements in place of statuary or paint makes Tadao Ando’s works innovative pieces of contemporary art, and with the new Pulitzer Foundation, part of the Saint Louis scenery.
Where: Saint Louis Art Museum, Forest Park
When: October 6-December 30
The Museum is open Tuesday-Sunday
Tuesdays – 1:30 -8:30 Wednesday-Sunday 10-5, closed Monday
How Much: all special exhibits free on Tuesdays, four dollars for students (all regular exhibits always free)
Popularity: 1% [?]