From Paul Goldberger’s review of 2 Columbus Circle, which began as Edward Durrell Stone’s Gallery of Modern Art and has ended up–for now, anyway–as Brad Cloepfil’s Museum of American–wait, what did the Craft Museum change its name to at the very moment that Craft gained such widespread recognition and acceptance?:
The Gallery of Modern Art, one of several quixotic cultural projects launched by Hartford, an heir to the A. & P. fortune, who died earlier this year at the age of ninety-seven, was originally intended to house his collection of figurative works and to stand as a riposte to what Hartford saw as the reign of abstraction at the Museum of Modern Art. The architect was Edward Durell Stone. Stone had been a leading American exponent of the International Style, but, in the fifties, his new wife, a fashion writer he met on an airplane, encouraged him toward elegance and decoration, and he began to fill his buildings with glitter and marble and screens and gold columns.
Oddly, he doesn’t mention that Stone was an architect on the original MoMA building, too. But what strikes me is the connection between Stone’s new, fashion-y wife and his move to decoration.
I followed the 2 Columbus Circle battle intensely closely; I practically lived next door to the Stone family on 64th St; I drive under his Russian wedding cake of a Kennedy Center whenever we’re in DC. And yet, I’ve never heard this thing about his wife. I’d always just understood that the International Style was petering out, following the Baroque/Rococo arc as architects sought to differentiate themselves and began responding to each other, with minimalist modernism echoing itself in the built environment. But really, it was the skirt “he met on an airplane”? [Not to get too Mad Men about it.]
What other random plane encounters do we need to rewrite into our understanding of history and how the world got to be the way it is?
Hello, Columbus [newyorker]