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Indepth Arts News:

"Tadao Ando - Architect"
2001-10-06 until 2001-12-30
Saint Louis Art Museum
St. Louis, MO, USA

Japanese architect Tadao Ando is among the most renowned architects practicing today. Based in Osaka, he received no formal training in architecture, but he is one of the most sought after architects in the world today. Ando has built in Japan, India, Europe, and the United States and he has won many awards, including the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize for his enrichment of the art of architecture. He is sixty years old.

Ando's chosen building material is reinforced concrete. In plan, his buildings consist of geometric forms whose smooth concrete surfaces define pristine sculpted spaces. Ando is particularly masterful at incorporating light, water, and landscape into his structures. When building alongside a waterfront or in a natural setting, his work has a strong relationship with the nature. Oftentimes, he sinks the building into the site, concealing all but a small outcropping of the building. In urban settings, Ando brings the nature into the building through his use of reflecting pools, light shafts, and framed vistas that focus one's view on water or low plantings. Slits allow natural light to penetrate the thick walls, casting changing patterns that help define the interior spaces. These slits not only increase the intensity of light, but ones awareness of light. A frequent characteristic of Ando's buildings are long monolithic concrete walls that shield the facade. Like the best artwork, this threshold introduces the element of mystery and surprise, heightening expectations as one discovers and approaches the entrance.

A special feature of the exhibition, Tadao Ando: Architect, will be the installation, which Ando is designing specifically for the Saint Louis Art Museum's galleries. In addition to models, drawings, photographs, and videos that span the architect's career, Ando is creating a special architectural space, an environment, that will include an entrance facade, a reflecting pool, light, and several other features for which Ando has become known. As the visitor passes through the space, there will be a continual unfolding of experiences and mixing of scales from 2-dimensional drawings and photo panels, to 3-dimensional models and full-scale built elements. Light, wind, and water, elements central to Ando's architecture will enhance and stimulate the quality of the experience.

The exhibition is scheduled to coincide with the opening of the Pulitzer Foundation, which Ando has designed in St. Louis's Grand Center. The Museum will use this opportunity to launch the Saint Louis Art Museum's focus on architecture as the Museum heads towards its forthcoming expansion. Architecture will become a part of the Museum's regular programming and the Museum is also planning an annual architecture lecture series that will begin with the Ando exhibition.

The national opening of the Pulitzer Foundation is the weekend of October 12-13. During the past ten years, Ando has received a number of commissions in the United States. To date, he has completed the Japanese screen room at the Art Institute of Chicago and a private residence also in Chicago. The Pulitzer Foundation will be the first public building of Ando's to open in the United States. Also underway are the Modern Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas (slated for completion in Fall 2002), a chapel and living quarters in St. John's Abbey outside of Minneapolis, and most recently, he received the commission to design the new Alexander Calder Museum in Philadelphia. The Saint Louis Art Museum's exhibition on Ando will help put his work in a larger context.

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