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"Windshield: Richard Neutra's House for the John Nicholas Brown Family"
2001-11-10 until 2002-01-27
Harvard University Art Museums, Arthur M. Sackler Museum
Cambridge, MA, USA United States of America

The first exhibition exploring the design, construction process, and role of a deeply involved client in the creation of Richard Neutraís first building on the east coast of the United States, Windshield: Richard Neutraís House for the John Nicholas Brown Family will premiere on November 10 at Harvardís Arthur M. Sackler Museum. Commissioned by John Nicholas Brown and Anne Kinsolving Brown in the mid-1930s as their summer house on Fishers Island, New York, Windshield played a significant role in the development of modern architecture in the United States and in shaping Neutraís design philosophy.

Completed in 1938, the house was severely damaged by a hurricane a few months later, rebuilt, and subsequently destroyed by fire in 1973. It has therefore remained largely overlooked. However, two years of almost daily correspondence between the architect and his client make Windshield one of the best-documented houses in 20th-century architectural history.

Organized by the Harvard University Art Museums in collaboration with the Harvard Design School and the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Windshield will be on view at the Arthur M. Sackler Museum through January 27, 2002, before traveling to The RISD Museum, Providence; the Octagon Museum, Washington, DC; and the UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles.

The exhibition will bring together more than 130 objects, many of which have never been exhibited before, including original renderings, sketches, working drawings, and blueprints by Neutra; examples of the intense correspondence between Neutra and John Nicholas Brown; exterior and interior photographs of the finished house; computer-generated renderings of the lively interior color scheme and exterior views; and examples of art work, furnishings, furniture, and light fixtures the Browns chose for the house. Two architectural models will be featured, as well as excerpts from home movies shot by John Nicholas Brown, documenting his and Anneís encounter with modern architecture and their life at Windshield.

Named for the extensive use of glass on its exterior, Windshield represented a radical break with conventional American notions of residential design, especially within the conservative environment of Fishers Island. Anne and John Nicholas Brown of Providence, RI were among the very first to bring furniture by the Scandinavian designer Alvar Aalto to the United States and to have two of Buckminster Fullerís Dymaxion bathrooms installed in their house. As activist patrons of contemporary art and architecture, the Browns were among those enlightened philanthropists whose engagement was crucial to the development of modernism in the United States.

Because it was destroyed by fire in 1973, one of the most intriguing residences of the 20th-century has not received the scholarly and public attention it deserves, notes James Cuno, Elizabeth and John Moors Cabot Director of the Harvard University Art Museums. This exhibition traces the history of a landmark in modern American architecture, shaped by the symbiotic relationship between a visionary architect and his avant-garde, perspicacious, and highly knowledgeable client who introduced Neutra to the east coast.

The exceptional range of original material included in this exhibition makes Windshield a rich case study in the development of modern architecture and its patronage in this country, says Jorge Silvetti, chairman of the Department of Architecture at the Harvard Design School.

Windshield is a remarkable building for many different reasons, adds Dietrich Neumann, professor of architectural history at Brown University and chief curator of the exhibition. Neutraís first building in the United States outside of the warm climates of California or Texas, Windshield was the result of what was probably the most collaborative design process in the architectís career and put his evolving theory of architecture to the test. Windshield reflects a deliberate search for a modern architectural style succinctly based on American accomplishments and characteristics.


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