Whitney museum entrance

Notes on the Whitney exhibit: Fuller

I sent the following message to the Yahoo group synergeo on 2008-08-07. It is about the Whitney Museum of American Art Buckminster Fuller exhibit on view June 26 - September 21, 2008. I came away reinvigorated, as excited as I was when hearing him talk. Over the entrance to the Whitney was a large nest with a small bird, shown above.

These notes are from seeing the Whitney exhibit a month ago; I'm sorry my memories are fading. What I have to record are fleeting peak impressions. I can't imagine how the show would look to a person unfamiliar with Fuller, newly discovering him as an artist. On the other hand, the show must be useful to someone designing structures, needing specific solutions. I'm in the middle of the curve, having Fuller in mind for over half a century, but not being an expert.

I entered the "Starting with the Universe" exhibit through a sculpture with the effect of a bead curtain that was not by Fuller. Was that supposed to be the universe? It could have been related to a chapter in the catalogue showing how Fuller has influenced other artists. The show was a wonderland of works by and about R. Buckminster Fuller. It was great to ponder his ideas in real space, to walk around the 4D car, to look down over the icosahedral map of the world under my feet covering the floor of a large room, to feel the models popping out from the flat reproductions I've studied over the years, and being reminded of his inspirational talks in the videos.

I was drawn to the Tetrascroll, new to me. It was the perfect mix of art object and Fuller ideas. However, ultimately the experience was frustrating when I learned that only 14 of the 21 original triangles were on view. I have the same problem with partial views of oriental scroll paintings in museums. The catalogue doesn't show how the scroll was displayed. In fact it reproduces several scroll images as rectangles (plates 164-171).

I loved the models, probably because I've made and continue to make them myself. One favorite was a duotet (double tetrahedron or stellar octahedron), where I thought the opposite points of the star were opposites on a wheel of eight colors. Now looking at plate 99 in the catalogue, I doubt that.

Generally, I felt the show emphasized exteriors, buildings. It did not emphasize his real radical thoughts, like negative tetrahedrons, the kind of thinking we need to do to meet the Buckminster Fuller Challenge (see http://challenge.bfi.org/). In fact, designing what happens at a local event in a scenario of Universe is where I feel Bucky was most intuitive, most genuinely the creative artist. The show's title announces grand intentions but the display left out Fuller's virtual tetrahedral stepping stones from universe to your front door. Back to Synergetics.

See the Fuller page.

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