You might have noticed thatLever House
, that Modernist landmark of steel and glass, is suddenly a riot of color and oversize pattern, its 40 structural columns wrapped in William Morris and mock Tudor. Looks like the British artist Richard Woods is back in town.
For ‘Port Sunlight,’ commissioned by the Lever House Art Collection in collaboration with the Perry Rubenstein Gallery, Woods cloaked the columns, benches and planters of the Skidmore, Owings & Merrill-designed skyscraper’s plaza and lobby with block-printed fiberboard and added two printed aluminum floor pieces to the lobby. And, coincidentally for Woods, the commission had an emotional resonance. Port Sunlight is the name of a model village built in the late 19th century by Lever Brothers, which commissioned Lever
House in the mid-20th century. Port Sunlight’s mock-Tudor houses, and its art gallery, with a large collection of late-Victorian art that included William Morris textile designs, were a formative influence on Woods, who grew up in nearby Cheshire. ‘Both generations collected the design of their time,’ Woods said. ‘I liked the idea of compressing the generations.’
Did adding a layer of ornament to an icon of the anti-ornament International Style make him nervous’ Only for a minute,Woods explained: ‘I like the frivolity of it, and the idea of slightly absurdifying that seriousness.’
Spencer Finch, The River That Flows Both Ways, The High Line, New York, USA
Gerwald Rockenschaub, Untitled, Temporäre Kunsthalle, Berlin, Germany