Friday, 29 August 2008

Modern Architecture. . .

As a relaxation exercise, I oddly find documentaries or movies about architecture to be just the thing for a flop on the sofa type of evening. There's something soothing about cameras lingering on the worn face of a stone carving or the vaulted roof of a church. And I'm grateful to be able to see in close-up the fine details that one would not be able to see with the naked eye, or would miss in the tourist shuffle. I've been watching Antonio Gaudí, by Japanese director Hiroshi Teshigahara - a documentary described as more of a "visual poem". I had thought of Gaudí as being more modern; it was a surprise to learn he died in 1926. The DVD also comes with a BBC documentary on the architect's work, narrated by art critic Robert Hughes, which was a good introduction. Barcelona and the famous Park Guell is definately on the list of places I want to visit someday.

I also have enjoyed the PBS documentary on Frank Lloyd Wright, by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. I watched this after reading Nancy Horan's captivating novel Loving Frank - a fictionalized account of the architect's relationship with Mamah Borthwick Cheney, who left her husband and children to be with Wright. The novel explores many of the emotional and societal conflicts facing women at that time as Mamah struggles with her love for Frank against her own need for intellectual fulfillment and her guilt over abandoning her children. I didn't know how the relationship ended (and I won't give it away here) but it's quite shocking. The documentary was extremely interesting on Wright's personal life after Mamah, which was just as rocky. Of course, there's an awful lot about his buildings and houses as well.

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