One of Los Angeles’s great landmarks is the Griffith Observatory, an architectural gem that mixes art-deco and Mayan aesthetics. It’s perched on a ridge in Hollywood Hills above Los Felix and provides a stunning, wide view the L.A. basin. It naturally is a major tourist draw, with thousands upon thousands of people winding their way up the hills and canyons each day to visit this icon of La La Land. It’s a functioning observatory and as such there are working scientists, astronomers, educators, and space enthusiasts, et. al. — nerds! — congregated and fussing about amid the tourist hordes snapping selfies along the viewing terraces.
You, savvy reader, are probably a fan of architecture. If not of architecture in and of itself, then perhaps as an extension of being a fan of design. Or at the very least you appreciate architecture, after all, you most likely live in a building.
Maybe you are an architecture tourist — an “architourist” — who seeks out contemporary, architecturally significant buildings on your globe-spanning travels. Such that when you visit, say, Barcelona, you get excited about going to take a look at the Torre Agbar, designed by Jean Nouvel, whereas the package tourist hordes are bee-lining for the popular cathedrals like Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia.
You may have even read a few books about architecture. These books are not just enormously heavy coffee-table tomes filled with beautiful photos of great buildings, but rather books filled with texts, long-form prose about architecture, books with actual chapters that require actual reading. Books like the excellent and amusing “From Bauhaus to Our House” by Tom Wolfe.
You may even be a fan of specific architectural design styles and movements: Modernism, International Style, Googie, Mid-Century Modern, Art Deco, the aforementioned Bauhaus, and Brutalism. These mean something to you. Or at least you’ve heard of them.
There’s also a possibility you like Legos.
The person who runs the Instagram account @brutsinlego is a lover of Legos, is a fan of architecture, is a fan (we presume) of Brutalist architecture, in all its minimalist, fortress-like, gray-concrete socialist-tinged glory.
And now we are a fan of him and his Insta account, which is devoted to showcasing the small Lego constructions he and his children make of famous Brutalist buildings around the world.
A small sample of these is posted here for your delight and review.
Artist Zoe Leonard’s 2016 public art project under the Standard Hotel building on the High Line in New York City was a powerful political statement. It’s titled “I Want a President” and it was originally created in the 1990s in response to that era’s political climate in NYC. It was installed as a massive page of text on the High Line to coincide with the 2016 presidential election and 2017 inauguration of the Trump presidency. But it is all the more potent and relevant today in 2018 as it was a year ago or twenty years ago. Few artists so far have been able to voice the frustration, resistance and anger at the current states of governance and leadership in the U.S. in as captivating a way and on such a grand scale as this. Read the full text of the artwork via this PDF.
Sooooooo … Spanto is a Kook. “Who is Spanto? Why is he a kook?” you ask, savvy reader. These are fair questions. We want to know who Spanto is, too! Spanto’s identity is an esoteric, hyper-local mystery, which makes the graffiti on this condemned house in Venice, in Los Angeles, all the more intriguing.
A kook, on the other hand, is less a mystery. The word is not obscure. But it’s not used as often in general discourse as it may have been several generations ago. “Kook” in the pictured graffiti is not being used in way that it might be generally understood as synonymous with “crazy person” or “weirdo.” There is another altogether different meaning here.
This other meaning may be more obscure to most people. “Kook” is surfer jargon. Though slangy, the term is not new. It’s been hurled as an insult by surfers for many decades. In short, for surfers “kook” means an inexperienced, often poorly-skilled surfer who’s surfing style and manner reveal a naivete or ignorance of surfing rules, etiquette, techniques and customs.
Venice being a beach town and a surfers town with a strong surfer identity and a gritty surfing heritage, no doubt Spanto — whoever he (or she) is — is being slurred with a surfer’s invocation of “kook.”
Can something be too Instagrammable? That is the question, savvy reader. Our initial thought is, “Yes, yes something can be. ‘Too Instagrammablity’ (TI) is a thing.”
But then, upon further consideration, doubt creeps in, and we wonder further, “What does ‘too Instagrammable’ even mean?” It’s a binary, yes-or-no issue in terms of whether anything is Instagrammable at all. It either is or isn’t. And really, anything is Instagrammable by virtue of anybody taking a picture of something and posting it to Instagram. Continue reading
Text by Van Corsa
Imagine. You’ve made it. Went to school. Got a job in a tech start-up. Paid off your student debt. Moved to Los Angeles. L.A. Then you got a tech job at another start-up. In Venice, a.k.a., “Silicon Beach.”
That start-up made an app and it got big real fast. You made a shitload of money. Then you MOVED to Venice. Rents insane. Then you BOUGHT in Venice. You found a condo around the corner from fashionable, beautiful and gentrified Abbot Kinney Blvd. Prime real estate. Primo location, bro! Expensive.
This condo, it wasn’t just any condo. Because you’re not just any Silicon Beach scrote. You’re not just another sartorially-challenged techie slacking in basic, comfortable fashion. You are more than just a dude with a closet full of hoodies and New Balance sneakers and the full quiver of video game consoles.
We are fans of architecture. Even more so we are fans of “architectural design.” However, kitsch and the aesthetics of the contemporary commercial Xmas holiday experience, we are not fans of. But we were intrigued by a recent contest at our office to design and build a holiday-style gingerbread house.
The construction and decorative materials were provided to participants (some would be architects, and some legit designers and artists) and included a large gingerbread cookie (of course) in the shape of a pre-fab parts template for the basic house structure, and baggies filled with jellybeans, licorice, gumdrops, pretzels, cookies, marshmellows, candy canes and myriad other sweets of dubious tastes, poor nutritional value and enough sugar to sustain a full-time local dental practice. Continue reading
A funny thing about “art.” Sometimes the happiest of aesthetic accidents happen as a consequence of totally non-artistic impulses.
Take as prima facie example the case of the roller-shutter pictured above. It’s on a warehouse-factory building in the rapidly gentrifying Downtown Los Angeles neighborhood dubbed the Arts District. It’s a beautiful building, a grand structure standing as testament to L.A.’s glorious former industrial past.
It’s no secret that we here at Global Graphica are fond practitioners of surfing, the so-called Hawaiian “sport of kings.” After contemporary art and good espresso, surfing is our other true obsession.
So on our recent road trips up and down the SoCal coast in search of waves, we stopped in the seaside city of San Clemente, the self-proclaimed “Spanish village by the sea” and a hotbed of surfing and surf culture in south Orange County. There we popped into the Album surfboards shop for the first time to see for ourselves the brand’s famously beautiful and well-designed boards.
We didn’t expect that the shop itself would be as beautiful as those boards. In fact, as we approached the entrance to the minimalist storefront, we were in the hottest of a hot secs stopped in our tracks.
We stood, slacked-jawed and wondered, “Are we in the wrong place? This must be the office of an architecture firm, surely? Or perhaps a day spa designed for the publishers of Wallpaper magazine?”
It was none of those things, savvy reader! It was a surf shop. It was the Album surfboards shop.
We had found surfing’s Holy Grail: An aesthetically-pleasing retail experience ensconced in sophisticated, minimalist architectural design. Our hearts fluttered.
Most surf shops, ya see, they … well, they suck, aesthetically speaking. Most surfboard shapers and brands suck, aesthetically speaking. (As people, they’re awesome; They don’t suck.) But most of them have no taste.
And this bothers us, savvy reader. It tears at our souls. Album, however, has restored our faith.
French photographer Thibaud Poirier has created a series of photos documenting 25 of Europe’s grandest and beautiful great libraries. Poirier’s images capture the vast interior spaces of what he calls “temples of cultural worship.” In all of the these images the libraries are empty.
German artist Isa Genzken’s “Rose III” giant rose sculpture at the Los Angeles outpost of the Hauser & Wirth gallery in the Arts District in Downtown LA. Another version of “Rose” was for a while installed on the exterior of the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York.
Like a shiny extra-terrestrial bobble tucked into the foothills above Palm Springs, “Mirage” by Los Angeles-based artist Doug Aitken is among the most striking contemporary-art experiences of 2017. It’s probably the unofficial rockstar of Desert X, an inaugural exhibition of site-specific artworks mostly in the form of installations and sculptural objects spread across the desert landscape of the Coachella Valley.
“Mirage” is a literal house of mirrors. Its loose architectural form is a single-story ranch house in a nod to the region’s traditional housing style. But it’s a ranch house with a shape augmented by contemporary touches – a skylight, a balcony, a window-less chamber.
All that architecture is just a platform for Aitken’s bold visual statement and its main feature: The mirrored surfaces of the house inside and out. The exterior walls, and interior walls and ceilings, are mirrors reflecting the desert landscape outside and multiplying the reflections inside like a silverlight echo chamber. It is not enough to look at it.
Walking through “Mirage” is to be entranced by the unceasing play of light from every angle and reflective pane and by the all the possibilities in reframing your view of the bright desert outside through the house’s many windows
The collection of buildings that make up the Pacific Design Center is a bold, massive landmark of West Hollywood, in Los Angeles. Better known to Angelenos perhaps than the outside world, the PDC has aged remarkably well since the first of its buildings was completed in 1975. The building complex is visually striking and unmissable in its unusual use of primary colors and the asymetrical shapes of the buildings and their arrangement. The architecture was conceived by Argentine architect Cesar Pelli and the PDC seems as fresh a presence as any more recent and contemporary buildings in the area.
The branding of coffee roaster and cafe Common Room in Costa Mesa, California is a simple two-dimensional, flat icon of a coffee cup and saucer. It appears repeated in a diagonal pattern across the cafe’s exterior, a gray single-story brick warehouse-type building in a light-industrial business park devoid of shops and the hustle-and-bustle street traffic that comes with it. The windows are darkly shaded. Both its location and secretive minimalist architectural design give it an air of mystique.
Maximalist German publisher Taschen, producer of epic coffee-table books devoted to all things art and design, has recently given its Los Angeles gallery a wholesale pink makeover. It’s part of the company’s promotion of its new book celebrating the work and career of L.A.-based British artist David Hockney. The gallery is playing host to Hockney’s paintings. The pink exterior is accented with a bold, all-caps, blue treatment of the books title: “A Bigger Book.” The colors reference colors often used in Hockney’s many painting of Los Angeles. Pretty awesome.