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1999.12.23 15:53
I was doing Stella, frankly
In mentally preparing what will be the ninth and tenth items of my Top 10 list, I've decided that the ninth place would concentrate on special people, especially 20th Century people relative to art and design. I've come up with 5 individuals that fall within a nice categorization of 'most architecturally gifted artists of the 20th Century'. (I'll probably post "(ninth of) Top 10" later today.) The fourth person on my list was unexpected, even to me; I'm referring to the artist Frank Stella.
It quickly dawned on me that Stella's art, especially his art from the '70s through the '90s, is having an enormous influence on the 'avant-garde' architecture of the 1990s. I also believe that this 'stellar' influence is largely unacknowledged, although any quick look at Stella's art and Gehry's, Eisenman's and even to some extent Koolhaas' recent architectures (to name the most obvious) will demonstrate many, many, many similarities.
As I continued to work through this idea regarding Stella as one of recent architecture's big influences, I realized that much of my architecture is likewise influenced by Stella's art and his artistic method. You'll have to take my word for it when I say that I was not emulating Stella consciously, but I can't in all honestly say that I was doing it completely sub-consciously either. The best I can do is to say that I just didn't realize the very large extent of Stella's influence upon my architecture until last night. Moreover, all the (Steve Lauf) architecture I've displayed within schizophrenia + architectures exhibits a very high degree of (subconscious?) Stella influence.
On 24 May 1999, Brian Carroll asked me in an interview, "do you have a mentor.. if so, why, if not, why?" I rather arrogantly and stupidly answered, "no....because i have yet to meet anyone more creative that myself." The next day Brian wrote:
without meaning to be too personal, i was hoping to find if there was/is any thinkers/people that have been crucial in your work. i imagine Piranesi is one, and your brother another. and possibly in different ways, from influencing your development, from the Campo Marzio to Schizophrenia and Architectures. my question, then, was hoping to see if this is indeed the case, and to what extent you have developed your ideas with their input..
(if it sounds too literal, i apologize. my mind, i think, is trying to get at the sublime influence other people might have on your work.. that is, mentors/heroes.. not as idols but as advisors or even seers... brian)

Well Brian, you were right. There was (and is) indeed someone('s art) that is crucial in my work. It's been Frank Stella and his art and method for some years now, and I didn't even know enough to admit it myself until now.
I did quite a bit of research on Stella in the early nineties when I was more interested in art than in architecture, but he wasn't one of the artists I really 'fetished' like Duchamp, Rauschenberg, Johns and Warhol. Nonetheless, I did make an effort to buy and read Stella's Working Space (which I will now definitely reread, and also now recommend other architects read as well).
Within the next week or so I will have finished schizophrenia + architectures, which I now sincerely consider my first book on architecture. More to the point, I now know exactly how to finish my first book on architecture, because I now know where a large part of my own architecture comes from. schizophrenia + architectures will, if all goes well, be my first and only book on architecture written in the 20th century, and, again if all goes well, my second book on architecture (however the first of my books to have been written in the 21st century) will be about my own architecture, and it will be entitled, I was doing Stella, frankly.

1999.12.24 11:46
(ninth of) Top 10
the 5 most architecturally gifted artists of the 20th Century
Judging from history, I think many will agree when I say that more about design was explored during the 20th century then during any other century. Here's who I believe exhibit(ed) the most talent.
Pablo Picasso
the architect of 20th century art
Picasso, more than anyone else, possessed all the traits necessary to be the architect of 20th century.
Marcel Duchamp
the most interior architect of 20th centruy art
As Dame Edna says, "I have my dark nooks and crannies. What woman hasn't?"
Le Corbusier
the artist as architect of the 20th century
Frank Stella
the most architecturally gifted artist alive at the end of the 20th century (male)
see “I was doing Stella, frankly."
Vanessa Redgrave
the most architecturally gifted artist alive at the end of the 20th century (female)
I ask in all honesty, who but Vanessa Redgrave is not afraid to act like Vanessa Redgrave?

2000.03.16 10:30
urinal in a gallery OR being pissy
If you want to see what a urinal in a gallery looks like, go to
You will find several images from The Philadelphia Museum of Art's Duchamp gallery--the PMA has the world's foremost Duchamp collection -- including, besides a urinal, The Large Glass, several Nude[s] Descending a Staircase, and the "phenomenal" Etant Donnes (which I'm very pleased to have taken a picture of with my digital camera).
I last visited this gallery 29 February 2000 (an extra day so I decided to spend in on art). It was a Tuesday, and the museum was not busy with visitors. This trip was a quest -- I knew the urinal had a special, albeit hidden meaning, and I was determined to find out what that meaning was. Lucky for me the guard in the Duchamp gallery was a middle-aged man. I figured he was especially frustrated sexually due to standing watch in that particular gallery, what with unrecognizable (and dissatisfying) nudes walking down stairs, and a naked bride that "shatters" all hopes (and dreams) of having sex. [Of course, there is that spread-eagle girl behind the peep holes, but you can't see her face!] Anyway, with a wink and a nudge, I gave the guard a recent copy of Playboy magazine. He smiled and began flipping through the pages feverishly. My plan was working because now I could lift up the urinal to see if there was any message to be found "underneath".
There it was, a tiny inscription in the Duchamp "font".
"I, Marcel Duchamp, sometime (drag) artist, fully INTEND for this urinal to stand as a monument to all those who gleefully piss their time away wondering about art, particularly art like this. In the future, everyone will piss for fifteen minutes"
I imagine Duchamp felt flushed with success, to say the least.
Stephen Lauf

2000.03.16 13:27
Re: urinal in a gallery
Marcus wrote:
just where are you coming from ;-)
remember though that this is a family show!
nice digital camera
Do you think that it was the original urinal, or a copy?
Steve replies:
The obvious (and inescapable) answer is that I'm from Philadelphia (born and raised), and besides Philadelphia's boring/conservative reputation, it does have some real "modern" highlights, not the least of which is its Duchamp collection. Because I'm able to (and indeed do) "visit" with Duchamp often, I've come to realize that so much of his work is all about sex, especially the sex of innuendo and double entendre -- Nude Decending a Staircase, The Bride Striped Bare By Her Bachelors Even, Etant Donnes, urinal, etc. Thus Duchamp aimed at (family) values, and he pretty much hit right on target (and apparently continues to hit right on target).
Perhaps what I'm learning now is that "conceptual" art is most effective if it manifests double meanings or embodies innuendo. Perhaps (Duchamp means that) contemporary-modern-conceptual art is only good if you "get it".
So is the urinal an original or a copy?--what a great question. I just called a friend that works in the PMA's PR department, and the urinal in Philadelphia is one of a dozen or so that Duchamp signed sometime in the 1960s(?); the 1917 "original" urinal no longer exists.

2000.03.16 21:21
Re: urinal in a gallery
Hugh asks:
But what if (oh God) these reproduction urinals are not in fact true "readymades" but in fact carefully crafted reproductions of the original readymade that was, one imagines, long out of production since design in sanitary ware had moved on?
Where does that leave us? With something purporting to be a readymade that is actually a hand-made work of art?
which makes Steve ask:
Could it simply be that Duchamp and even his unique "art" cannot escape the varying degrees of seperation that always come with reenactments, even crafty and/or dexterous reenactments?

2000.03.23 12:30
teaching at its best
I said what I said because I saw some serious ignoring of intentions going on.
And because of ad hominums, it appears other flaws will also be ignored.
The notion of reenactment within architecture is indeed central to architectural aesthetics, especially in our time. With reenactment comes a clearer understanding of authenticity versus inauthenticity. Because of reenactment, what is most often deemed inauthentic, is more correctly an inversion of the authentic, and here Duchamp's urinal redux is a perfect example.
Even though Disney Land/World are enormous commercial/tourist successes, they nonetheless remain aesthetic quandaries, but they really should be understood aesthetically. Again, because of reenactment, I not only see answers to Disneyfication in the architecture of Ludwig II, but I also see in the architecture of Ludwig II the opportunity to study the "architecture of reenactment" at a scale and magnitude (and accessibility) quite uncommon. I want nothing more than to discuss architectural reenactment in a scholarly manner.
Stephen Lauf

museumpeace - some doubts, some hopes
As somewhat usual, I’m now feeling doubts regarding starting museumpeace and buying new computer equipment as well. It seems hard for me to imagine easily making $2000.00 to cover the cost of the new equipment and the domain hook-up. It just annoys me that I’m always spending money rather than making money. Moreover, it isn’t at all clear that I will make money via museumpeace. So I guess the main thing that happened is now some reality is setting in after my ephoric last week.
As I recorded my art/arris databases today, however, there is a lot of potential for me to generate easily produced art for sale at museumpeace. For example, there is much that I can do with the ignudis and the Duchamp cracks. This means that I have to begin putting together an agenda regarding what art I want to produce. I also have to write out a program for museumpeace itself, meaning I have to answer the question of “what exactly is museumpeace going to be?”
With the CR recorder, and with my latest use of html, I’m thinking much more of focusing on creating many electronic publications, involving both art and architecture. Right now I’m thinking that producing many different titles is perhaps the best and/or easiest way to generate more sales. This is making me think that what I should do now everyday is generate web pages, something like 1.3 Mbs worth. The point being to progressively build up a vast library of data (text and images hyper connected), which will become the resources for forthcoming books.
I suppose my biggest fear is not having the energy or commitment to follow through with museumpeace once I finally get it started. Of course, I did stick with Quondam, and I assume I will behave the same with museumpeace. The difference now, however, is that I’m wanting to accomplish so much more in much less time. For example, I have to do all of the following in order to start museumpeace the way I want to:
1. design and generate the web interface for museumpeace.
2. get the site online.
3. newly register museumpeace @ eBay (with a museumpeace name and email address).
4. figure out the contents of museumpeace -- what will constitute the inaugural exhibit and display?
5. how exactly do I design the ordering system, keeping in mind that most items will be ono-of-a-kind, and that I will use ebay for auctions regularly; it might be as easy as writing out a “how to order page”.
6. do an inventory of what art I currently have.
The biggest task for me is to just begin designing and generating the site. This means also figuring out what the museum will feature, and, even more important, what kind of virtual building it’s going to be. Do I design museumpeace with the notion that its contents will often change? Is there a permanent collection? I’ve decided to start by looking through some art books and catalogues. Essentially though, I want a design that takes excellent advantage of hyperlinkages and provocative visuals.
I looked through the latest Duchamp and Rauschenberg catalogues, and the Duchamp book offers the best inspiration as to how to organize (and indeed manifest) museumpeace, in that it (the book) comprises an exhibit of (all?) the Duchamp works, plus it “catalogues” Duchamps life on a daily basis, and this life section is a collection of both texts and images that relate to Duchamp’s artistic procress. I believe museumpeace can also contain such a life and work catalogue, and I hope even something more in that the web site itself will be an art work itself. The best example I can thinkof so far is for me to just use Hey Art... and treat it exhibitionally and analytically (and even extendedly). In fact, I could create a whole book on Hey Art... via web pages, and that is just what I’m going to do, thus creating one of (if not the) first museumpeace (digital) book.
This note about how to start museumpeace is now turning into me now trying to figure out what is the best strategy for using the CD recorder, and what Cds to generate for sale at both Quondam and museumpeace.

...architecture’s 21st century Duchamp, eg, bachelor Stephen art works using the cracks and my first grade image.

Architecture stripped bare by the Bachelor(s) Stephen
Yesterday, while relaxing, I thought a lot more about my new “art book” project, and I found myself wanting to right away devote all my energy to the project. While the actual “book” will be compiled on a cd, I also saw the whole exercise as the opportunity for me to (finally) write about and indeed display my art (work). Moreover, my texts could be sold piecemeal at /pieces, while my artwork will be displayed at Quondam, plus the entire project is the perfect way for me to organize-record all my artwork.
Because of the Duchamp references in the title, this project is also the best way to introduce myself as architecture’s first Duchamp. Even though I won’t explicitly call mysel architecture’s first Duchamp, the notion will become implicit through the explanation of how I came to art via cad and the Tomkin’s New Yorker article on doing things with hands (dexterity). The explanation text will supply a more subtly described “connection”, esp. since I can include both old and new art. Of course, I will make reference to the Duchampian notion that art is whatever an artist says is art, thus, by extension, a Duchampian architect has to be one that proclaims temselves as such. I could well write a short essay entitled “Is there a Duchamp in Architecture?”
The other appealing aspect of this is that because of the Duchamp theme, my overall presentaion can be as absurdist or slapdash as I want, thus allowing me to use my creativity to the fullest.
When high, I get real excited about this project because I see it as getting me a lot of desirable attention. Of course, that remains to be seen, but it is worth my effort to do the project because at least I’ll be doing something to promote myself and my work, rather than spending time and energy analyzing the work of others. The other reason for me to work intently on this project is because I’ll bring a sense of completion in terms of my long standing plans to organize and archive my artwork.

Quondam publications
Visiting the Local Acropolis: This will pick up where “Steve visits the local acropolis” leaves off, allowing me to present the images large, plus imcluding most of the images I’ve taken since, and indeed write a whole set of different narratives about various aspects of the Philadelphia museum: Quondam looking at a museum; Duchamp; ‘Acropolis of America (the sculpture group); new birthplace of democracy; reenactionary Parkway; Parkway Interpolation; the Working Title Musuem, diptych, Triumph on Fairmount; mixing periods in the period rooms - a new museum paradigm; color on architecture; my Borofsky story(?).
I see a very interesting way to introduce VTLA via the ‘architectural photography’ thread at architecthetics in that the many images-digital approach to ‘photography makes for a better ‘photographic’ paradigm. I think I have a very interesting essay starting with the posts made so far.
I just did some web searching and started to find some interesting stuff under Duchamp, Trumbauer, ‘architectural photography’ and ‘architectural image’. I’m beginning too think that I could begin producing many Philadelphia resources with new images using the web as the place to find facts and locations. I think I’m going to start liking this project because I can see it potentially receiving local recognition.

9 November 1778
Yesterday morning I was looking through the recent Taschen ( publication of Piranesi's complete etchings, and therein I noticed that Piranesi died on 9 November 1778. With respect to my last post here, I'm now at least pleased that information seems to be 'participating' with my obscure architectural /theoretical researches /entertainments. (I'm not here trying to refute Paul's most recent post, re: information not being able to participate, indeed I'm become quite respectful of all the posts of late--plainly put, there is so much offered that is worth thinking about, plus add alternative views to.) At the very least I'm now mostly happy that Helena, Eutropia, Constantine and Piranesi still manage to exhibit signs of life. Architectural aesthetics and theories provide such an enormous fertile field, that is seems very true that the best way to enjoy it all is to plant seeds, supply some nuturing, and then watch some tremendous fruit bearing growth emerge.
Piranesi, as far as I can tell, was the most recent past architect/theorist to give architectural homage to Helena. Four plates in the Antichita Romane vol. III depict Helena's (ruined) mausoleum in Rome plus her sepulcher (which is now in the Vatican Museum). In vol. II of the Antichita Romane there are four plates that depict (what is today called) Santa Costanza, (originally the mausaleum of Constantina, the daughter of Constantine, and the grand daughter of Helena and Eutropia), plus Constantina's sepulcher (which is now also in the Vatican museum in the same room as Helena's sepulcher). Piranesi also offers a reconstructed plan of the original Constantinian basilca (it was quite huge) built over the catacomb where St. Agnes was buried, to which Santa Costanza was originally attached.
It was through my research of St. Agnes (on April 1, 1999 - Holy Thursday) in relation to my ongoing research of Piranesi's Ichnographia Campi Martii that I first found out about St. Helena. (I wrote about how all this relates within Piranesi's large plan of the Campo Marzio in a paper I delivered in Brussels a year ago next Saturday.)
Anyway, since what's occupying most of the writers here at architecthetics is what guiding structure there might for architectural aesthetics today, I suggest looking at various episodes that happened exactly here at architecthetics throughout 1999 -- at the base of a lot of it is the notion of what is trustworthy and what is not trustworthy. Here are some examples, starting with Marcus' post of whether a sculpture can be architecture; my mistrust of Paul's view of Frank Lloyd Wright; Hugh's mistrust of Duchamp's urinal (as faux ready-made); the (dubious?) nature of architectural photography; Alex's mistrust of "hero" historicism.
[I like it most when I read people's true feelings versus projection of feelings that are 'supposed' to be had.]

Histoire Duchamp
Histoire Duchamp--a crazy art book that only I could write.

...a simple collage idea whereby I stencil/template cut out pieces of an image and then overlay the cut-out piece over a full image. The results are very cubist and the images become even more interesting with three images superimposed.
...applying the stencil cut-out method within cad as well... ...playing with the Piranesi captures... ...a new prison series and also a Duchamp series.

about today, etc.
...a set of Duchamp packages... ...some kind of artwork with the cracks, and some kind of oddball object maybe...

2001.03.28 09:02
theological pomo
Thanks for forwarding the article. As it happens I recently subscribed to ctheory, so I received the article yesterday. Yes it looks interesting, but I haven't read it yet. Admittedly, I know very little about Goethe (meaning I actually have yet to read anything he has written), yet I have read most of Baudrillard's Simulacra And Simulation, plus I have seen some of the movies referenced. I'll try to read the article tonight and then try to respond.
Yesterday, I read a very interesting article of Duchamp's last work in Art In America (which I received yesterday). The piece is written like a detective story (albeit unwittingly), and is exactly the type of art history I like. I was throughout reminded of my 'investigations' and 'discoveries' regarding Piranesi's Ichnographia Campi Martii and also the architectural(?) of St. Helena. There is a Duchamp quote in the article that makes an uncanny connection to the Campo Marzio, even.

2001.03.28 09:53
Duchamp striptease quondam Piranesi, even
In Francis M. Naumann's "Marcel and Maria", a fascinating article on Duchamp's Ètant Donnès in Art in America, April 2001, Duchamp is quoted as having said the following:
"I want to grasp things with the mind the way the penis is grasped by the vagina."
Naumann's article is all about finding clues about meaning purposely hidden by Duchamp within his oeuvre.
Piranesi's Ichnographia Campus Martius contains a nimiety of purposely hidden clues as well.

sacred and profane exhibit
The next set of pages will deal with the PMA Duchamp gallery and its shrine/sacred setup, versus the profane nature of the content, urinal, peephole, etc. M yet[?] “urinal in a gallery is to be included.
Next will be something about Etant donnes, art grasped by the mind, concepio, 2 keys, Bloomer and Columbia guy, the intercourse building. This will all lead to the axis of life and death (and this could also include calling the axis of life also sacred, and the Equirria also profane--check what Aitken says. I have all the graphics at hand for this. Tertullian’s text also offers a good profane versus sacred example, and when I finish with the Christian version of the sacred axis, it will supply the segue to the Eliade ‘sacred and profane’ thesis, which I then quickly associate with the human body diaphragm, and ultimately with chronosomatics and the apocalypse.

2001.07.21 11:32
Piranesi, Duchamp and Mustard
Use your imagination when it comes to the subject. The object is to be a self-publishing museum. The only artistic interactivity that I get anything out of is this kind of list serve back and forth commentating (as best interfaced by email lists). Virtual museums can be created and designed by anyone with talent now, and that's the best utilization of the virtual -- self portrait as museum. There is only an obligation to yourself in cyberspace if you asked me.
But then again I don't worry about making money, and I abhor the thought of doing work for other people. Yes, I and my museums are popular, but also ignored, especially by those that assume they are better, or assume that I'm not better -- I think the latter rings more true.
I have a feeling I don't have to wonder about what the hot project will be five years from now. That's because I might be already secretly doing it.
Please steal my ideas. I need the points to get into Heaven.
Rumor has it that Rita Novel is a part-time whore.

2001.07.25 12:18
Piranesi, Duchamp and Mustard
My original Piranesi, Duchamp and Mustard post was sent to the avant-garde list because the post as written was first submitted to the online critical forum Open Source Architecture: The Future Art Space (see the EYEBEAM ATELIER post to this list 9 July). I am not an official participant of this forum, but I have already submitted a post or two as an 'outsider'. Since this forum is moderated, I had a strong feeling that the PD&M post would not make it through to the web board, and I was right. Sending the note here as well was more or less a precautionary cyberspace measure.
The point of my original point was to test the limits of so-called Open Source Architecture, particularly with regard to whether the moderators of the forum could readily identify cyberart that was not of the (already) prescribed interface format (you know, web art that is really more like second rate movie credits sequences from the 1960s, etc.). Apparently there is a need to educate people that not all cyberart is interface/software driven. Sometimes the reality of well chosen words sent around the globe at super high speeds can be art too. [Maybe only a licenced architect that doesn't build but rather paints, collages (etc.) and likewise generates online museums recognizes the art there though.]
Of course, I'll continue sending submissions to Open Source Architecture over the next 10 days, but I'll do my best to not make them art as well. I'll plainly try to express where I think the course of the discussion there is proceding realistically, and where it seems to be misguided.
So what does 'Piranesi, Duchamp and Mustard' mean? The answer is Philadelphia (in Pennsylvania). It was in Philadelphia May 1999 that the director of Quondam - A Virtual Museum of Architecture ( discovered that Piranesi's Ichnographia Campo Marzio is actually a print executed in two (heretofore unknown) states. This discovery was made in the Univ. of Penn's Fine Arts Library, a building designed by Frank Furness which in the 1960s housed Louis I Kahn's master architecture class and today houses the Louis I. Kahn Archives. The Piranesi Campo Marzio discovery occurred exactly between those two 'Kahn' spaces. The largest collection of Duchamp art in the world is at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. As creator of I'd like to propose that there is yet another Duchamp artwork (in Philadelphia) that has yet to be cataloged, namely the window that Duscamp asked to be made for daylighting/backlighting of The Bride Striped Bare By The Bachelor Stephen--see [inactive museumpeace link].
Furthermore, whenever you're in Philadelphia, make sure you see the back door of the Etant Donnes by simply going to the Bracusi galleries adjacent to the Duchamp gallery where you will find a door with "2 KEY" scratched in above the lock. This is the door to what is still the most UNOPEN artwork of the 20th century. Mustard is what Philadelphia's for many decades now traditionally spread on their street vendor bought soft pretzels.
Stephen Lauf

Projects for Uranus Fashions - a museumpeace production; new art collages; coming apart at the seamless; the Duchamp collection (cracks on lots of stuff and digital ludi). A hyper-Uranus Fashions mural--Altes Museumpeace redux.



Stephen Lauf © 2016.11.05