Daniel Libeskind Chamber Works Drawings
Chamber Works, Architectural Meditations on Themes from Heraclitus consists of 28 drawings completed in 1983 by architect Daniel Libeskind as he served as the head of the Architecture Department at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. The drawings are currently on display in the lobby (Room 100) of Knowlton Hall, and coincide with Libeskind’s Baumer Lecture Series presentation at the Wexner Center on Wednesday, November 6.
The work is divided into two series—one vertical and one horizontal—each with 14 numbered drawings. Interlaced in this installation, the trajectories of the horizontal and vertical series should nevertheless be traced independently. Additionally, each series can be followed in (at least) two ways. The drawings can be viewed in pairs—the numbers of the paired prints always summing to 15—or tracked as a linear progression from 1 to 14. Viewed this second way, the first pair in each series serves as both a beginning and an ending, and the last pair is either an ending or a midpoint that sends the viewer back along the series to the initial pair.
The elaborate and open-ended ordering logic of Chamber Works is only a prelude to the profuse complexity of the drawings themselves. Even more so than the Micromegas series that preceded it, Chamber Works provokes intense and extended meditation. Robin Evans, grappling with the series after its first showing at the AA in London, remarked that the drawings “do not move toward unity nor are they subject to fragmentation. It took me a while to realize that there was nothing to be broken...no subject matter...Lines that do not make bodies cannot be broken.” Writing nearly 20 years later, critic Jeffrey Kipnis read the drawings as performing “an eccentric history of the architect’s sine qua non, the straight line” and, more specifically, as “an embryogeny, the development of that genetic diagram into the material specificity of an individual, the line in and as Daniel.” He concludes that “though the straight line is a culmination of a vast history, each of us must recapitulate that history anew not only for the straight line to reside within us and shape us, but for it to continue its own life, to take on personality, for example, as a Horizon or a Vertical.”
As an intensely erudite and ultimately open work, Chamber Works confronts each individual mind and each generation of architects anew, dazzling us with its mastery of history and technique, challenging us to take up the cause of architecture with nothing short of that burning desire that drives individual talent toward virtuosity.
Chamber Works will be on display in Knowlton Hall 100, Monday-Friday, 8AM-5PM, on view through the end of the Autumn Semester.