The late-day sun shone through the great glass windows at One Grand Army Plaza yesterday as a smattering of cheese-and-winers milled around the building’s first-floor Gallery @1GAP. They were there for the opening of an exhibition of art by Richard Meier—architect of LA’s Getty Center, Pritzker Prize winner, and the designer of On Prospect Park itself, Brooklyn’s most expensive address and possibly the high-water mark of the recent building boom in the borough.
The crowd included a fair sampling of the building’s residents—though there wasn’t a Beyoncé among them—easy to spot by their tell-tale infant children and Taschen’s doorstop “Complete Works”, open for signing. These they presented (the books, not the babies) to the artist/architect himself, who presided from a comfy couch near a billiards table that he did not, in all likelihood, call for in his design, but of which he expressed his unqualified approval.
Mr. Meier came of creative age when AbEx gave way to Pop in American art, and he’s still mining that vein today. Miniature collages of the Robert Rauschenberg type evidence the architect’s preoccupation with Italy, Le Corbusier, the Kennedys, and Hillary Clinton. Sculptures, mostly from recycled mechanical parts, recalled the crushed-car-part piece of John Chamberlain. For an architect known for spare compositions, these were pretty lush. Curbed asked the architect about his secret life as an artist.
Curbed: I never knew you were an artist! You just got into this recently?
Richard Meier: Er, no. Been doing it for 50 years. I really do the sculpture and the collages for myself. I view it as a pastime and a hobby—instead of going to the movies, I do this. When I started out, I was very interested in de Kooning. Me and some friends rented a studio space on 10th Street right next to his.
Curbed: Oh. Wow. Did you ever see him staggering in, you know, in an advanced state of de Kooning-ness?
RM: Not really.
Curbed: Well, do you like the neighborhood here in Brooklyn?
RM: I’m afraid I don’t really know it. I know the area around the [Perry Street] West Village projects a little better. There’s so much new construction here in Brooklyn, though! I never knew.
Curbed: So which project would you prefer to live in?
RM: Oh, I don’t know. They’re both so different. I love the light right here, the way it comes streaming in. It’s a great place to have this show. I usually think of my artwork as a private endeavor—this feels like coming out of the closet.
—Reporting by Ian Volner