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A Getty Research Institute Drawings Exhibition Probes The Design Of A Modern Architectural Milestone

Source: News from the Getty

Daniel Castor takes the viewer on a visual journey through
Berlage's Amsterdam Stock Exchange

Exhibition dates: March 20-June 13, 1999
Location: Getty Research Institute Exhibitions Gallery

Los Angeles, CA-The Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and the Humanities contains an important collection devoted to 20~ century art and architecture and has published many important scholarly books in these fields. In the exhibition A Structure Revealed: Drawings of the Amsterdam Stock Exchange (on view from March 20 through June 13, 1999), the Getty Research Institute features 20 pencil drawings by Daniel Castor, a young San Francisco architect. In these works on loan from Castor, he takes a new look at the inner structure of one of the most famous milestones of early modem architecture, Hendrik P. Berlage's Amsterdam Stock Exchange. The exhibition raises new questions about the building and follows the Getty Research Institute's 1996 publication of Berlage's collected writings, Hendrik Petrus Berlage. Thoughts on Style. 1886-1909, which focuses on Berlage's theories of rationalism in architecture.

"Castor's drawings look at the building very closely, revealing that hidden within the structure are surprising elements that don't conform to Berlage's rationalist theories," said exhibition organizer Wim deWit, Head of Special Collections at the Getty Research Institute.

When the Stock Exchange first opened, many in Amsterdam compared the building, covered with saw-tooth skylights and crowned by a plump tower, to a factory. Its outward simplicity was vilified as out-of-character with the picturesque architecture of the city. Berlage responded that he was employing a new language to replace a worn-out historical vocabulary. In later years, as Modernism spread, the building was admired for the very qualities that had inspired criticism.

In his drawings, Castor approaches the building from a variety of viewpoints. In some, he features all four sides of the building (frontal elevations), explaining the facade as just a skin or envelope around large trading halls. In others, Castor takes either a worm's eye or a bird's eye view of the interior. In each drawing, he peels away layers of walls, like an archaeologist, and provides insights into how the volumes, stairs, door openings, and ceilings cohere. It is as if he is taking an x-ray of the building, deftly revealing its guts and clarif~iing the dilemma faced by Berlage in matching architectural theory and design practice. In many of the drawings, solid forms and voids are seen as interchangeable, both opaque and transparent; for that reason, Castor calls them his "Jellyfish" drawings.

"Castor raises the level of architectural drawing far beyond what an architect brings to explain a concept to a client," added deWit. "Because they comprise such a deft and complete analysis of Berlage, these works are no less important than the famous 19th~century drawings made in Greece or Italy by the students of the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. At the same time, their delicacy, composition, and extraordinary finish make them exceptionally beautiful."

Born in Malaysia in 1966, Castor studied architecture at Princeton and Harvard universities and is now a practicing architect. In 1992, while studying for his Master's degree in architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, he received a Fulbright Scholarship to study the Amsterdam Stock Exchange. Subsequently, he received funding from the Dutch Ministry of Culture for an additional year in which to complete his drawings of Berlage's building. In 1996 these drawings were exhibited at the Netherlands Architecture Institute in Rotterdam.

The accompanying book, Drawing Berlage's Exchange, is written by Daniel Castor (NAi Publishers, 1997). It was awarded a Citation for Excellence by the American Institute of Architects and is available in the Getty Museum Bookstore (paper, $45) or by calling (310) 440-7059. Also available: Hendrik Petrus Berlage. Thoughts on Style. 1886-1909; introduction by lain Boyd White; translation by lain Boyd White and Wim deWit (Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities, 1996); (cloth, $55; paper, $45).

Lori Starr or Norman Keyes, Jr.
Getty Public Affairs 310-440-7068

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