BEYOND THE MEASURABLE
What remains of a man when the artifice or pretense is removed? What continues to drive a man in the “search,” which itself seems to be his entire oeuvre? Lebbeus Woods succeeded in relieving architecture of its purely utilitarian blockage. Beauty, different for each person, can be visible or hidden in depths of time.
For example, the eight great statues that Alberto Giacometti exhibited in the 1956 Venice Biennale—so passionately praised by Jean Genet—might lead us to say that Giacometti succeeded in his search. Did he? What was his life’s function? Did Lebbeus Woods succeed in his search?
The delicacy of the skeletal lines making up a Giacometti sketch have for me that combination of despair and hope that one finds in the drawings of Lebbeus Woods.
He, like Giacometti, never stopped taking risks. In his works the solitude of Woods, like the solitude of Giacometti, presented a discontinuity of space while creating a kind of infinite space. Lebbeus believed that any man was exactly “worth” any other man. He hated the elite pretense of “sophisticated” architecture culture. He would have been appalled to see his work in the current MoMA show on “political” architecture grouped under “Deconstruction”. The exhibit plucks images out of their creative context and reinvests them, as an unexpected ensemble, with manufactured urgency. Lebbeus never had time for the turbo-capitalism of architectural labels. He resisted the decon bandwagon thirty years ago, yet there he is “reloaded” in the worst possible scenario. Lebbeus questioned any hierarchy, any expedient politics in favor of a deep commitment to humanism. The qualification of his work under a political or stylistic banner is a twisted jab at his legacy.
Like Giacometti, Lebbeus felt that the solitude of being brought us back to the most irreducible point of life: that solitude is equivalent to the solitude of every other human being.
Balthasar Holz (with special thanks to Charlotte Mandel’s translation from the French)