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Michael Webb
writes on modern architecture, design, and travel. He is the author of 26 books, most recently Modernist Paradise: Niemeyer House, Boyd Collection (Rizzoli) and Venice CA: Art +Architecture in a Maverick Community (Abrams). He travels widely in search of new and classic modern architecture and contributes to magazines around the world. Michael lives in the Neutra apartment that Charles and Ray Eames once called home.

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Michael Webb

Entries in MAK Center (1)

Wednesday
Nov092011

Esther McCoy at the Schindler House  

Esther McCoy at her drafting board, mid-1940s. Courtesy of Esther McCoy Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian InstitutionIt’s always a joy to revisit the MAK Center on Kings Road, for it offers the pleasure of quiet contemplation and the thrill of an experiment in living that seems as fresh today as it was in 1922. Over the next two months the ghosts of the Schindlers are joined by that of Esther McCoy, a brilliant writer and an impassioned champion of southern California modernism. Sympathetic Seeing: Esther McCoy and the Heart of American Modernist Architecture and Design, sounds more like the title of an academic thesis than a riveting show, but don’t be put off.  MAK director Kimberli Meyer has risen to the challenge of curating a text-driven exhibition and integrating it with the fabric of a house that is a self-sufficient work of art. As you read McCoy’s pithy comments and hear her voice narrating a documentary on Schindler, you are transported back to an era when modernists were fighting for their principles, trying to win over an indifferent public, and combating reactionaries as benighted as today’s Republican right.  Exhibits include a semi-literate letter informing the FBI that McCoy and her commie friends were listening to Paul Robeson and talking about workers’ rights. Letters and clippings document the effort she spearheaded to save Irving Gill’s Dodge House a block to the north, a masterpiece that was wantonly destroyed after a shameless speculation by the LA Board of Education.

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