Art: More Than Modern

  • Share
  • Read Later

(See Cover)

In a sea of mud at the northern edge of Brussels, workmen in wooden shoes this week are ripping wooden forms from concrete columns, troweling plaster into place, and punctuating the din of hammering and riveting with curses in half a dozen languages. Forty-four nations are striving to ready their pavilions for the Brussels World's Fair, which opens April 17. Behind the fair's grand display of bunting, chrome, cantilevers and parasol domes lies a deeply serious purpose. By next autumn, some 35 million visitors (all Brussels hotels are booked solid for three months after the fair opens) will file through the gates, judge and compare the nations by what they see before them.

Poised in the midst of the last-minute clutter and confusion stands the U.S. Pavilion, a soaring, airy, translucent drum, delicately resting on thin steel columns now getting their final golden lacquer (see color pages). Before it, workmen are completing the paving, preparing a 230-ft.-long reflecting pool to receive its fountains. Electricians are adjusting the lights that will shine on the 130 Belgian apple trees due to burst into bloom at about the day the fair opens. Nearly as vast as the width of Rome's ancient Colosseum, which inspired it, combining dignity, symmetry and an inviting holiday glitter, the pavilion is the finest showcase the U.S. has built abroad at a major world's fair. Spectacular in its daring engineering and inspired in its architecture, it is already recognized as the No. 1 U.S. exhibit at Brussels, and a leading contender for world architectural honors.

Up with Exuberance. One fine morning earlier this month a black Cadillac sloshed through the mud, slid to a stop before the U.S. Pavilion. Out got a heavy-built (205 Ibs.), 6-ft.-tall U.S. architect, his grey Homburg awry. Oblivious to the gathering circle of workmen, he stood transfixed before the building that seemed to float in the bright sunshine, softly murmured, "Wow!" Then, as his genial, basset-hound features broke into a delighted grin, he exclaimed: "God, isn't that the most beautiful damned thing you've ever seen in your whole life?"

He was U.S. Architect Edward Durell Stone, 56, and for the first time he was seeing, nearly completed, the building he had created. One of the profession's freest spirits and by general consensus the most versatile designer and draftsman of his generation, Ed Stone was a pioneer modernist. He early set his mark on such buildings as Manhattan's Museum of Modern Art, became one of the deftest interpreters of the International Style initiated by France's Le Corbusier and Germany's Bauhaus school. In recent years he revolted against the monotony of cityscapes composed of acres of glass façades. chrome and exposed steel. Instead. Architect Stone turned to his own great love of classic monuments and deep love of beauty. "In my own case," he says, "I feel the need for richness, exuberance, and pure, unadulterated freshness."

  1. Previous Page
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7
  9. 8
  10. 9