Wednesday, May 26, 2010

MAXXI Overdrive: Where the angles aren't right

While on the subject of "blunt forces": Zaha Hadid.

She being the Baghdad born and Western educated British Deconstructionist-driven architect of international renown who was the mother mind behind the recently opened MAXXI Museum (National Museum of the XXI Century Arts) in Rome. As if the concept of modern art and architecture in Rome wasn't an exotic enough, behold:

Hadid's work style is often referred to as "super-contemporary." She's the architect of buildings where right angles go to die. She describes her work in terms of its visual stretching and elasticity; To those one might add fluid and whimsical as well.

Her work is female but not feminine. It is playful yet solemn. It's geometric but non-linear: If there's a model for her sweeping visual style it may be the serpentine script of her native Farsi. Stretching and elasticity are often actions brought about through acts of violence: Think childbirth or muscle injury. As interpreted by the MAXXI, the violence is visual and perceptual; But violence in the best possible way.

And that's just the outside. The inside takes the undulating forms hinted at with the exterior and powers up those vibrations manifold.

The eye may follow the building's interior lines in a wonderfully dizzying exercise. Here Master Hadid may've been paying tribute to the culture of her patrons by referencing the linear patterns of a bowl of pasta. For a country capable of giving birth to Da Vinci and electing a porn star to parliament, perhaps the MAXXI is its most fitting tribute of all.

Hadid completed the design in 1999 and MAXXI took 10 years and $224 million to complete. Check here for a little perspective from the Times of New York and London. And by all means, get thee to Rome.

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