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A Getty Research Institute Drawings Exhibition Probes the Design of a Modern Architectural Milestone

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

March 19, 1999

Los Angeles, CA--The Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and the Humanities contains an important collection devoted to 20th 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 modern 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 façade 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 clarifying 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 École 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 Iain Boyd White; translation by Iain Boyd White and Wim deWit (Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities, 1996); (cloth, $55; paper, $45).

RELATED EVENTS:

Two lectures will be presented in conjunction with the exhibition:

Thursday, March 25, 1999, 7pm
The Getty Research Institute Lecture Hall
"Charting the Labyrinth: Architectural Space and Representation"
Daniel Castor

Castor discusses the drafting techniques he developed while studying the Amsterdam Stock Exchange. In addition, he presents his work on Bramante's Tempietto, a project he began last year while he was a Fellow at the American Academy in Rome.

Thursday, April 22, 4pm
Getty Research Institute Lecture Hall
"The Art of Building is the Art of Pure Composition:" The Amsterdam Stock Exchange and Architectonic Theory in the work of Hendrik P. Berlage
Maristella Casciato
Professor of Architectural History
Università degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata, Rome

A leading scholar of 20th-century Dutch architecture, professor Casciato discusses the Amsterdam Stock Exchange building in light of the development of architect Hendrik P. Berlage's architectonic theories. Taking Berlage's lecture of April 1, 1898 about the Stock Exchange as the point of departure for her own presentation, Casciato introduces the architect and his work, sketches the history of the building competition and the site, discusses its sources, and focuses on the relationship between building mass and structure, logic and rationality.

Professor Casciato has taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where Daniel Castor was one of her students, and at the Technical University in Delft, The Netherlands. Her publications include Funzione e Senso. Architettura-Casa-Città, Olanda 1870-1940 (Milan, Electa, 1980), Le case Eigen Haard di De Klerk, 1913/21 (Rome, Officina Edizioni, 1984), and La Scuola di Amsterdam (Bologna, Zanichelli, 1987, and Dutch and English translations in 1991 and 1996).

To attend these lectures please make a reservation by calling (310) 440-7300, and use the speaker's name as the keyword. The Getty reservation line receives a great volume of calls every day. For quickest service we suggest calling between 2pm and 5pm. Late arrivals cannot be guaranteed seating. Please also note that there will be a $5 charge for parking.

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About the Getty:

The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that features the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Getty Research Institute. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.

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The Getty Research Institute is an operating program of the J. Paul Getty Trust. It serves education in the broadest sense by increasing knowledge and understanding about art and its history through advanced research. The Research Institute provides intellectual leadership through its research, exhibition, and publication programs and provides service to a wide range of scholars worldwide through residencies, fellowships, online resources, and a Research Library. The Research Library - housed in the 201,000-square-foot Research Institute building designed by Richard Meier - is one of the largest art and architecture libraries in the world. The general library collections (secondary sources) include almost 900,000 volumes of books, periodicals, and auction catalogues encompassing the history of Western art and related fields in the humanities. The Research Library's special collections include rare books, artists' journals, sketchbooks, architectural drawings and models, photographs, and archival materials.