Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art presents Renegades: Bruce Goff and the American School of Architecture, open January 24 through April 5, 2020. Here’s an overview provided by FJJMA:
“A new school, probably the only indigenous one in the United States” is how architect Donald MacDonald characterized the radical School of Architecture that developed at the University of Oklahoma (OU) after WWII. At the time, most architecture schools in the United States either followed the classical tradition of the French Beaux Arts model or the German Bauhaus model, centered on abstraction and materiality. The University of Oklahoma School of Architecture stood apart from these two trends and created an authentically American approach to design.
Under the leadership of Bruce Goff (1904-82), Herb Greene (b. 1929), Mendel Glickman (1895-1967), Elizabeth Bauer Mock (1911-98), and others, OU faculty developed a curriculum that emphasized individual creativity and experimentation. Students were taught to look to sources beyond the accepted canon of Western architecture and to find inspiration in everyday objects, the natural landscape, and non-Western cultures such as the designs of Native American tribes. The results of this pedagogical experiment—the fantastic environments imagined on paper and through built works—are characterized by experimental forms, attention to context, and material resourcefulness. The architects of the American School have long been characterized as renegades, iconoclasts, and apostates.
Renegades: Bruce Goff and the American School of Architecture showcases the radical pedagogy and practices that emerged from Oklahoma in the mid-century. The exhibition includes over 150 drawings, documents and objects, many of which are drawn from the newly created American School Archive in the OU Libraries Western History Collection. Original drawings by students and architects of the American School highlight the creativity and originality of this work. Organized into three sections, the exhibition tells the story of dramatic change in architectural education. From Beaux Arts to Bauhaus, the first section, highlights the evolution in American architecture schools at the time. The second section, Bruce Goff and the School of Architecture at OU, showcases the curriculum and student work produced at OU as well as the work of faculty at the time. Bruce Goff and His Legacy, the third section, highlights the built works of American School architects around the world.
After seeing Renegades, you’ll understand why contemporary starchitect Frank O. Gehry called Bruce Goff “the model iconoclast, the paradigm of American."
Bruce Goff with students at the University of Oklahoma, 1950
Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture Collection, American School Archive, University of Oklahoma Libraries
Herb Greene, Prairie House (Greene House), Norman, Oklahoma. South-West view, 1961
Robert A. Bowlby photographs, American School Archive, University of Oklahoma Libraries
(From left to right) Philip Welch (in a white shirt), Frank Lloyd Wright, Bruce Goff, Palmer Boggs, Norman, Oklahoma, 1952. Bruce Goff Archive, Ryerson and Burnham Archives, The Art Institute of Chicago. Digital file # 199001_190117-001.
Delineator: Herb Greene (Greenberg) (American, born 1929)
Gene and Nancy Bavinger House: Interior View Showing Stairs and Suspended Child’s Spaces
Ca. 1950-1951 Graphite and colored pencil on paper, 59 × 53.8 cm.
Gift of Shin’enKan, Inc. (1990.811.17). Photo courtesy of The Art Institute of Chicago / Art Resource NY
Images 5 & 6:
John Hurtig, Sketches: A Cathedral for the Religion of Architecture, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada (Reproductions), 1956–57. Norman Froelich, John Hurtig, and James Gardner Collection, American School Archive, University of Oklahoma Libraries.
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