Sphere, Dome, Arch, Curve

21 January 2017, in 8.44 / out 8.16.

The one month exhibition in Princeton derives from a one day dérive in Somerset. The exhibition invites a performance – opening drawers and and finding constellations of ideas that appear and disappear between their assembly of drawings.

Laurent Thomas Vaudoyer, Preliminary study for Maison d'un Cosmopolite, 1782, DM 1460 IN SET – Drawing Matter

Antoine-Laurent-Thomas Vaudoyer (1756–1846), Preliminary Study for the 'Maison d'un Cosmopolite', 1782. Ink, pencil and washes on paper, 115 × 242 mm.

Flaminio Innocenzo Minozzi, Drawing from Vaudoyer 1, DM 1235 IN SET – Drawing Matter

Innocenzo (Flaminio) Minozzi (1735–1817), Project for a 'Maison d'un Cosmopolite', 1788. Pen and sepia ink with brown wash on paper, 169 × 234 mm.

A plan chest that opens onto the sphere, bubbles: divided between, on the one hand, the visionary masonry constructions of Vaudoyer and Minozzi’s Maison d’un Cosmopolite (Minozzi’s an ‘anatomic honeycomb of chambers’ containing all of the matter of ‘universal knowledge’; Vaudoyer’s, a house envisioned for the traveler M. Debracq at the scale of the cosmos) and on the other, the skin-like cells of the Immersioni of Ugo La Pietra’s Uomouovosfera, encapsulating the dilemma of social immersion and participation versus isolation.

Ugo la Pietra, Immersioni uomouovosfera, 1969-70, DM 2243.2 IN SET – Drawing Matter

Ugo La Pietra (*1938), Immersioni – Uomouovosfera, 1969 – 1970. Print on wove paper, 180 × 235 mm.

François Soufflot le Romain, Measured drawing of the Temple of Minerva Rome,  1778, DM 1099 IN SET – Drawing Matter

François Soufflot le Romain, Survey drawing of the Temple of Minerva, Rome, 1778. Black ink and coloured washes, with black pencil detailing on paper, 450 × 550 mm.

This drawer begins the rumination on the sphere, as it devolves to the dome and the arch, from the Temple of Minerva in Rome, drawn by Soufflot’s nephew and returned to Soufflot as a vindication of his new dome for St Genevieve in Paris, to Peter Märkli’s study of the nave and arches of San Lorenzo in Florence, in which the lightness of the line traces geometric proportion.

Peter Märkli, San Lorenzo, Florence, c. 1988 DM 2699.2 IN SET – Drawing Matter

Peter Märkli (*1953), San Lorenzo, Florence, c. 1988. Ballpoint pen on tracing paper with white tippex, 314 × 235 mm.

Edward Blore, Illustration for James Hall book 2, 1809 DM 1016 IN SET – Drawing Matter

Edward Blore (1787–1879), Two of three original illustrations for James Hall's Essay on the Origin, History and Principles of Gothic Architecture, 1809. Pencil and grey wash on paper, 265 × 315 mm.

Alongside we see Blore, proposing here that the Gothic cathedral originated in nature, still as Märkli measures and delineates, through intuitive geometry, a sort of private language; and these underlined by what might now be considered one of the most idealistic dome proposals of the twentieth century: Alvaro Siza’s quarter-sphere for a collective structure within the Malagueira housing complex, in the aftermath of the post-Carnation revolution in Portugal, which considers the sphere in relation to the aqueduct that would run through the complex.

Álvaro Siza, Malagueira Cupola studies, 1979, DM 2111.4 IN SET – Drawing Matter

Álvaro Siza (*1933), Studies for Cupola, Quinta da Malagueira, 1979. Pencil on tracing paper, 445 × 595 mm. © The architect.

Such drawings reflect the expansive poetry of the curved volumetric form: its incarnations and derivations, through time, from nature to geometry, from the travel sketch and the pencil and line to the coloured and rendered, the dome or quarter-sphere as a collective religious and social structure as it derives from the house of the cosmos.