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April 14, 2004

Kimmelman on Libeskind

Dear Friedrich --

Wow: a hard-hitting, to-the-point piece by the New York Times art critic Michael Kimmelman about Daniel Libeskind's fabled Jewish Museum in Berlin, a building designed in the shape of what Libeskind has called "a deconstructed Star of David." Some excerpts:

  • "It is the epitome of kitsch."

  • "In Berlin, as at ground zero, the architecture was chosen before a decision was made about how to fill the building. The balance between form and content has been a vexing issue."

  • "The building was opened with nothing in it in 1999. Nearly 350,000 people came to see it before any exhibition was installed. Many writers speculated about whether it might best be left empty, as a Holocaust memorial sculpture, not least because it looked nearly impossible to fill coherently with objects. It has been."

  • "I have visited half a dozen times, occasionally with specialists in German Jewish history. The experience, which derives partly from the strategies of interactive theme park design, has been diverting, although the display has not become much more comprehensible after the sixth visit than it was after the first."

  • "Mr. Libeskind's building turned out to be much costlier than he had said it would be."

  • "Over all the architecture and the exhibition trivialize and overwhelm history. The museum panders to the sort of audience of middlebrow Germans and tourists who don't know any real, live Jews, watering down and sweetening up the past."

Given that Libeskind was chosen to master-plan the rebuilding of the WTC area, it sounds likely that New York City will soon find itself wrestling with a goodly number of advanced-architecture headaches.

Kimmelman's terrific piece can be read here.



posted by Michael at April 14, 2004


The second rate artist (really the faux or non-artist), like Liebeskind, who cannot bring the beautiful into being, falls back on the "interesting."

Posted by: ricpic on April 14, 2004 2:49 PM

... and once again, the 2Blowhards anticipates the New York times by over a year. Brian Hanson and I published "Daniel Libeskind's Architecture of Death" on January 29, 2003, see:

in which we make essentially the same points. A longer version was later published in Architectural Record Online -- In the Cause of Architecture. Needless to say, we are delighted that the New York Times is now catching up to the 2Blowhards!

Posted by: Nikos Salingaros on April 15, 2004 2:35 PM

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