Cathleen McGuigan

Stories by Cathleen McGuigan

  • The Best Buildings of 2007

    Our critic chooses her favorite buildings that were unveiled in 2007—and one that wasn't.
  • War, Peace & Mike Nichols

    This holiday season, the multiplex will be haunted by the ghosts of movie locations past. First stop on our magical history tour: 1980s Afghanistan—and Texas—via 'Charlie Wilson's War.'
  • Makeover For a Motor City Gem

    The reopened Detroit Institute of Arts didn't just get a face-lift. It got an attitude adjustment for the 21st century.
  • Ending the Era of the Starchitect

    For the last decade, American museums have been on a building binge. The "Bilbao effect"—the urgent desire to replicate the success of Frank Gehry's 1997 Guggenheim Museum in Spain—sent museum bigwigs scurrying to erect daring designs bearing the stamp of a big-name architect. But there are signs that the era of "starchitecture" is waning. The edgy old guard is giving way to a new generation of younger global architects—and the idea of what's hot is cooling down, as a more understated sensibility is emerging. In the last two months, two beautifully minimalist museums have opened: the Grand Rapids Art Museum designed by the Thai-born, Los Angeles-based Kulapat Yantrasast, 38; and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver by David Adjaye, 41, an acclaimed Tanzanian-born architect based in London. And in New York, the most anticipated design project is the New Museum, a contemporary-art institution, which will open its quietly stunning new home on Dec. 1.Designed by the Tokyo firm SANAA...
  • Where Memory Endures

    The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is so iconic, you tend to forget the political tempest that surrounded it more than 25 years ago. After the design--by a then-unknown Yale undergrad named Maya Lin--beat out 1,420 contenders in a blind competition, big shots such as Ross Perot, as well as 27 Republican congressmen, tried to block the starkly elegant plan. Critics claimed the gentle V where its two long walls met was a coded peace sign; what Lin called "a rift in the earth" one brigadier general termed "a scar of shame." Some vets hated it, too, so a conventional bronze statue of three soldiers and an American flag were installed nearby. But even from the start, the public seemed to embrace the memorial. Today it's the most-visited monument in Washington.The stunning design is a testament to the principle that less is more: those two long walls of polished black granite, cut into the earth and engraved with the names of 58,249 servicemen and -women who died in the Vietnam War, are...
  • Doris Lessing’s Nobel Prize

    The unpredictable curmudgeon has written about everything from feminism to sci-fi to cats (twice).
  • Elizabeth I: Still a Star

    What is there about Queen Elizabeth (the first one) that fascinates Hollywood so much?
  • Luciano Pavarotti, 1935–2007

    Luciano Pavarotti was one of the biggest opera stars of the last century, but he was much bigger than opera. A lyric tenor whose remarkable voice was so honeyed and brilliant that even non-opera lovers were readily moved by its beauty, he married his natural musicality with a blatant gift for showmanship. Besides his triumphs in the world's greatest opera houses, he sold more than 50 million albums, his arena concerts were packed like a rock star's and he would happily sign autographs for his fans for hours. As he aged—and performing on the opera stage became more demanding—Pavarotti and his manager found amazing ways for him to become even bigger in the public eye, especially with the phenomenally successful Three Tenors gigs, where he joined Plácido Domingo and José Carreras: their televised concerts were seen by as many as 1.5 billion viewers worldwide. For his charity concerts and albums "Pavarotti & Friends," he roped in such singers as Bono, Elton John and even the Spice...
  • Movies: How the Nazis Pillaged Europe

    The Nazis were lousy art critics, but that didn't stop them from stealing art from every country they invaded and every culture they destroyed.
  • Chatting with Bush’s Architect

    Robert A.M. Stern will design Bush's presidential library and 'Freedom Center,' so think conservative and traditional.
  • Pavarotti, a Star Bigger Than Opera

    Luciano Pavarotti, dead at 71, sang with such beauty that he beguiled listeners around the globe. Some were opera fans, but most were just fans of his honeyed tenor and outsize personality.
  • New Books: Brooke Astor and Edith Wharton

    Edith Wharton and Brooke Astor grew up more than a generation apart, and although they never met, their lives seem to touch. Both were grandes dames who hobnobbed with presidents (Wharton with Teddy Roosevelt, Astor with Ronald Reagan). Both were proper, well dressed and cared deeply about home décor—Astor once worked for House & Garden, while Wharton wrote a book called "The Decoration of Houses." Both cherished small dogs and large gardens. (Wharton's list of her "Ruling Passions" went like this: "Justice—Order—Dogs—Books—Flowers—Architecture—Travel—a good joke—& perhaps that should have come first.") Astor was a writer, too—of two novels, some poetry and two volumes of well-scrubbed memoirs. She even liked to retreat to her bedroom to write in longhand on big tablets, just as Wharton did, though only Wharton had the nerve to scatter her pages around her bed for a secretary to type up later.But Astor, now 105 and out of the public eye, isn't remembered for her books but...
  • Liu: China’s Fight to Spin the ’08 Olympics

    Architects in China have rarely had to worry about a lack of work; a few years ago, according to a report by Rem Koolhaas and his students at Harvard, China already had "one tenth the number of architects as in the U.S. designing five times the volume of projects." But the work tends to be grim; most designers toil in government institutes, churning out blueprints for one soulless high-rise after another. Yet amid the mediocrity a surprising new climate for sophisticated architecture is developing, most visible in the cutting-edge commissions for the 2008 Olympics. Those projects, spearheaded mainly by star foreign firms, have helped inspire a design counterculture within China, as more young architects open their own studios and revel in experimentation. "Challenging tradition may be China's tradition," says 31-year-old architect Ma Yansong.While Shanghai is known as the city of sparkling towers, Beijing has become the epicenter of innovative design. Officials have given enormous...
  • Q&A: Architect Brian Mackay-Lyons Goes Back to Basics

    While the contemporary architects who draw the most attention these days tend to design extravagant, explosive, fluid forms—which are translated into real structures by employing computer technology—other architects have been focusing on the essential elements of modern architecture. These “renewed modernists,” as they have been called, are making modest buildings that are filled with light, use appropriate materials and are about the experience of space and the landscape where they are sited. One of the best of these architects is Brian MacKay-Lyons, 52, of Halifax, Nova Scotia. His work has been championed by the Pritzker-prize-winning Australian architect Glenn Murcutt for its rugged simplicity, its connection to place, its natural ecological sympathy and most of all, for its authenticity. MacKay-Lyons spoke to NEWSWEEK’s Cathleen McGuigan. ...
  • A Certain Sense of Calm

    Earlier this month at the Venice Biennale, Karl Lagerfeld introduced an unusual accessory for Chanel: pale-colored, curvy and soft-looking, it was hard to tell from a picture whether it was some kind of jaunty tote bag or perhaps a fetching new hat. In fact, it was a model for a building, the latest extraordinary design from Zaha Hadid: a mobile, collapsible art pavilion that Chanel plans to tour through major world cities next year. Once again, Hadid created a structure unlike anything anyone's ever seen, the kind of fearless, far-out design that's put her among the top rank of starchitects. But while Hadid and her high-profile peers like Frank Gehry and Jean Nouvel grab the design headlines, a number of gifted architects around the world have been quietly taking a radically different tack. Ignoring 21st-century fashion, they've been working under the radar, focusing on architecture's most timeless and essential elements—light, scale, proportion—to create serene spaces that can be...
  • Wal-Mart Heiress's Museum Unnerves Art Elites

    Alice Walton made a deal last November to buy Thomas Eakins's 1876 masterpiece "The Gross Clinic" from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia for $68 million. Walton (Sam's daughter and Wal-Mart heiress) wanted it not for her living room but to hang in the public museum she's creating in her hometown of Bentonville, Ark. "This is the holy grail of American painting," said John Wilmerding, a trustee of the National Gallery and Walton's art adviser. But Wilmerding should have remembered that the holy grail is elusive. When news of the sale broke, the City of Brotherly Love went ballistic. Thanks to a clause in the deal, Philadelphia was given 45 days to match the price. Locals turned their pockets inside out, whether it was an art student's dropping a few bucks in a coffee can or the Annenberg Foundation's rushing a $10 million gift. Anne d'Harnoncourt, director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, thought losing "The Gross Clinic" would be like Amsterdam's losing Rembrandt's "The...
  • Last Word: Richard Rogers

    British architect Richard Rogers first seized the international spotlight in 1971 when he and Renzo Piano beat out 680 entries with their outrageous design for the Pompidou Center in Paris. Their brash building—its brightly colored tubes, ducts and pipes exposed on the outside—landed in an old neighborhood like an alien spacecraft. Not long afterward, Rogers began his own practice in London, where he once again rocked the old guard with his gleaming, stainless-steel Lloyd's of London headquarters slapped down among the dowdy office buildings of the financial district. Though he now carries a British title—Lord Rogers of Riverside—the 73-year-old architect is actually Italian by birth (his great-grandfather Rogers was an English dentist who settled in Venice); the family moved to England on the eve of World War II. Not that it matters—Rogers's outlook is clearly global. And on June 4 he'll be officially awarded the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize. In honoring him, the...
  • Famous Architects Go Below Ground

    The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is as beloved in Kansas City, Mo., as slow-smoked barbecue. With its orderly rows of columns, it sits majestically at the crest of a hill, surrounded by a verdant 20-acre sculpture park. In front of the museum is an 18-foot-high shuttlecock by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, with three others scattered on the lawn behind, as if the gods had just finished a badminton game, using the building as their net. So when the trustees wanted to build a new addition, they effectively put a do not touch sign on their iconic 1933 neoclassical building. The architect they turned to came up with an ingenious idea for the addition: bury it, or at least most of it. Steven Holl designed a series of translucent white boxes that cascade down the hillside near the museum, islands in the green turf "like an archipelago," as the museum's director, Marc Wilson, puts it. The biggest box houses a new entrance lobby and library; it and the other boxes also admit...
  • Q&A: Richard Rogers on Winning the Pritzker Prize

    Richard Rogers, 73, who just won this year’s prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize, first seized the international spotlight in 1971 when he and Renzo Piano beat out 680 entries with their outrageous design for the Pompidou Center in Paris. Their brash building—its brightly colored tubes, ducts and pipes exposed on the outside—landed in an old neighborhood like an alien spacecraft. Not long after, he began his own practice in London, where he once again rocked the old guard with his gleaming stainless steel Lloyd’s of London slapped down among the dowdy office buildings of the city’s financial district. Though he now carries a British title—Lord Rogers of Riverside—he’s actually Italian by birth (his great-grandfather Rogers was an English dentist who settled in Venice); his family moved to England on the eve of World War II. Not that it matters—Rogers’s outlook is clearly global. In honoring him, the Pritzker jury cited his consistent pursuit of “the highest goals of architecture...
  • Vanessa Redgrave at 70: A Magical Role

    Vanessa Redgrave is standing in the damp chill of a New York City street smoking a cigarette. It's early January and she's just given a talk, with writer Joan Didion, about "The Year of Magical Thinking," the upcoming one-woman Broadway show that Didion adapted from her 2005 memoir of her husband's death. Suddenly, the door of the building flies open and out bounds none other than Jane Fonda, Redgrave's costar from "Julia," the 1977 film for which Redgrave won an Oscar. They hug, and then Redgrave spills some big news: "I got married!" Fonda squeals, and the two clutch hands and beam like schoolgirls. Redgrave hasn't gone public about her marriage to her longtime companion, Franco Nero (and seems to have forgotten a reporter is standing nearby). But it's not surprising that matrimony is on her mind. Marriage is a powerful thread in "The Year of Magical Thinking," Didion's exploration of mourning and the near-madness it caused. She and the writer John Gregory Dunne were married for...
  • Whose Art? A Debate Erupts Over Antiquities

    In 1972, New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art paid a record-smashing $1 million for an ancient Greek vase known as the Euphronios Krater. It was worth every penny. The krater—a 12-gallon pot for mixing wine and water—was one of only two dozen surviving examples by the great painter Euphronios, and it even had his signature. Thomas Hoving, then the Met's director, was so smitten by its classic beauty he called it "positively the finest work of art I've ever seen." (Take that, Michelangelo.) But the 2,500-year-old krater did have one major flaw. It was stolen—dug up by looters from an Etruscan tomb near Rome and smuggled out of Italy just months before it was sold, an inconvenient truth the Met finally copped to last year. When the museum debuts its lavish new Greek and Roman galleries next month, its most notable antiquity will be left in a side gallery. Next year the Met is sending it back to Italy for good.The true provenance of the krater wasn't exactly a surprise. The American...
  • Escaping From The Shadow Of The 'Wall'

    Next month, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the most-visited monument in Washington, D.C., will be honored with the 25-Year-Award from the American Institute of Architects, as the most significant structure completed a quarter century ago. The memorial’s stunning abstract design radically changed the conventional view of war monuments, and it has had a profound impact on memorial design ever since. Yet when the design was first selected, after a blind competition with more than 1,400 entries, it was considered astonishing—even controversial in some quarters—in part because its designer wasn’t a well-known architect or artist but a 21-year-old Yale undergraduate named Maya Lin. NEWSWEEK’S Cathleen McGuigan caught up with Lin, now 47, in New York, where she’s been working for more than 20 years on projects ranging from art—both outdoor earthworks and gallery installations—to architecture, furniture and books.NEWSWEEK: The Vietnam Memorial catapulted you to fame when you were very young...
  • Jerry Seinfeld

    It's hard to believe it's been eight years since "Seinfeld" left prime time, and with it Seinfeld himself--star, co-writer and producer of the most successful comedy series ever. Yes, the show will be in reruns for eternity. And yes, Seinfeld pops up on TV now and then--notably on David Letterman last month, where he arranged for his friend Michael Richards, a.k.a. Kramer, to apologize for the racist rant he'd unleashed in an L.A. comedy club. "Obviously, it was hideous and horrible," says Seinfeld, "but I'm so proud of how he has stepped up--he has been a real man. All you can do in life is try to turn something horrible into something progressive."But what's Seinfeld really been up to? Even the comedian whose show was famously about nothing must have been doing something . We know he's got a growing family--three kids ages 6 and under. He occasionally does live stand-up. But it turns out he's been quietly busy for the last three years writing, producing and starring in a movie for...
  • Making a New Buzz

    It's hard to believe it's been eight years since "Seinfeld" left prime time, and with it Seinfeld himself--star, co-writer and producer of the most successful comedy series ever. Yes, the show will be in reruns for eternity. And yes, Seinfeld pops up on TV now and then--but what's he really been up to? Even the comedian whose show was famously about nothing must have been doing something. We know he's got a growing family--three kids ages 6 and under. He occasionally does live stand-up. But it turns out he's been quietly busy for the past three years writing, producing and starring in a movie for DreamWorks, a film that's sure to produce enormous buzz, not least because it's called "Bee Movie." The movie, actually, is animated and stars Seinfeld's distinctly New York voice as Barry B. Benson, a bee who leaves the hive and discovers, to his horror, that humans have been stealing their honey. While out in the wide world, Barry falls for Vanessa, a New York City florist (voiced by...
  • There's Something About Mary

    The ArtsMary Poppins was always a cultural oddity. Created by P. L. Travers in a series of books begun during the Depression, she was enchanting to generations of children for her magic powers--she could fly and talk to animals--and a little frightening because she was awfully strict and not the least bit sentimental. But the Mary Poppins kids know today is different. She's from the beloved Disney classic, and no matter how starchy and no-nonsense Julie Andrews tried to be, she was always sparkly, cheerful and had the most beautiful smile. So news that another kind of Mary Poppins was flying with her parrot-head umbrella onto Broadway this season caused a small storm, like the wind that blows the nanny to the Banks' front door. If this Mary Poppins was more like the one in the books, just how strict was she going to be? And was the show really darker--so dark in fact that in London, where it opened in 2004, someone dubbed it "Scary Poppins"? My goodness, there'll be tears before...
  • The Crying of Truman Capote

    Truman Capote, who's been dead since 1984, has been having a big year. There are the dueling movies: Bennett Miller's "Capote," which won an Oscar for actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and this fall's much-praised "Infamous" by Douglas McGrath. Both cover the years Capote spent writing "In Cold Blood," and the book itself is now selling like crazy again—more than half a million copies since the first film opened. And this week, an eclectic assortment of Capote's personal belongings came up for auction, attracting the kind of fan who would pay, it turned out, $2,750 for the author's plastic MasterCard or $400 for half a dozen matchbooks (four embossed with his name and one from the restaurant La Cote Basque). You can't make this stuff up, even if you're Truman Capote.But Capote would have understood perfectly the lure of the celebrity auction, a way for ordinary people to glimpse the lives of the rich and famous after they're gone—even if poking through the detritus of someone else's...
  • A Sacred Mission

    This week, the 200-year-old neoclassical Baltimore Basilica will reopen its weighty oak doors after a two-year, $32 million face-lift. The restoration of America's first Roman Catholic cathedral is a triumph for preservationists, both for its history and design: it's considered the masterpiece of architect Benjamin Latrobe, best known for his work on the U.S. Capitol. After a dingy decline, the Basilica's lofty interior has been refashioned according to Latrobe's elegantly simple intentions, especially the restoration of skylights set high in the spectacular dome, which admit a heavenly light into the sanctuary below. But this successful makeover--paid for by private donations--highlights a real crisis: the hundreds of crumbling historic churches and synagogues across the country, whose shrinking congregations can't keep up--let alone restore--their decaying buildings.Saving them raises thorny church-and-state issues. A few years back, the National Park Service denied a grant for...