Cathleen McGuigan

Stories by Cathleen McGuigan

  • ORANGE ALERT

    Thousands of people in the city that never sleeps got up extra early last Saturday morning to see Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveil--actually, unfurl--the vast, long-awaited public art project "The Gates," by Christo and his wife, Jeanne-Claude, in Central Park. With a superlong hook, the mayor whisked open the Velcro atop the first five gates, letting pleated orange curtains billow down. A corps of 600 workers unfurled the rest of the 7, 500 "gates" along 23 miles of the park's paths, creating brilliant ribbons of color throughout the bleak and leafless February landscape. "I'm an art junkie," said Elaine Pew, who took an all-night bus from Maine to make the opening. "I just had to be here." New York City expects 200,000 tourists like her before "The Gates" closes Feb. 27.For skeptics who ask of this art, "Why?" the only response can be "Why not?" "It has no purpose, no message, it is not a symbol," said Jeanne-Claude. "It is only a work of art." To which we'd add, yes--and a work...
  • TRANSITION

    PHILIP JOHNSON, 98 One of the most famous American architects of the 20th century, Philip Johnson will be remembered as much for the influence he wielded as the buildings he designed. In 1932, he and Henry-Russell Hitchcock introduced modern architecture to the United States with their groundbreaking "International Style" exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, showcasing Bauhaus design. Later, he worked on Mies van der Rohe's Seagram Building in New York, perhaps the greatest postwar modern skyscraper. But Johnson wasn't a modernist zealot--he wanted to be in on the next hot style--and by promoting postmodernism and deconstruction, he kept architecture in the national conversation. He also championed such younger architects as Frank Gehry.Born into a wealthy Ohio family, Johnson traveled as a young man, and flirted briefly with fascist politics. He was witty, sociable and an art collector who remained a force at MoMA. His patrons included the Rockefellers and the De Menils, for...
  • A VERY SWORDED AFFAIR

    Monty Python humor has always been an acquired taste, acquired mainly by guys barely old enough to shave. The stupefying deadpan silliness, lightly sauced with true irreverence, has been a cult thing ever since the British troupe first crossed the pond on public TV in the 1970s. As novelist Dave Eggers recently pointed out in The New Yorker, the Pythons "cared if people laughed, but they didn't care if everyone laughed." Well, everyone had better laugh if you want a Broadway hit--which is why theater fans were avid for news of last week's opening of "Monty Python's Spamalot" in Chicago, where the new musical is having a pre-New York tryout. The $11 million spoof of the King Arthur legend--based on the 1975 film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail"--has been hyped more than any show since "The Producers." As it turned out, the Chicago critics were warm, if a little mixed; Variety called the show "funny, clever, pumped up and occasionally messy." And almost everyone has predicted a smash...
  • DESIGNING SPACES

    Kazuyo Sejima is sitting in a New York City sidewalk cafe, smoking a cigarette and talking about her far-flung design projects. She is dressed in a black Issey Miyake skirt and a Murakami T shirt with a cartoon space girl printed on it. Like that little doppelganger, the architect is futuristic in her thinking and deeply concerned with space, though of the earthbound sort. If you haven't heard of her or her design partner Ryue Nishizawa--their Tokyo firm is called SANAA--you soon will: they are about to make their mark on cities from Amsterdam to Valencia, New York to Basel. Their first project outside Japan, a glass pavilion for the glass collection of the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio, is set to open in early 2006. Their theater in Almere, near Amsterdam, is under construction and their New Museum of Contemporary Art in Manhattan will break ground in late 2005.Don't expect to see a signature style in their cutting-edge designs. Sejima, 48, and Nishizawa, 38, don't like to repeat...
  • SUITS US IF IT SUITS HIM

    Thom Browne, 39, the ultracool menswear designer, was talking about how much he's inspired by movies--Sean Connery as James Bond, say, or Steve McQueen in "The Thomas Crown Affair." But the moment he really treasures is when Edward Fox takes off his suit jacket in "The Day of the Jackal": "the waist of his trousers is up to here!" There's a dash of the chic geek in Browne's custom-tailored, perfectly detailed clothing. Just take a look at what Browne's wearing today: slim gray flannel trousers that stop several inches above sockless ankles; an unironed white oxford-cloth button-down shirt; a skinny gray tie, and a cashmere cardigan with varsity stripes on the sleeve. In an era when admen dress like bikers and rappers dress like bankers, Browne's look is classic--with a twist. "My clothing is not retro at all. But it's inspired by a true American sensibility of the '50s and early '60s."Browne grew up in a family of seven kids in Allentown, Pa. "We all had our navy flannels and gray...
  • A CASE OF THE WILLYS

    British playwright Michael Frayn likes to peer into the corners of history. In "Democracy," the London hit newly arrived on Broadway, he turns his sharp eye from "Copenhagen" to the cold war, when West German Chancellor Willy Brandt was reaching out to Soviet-bloc East Germany, only to be brought down by the revelation that a trusted aide was a Stasi spy. What an irony: the charismatic Brandt, a peacemaker capable of the grand gesture--he stunned both Germanys when he dropped to his knees on an official visit to the Warsaw Ghetto--undone by a functionary as dull, in Brandt's words, as "meatballs cooked in fat." A further irony: the spy admired and loved Brandt, even as he betrayed him.Though "Democracy" is smart and literate--of course--it's not as tightly coiled as the stunning "Copenhagen." James Naughton is a silky and urbane Brandt, but we don't see his drive. Richard Thomas, as the duplicitous aide, has the difficult task of bringing to life an obsequious bore. Both characters...
  • SNAP JUDGEMENT: THEATER

    RecklessRachel (Mary-Louise Parker) is having one of her Christmas Eve "euphoria attacks" when her husband tells her he's taken out a contract on her. Talk about a buzz kill. But she doesn't stay down for long. She runs away, changes her name and moves in with a mute paraplegic (Rosie Perez) and her oddball husband (Michael O'Keefe). Craig Lucas's play is giddy with crazy characters and absurd plot twists, not to mention thoughtful musings on how truth and identity are never absolute. And the deliciously deadpan Parker is a marvel. She turns from screwball to tragic in a blink of her enormous brown eyes.Dirty TricksIn this political season it's nice to recall Martha Mitchell, who believed she was a natural campaigner. "I was the original 'cute shoes, love your hair, tell your mama hi' girl," drawls Judith Ivey, who plays the Nixon cabinet wife and faded belle--all blond bouffant and pink silk--to perfect comic effect in this one-woman show. Ivey never loses our sympathy nor glosses...
  • MAKING BUILDINGS DISAPPEAR

    Early one evening last spring, on the edge of the Inland Sea in Japan, architect Yoshio Taniguchi was showing off the construction site of a small museum he'd designed. Taniguchi, 67, is silver-haired and tall and, like his serene modernist buildings, has an air of elegance and calm. "A lot of architects design a lot of details," Taniguchi said. "I try to conceal details." His buildings tend to have a lightness of being, defying the steel, glass, concrete and stone it took to make them. "In Japan, Taniguchi walks on clouds," says Brian Aamoth, an American architect who's worked with him there. Later, over drinks, Taniguchi never really answered the question of why such a famous architect at home had taken so long to design outside Japan. "You are psychoanalyzing me," he said with a smile. Then his cocktail arrived. It was a Manhattan.When Taniguchi was chosen to design the new, vastly expanded Museum of Modern Art seven years ago, a lot of people in the art world scratched their...
  • REDESIGNING THE WORLD

    If you stroll down the chic boulevard of Omotesando in Tokyo, you'll find plenty to catch your eye. Nearly every major fashion house has a boutique here, and the hip kids in fabulous outfits who amble along the leafy avenue compete with the lavish shop windows. But what really makes Omotesando the epicenter of Japanese style is the architecture. Prada's famous new store by the Swiss team of Herzog & de Meuron--a luminous box of crisscrossed glass--is at one end of the street, but beyond that is an amazing assemblage of cool buildings by some of the best contemporary designers in Japan. From Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa's diaphanous Dior building--as elegant and sexy as a silk slip--to Jun Aoki's silver-mesh Louis Vuitton store to Kengo Kuma's wood-slatted headquarters for LVMH, Omotesando is a design buff's street of dreams.Now a number of these architects, well known inside Japan, are beginning to export their distinctive work. They're following the influential older...
  • DESIGNS: TO DIE FOR

    If you're really into cool stuff--your vintage modern ranch house or your signature-architect chairs--you may want to mull your final design decision: your resting place. Designer tombs are nothing new (think pyramids) but there's a renewed interest in architecture for the life hereafter. Next week Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, N.Y., will open the Blue-Sky Mausoleum, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1928 but never built. One of its 24 tastefully austere crypts has already sold (prices start at $300,000), and cemetery president Joe Dispenza says the appeal is "the association with Wright and great architecture." Contemporary architects are also designing for eternity. New Yorker Alexander Gorlin's modernist mausoleum for Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, Calif., will soon begin construction; another New York firm, Asymptote, is showing a cutting-edge crematorium for the Netherlands at the current Venice Biennale of Architecture. Its far-out curves put death where most of us like...
  • RED HOT MOMA

    Early one evening last spring, on the edge of the Inland Sea in Japan, architect Yoshio Taniguchi was showing off the construction site of a small museum he'd designed. Taniguchi, 67, is silver-haired and tall (too tall to buy Japanese menswear) and, like his serene modernist buildings, has an air of elegance and calm. "A lot of architects design a lot of details," Taniguchi was saying. "I try to conceal details." His brand of modernism doesn't always express its structure; instead, his buildings tend to have a lightness of being, defying the steel, glass, concrete and stone it took to make them. Their exquisite craftsmanship is legendary, and Japanese contractors are proud to oblige him. "In Japan, Taniguchi walks on clouds," says Brian Aamoth, an American architect who's worked with him there. Later, ordering drinks before dinner, Taniguchi talked about how different building methods are in America. But he never really answered the question of why such a famous architect at home...
  • HOT & COLE

    Late in Irwin Winkler's "De-Lovely," the musical biography of Cole Porter, an old friend of the now embittered composer urges him to work again. "You can write from memories," she says. "You've had the most fascinating life." Unfortunately, the audience hasn't seen much proof of that. Winkler focuses on the marriage between Porter (Kevin Kline), who was gay, and the wealthy, beautiful Linda, who nurtured his career (a miscast Ashley Judd--in real life, the aristocratic Linda was much older than Cole). The film works hard to evoke glamour: the Broadway openings, the gay dallying, the lavish lifestyle. (A gondola pulls up to the Porter Venetian palazzo, loaded with so much Vuitton luggage it could capsize.) But it fails to capture the intellectual sophistication of Porter's world, and the dialogue doesn't rise to the intelligence and wit of his own lyrics. It's as if the filmmakers decided to listen to Louis B. Mayer, who exhorted Porter to write songs for his movies that were "funny...
  • SNAP JUDGEMENT

    The Stepford WivesDirected by Frank OzMaybe I've been robotized, but I laughed my way through this uneven comic remake of the 1975 thriller about a leafy suburb where the women are suspiciously compliant Barbie dolls. Sure, the film is pretty clunky, but the sendup of the world of McMansions and SUVs and the one-line zingers from screenwriter Paul Rudnick help make up for that. Glenn Close, Bette Midler and Roger Bart (who plays one half of a gay couple slated for Stepfordizing) are hilarious, and even Nicole Kidman flashes comedic gifts not seen since "To Die For."Napoleon DynamiteDirected by Jared HessThe awful perm, the total absence of physical grace, the alarming fascination with centaurs--we've met this kid before. But in this Sundance favorite, teen reject Napoleon Dynamite is transformed into the Herb with a heart of gold. This achingly funny film is a string of vignettes with no real plot, so it has periods of pointlessness--come to think of it, it's all pointless. But it...
  • GOODBYE, MR. BOND

    In Helen Fielding's new comic thriller, "Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination," the title character escapes more tight spots than Spider-Man, including a terrorist explosion. But the biggest danger Olivia faces is the inevitable comparison with the winsome heroine of Fielding's best-selling "Bridget Jones's Diary." In that novel, we got so thoroughly inside Bridget's head--not to mention her dresser drawers, laundry basket and fridge--that we couldn't help but be charmed by her foibles. In her hilariously determined and ill-fated quest for self-improvement--her running count of pounds gained, cigarettes smoked, glasses of wine swilled, as well as the serious books she meant to read and the sexy cad she swore she'd ignore--we saw ourselves.But Olivia Joules is someone else--someone Bridget might envy from afar. She's an ambitious freelance journalist whose wild imagination sees intrigue everywhere, and she's confident about her smarts and her looks. Writing a story on "Cool...
  • Architecture: Bridge & Tunnel

    Visitors tend to think that going to New York City just means Manhattan. But on your next trip, venture out to the other boroughs to see some of the city's latest design treasures.New York Botanical Garden: As part of a multiyear plan to restore the bucolic 250-acre site in the Bronx, the Botanical Garden just opened the Leon Levy Visitor Center, with an expanded shop and new cafe, among other amenities. Designed by Hugh Hardy, the complex of four elegant glass-steel-and-stone pavilions creates a handsome gateway to the sublime National Landmark gardens and park beyond (nybg.org ).Brooklyn Museum: Speaking of gateways, check out the new entrance pavilion and plaza of this venerable palace of art, designed by James Stewart Polshek. Polshek's curving steel-and-glass superstructure offsets the stuffy formality of the neoclassical stone facade and welcomes the public into a sun-splashed forecourt (brooklynmuseum.org).Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum: Look for the reopening of the renovated...
  • Architecture: A Kool New Library

    Remember the fuss a few years back when San Francisco opened a new main library and everyone griped, "Where are the books?" (There were still books--though some 100,000 had been dumped in a landfill.) The boom in info technology--and the big role of public libraries in providing Internet access--has turned libraries into online data malls. But even in a high-tech capital like Seattle, people still believe that actual books aren't dinosaurs. Next weekend Seattle opens its new Central Library downtown (Bill and Melinda Gates gave $20 million toward its $165 million cost, of which most was paid by public bond)--and though the eye-popping building is wired to the max, it's a book-centric place.The amazing architecture--an engineering marvel of glass and crisscrossed steel that jut and cantilever--is the work of Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. When he got the commission, he and the library's board visited a number of libraries in the United States and Europe. "The beauty of the process was...
  • Transition

    MARY MCGRORY, 85 ...
  • DESIGN: A BOOK BUILT FOR BROWSING

    Say you're planning a trip to Tokyo and you want to see all the up-to-the-minute design hinted at in "Lost in Translation." Where do you start? Maybe with "The Phaidon Atlas of Contemporary Architecture," due in stores next month and probably the only global look at cutting-edge building that's available between two covers. From the Pee Wee Restaurant in Darwin, Australia (first entry), to a winery in Santa Cruz, Chile (the last), this compendium of cool showcases 1,052 projects built within the past five years, organized by geography and complete with locator maps. They range from billion-dollar airports and skyscrapers (Kuala Lumpur International Airport, the Dongbu Financial Centre in Seoul) to a dizzying array of houses, offices, museums, schools, churches, shops and even a private underground swimming pool (in Austria). Many of them are wildly curved, angled or cantilevered, and they're built of every material from steel to sticks. The most modest of structures are here, too,...
  • FATHER OF A REVOLUTION

    You may find it hard to believe that all the stuff in "Shock of the Old," the current show at the Cooper-Hewitt museum in New York, was designed in one era, let alone by one man. From richly patterned wallpaper (that looks Victorian) to boldly simple pottery (vaguely pre-Columbian) to sleek tureens with space-age legs (uh, Bauhaus?), the 300-odd pieces are all the work of Christopher Dresser. And if you haven't heard of him, you're not alone. Though he was a prodigiously energetic designer in Victorian Britain, his career has been overshadowed by his contemporary William Morris. (Both were born in 1834.) Each wanted to kick the stuffing out of Victoriana--but Morris and his champion, John Ruskin, were suspicious of industrial production. Dresser, on the other hand, wholeheartedly embraced manufacturing and became, in essence, the father of industrial design.What's exciting to see in "Shock of the Old" isn't just Dresser's visionary idea of bringing good design to the Industrial...
  • COME FLY WITH HIM

    As a radio personality, Jonathan Schwartz is an acquired taste. For more than 45 years--against the tides of rock--he's played classic show tunes and ballads by America's greatest pop singers, from Sinatra on down. Schwartz, 65, takes his music very seriously: interspersed with the songs he spins is his own pedantic patter, discussing in a deeply resonant voice and almost baroque language the arcana of long-ago recording sessions, or the virtues of, say, one version of "Night and Day" over another. He brings to popular music the kind of mania of a baseball fanatic who remembers every play of every game he's ever seen (Schwartz is one of those, too, as long as the team is the Boston Red Sox). His fans love him for his impeccable ear and nearly flawless taste--playing, as he writes in his memoir, "All in Good Time," "Peggy Lee records in a Celine Dion world."Is the life of a demicelebrity like Schwartz worth reading about? Absolutely. And not just because of his nose-against-the-glass...
  • CALATRAVA TAKES FLIGHT

    When the Spanish designer Santiago Calatrava unveiled his plans for the $2 billion transit station at the World Trade Center site in New York last month, he apologized for his imperfect English. "Let me draw for you what I cannot say," he told the crowd, and, taking a piece of chalk to a large tablet, he fluently sketched a child releasing a bird--a spellbinding image that had inspired his design. Calatrava's seemingly delicate steel-and-glass terminal sprouts enormous wings that supposedly can flap down gently, creating an opening along the crest of the roof and sheltering the surrounding plaza. It's as if an enormous dove of peace were about to alight in the ruins of lower Manhattan.Yet this dramatic scheme--and one of the major commissions at Ground Zero--has arrived without the controversy that has accompanied every other design for the site, from Daniel Libeskind's master plan, to David Childs's "Freedom Tower," to the memorial for those who died on 9/11. Though there was no...
  • MONUMENTAL VICTORY

    The memorial to the victims of 9/11 was supposed to be the centerpiece of the new World Trade Center. But Daniel Libeskind's master plan--and David Childs's Freedom Tower--made all the noise in the press, and the competition to design the memorial seemed to stall. The eight finalists unveiled in November met with such a tepid response that former mayor Rudy Giuliani suggested the whole contest be bagged. But last week the memorial jury announced a winner: Michael Arad, an unknown architect with the New York City Housing Authority. Arad's scheme, "Reflecting Absence," was the simplest of the eight and, for that very reason, the most powerful. Each one-acre footprint of the Twin Towers would remain a void, with water cascading down 30 feet to a reflecting pool. Visitors could descend behind the curtains of cascading water, where the names of the dead would be inscribed. At the street level, the voids would be surrounded by a stark plaza, punctuated with tall pines.But the Arad...
  • Where There's A Will, There's A War

    The Montgomery County Orphans' Court in Pennsylvania might seem an unlikely venue to decide the fate of one of the world's great art collections. But that was where Judge Stanley Ott heard testimony last week urging him to break Dr. Albert C. Barnes's will and allow his multibillion-dollar collection--including 60 Matisses and 69 Cezannes--to leave the gallery he created in suburban Merion and move to a proposed new museum in downtown Philadelphia. Barnes, who died in 1951, specified that his art be displayed exactly as he left it.Now his Barnes Foundation is broke. Three big local philanthropies--the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Lenfest Foundation and the Annenberg Foundation--have pledged to raise $150 million to move the collection, but not to keep the Barnes afloat where it is.Everyone from Gov. Ed Rendell to the editors of The Philadelphia Inquirer, dazzled by the prospect of a new cultural tourist destination in downtown Philly (did somebody say Bilbao?), has pushed for the move...
  • Princely Albert

    Even though he's a Brit, Albert Finney remembers exactly where he was when JFK was shot: at the top of the Empire State Building. He was showing his parents around New York while starring on Broadway in "Luther." Anyone born after the Kennedy administration can be forgiven for not realizing that Finney in those days was hot, hot, hot--especially that fall of 1963, when the movie "Tom Jones" had just turned him into an international star (and later won him his first Oscar nomination). Finney played the devilishly handsome and randy title character--and when the makers of "Big Fish" cast Ewan McGregor as the young Edward Bloom to Finney's old Edward Bloom, they had only to pin up a photo from "Tom Jones" next to McGregor's to convince themselves that today's hot British star could plausibly age into Finney. Not that the older actor sees the resemblance. "He's a very good fellow," says Finney, now 67. "But you know, I don't think of my youth. I'm aware of my time. And my time is now....
  • Wtc Memorial: How Should We Remember?

    The eloquent simplicity of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial changed forever the idea of what a place for collective mourning should be. The eight finalist designs for the World Trade Center Memorial, unveiled last week, had a lot to live up to. But their designers also had a lot to contend with: complex requirements for a site in the midst of a dense, noisy city--and constituents ranging from victims' families to politicians to future visitors yet to be born. So all eight finalists (most are young and unknown) produced overly elaborate designs, with layers of spaces and symbols, using some combination of water, light and gardens. None is anywhere near perfect, but they contain promising ideas.Last August a 13-member jury (including Vietnam memorial designer Maya Lin) began reviewing all 5,201 submissions in the blind competition. After they secretly chose the finalists five weeks ago, each team got $130,000 to refine its design and develop models and animation (view them at WTC Site...
  • Snap Judgement: Books

    Sniper by Sari Horwitz and Michael E. RuaneThis thorough recounting of October 2002's D.C.-area sniper spree earns the book its subtitle: "Inside the Hunt for the Killers Who Terrorized the Nation." Horwitz and Ruane, reporters at The Washington Post (NEWSWEEK's parent company), can get so inside that the story occasionally bogs down. One victim gets shot "through vertebra T7." Still, the authors empty their notebooks to thrilling effect--especially in detailing the massive nighttime sting operation at the rest stop where the accused snipers were finally caught.The Creative Habit by Twyla TharpAn entertaining "how to" guide, "The Creative Habit" isn't about getting the lightning bolt of inspiration but rather the artistic necessity of old-fashioned virtues such as discipline, preparation and routine. While Tharp draws heavily on her own experience as a choreographer, the book is peppered with anecdotes about everyone from Mozart to Philip Roth. "Art is a vast democracy of habit,"...
  • The Gospel Of Richard

    I think designers are the alchemists of the future," says Richard Koshalek. He's perched on the edge of an orange leather chair in his glass-walled office at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif. The office is a cheerful clutter of magazines--he subscribes to 60--and pinned-up sketches by such architect friends as Frank Gehry and Tadao Ando. "We want to train our students not only in tangible skills but in intangibles," he continues. "We want them to make valuable contributions. It's no longer the lone genius in a closed room obsessing over an object. Designers have to open themselves up to the world." The natty Koshalek, 62, is soft-spoken, but he talks a mile a minute and he's just warming to his subject. Since he took over as president of the school four years ago, he's been working to turn an institution best known for training car designers (like J Mays, who redesigned the Beetle and the Thunderbird) into a force for grappling with humanitarian issues, locally and...
  • The Mcmansion Next Door

    Design is everywhere, right? Your toothbrush, your running shoes, your cool-looking couch, your latte machine, your laptop. OK, no one would mistake Indiana for Italy, but you can finally buy good design almost anywhere, from the mall to the Internet. But there's one big-ticket item in this country that is virtually untouched by the hand of a good designer: your house.Most new off-the-rack houses aren't so much designed as themed: Mediterranean, French country, faux Tudor, neo-Colonial. These houses may offer--on the high end--every option money can buy, from a media room to a separate shower for the dog. But the market actually gives consumers little true choice: the developer house, in most price ranges, is amazingly similar from coast to coast, across different climate zones and topographies. If you ripped off the roofs--and the turrets and gables and fake widow's walks--or peered into the windows--double-hung, round, Palladian, picture (often in the same house!)--you'd find...
  • Building Up

    Shanghai is a city with a split personality. In little more than a decade its modern financial district, Pudong, has sprouted dozens of shiny glass-and-steel skyscrapers--most of them mundane, and a few over the top, such as the Pearl Oriental Tower, adorned by two pink balls that sparkle like costume jewelry on the skyline. Across the Huangpu River in old Shanghai, the monumental 19th-century colonial buildings of the Bund stand like dowagers at a fancy-dress ball. Yet even here cranes hover over almost every neighborhood--threatening even the elegant art deco villas of the French Concession. In Beijing there's a similar clash between old and new: east of the historic Forbidden City, plans are underway for the vast new Central Business District. And all over the city, the Chinese character chai--meaning "destroy"--is painted on the walls of old houses, spelling doom for the gnarly web of hutongs, or traditional alleyways.China's two greatest cities are struggling with modern design...
  • Deep In The Art Of Texas

    Back in the spring of 1999, Dallas real-estate developer Ray Nasher paid a visit to the Italian architect Renzo Piano at Piano's spectacular studio high above the Mediterranean outside Genoa. With his late wife, Patsy, Nasher had assembled what is arguably the greatest collection of modern sculpture in private hands: 350 indoor and outdoor pieces by the likes of Rodin and Giacometti, Picasso and Matisse, Henry Moore and Joan Miro. Museums had shamelessly courted him for his legacy--the National Gallery in Washington was one suitor, as were the Guggenheim in New York and the Dallas Museum of Art--but in the end, Nasher decided to build his own space. By that spring, Piano had begun to plot out a private urban garden and small museum. A simple project, it would seem--glass and travertine, grass and trees, a backdrop for great art.Exquisite simplicity isn't easy to pull off. But when the Nasher Sculpture Center opens its doors later this month, downtown Dallas--with its flashy...
  • A MIGHTY MONUMENT TO MUSIC

    When the conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Esa-Pekka Salonen, took the podium of the new Walt Disney Concert Hall one morning in late June, anticipation hung in the air. Fewer than a dozen people were scattered about the 2,265-seat auditorium, including the architect, Frank Gehry. Outside, the gorgeous billowing curves and swoops of the nearly finished stainless-steel exterior--already an L.A. landmark--shimmered. Yet this stunning building will truly succeed only if the quality of its sound matches its physical beauty. That June day marked the first time the full orchestra had played in the new hall. Salonen led the musicians into the opening bars of Mozart's Jupiter Symphony, but he soon tapped his baton, stopped and scanned the hall for Gehry. "Frank," he said, "we'll keep it." Gehry started crying.Several months earlier Gehry got so anxious about how the place would sound that he called Salonen at home one evening and asked to meet him at the unfinished hall right away....
  • MOVIES: A REAL-LIFE HORROR

    A teen girl is raped and her family has her locked up in a prison. This sounds like life in a developing country ruled by religious extremists, but such events took place in modern-day Ireland. The harrowing new film "The Magdalene Sisters" follows four women in the 1960s who are committed to a Roman Catholic asylum in Dublin, where they work as slave labor in a laundry, brutalized psychologically and physically by the nuns who mean to save their souls. The movie, condemned by the Vatican after it won the Venice Film Festival last fall, has already stirred audiences in Ireland. But on the eve of its opening here, the American branch of the Sisters of Mercy--one of the orders that ran the asylums--issued an unusual statement. The asylums "represent a time in the history of the Catholic Church... of which we are not proud... we grieve with all victims of the Magdalene Laundries." At least 30,000 women were inmates from the mid-19th century until the last asylum closed in 1996. Though...