Architect for Art: Max Gordon

Architect for Art: Max Gordon

Marquand Books




May 3, 2011

Architect for Art: Max Gordon

By David Gordon, Nicholas Serota, Kenneth Frampton, Jonathan Marvel
New Book Surveys Work of Major Art World Architect in 1970s and 1980s 

His certainty of judgment is what came across in the architecture: the right treatment for that window, the right way to put the door in the walls, the right colors; the opposition to the gaudy. The architecture not being the thing championed, but the purpose whether it was a loft or a gallery or a museum. It always felt so good being in his spaces.
—Agnes Gund, president emerita, The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Architect for Art: Max Gordon presents a rare opportunity to enter the art world of the 1970s and 1980s and witness firsthand how a master of architectural simplicity set the standard for the relationship between art and architecture. Celebrated and sought-after, Max Gordon (1931–1990) became the go-to architect for spaces for contemporary art following the opening of his first major commission in 1985 – the Saatchi Gallery at 98a Boundary Road, London. His architectural legacy, comprising exhibition spaces, residences for collectors, and homes and studios for artists, has remained an ever-present influence on the display of contemporary art. Gordon was an art collector himself, a friend of the most influential artists of the day, a champion of the art of the times, and the inventor of Tate’s famed Turner Prize. 

Gordon’s architectural maxim can be best summed up by the phrase “no trim.” Make everything as simple and functional as possible; highlight the art not the architecture; use light to create space. The book begins with his manifesto for contemporary art museum architecture.

Architect for Art features seven of Max Gordon’s major works including the Saatchi Gallery in London and the Fisher Landau Center for Art in Long Island City, New York, the homes of several art collectors, as well as Gordon’s own home at 120 Mount Street in London. Gordon’s sketches and professional drawings illustrate his major plans; and lavish photographs of the completed works provide a visual record of his accomplishment.

The projects are introduced by statements from clients—Doris Lockhart Saatchi, Charles Saatchi, Emily Fisher Landau, Lewis and Susan Manilow, Keith and Kathy Sachs, Jackie Brody and David Juda. Gordon’s own apartment is described by Doris Lockhart Saatchi. A detailed chronology incorporates quotes from friends and collaborators including Richard Serra, Carmen Gimenez, Alanna Heiss, Lawrence Luhring, Bob Holman, Jasper Johns, Jennifer Bartlett, and Richard Gluckman.

An essay by Nicholas Serota, director of Tate, and a friend of Max Gordon, describes Gordon’s role in the art world, as architect, architectural advisor to the Reina Sofia in Madrid, collector, friend of artists, and champion for contemporary art. Other essays include a biographical profile by Max Gordon’s brother David Gordon, the former director of the Milwaukee Art Museum and secretary (director) of the Royal Academy of Arts in London; and pieces by Kenneth Frampton, professor of architecture at the Graduate School of Architecture at Columbia University, and Jonathan Marvel, an architect and friend of Max Gordon.

Architect for Art: Max Gordon is being published in May 2011 by Marquand Books, 146 pp, hardcover, ISBN: 978-0-615-39579-1. Distributed internationally by D.A.P.

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Cover above: 
Left: Book cover features Fisher Landau Center for Art, Long Island City, NY. © Todd Eberle.
Right: Saatchi Gallery, 98a Boundary Road, London. Paintings by Andy Warhol in Gallery Two.  Photo: Doris Lockhart Saatchi 

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May 3, 2011

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