If we say Palm Springs, you probably imagine a desert oasis which once served as the playground for Hollywood’s Elite, including Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor and Dean Martin. Christie’s Education, in collaboration with Adventures in Art, will take you there to explore the architecture and interiors of exceptional properties designed by renowned architects. The Contemporary Art and Architecture Tour will be travelling with Dr. Matthew Nichols, Associate Professor at Christie's Education, New York.
Can you give us an example of the iconic mid-century architecture you will be touring?
I must admit that I will be visiting Palm Springs for the first time in March, travelling with Karen Stone Talwar of Adventures in Art and the course participants. We will tour homes designed by Richard Neutra, Albert Frey, and other architects who adapted the International Style to a domestic scale. As a native of Pittsburgh, I am particularly excited to visit the 1946 Kaufmann House, which was designed by Richard Neutra for Edgar J. Kaufmann, a Pittsburgh department store tycoon who had previously commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to build his famous Fallingwater residence in Pennsylvania. It will be interesting to assess the differences between Kaufmann’s summer and winter homes.
What will the participants learn about these exceptional properties and their interiors?
I expect that we will all discover the wide variety of architecture that constitutes ‘desert modernism’. Richard Neutra, for example, is well-known for his flexible, open-plan designs that are highly livable, regardless of location. Albert Frey, by contrast, was a bit more of an architectural auteur. His homes, including one we will visit in March, are uniquely integrated into their surroundings, using and reflecting the materials, textures, and colors of the desert landscape.
You will also be spending some time in nearby Joshua Tree, what sites will you visit there?
We have planned an excursion to Joshua Tree to experience two major examples of contemporary art. In the wake of the 1965 Watts Riots, Noah Purifoy began making sculptures from the urban detritus of Los Angeles. Later in life he moved to Joshua Tree and continued his art of assemblage, ultimately siting more than 100 works on 10 acres of the desert floor. Not far away is A-Z West, the ambitious artistic enterprise of Andrea Zittel. The artist lives and works on 70 acres adjacent to Joshua Tree National Park, where she designs functional spaces, objects and garments. One might say that a Bauhaus ethos guides Zittel's work, adapted to the specific living conditions of the American Southwest, and I’m eager to experience it in person.
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