• On the Thresholds of Space-Making: Shinohara Kazuo and His Legacy
    Seng Kuan
    Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum
    Jan 31, 2014 to Apr 20, 2014
    Washington University in St. Louis-Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum

Shinohara Kazuo, House in White, 1964-66, Tokyo. Photo: Murai Osamu.

One of Japan's greatest and most influential architects of the postwar generation, Shinohara Kazuo has remained virtually unknown outside of a small community of devoted followers. A mathematician-turned-architect, Shinohara achieved cult-figure status with the series of sublimely beautiful, purist houses that he designed from the mid-1950s to the 1980s. Shinohara was also a rigorous polemicist who reframed conventions of the field through both writings and architecture. Shinohara asserted an architecture of permanence contrary to the Japanese Metabolists’ rhetoric of process, change, and efficiency. Since his passing in 2006, Shinohara's reputation has greatly increased, which can be understood as genuine reverence for his innovative designs as well as counterpoint to the recent rise in critical acclaim of the Metabolists. Presenting rarely seen original drawings and sketches as well as photographs of his work, this exhibition also showcases projects by contemporary architects that evidence the enduring influence of Shinohara's work.

Seng Kuan is assistant professor of architectural history at Washington University in St. Louis. He earned his PhD in architecture from Harvard University with a dissertation on the work of Kenzo Tange and the genesis of urban design in postwar Japan. He was previously an editorial associate of a+u and curator of the Kenzo Tange Archive in Tokyo. Kuan has published extensively on the architectural and urban culture of east Asia, most notably Kenzo Tange: Architecture for the World (Lars Müller, 2012), Shanghai: Architecture and Modernism for Modern China (Prestel, 2004), and Architectural Encounters with Essence and Form in Modern China (MIT Press, 2002). His curatorial work includes Metabolism, The City of the Future (Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, 2011) and Utopia Across Scales: Highlights from the Kenzo Tange Archive (Harvard Graduate School of Design, 2009).

Ishigami Junya (b. 1974) is the most prominent member of the emerging generation of Japanese architects. He worked at SANAA from 2000-2004, where as a junior associate he significantly influenced the firm's artistic direction. He is best known for his series of installations that challenge conventions of scale, materiality, and territory. In 2009 he received the annual prize of the Architectural Institute of Japan for the Kanagawa KAIT Workshop and in 2010 the Golden Lion Award for Best Project at the Venice Architecture Biennale for the installation Architecture as Air. He is contributing one of the two installations in the exhibition.

Nishizawa Ryue (b. 1966), along with Sejima Kazuyo (b. 1956), is a principal of SANAA, which was awarded the Pritzker Prize in 2010. Recent notable works include Louvre Lens (2012), Rolex Learning Center (2010), and the New Museum in New York (2010). Both Nishizawa and Sejima trained in the office of Toyo Ito. They are serving as consultants as well as lenders to the project.

Toyo Ito (b. 1941) was awarded the Pritzker Prize in 2013 and the Praemium Imperiale in 2010.  Among his best-known projects are Sendai Mediatheque (2000), the Library of Tama Art University (2007), and the Taichung Opera House, which is currently under construction. In 2012 Ito coordinated an installation at the Venice Architecture Biennale on relief housing projects in Japan's Tohoku region, created in response to the devastation caused by the earthquake and tsunami of 2011. Among his collaborators on the installation were Inui Yumiko, Fujimoto Sou, and Hirata Akihisa, a younger generation of protégés Ito has generously cultivated.

Tsukamoto Yoshiharu (b. 1965) and Kaijima Momoyo (b. 1969) are principals of the Tokyo-based firm Atelier Bow-Wow, which they founded in 1992. Both students of Shinohara at the Tokyo Institute of Technology from where they graduated, they are best known for their series of research endeavors, such as Pet Architecture, Void Metabolism, and Micro Public Space, and their publications, including Made in Toyko (Kajima Institute Publishing, 2001) and Bow Wow from Post Bubble City (Inax, 2006).

Founded in 1881, the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, part of the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University, is committed to preserving and advancing its legacy of collecting significant art of the time; providing excellence in art historical scholarship, education, and exhibition; inspiring social and intellectual inquiry into the connections between art and contemporary life; and engaging audiences on campus, in the local community, across the nation, and worldwide.