written by:
January 19, 2010

Though I fear that I won't get to see it in person, The Drawing Center in New York has just opened a new exhibit of architect and composer Iannis Xenakis's drawings. Iannis Xenakis: Composer, Architect Visionary brings together loads of Xenakis's drawings, and illustrates the clear debt his architecture owed to music and what his music took from his work as an architect. The show is on through April 8th so get to it if you can. If not, then have a look at this slideshow to see what a truly powerful thinker he was. I love Xenakis, and though my cubicle-mates here at Dwell could happily leave his music aside, they'll certainly love his work as a draftsman.

"Study for Metastaseis" from around 1953 shows how architecturally minded Xenakis was even when plotting out a piece of music. "Metastaseis" is one of his most significant compositions and it was the basis for his Philips Pavilion in Brussels with Le Corb

"Study for Metastaseis" from around 1953 shows how architecturally minded Xenakis was even when plotting out a piece of music. "Metastaseis" is one of his most significant compositions and it was the basis for his Philips Pavilion in Brussels with Le Corbusier.

1 / 15
Here is a more detailed view of the swooping arcs that inform his musical works in another "Study for Metastaseis" from 1953.

Here is a more detailed view of the swooping arcs that inform his musical works in another "Study for Metastaseis" from 1953.

2 / 15
Another "Study for Metastaseis" from around 1953.

Another "Study for Metastaseis" from around 1953.

3 / 15
Here is Xenakis and Le Corbusier en route to the Philips Pavilion in Brussels in 1957. The Pavilion was perhaps Xenakis's most significant architectural work, but Le Corbusier took credit for it. Xenakis left his office soon after.

Here is Xenakis and Le Corbusier en route to the Philips Pavilion in Brussels in 1957. The Pavilion was perhaps Xenakis's most significant architectural work, but Le Corbusier took credit for it. Xenakis left his office soon after.

4 / 15
This drawing is a study for Xenakis's 1977 composition Jonchaies.

This drawing is a study for Xenakis's 1977 composition Jonchaies.

5 / 15
This is another "Study for Terretektorh", also from 1965-66.

This is another "Study for Terretektorh", also from 1965-66.

6 / 15
Here is Xenakis in 1974 pictured at Mycenae, one of Greece's richest archaeological sites. Mycenae was the fabled kingdom of Agamemnon.

Here is Xenakis in 1974 pictured at Mycenae, one of Greece's richest archaeological sites. Mycenae was the fabled kingdom of Agamemnon.

7 / 15
Later in Xenakis's architectural career he designed a series of multimedia installations that combined sound, music, lighting and architecture which he called Polytopes. Here is the Montreal Polytope circa 1967.

Later in Xenakis's architectural career he designed a series of multimedia installations that combined sound, music, lighting and architecture which he called Polytopes. Here is the Montreal Polytope circa 1967.

8 / 15
This "Study for Polytope de Montreal" from 1967 illustrates Xenakis's eye for a visual spectacle in full display.

This "Study for Polytope de Montreal" from 1967 illustrates Xenakis's eye for a visual spectacle in full display.

9 / 15
This colored-pencil drawing is entitled "Study for Polytope de Montreal (light score)" and is from around 1966.

This colored-pencil drawing is entitled "Study for Polytope de Montreal (light score)" and is from around 1966.

10 / 15
This is a blueprint for the "Polytope de Montreal (plans, elevations, axonometrics)" from 1966.

This is a blueprint for the "Polytope de Montreal (plans, elevations, axonometrics)" from 1966.

11 / 15
"Study for Terretektorh (glissandi)" is a wonderful example of how Xenakis's thinking about architectural form and musical notation were inextricably linked. This pencil drawing is from 1965-66 and is from the Iannis Xenakis Archives at the Bibliotheque n

"Study for Terretektorh (glissandi)" is a wonderful example of how Xenakis's thinking about architectural form and musical notation were inextricably linked. This pencil drawing is from 1965-66 and is from the Iannis Xenakis Archives at the Bibliotheque nationale de France in Paris.

12 / 15
Study for Terretektorh (distribution of musicians), December 20, 1965

Ink on paper

9 x 9 inches

Iannis Xenakis Archives, Biblioth�que nationale de France, Paris

Study for Terretektorh (distribution of musicians), December 20, 1965 Ink on paper 9 x 9 inches Iannis Xenakis Archives, Biblioth�que nationale de France, Paris

13 / 15
Iannis Xenakis pictured in 1995.

Iannis Xenakis pictured in 1995.

14 / 15
This 1963 drawing, "Cosmic City (aerial perspective)" illustrated Xenakis's essay on urbanism, The Cosmic City published in 1965 in Francois Choay's L'Urbanisme, Utopies et Realite.

This 1963 drawing, "Cosmic City (aerial perspective)" illustrated Xenakis's essay on urbanism, The Cosmic City published in 1965 in Francois Choay's L'Urbanisme, Utopies et Realite.

15 / 15
"Study for Metastaseis" from around 1953 shows how architecturally minded Xenakis was even when plotting out a piece of music. "Metastaseis" is one of his most significant compositions and it was the basis for his Philips Pavilion in Brussels with Le Corb

"Study for Metastaseis" from around 1953 shows how architecturally minded Xenakis was even when plotting out a piece of music. "Metastaseis" is one of his most significant compositions and it was the basis for his Philips Pavilion in Brussels with Le Corbusier.

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

A third floor addition and whole-house renovation modernized a funky cottage on an unusual, triple-wide lot in San Francisco.
From modern interiors hidden within historic structures to unabashedly modern dwellings, these seven renovations take totally different approaches to San Francisco's historic building stock.
February 10, 2016
Delphi sofa from Erik Jørgensen and gyrofocus fireplace in living room of Villa Le Trident in the French Riviera, renovated by 4a Architekten.
The Aegean's all-white architecture famously helped inspire Le Corbusier; these five dwellings continue in that proud modern tradition (though not all are as minimalist).
February 10, 2016
San Francisco dining room with chandelier and Eames shell chairs
Brooklyn-based RBW's work—from diminutive sconces to large floor lamps—shape these five interiors.
February 09, 2016
Glass-fronted converted garage in Washington
These garages go behind parking cars and storing your drum sets.
February 09, 2016
Modern Texas home office with sliding walls, behr black chalkboard paint, concrete walls, and white oak flooring
From appropriated nooks to glass-encased rooms, each of these modern offices works a unique angle.
February 09, 2016
picnic-style table in renovated San Francisco house
From chandeliers to pendants, these designs make the dining room the most entertaining space in the house.
February 09, 2016
Midcentury house in Portland with iron colored facade and gold front door
From preserved masterworks to carefully updated time capsules, these homes have one thing in common (other than a healthy appreciation for everything Eames): the conviction that the '40s, '50s, and '60s were the most outstanding moments in American architecture.
February 09, 2016
Modern living room with furniture designed by Ludovica + Roberto Palomba
These oases by the sea, many done up in white, make stunning escapes.
February 08, 2016
A Philippe Starck standing lamp and an Eames chaise longue bracket the living room; two Lawrence Weiner prints hang behind a pair of Warren Platner chairs and a table purchased from a River Oaks estate sale; at far left of the room, a partial wall of new
Texas might have a big reputation, but these homes show the variety of shapes and sizes in the Lone Star State.
February 08, 2016
Montigo gas-burning fireplace in spacious living room.
Built atop the foundation of a flood-damaged home, this 3,000-square-foot Maryland home features vibrant furniture placed in front of stunning views of a nearby estuary.
February 08, 2016
Studio addition in Seattle
An architect couple sets out to transform a run-down property.
February 08, 2016
West Elm coffee table, custom Joybird sofa, and matching Jens Risom chairs in living room of Westchester renovation by Khanna Shultz.
Every Monday, @dwell and @designmilk invite fans and experts on Twitter to weigh in on trending topics in design.
February 08, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment living room vertical oak slats
For the modernists among us, these spare spaces are a dream come true.
February 08, 2016
The square fountain at the courtyard's center is a modern rendition of a very traditional feature in many Middle Eastern homes.
From a large gathering space for family or a tranquil sanctuary, these seven designs feature some very different takes on the ancient idea of a courtyard.
February 08, 2016
stdaluminum 021
Since windows and doors are such important aspects of your home, it’s always a good idea to take the time to evaluate how they fit within the lifestyle you want. Whether you’re in the middle of constructing a new home, or you’re considering replacing your current setup, there are multiple elements to consider when it comes time to make the final decisions. Milgard® Windows & Doors understands how vital these choices are to the well-being of your home and has developed ways to turn the process into a journey that can be just as enjoyable as it is fulfilling. Not sure where to start? We gathered some helpful insights from their team of experts to help us better understand what goes into the process of bringing your vision to life.
February 08, 2016
modern fire resistant green boulder loewen windows south facade triple planed low-e glass
These houses in Broncos Country prove modern design is alive in the Rocky Mountains.
February 08, 2016
french evolution paris daniel rozensztroch living area eames la chaise butterfly chair moroccan berber rug
A tastemaker brings his distinct vision to an industrial loft with a centuries-old pedigree.
February 07, 2016
senses touch products
The haptic impact can’t be underplayed. The tactility of a material—its temperature, its texture­—can make the difference between pleasure and discontent.
February 07, 2016
senses taste products
Ambience is a key ingredient to any meal—materials, textures, and mood all impart a certain flavor.
February 07, 2016
senses smell products
The nose knows: Though fleeting and immaterial, scent is the lifeblood of Proustian memories, both evoking and imprinting visceral associations.
February 06, 2016
design icon josef frank villa beer vienna
Josef Frank: Against Design, which runs through April 2016 at Vienna’s Austrian Museum of Applied Arts/Contemporary Art, is a comprehensive study of the prolific architect, designer, and author.
February 06, 2016
senses sound products
From an alarm to a symphony, audio frequencies hold the power to elicit an emotional call-and-response.
February 06, 2016
Italian Apline home with double-height walls on one facade.
Every week, we highlight one amazing Dwell home that went viral on Pinterest. Follow Dwell's Pinterest account for more daily design inspiration.
February 05, 2016
A built-in sofa with Design Tex upholstery marks the boundary between the two-level addition and the bungalow. Leading up to the master bedroom, a perforated metal staircase, lit from above, casts a Sigmar Polke–like shadow grid on the concrete floor.
From a minimalist Walter Gropius design to a curving sculptural stair, these six stairways run the gamut.
February 05, 2016
distant structure lakeside prefab norway facade stones green roof
Dwell has traveled all over the world, from Tasmania to Indonesia, to report on modern houses.
February 05, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment master bedroom atrium
Get ready for a weekend of rest with these sleepy, little cocoons.
February 05, 2016
lamp show 99 cent plus gallery 0
At Brooklyn's 99¢ Plus gallery, 30 artists and designers re-imagine the lamp in an illuminating light show.
February 04, 2016
Hidden storage stairwell with raw brass hardware
Having ample space to stow items is a daily struggle—peep these modern homes for some ideas on maximizing your square footage.
February 04, 2016
modern fairhaven beach house blackbutt eucalyptus living room Patricia Urquiola sofa
Whether it's along a coast in Australia or the French Alps, wood provides a natural touch in these interiors.
February 04, 2016
Glass and steel sculpture in Printemps store of Paris.
In the Paris' venerable Printemps department store, two Toronto-based firms were tasked with enlivening a new atrium and creating a unique experience for visitors. YabuPushelberg, partnering with UUfie, designed this stunning steel "sail" embedded with vibrant dichroic glass.
February 04, 2016