"Sympathetic Seeing" at MAK
Beginning September 28th, catch "Sympathetic Seeing: Esther McCoy and the Heart of American Modernist Architecture and Design" at the MAK Center for Art and Architecture. This exhibition is the first to focus on the formidable range of architectural historian Esther McCoy's practice, and affirm her unassailable role as a key figure in American modernism.
For more than 40 years, McCoy's work articulated the concepts and vibrant character of West Coast modernism. Her writing appeared regularly in the Los Angeles Times, Arts & Architecture, Zodiac and Architectural Forum. In 1960, McCoy published Five California Architects, her groundbreaking book that remains an essential volume on California architecture. As Robert Winter and David Gebhard noted in A Guide to Architecture in Southern California (1965): "Our present awareness of Southern California architectural heritage has been due to a one-woman crusade on the part of the critic and historian, Esther McCoy."
Co-curators writer Susan Morgan and MAK Center director Kimberli Meyer have worked closely with the Esther McCoy Papers—an invaluable primary source comprised of thousands of documents and photographs—housed at the Smithsonian Institution's Archives of American Art, as well as local archives. Through photographs, texts, documents and videos, Sympathetic Seeing will highlight the extraordinary range and importance of McCoy's work. The exhibition covers McCoy's activist journalism focusing on fair labor practices and Los Angeles slum clearances in the 1930s; her work with R.M. Schindler first as a draftsperson and later a critic and historian of his work; the Arts & Architecture magazine years and the rise of innovative domestic architecture; her campaign to save Irving Gill's 1916 Dodge House; and her always incisive stories that deliver an irresistibly compelling, first-hand view of American modernism.