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Lebbeus Woods: Architect at SFMoMA

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Architect and artist Lebbeus Woods died late last year, leaving behind him a legacy of very few buildings, but a new vision of what architecture can and should be. His illustrations and sculptures, though they evoke a kind of post-apocalyptic fantasy land, were grounded in the kinds of upheaval (seismic, cultural, bellicose) that we experience every day. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has been an avid collector of Woods's work since the 1990s, and this week it mounted the show Lebbeus Woods Architect to celebrate the career of an architect and teacher who truly challenged not just what it is that we should build, but what it means to be an architect all together. Click through our slideshow to see Woods's strange world of the unbuilt.
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  Lebbeus Woods, Einstein Tomb, 1980; aluminum; Courtesy Aleksandra Wagner; © Estate of Lebbeus Woods

    Lebbeus Woods, Einstein Tomb, 1980; aluminum; Courtesy Aleksandra Wagner; © Estate of Lebbeus Woods

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  Lebbeus Woods, Meta-Institute, 1996; chipboard, wood, paper; Courtesy Austrian Museum of Applied Arts / Contemporary Art (MAK); © Estate of Lebbeus Woods; photo: © Wolfgang Woessner/MAK

    Lebbeus Woods, Meta-Institute, 1996; chipboard, wood, paper; Courtesy Austrian Museum of Applied Arts / Contemporary Art (MAK); © Estate of Lebbeus Woods; photo: © Wolfgang Woessner/MAK

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  Lebbeus Woods, San Francisco Project: Inhabiting the Quake, Quake City, 1995; graphite and pastel on paper; 14 1/2 in. x 23 in. x 3/4 in. (36.83 cm x 58.42 cm x 1.91 cm); Collection SFMOMA, Accessions Committee Fund purchase; © Estate of Lebbeus Woods

    Lebbeus Woods, San Francisco Project: Inhabiting the Quake, Quake City, 1995; graphite and pastel on paper; 14 1/2 in. x 23 in. x 3/4 in. (36.83 cm x 58.42 cm x 1.91 cm); Collection SFMOMA, Accessions Committee Fund purchase; © Estate of Lebbeus Woods

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  Lebbeus Woods, Untitled, sketch for the series Nine Reconstructed Boxes, 1999; ink on paper; 8.5 inches by 11 inches; Collection SFMoMA.

    Lebbeus Woods, Untitled, sketch for the series Nine Reconstructed Boxes, 1999; ink on paper; 8.5 inches by 11 inches; Collection SFMoMA.

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  Lebbeus Woods, Nine Reconstructed Boxes, 1999; plastic models and ten sketches; 11 in. x 8 1/2 in. (27.94 cm x 21.59 cm); Collection SFMOMA, Accessions Committee Fund purchase; © Estate of Lebbeus Woods; Photo: Ben Blackwell

    Lebbeus Woods, Nine Reconstructed Boxes, 1999; plastic models and ten sketches; 11 in. x 8 1/2 in. (27.94 cm x 21.59 cm); Collection SFMOMA, Accessions Committee Fund purchase; © Estate of Lebbeus Woods; Photo: Ben Blackwell

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  Lebbeus Woods, Conflict Space 4, 2006; crayon and acrylic on linen; 74 x 120 in. (187.96 x 304.8 cm); Collection SFMOMA, purchase through a gift of anonymous donors and the Accessions Committee Fund; © Estate of Lebbeus Woods

    Lebbeus Woods, Conflict Space 4, 2006; crayon and acrylic on linen; 74 x 120 in. (187.96 x 304.8 cm); Collection SFMOMA, purchase through a gift of anonymous donors and the Accessions Committee Fund; © Estate of Lebbeus Woods

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  Lebbeus Woods, Unified Urban Field, from the series Centricity [no. 37], 1987; graphite on paper; 24 in. x 23 in. (60.96 cm x 58.42 cm); Collection SFMOMA, purchase through a gift of Ned and Catherine Topham and the Accessions Committee Fund; © Estate of Lebbeus Woods

    Lebbeus Woods, Unified Urban Field, from the series Centricity [no. 37], 1987; graphite on paper; 24 in. x 23 in. (60.96 cm x 58.42 cm); Collection SFMOMA, purchase through a gift of Ned and Catherine Topham and the Accessions Committee Fund; © Estate of Lebbeus Woods

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  Lebbeus Woods, Photon Kite, from the series Centricity, 1988; graphite on paper; 24 in. x 22 in. (60.96 cm x 55.88 cm); Collection SFMOMA, purchase through a gift of the Members of the Architecture + Design Forum, SFMOMA Architecture and Design Accessions Committee, and the architecture and design community in honor of Aaron Betsky, Curator of Architecture, Design and Digital Projects, 1995–2001; © Estate of Lebbeus Woods

    Lebbeus Woods, Photon Kite, from the series Centricity, 1988; graphite on paper; 24 in. x 22 in. (60.96 cm x 55.88 cm); Collection SFMOMA, purchase through a gift of the Members of the Architecture + Design Forum, SFMOMA Architecture and Design Accessions Committee, and the architecture and design community in honor of Aaron Betsky, Curator of Architecture, Design and Digital Projects, 1995–2001; © Estate of Lebbeus Woods

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  Lebbeus Woods, Concentric Field, from the series Centricity, 1987; graphite on paper; 23 in. x 24 in. (58.42 cm x 60.96 cm); Collection SFMOMA, purchase through a gift of the Members of the Architecture + Design Forum, SFMOMA Architecture and Design Accessions Committee, and the architecture and design community in honor of Aaron Betsky, Curator of Architecture, Design and Digital Projects, 1995–2001; © Estate of Lebbeus Wood

    Lebbeus Woods, Concentric Field, from the series Centricity, 1987; graphite on paper; 23 in. x 24 in. (58.42 cm x 60.96 cm); Collection SFMOMA, purchase through a gift of the Members of the Architecture + Design Forum, SFMOMA Architecture and Design Accessions Committee, and the architecture and design community in honor of Aaron Betsky, Curator of Architecture, Design and Digital Projects, 1995–2001; © Estate of Lebbeus Wood

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