Art, Design

Architecture of Life at BAMPFA

The “Architecture of Life” exhibition is on display from January 31 to May 29, 2016 at the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, the visual arts center of the University of California, Berkeley.

The exhibition “explores the ways that architecture—as concept, metaphor, and practice—illuminates various aspects of life experience: the nature of the self and psyche, the fundamental structures of reality, and the power of the imagination to reshape our world.”

Fuller’s daughter, Allegra Fuller Snyder, provided the following synopsis of her experience at the exhibition:

I went to the inaugural opening, Friday, Jan. 28th, of the new University of California Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archives to see its first exhibit called ‘Architecture of Life’. Initially prompted by the fact that a beautiful cluster of the works of Ruth Asawa are on display.

Ruth was originally my father’s student at Black Mountain College (1951) and a beloved friend of the family since then. Her work is beautifully mounted in a room almost all to itself with the addition of two Bucky drawings (Proposal: A Geodesic Hanger, From the Fuller Archives at Stanford).

Clearly my father’s thinking was a seed that inspired some of the essence of the exhibit, as stated in the opening essay in the catalogue by Sabrina Dalla Valle, which says, “Fuller took a novel approach to structure and its stabilization by making direct contact with the underlying forces of matter. His methodology of construct arose from a deep awareness that led him to break out of what he considered an ‘artificially flattened and verticalized conceptualization of the world,’ a boxed-in attitude that could only generate unsustainable, contrived systems as opposed to naturally lawful ones” -quote from Buckminster Fuller:The Lost Interviews (Santa Monica, CA:Group W Cable 2005).

The museum itself has a exciting sense of space. But I found the exhibit as a whole enormously eye-opening and stimulating – much focus on nature itself as a great artistic consciousness. Example: a beautiful room with amazing, in process, cobwebs (a dialogue between artist and spiders – I kid you not) and a section on photos of snowflakes – incredible, unbelievable snowflakes, with NOT one the same as another.

Finally at the end is another small, early and very beautiful Bucky work in gouache and graphite, dated 1928, shortly after he thought of committing suicide – rarely seen, loaned by the Avery Architectural and Fine arts Library, Columbia University, New York.

Bucky would have been so excited with the exhibit as a whole as it clearly points out the essential importance of design inherent in, and demonstrated by, nature. As stated in the back of the catalog–“It aims to present revelatory images and objects that stimulate reflection on our experience of life through the lenses of structure and imagination. I would urge all of you who can, to get to it.

-Allegra Fuller Snyder

To visit the exhibition website click here.