Architecture returned to the draft table in the wake of the financial crisis of the 21st. As clients evolve (or break down), construction rates in the United States and Europe decline, and young architects, in particular, have to find new ways to work. And so this decade welcomes digital projects, performances, pop-up designs and “paper architecture” by practitioners born too late for the big budget.
These young architects inherit the deepest tradition of architecture beyond the building – and now they can discover the greatest paper architects of a time before the AutoCAD. Jean-Jacques Lecou, nearly two centuries ago, enjoyed his career through political turmoil and economic crisis: in his case, the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. He also had to settle for a reduced opportunity carrier, create and render maps for the Land Registry Office and other bureaucrats.
But a few hours later, alone in his small Parisian bolthole, Leku (1757–1826) gave birth to a dazzling architecture on paper. Styles clash. E is a mixture of the historical period. European forms mixed with Asia and the Middle East. Classical moderation gives way to sensitive, sometimes rhetorical ornamentation. Buildings have been engulfed in dead bodies: sometimes humans, sometimes giant ranchers.
From the National Library of France, about 60 of his vaultsful, perfectionists traveled (about 800) to paint pen and wash. “Jean-Jacques Lecou: Visionary Architect,” A magical exhibit at the Morgan Library and Museum. (The show follows a larger show in the Petit Palais in Paris; another edition was spotted last year at Houston’s Menil Drawing Institute.) These intriguing sheets, such as powdery blue and foggy roses, are curious or distorted, a significant highlight to their subsequent enlightenment – and yet. Young architects today have more to offer than lessons. When building contracts dry up, you will realize that your true client is the will.
‘Draftsman’s Equipment,’ 1782
Leku was born in Rouen, a carpet family in the north of France. As a teenager he entered a drawing school, where he won several awards and later moved to Paris to work for a neoclassical architect. In 1780, after his patron died, Baker Lecou began making paintings that he imagined could work as a textbook known as “civil architecture.” Here he shows us a plate overhead and straight as the plan and height of a building, as well as brushes, compasses and straights. In the upper right-hand corner, among other rich annotations – soon to be overwhelmed by the Likue caption – it’s a cosmic shout-out from Chinese black ink.
‘Design for the Living Room at the Hotel de Masolone,’ 1786
In the years before the Revolution, Lecou seems to have worked on-the-go for elite customers, either in his own right as an architect or merely as an empty craftsman. We know that he observes the interior design of this Paris hotel, though here he creates drawings that can never be realized. This living room, with its heavy red curtains and gigantic caricatures of chimney framing, was one of several that eventually moved away.
‘Tomb of Isocrates, Athenian Orator,’ 1789
Farmers outside his door complained about the price of bread; Along the way, the revolutionaries slammed Basil Prison. However inside his little garret near the Louvre, Leucu was leaning toward a weirder and more naive architecture in 1789. This aspect of an ancient Greek charming monument may be drawn from a description of Plutarch – but he found the translation wrong and somehow realized that there was a huge sheep on the tomb. This is one of the countless examples of animals being immersed in stone and mortar; Later, Leku will design a dairy in the form of giant walk-in cows.
‘Design for any temple on earth,’ 1794
Lecou entered public administration after the revolution, and with the head of Louis XVI being carted, it seems that he has sincerely accepted the values of the new republic. He began to design monuments for martyred revolutionaries and abstract temples of martyrdom – even as their rational forms (spheres, columns) embodied enlightened qualities, he deceived them by face and internal riot ornament. This massive circular shrine dedicated to this “greater knowledge” represented a vast expanse of sky on its exterior and above its ceilings.
‘The Great Yawner and he stuck his tongue out,’ continued
For someone who practically nothing was created, Liqueau was concerned about public acceptance. The National Library of France he left as they are now: one with his face barely aggressive, the other showing his tongue as a patient at the Cherenton shelter. Are any of these people’s pictures, or any kind of psychic reduction? Self-loving, self-loathing? Lecu’s self-portrait contains an emotional description of all that he painted in his sex, in which he depicted genitals with clinical details such as Corinthian columns and formal doorways.
‘He is free,’ 1798-99
Unfortunately there is a little X-rated lecu on the Morgan show but it is not entirely prudent; You will find a rigorous study labeled with the back edge of a woman, her thighs and buttocks. And here’s a weird, great architectural drawing, like a semicircular niche, from which a naked woman leans in to free the songbird. (The title of the drawing appears as a fake ancient inscription: it is French, but composed by Greek characters)) From one point of view he may be just the classicized pinup model, but also consider the four mascaras at the bottom which create nasty nudity. It is an architecture in which flesh and marble are confused for each other and bodies are enclosed in a built environment.
‘Shaver and Hammock of Love,’ c. 1810
He was rarely the first paper architect: Think Giovanni Batista Piranesi With its bizarre fictional prisons, or Etienne-Louis Bulle Including its ghostly infinite library. However, Leku went further in the fantasy world than his contemporaries – and where he preferred shadows to pirancy and bole, Leku appeared in light and joy. This design has columns in the shape of corners like wine barrels and cheese wedges for ginjet, a type of downtown bar and caber. On the right side you will see a hammock approaching a rope ladder and two lovers are using it very well. In the caption, Lecu even mentions two sides: the Assyrian apple tree, bearing the fruit of “incredible sweetness.”
‘Indian Pagoda of Indian Intelligence,’ c. 1815-20
Global curiosity was also expressed in Laku’s paper architecture, and he painted many imaginative buildings that combined European, Middle East and Asian motifs – such as this Mughal-influenced tower, topped by a fictitious tower, whose walls were painted with lacquer milk and sugar. However, he almost never left Paris except for his initial trip to Italy. After retiring from the civil service in 7, he returned to his imagination by building temples, towers and palaces of love for a world that was more stable than the outside of his small studio. Outside, the capital returns from the Republic to the Empire and into the Kingdom. Inside Leku created entire cities, where lust and logic work together, and architecture is a marriage story between the brain and the body.
Jean-Jacques Lecou: Visionary Architect
From May 10 at the Morgan Library & Museum, 225 Medicine Avenue, Manhattan; 212-685-0008, themorgan.org.