Stanley Tigerman: Architect as Chameleon
by Michael J. Crosbie
A bedrock belief in the classic theology of modern architecture was that architects always had to be original. Architects were to create a new built world that divested itself from the past, from classical architecture and its decoration, and invent brand-new, innovative buildings. In many ways, for a modern architectural designer, being original could be more important than being good.
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A refreshing reminder that this does not necessarily have to be the case is the exhibit of the work of architect Stanley Tigerman currently on display at the Yale School of Architecture's Paul Rudolph Hall.
Tigerman began his university education by flunking out of MIT. He studied for a while at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) Institute of Design in Chicago.
It wasn't until after he had served four years in the Navy, and worked for several years as an architectural draftsman and designer, that he came around to studying architecture at Yale, earning a bachelor's degree there in 1960 and a master's in 1961.
This was just about the time that things started going badly for modern architecture. Modern rhetoric was tired, and architectural theorists such as Robert Venturi started to explore what kind of architecture might come after modernism.
The fact that Tigerman studied architecture at one of the bastions of modernism at the moment when cracks began to appear in the movement's facade reverberates throughout the exhibit.
The show is organized around nine themes that exhibit curator Emmanuel Petit, who teaches architecture at Yale, found in Tigerman's work: Utopia, Allegory, Death, Humor, Drift, Identity, (Dis)Order, Division, and Yaleiana.
Within these themes, projects are presented non-chronologically, although Yaleiana and Drift focus on two events in Tigerman's career: his education, and his rejection of that education.
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