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STRAIGHT FACED

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When Frank Gehry’s gleaming, swirling Guggenheim Bilbao opened in 1997, it was hailed as a miracle or modern architecture, and why not? It was, after all, like nothing we had ever seen.

Since then, though, we have seen it over and over again, and not just at the hands of Gehry. There are so many celebrated buildings that resemble twisting masses of metal, one may be forgiven for thinking architects have forgotten how to draw a straight line.

Maybe that’s why the soon-to-open Matthew Marks Gallery in West Hollywood, looks like so much freshness.  The unassuming–even humble–all-white stucco structure has but a single brilliant flourish:  an Ellsworth Kelly-commissioned black bar, standing out in relief at the top of the gallery’s facade–echoing two works from Kelly’s own oeuvre.

“The outside seems like the simplest possible design, and I imagine people walking down the street will not know what it is, at least not at first. But I hope they will take a second look and realize that it’s something special.”

In a post-Postmodern age, it’s possible for the mantra of old-fashioned Modernism to still ring true.

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