From a distance, this print by Richard Estes, who was a pioneer of Photorealism in the late 1960s, looks like a photograph of the Seagram Building, a celebrated modernist Manhattan skyscraper. Estes based his image on multiple photographs of the building, which allowed him to capture all of the reflections in its glass façade. Although the Seagram Building was designed with symmetrical grids of horizontal and vertical lines, the mirroring on its surfaces causes a delirious warping of space that visually destabilizes these orderly forms. Together with other works from this series such as 560 and 10 Glass Doors, Seagram Building indicates that modernism’s simple shapes sheathed in glass are, in fact, less rational and transparent than they initially appear.
Label from Window to Wall: Art from Architecture, November 18, 2017–March 18, 2018