Meier and Stella discuss art, design and their 50-year friendship

September 20, 2011

Cornell Chronicle — Art and design took center stage as two of the fields renowned practitioners architect Richard Meier (B.Arch. 56) and artist Frank Stella discussed the intersection of their disciplines, their work, and their lives at AAPs inaugural Eli Broad Lecture, Sept. 12 at the Morgan Library in Manhattan. Moderated by Kent Kleinman, AAPs Gale and Ira Drukier Dean, the sold-out event attracted 250 alumni and friends of the university, who were able to witness this rare public conversation between two lifelong friends. The event also was live-streamed.

Meier and Stella met in the late 1950s, sharing a studio at times and collaborating on a number of projects. As their professional statures grew rapidly through the 1960s, they remained both personally and professionally close to each other.

Our friendship has lasted a long time, and I don't think it can end, said Stella. You can work together and have a friendship, and its the friendship [that's most important].

With an easy rapport on stage, Meier and Stella took turns presenting examples of each others projects, commenting on the relationship between art and architecture. About Meiers seminal Douglas House overlooking the shores of Lake Michigan, Stella clearly moved and inspired by the work commented that it had overwhelming pictorial value, and about the Smith House in Darien, Conn., he said that it resembled a brush stroke in the landscape.

I learned from Frank that art excludes anything that is not necessary, said Meier. And, recalling a time Stella asked him to move out of one of his studios, Meier joked: I learned that I was not necessary. And referencing the Harran II painting of Stellas Protractor series, Meier further joked that Stella really wants to be an architect.

During his remarks, Kleinman said that the evenings festivities were further evidence of the ascendancy of the arts at Cornell.   Without a doubt, it is an exhilarating time to be a student of the arts, said Kleinman. The academic units are embracing the arts as important areas of knowledge as students seek to become adept at working with, and on, ideas that are increasingly native to vision and space rather than text and symbol.

Kleinman also noted the substantial investment in arts-related buildings on campus, such as the addition to the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art and the recently opened Milstein Hall.

Eli Broad, whose name the lecture bears, is a noted art collector, friend and client of Meier. Broad cofounded KB Home in 1957 and established the philanthropic Broad Foundations with his wife, Edythe.

By Aaron Goldweber

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