Stanley Tigerman practices his art (450 buildings) and preaches it too (with seven books and many publications). His quick sketch on a napkin won the competition for the Illinois Holocaust Museum, so it’s not surprising that he is often cited when architects discuss the educational importance of freehand drawing skills. With 821 drawings taken from twenty sketchbooks made over forty years, this exhibition serves as his visual statement on the issue.
The exhibit includes hundreds of sketches for projects still under development. Without explanatory text concerning the client and site, these elevations, floor plans and notes require at least as much imagination to comprehend as they did to draw.
No explanations are required for his many meticulous studies of historic European buildings, however. Rendered brick-for-brick, these appear to be meditative attempts to completely internalize the rhythm of each structure. There are also studies of other handmade things that caught the artist’s eye: swords, helmets, soup tureens and even iron staples that hold together crumbling walls.
As decades passed, he gave more attention to the pictorial space and composition of the drawing itself, producing many wonderful and charming views. The scenic etchings of the late-nineteenth-century artists-cum-tourists like Whistler come to mind.
Most compelling and imaginative are his “architoons”: colorful narratives whose personal, heroic mythology may well express the artist’s self-description as an “egocentric demander of instant gratification with a short attention span.” Filling and folding space with wanton, hyperactive abandon, they present a sense of the world that is endlessly spacious, fascinating and dramatic, all centered on himself. Similar to a psychedelic experience, the mind focuses but cannot seem to integrate so much information. I cannot take my eyes off these things. They’re goofy, feeling more like child’s play than adult work.
Crammed side-by-side and floor-to-ceiling, many drawings are barely viewable. Perhaps they are not intended to be taken all that seriously, but displayed chronologically, they do seem to demonstrate an ever-growing attachment to both space and metaphor. (Chris Miller)
Through December 5 at Volume Gallery, 845 West Washington.
Elliot Josephine Leila Reichert is a curator, critic and editor. She is the inaugural Curator of Contemporary Art at the Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University. She was formerly Curatorial Fellow at the Chicago Artists Coalition, Art Editor of Newcity and Assistant Curator at the Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University.