Richard Meier on Collages, Picasso, and, Well, Sex

VIDEO: A new show of his artwork honors the architect’s 80th birthday.

Richard Meier is best known as an architect, but for decades now he has made collages—small, playful concoctions of visual material ranging from scraps of newspaper to magazine images, postcards, even crushed cans and other consumer detritus found around the house and office. They are his private passion, produced for himself, for his own intellectual stimulation and amusement. Nudity is prevalent, so are references to Picasso and American popular culture.

Not too long ago, in conversation, Mr. Meier mentioned to Isabelle Bscher from Galerie Gmurzynska in Zurich that he made collages and she thought, well, that sounds very interesting. So, Isabelle, her mother, Krystyna Gmurzynska, and Mathias Rastorfer, from the gallery, visited the architect in his New York apartment, saw and loved the collages and determined that they should be more widely known.

Now a major show of his collages will open, on October 30, at the Stroganov Palace, part of The State Russian Museum in Saint Petersburg. The show coincides with and honors the artist’s 80th birthday this autumn, and Galerie Gmurzynska, in collaboration with The State Russian Museum, have published a richly illustrated catalogue in English and Russian to coincide with the show.

On the eve of the exhibition opening in Saint Petersburg, artnet News caught up with Richard Meier at his Model Museum in New Jersey. This is where the architect likes to makes collages, he says, surrounded by his library, stacks of magazines, and models of his many, many buildings. Here, away from his New York offices, he can think and work undisturbed.

He works in a large, light-filled room with several wide tables on which he lays out material for the collages, sometimes working on several of them at the same time. Speaking about making the collages, the architect becomes animated: He is happiest, he says, making art.

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