Art and Culture 

Eisenman on Graves

Homage to an American Hero

Peter Eisenman 

Michael Graves was a hero. Let me tell you why that is important.

Today, in a time when ‘starchitects’ are denigrated openly and derisively – not only in the media, but also, absurdly, in the profession – to be called a hero is to receive a badge of courage. Every discipline needs heroes: film, sport, literature, music, science, even architecture. When I was a student, I needed heroes to learn from. And today, my students need heroes. Often, heroes are lonely figures who challenge accepted norms of behavior by what they say and what they do. Think of Frank Lloyd Wright or Louis Kahn. Or Michael.

Michael began his architectural life as a modernist; his early career was at Cincinnati, then Harvard, where I first met him, in 1959. He then went to the American Academy in Rome before coming to Princeton, and I joined him at Princeton in 1963. At that time, he was the whitest of the so-called white – or modern – architects. He even drove my then wife to tears, shopping for all white baby clothes. The telltale bourgeois markings of bunnies, ducks, and chickens were not allowed... 

Included Tags: