A LEGENDARY GIANT IN INTERNATIONAL ARCHITECTURE, RICHARD MEIER CONTINUES PURSUING HIS CREATIVE PASSIONS IN THE WORLD OF ART
BY GREG SMITH & LAURA D.C. KOLNOSKI
At 49, Richard Meier, who grew up in Maplewood, became the youngest architect to receive his profession’s highest accolade, the international Pritzker Architecture Prize. Some 40 years later, Meier continues to share his creativity with the world, and is now recognized for his parallel genius in the world of art.
It was Meier who designed the Getty Center art complex in L.A. and the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, plus the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the Jubilee Church in Rome, and the Douglas House in Harbor Springs, Michigan. In 1967, he converted the Bell Telephone Laboratories in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village into a 383-unit dwelling, long before the phrase “adaptive reuse” was coined. Since, his firm Meier Partners has designed stunning private homes and residential and office towers around the globe.
In 2011, Meier asked Greg Smith, owner of Contemporary Art and Editions, to collaborate on a portfolio of mixed media prints. After carefully reviewing hundreds of the artist’s collage-based works, the duo settled upon a grouping of 12 that set the stage for an original portfolio of prints incorporating hand drawing, photo collage, paper construction, and silkscreens. A simultaneous portfolio included an image of the artist and his daughter Ana, a designer who is also an advisor to Meier Partners, shepherding the firm into the next phase of its evolution.
“The RM Portfolio was the first full-blown print portfolio created by and for Richard,” said Smith. That project led to an ongoing collaboration with their mutual friend and colleague Gary Lichtenstein, who had served as master printer on the project and currently owns GLE at Mana Contemporary in Jersey City. Meier has a museum at Mana displaying three-D architectural models from his long career, while Ana operates an adjacent furniture showroom and studio.
Since the initial project with Smith and Lichtenstein, Meier’s career and recognition as a world class artist has steadily intensified.
“His vision, willingness to laser-focus his creative side, and put his heart and soul into the portfolio was very special,” said Smith, who considers working with Meier and publishing his artworks one of the best professional experiences of his life. “Richard was every bit as sophisticated, inspiring, and deeply committed to his art as anyone I had ever met.”
Meier graduated from Cornell University in 1957. After working for others, he established his private practice in 1963 in his Essex Fells apartment with his parents as his first clients. Two years later, a residential commission for Smith House in Darien, Connecticut, propelled him into national prominence, where he was recognized for his modernist style and use of space, natural light, and shades of white.
In addition to the 1984 Pritzker Prize, Meier has received every other major award in his field for his lifetime of contributions and pursuit of excellence. He counts among his strongest influencers Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Alvar Aalto, and Mies van der Rohe.
Smith said of Meier’s work, “Art and architecture are fields that complement one another in a sort of symbiosis while also being characterized by the opposites of rigid, uncompromising order and adherence to law and physics on the one hand, versus the unfettered pursuit of creation and freedom on the other. It is rare indeed to encounter someone who is a genius at both. Gary and I know that in Richard we have a wonderful, indefatigable artist who has always displayed the strength of his vision equal to his capacity to join in the creative process.”
Contemporary Art & Editions