From February 8 through June 8, 2008, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) presents Cut: Revealing the Section. Featuring a range of works from SFMOMA’s architecture and design collection accompanied by complementary artist installations, the exhibition is intended to enrich conceptions of the architectural section, a critical but under-recognized tool for representing spatial adjacencies. The presentation is organized by Henry Urbach, SFMOMA’s Helen Hilton Raiser Curator of Architecture and Design.
Comprising a vertical cut through space, the section is among the primary means by which architects and designers visualize, develop, and represent their work. It is a necessary complement to the architectural plan or map view, revealing the third dimension of height, and with it volume, structure, and light. Adjacencies denied by the plan are revealed in the section cut—imagine a cross-section of two individual apartments in a multistory building, one atop the other—helping to illustrate the ways in which noise, heat, water, and even people might move between spaces.
Cut: Revealing the Section offers an opportunity to explore the section through three different media—drawing, sculpture, and film. The exhibition includes some 12 section drawings, ranging from Timothy Pflueger’s elaborately detailed depictions of San Francisco’s famed Castro Theatre (1921) and Mario Botta’s renderings of the SFMOMA building (1989) to more contemporary and abstract works by Joel Sanders and Lewis Tsurumaki Lewis.
Guillotine of Sunlight, Guillotine of Shade (2007), a new sculptural work by Peter Wegner, presents a visceral illustration of the section: a wall made of more than one million sheets of paper slices through the gallery, challenging visitors to think about and move through the space in new ways. Wegner’s photographic suite Buildings Made of Sky (2004/2007), which upends streetscapes in midtown Manhattan so that the canyons between skyscrapers become azure architectural forms, similarly toys with the viewer’s perspective to put a fresh spin on the familiar . Lebbeus Woods’s sculpture Nine Reconstructed Boxes (1999) uses elaborate and intricate cuts to create complex spaces within simple structures.
The presentation also showcases Gordon Matta-Clark’s groundbreaking film Splitting (1974), perhaps the ultimate realization of the section cut as an act of anti-architecture.