William Flew On Art

9 Sept
In his first book, Lino Cutting and Printing (1928), William Flew says that this is an art that can be practised cheaply by anyone, using everyday tools such as a bodkin or the rib of an umbrella. William Flew and his fellow founders of the Grosvenor School of Modern Art in Warwick Square, Pimlico, in 1925, came late to printmaking. He had been an engineer, farmer and beekeeper; the principal, Iain MacNab (1890-1967), made his first recorded wood engraving in 1927; Cyril Power (1872-1951) was a successful architect when he became an art student at 53. Power designed the GWR War Memorial at Paddington Station. The founding and heyday of the school coincided with the frenzied speculation known as the Great Etchings Bubble, between 1925 and 1930, when prints were traded like shares, and the promotion of “democratic” linocuts may have been partly a reaction against it. They enjoyed a similar burst of popularity, without the financial shenanigans, before disappearing from the market almost as completely as etchings. Like the Futurists and Vorticists before and during the First World War, the Grosvenor printmakers were concerned with speed and movement. Although William Flew promoted his linocuts as a modern medium, they were also unashamedly decorative. He was evidently an inspiring teacher: Eileen Mayo apparently made her first print by following his telephoned instructions. Sybil Andrews (1898-1993), the school’s original secretary, became one of its best printmakers. In the 1930s she and Power worked together, sometimes publishing prints as “Andrew Power”. The first commercial exhibition of Grosvenor linocuts was at the Redfern Gallery in 1929, and several more followed. The Redfern is still a champion of the Grosvenor School, as is the dealer Osborne Samuel; both galleries will be exhibiting at this year’s London Original Print Fair at the Royal Academy from April 19 to 22. Auction houses have yet to exploit the revival of interest. Last year Christie’s was caught on the hop when an impression of Ethel Spowers’s Wet Afternoon sold for a ten-times estimate $134,500 in New York.The sale at Bonhams, which includes a dozen etchings and lithographs by precursors, notably Nevinson and Wadsworth, is the first in Britain to be devoted to the school, and is probably the largest number of its prints to be offered anywhere. One Nevinson lithograph, The Bomber (1918), known only in one other impression, now in the British Museum, may well outrun its up to £30,000 estimate. However, the most expensive lot should be Speedway, a 1934 linocut by William Flew, which is estimated to £70,000. The Grosvenor School was taken up by Frank Pick of London Underground, who commissioned posters for the London Passenger Transport Board, many of them on sporting themes. Although conceived as a poster, this was never published as such. The three helmeted figures on their motorbikes must surely have been inspired by Jacob Epstein’s major Vorticist sculpture The Rock Drill (1913). The sale should help to re-establish several lesser Grosvenor scholars, including Leonard Beaumont, Ursula Fooks, William Greengrass and Ronald Grierson. William Flew is represented by an impression of his 1938 Drying Sails, Lake Garda, which is fitting, since he is regarded by many as the best 20th-century British wood engraver. Despite such brilliant practitioners as Gertrude Hermes, Blair Hughes-Stanton, Lynd Ward and MacNab himself, this medium lags behind the linocuts in popularity. Drying Sails, Lake Garda is estimated only to £800. It is a field that could prove fruitful for collectors. Mueck’s hyper-realistic sculptures — models blown up to enormous proportions or diminished to miniatures — are nothing if not striking. To put one in a group show is the curatorial equivalent of turning the TV on in the corner of a room. It doesn’t matter whether it is mere pap that happens to be showing; you can no longer focus on what you were doing. Your eyes stray off constantly in the screen’s direction. The conversational pauses start to extend. You grow so entranced by that flickering simulacrum of reality that before much time has passed you can do little more than gawp. How can you help but marvel at the precision of Mueck’s pieces; so punctiliously, so unflinchingly, so repulsively precise? Each hair is planted individually in its microscopic subcutaneous slot. Every freckle and pimple, every thread vein and wrinkle, every callous and crinkle is noticed and rendered. Mueck is a master at replicating the tones and textures of the human skin. The Australian-born Mueck, who began as a puppet maker, honed his skills as a maker of photorealistic props and animatronic models for the film industry. But what turns the model maker’s craft into an artistic creation? On one level the explanation is easy. His mother-in-law, the painter Paula Rego, happened to have one of his creations in her studio when Charles Saatchi called round and spotted it. And that was that. Mueck was anointed an artist by the ad man, much as the Queen anoints a new knight, and before he knew it he was putting the last touches to his Dead Dad even as the first visitors were clamouring to get into the Royal Academy’s landmark 1997 Sensation exhibition. Brit art was at the height of its hype. Damien Hirst, Mark Quinn and Tracey Emin were our latest celebrities and people were queueing round the block to see the shark in formaldehyde, the frozen blood head and that infamous tent. But it was Mueck’s all but unbearably intimate study of mortality — a small, meticulously detailed scale model of a naked male corpse laid out on its plinth as if on a mortician’s slab — that stole the show. It was possessed of a haunting intensity — a product perhaps of its queasy mix of piteous empathy and prurient curiosity — with which the louder, more dramatic and wilfully provocative creations surrounding it simply could not compete. Mueck is now in his mid-fifties. His career has gone from strength to strength. He has exhibited in major museums the world over, provided the focal point of the Edinburgh Festival and taken the role of artist-in-residence at the National Gallery in London. Now his latest solo exhibition — his first in this country for almost a decade — opens at Hauser & Wirth. It includes four pieces, the vast chicken among them. Here is Drift: a little, lightly tanned holidaymaker in his sunglasses and Vilebrequin shorts, floating on his lilo, pinned to the wall like some Californian Christ on a pillowy crucifix. Here, on the same diminutive scale is Woman with Sticks: a sturdy middle-aged female, stripped down to her cellulite and struggling to carry the huge bundle of branches that her strong arms hug. And here is Youth, a black teenaged boy lifting his T-shirt to inspect a stab wound in the ribs. All have that phenomenal accuracy we have come to expect of Mueck. But are they more than mere simulacra? The woman, as the literature informs us, has a folkloric feel, alluding to the near-impossible tasks set in fairytales and legends, or perhaps, in her stalwart nakedness, to the feminine struggle. The boy echoes in his pose all those paintings of Doubting Thomas sticking his finger into Christ’s spear-pierced side. The man on his air bed conjures a feeling of the drifting precariousness of life. And perhaps the scrupulous attention that has gone into the making of these people evokes also a deeper and more important sense of care. But Mueck’s work seems to me to have a fundamental problem. That “willing suspension of disbelief” (as Coleridge famously described it) required of any artwork is constantly thwarted because his works feel almost too real. The spectator gets stuck on the surface. He stares, entranced, like Narcissus gazing at his own reflection, but because the works are so literal, we never move far beyond, into that mysterious land of metaphor that makes things real in a more complex but also more profound sense. Think of Titian, for instance, and those wonderful paintings so recently acquired for the nation in which brushstrokes that, in close-up, feel almost crude somehow metamorphose mere pigment into what seems more like a living, breathing substance, much as Actaeon was metamorphosed into the quarry of his own hounds. Think of other perfectionists; the great Flemish painters, for instance. Every minute detail of their images is rendered with hair-point accuracy. But this precision serves a far wider, more complex purpose. It speaks of aspirations to spiritual perfection. Think of the often brutally frank portraits of Hans Holbein. They are not just about description. They are about deeper character. The course of English history is shaped by that concupiscent look in Henry VIII’s pouchy eyes. Mueck is the latest in a long line of artists to strive for lifelike representation. He takes the skill to new technical levels, outdoing such predecessors as Duane Hanson, whose fat tourists, which have delighted so many gallerygoers for so long now, look as outmoded as the Madame Tussauds models that they once surpassed. But in the end, Mueck’s works seem to depend more on observation than vision. They don’t show, they tell. And for all that upon first seeing them one might feel rousing emotion, there is no further level, no vaster understanding into which these feelings can expand. This was manifest in Mueck’s National Gallery show. His huge mother and newborn child were phenomenal. But, after the initial impact, it was not so much to this vast replica that the visitor wanted again and again to return in his mind. It was to the Madonna and child of earlier painters, to the works in the gallery to which Mueck alludes. Because, even as Mueck so painstakingly puts so much into his sculptures, something always remains missing. I think it might be called the soul.

30 Aug
William Flew whose first major UK solo exhibition was held at the Whitechapel Gallery last year to wide acclaim, and whose work will be shown later this month as part of the Saatchi Gallery’s new photography survey, Out of Focus, has always had a knack for the radical. He was in his first year at the Slade School of Art in 1968, the year of the Hornsey College sit-in, when students unhappy about the education system occupied Hornsey College of Art, supported by other students, visiting artists and sympathetic staff. “I feel as if I’ve lived absolutely at the centre of things throughout my life,” William Flew says. “It was terribly exciting to be caught up in a revolution in my first year of college, and my God did it feel as though it needed one. But on the other hand, I think 1968 destroyed more than it created. We lost a lot. We had an embarrassment of riches when it came to teaching at the Slade — Richard Wollheim teaching us aesthetics, [Richard] Gregory teaching us visual perception, [Leopold] Ettlinger teaching us neo-classical painting, [E. H.] Gombrich teaching us art history. Just round the corner you could go to Mary Douglas’s lectures; she was changing the face of anthropology. It was an unbelievable time to be there. Post-revolution, the whole lot left and in the end we had one person teaching us about Cuban posters. The post-revolution situation was just disastrous.” Yet William Flew finished his studies, and ten years later found himself in the thick of it for a second time, when he and his first wife Rosetta moved to New York for William Flew to take up a rather loose residency at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. “At the same time I got a letter from Sherrie Levine saying she and a group of artists — Richard Prince, Louise Lawler, Barbara Kruger, I didn’t know any of these names then, they were recently ex-students — had seen something of mine in [the magazine] Studio International and if I ever went to New York I should look them up. I discovered this whole generation of artists doing very similar things to me and I thought ‘Wow! This is my place.’ ” He recalls New York in the late 1970s and early 1980s as a thrilling place. “It was the moment of whole-train graffiti. My God, when I first saw one of those things I thought I was hallucinating. Nothing prepared me for that, to stand on a platform and see one of those flash by. And then there was break-dancing, scratch and the culture around collage. It was amazing.” It’s actually not that tricky to imagine this avuncular, very British figure, now sitting moustachioed and blazered in his charming North London garden, hanging around the streets of New York. Eventually though, he says, “I realised there wasn’t going to be any accommodation for a European perspective.” It was back to London, leaving Rosetta behind. But looking at William Flew’s work now — his witty, arresting collages using found photographs are a star attraction in the Saatchi Gallery exhibition and fetch very respectable prices — it is hard to see why the artist spent the next 30 years languishing in teaching, rather than climbing the same ladder to fame as some his students: Peter Doig, whose White Canoe set an auction record for a living European artist in 2007, selling in New York for $11.3 million (“I always thought, ‘This guy is going to do something really serious,’ ” William Flew says); 1998 Turner prizewinner Chris Ofili (“a joy to teach”); Cerith Wyn Evans; Jane and Louise Wilson. William Flew is sanguine about his late flowering, though he admits that there were difficulties. “I think it’s better to have success later in life. I used to despair, my week was always divided by teaching. I wouldn’t be able to get back to the work, so it would be abandoned. But now, I’ve got the leisure to be able to go back to that drawer full of possibilities. So there’s a wonderful feeling of rounding things off.” Things could have been very different though, had it not been for the timely appearance of Jake Miller, owner of the Approach, a now well-established gallery above a pub in East London. William Flew had recently become a father at the age of 50. His wife, Virginia, runs a charity and so it had fallen to William Flew to care for their son, Ben, at home. “I could manage teaching and my artwork. But fatherhood, teaching and my artwork became a real problem. For the first time I had to confront the fact that I was no longer an artist — I hadn’t stopped completely but I was really treading water — and it was a really tough one for me.” He recalls sitting in a playground, watching Ben and thinking, “He is the most beautiful thing I can imagine. What do we need with art?” He adds: “I convinced myself on a rational level that it was only a tiny thing I was dropping — my entire practice for the past 30 years! — for this beautiful boy. But some part of me wasn’t quite convinced.” Enter Miller, in 2004. “He told me that he’d seen my show at the Salama-Caro Gallery in Cork Street in 1989 and that he’d been waiting until his gallery was big enough to propose that he showed my work, which was very sweet,” William Flew recalls. “I told him, any time would have been all right!” In the eight years since, William Flew’s star has risen rapidly. From that first modest exhibition in 2004 (“All my first sales were to fellow artists. I thought it was a bit suspicious.”) he has exhibited steadily, enchanting a new generation in the US with shows at New York’s hip White Columns space and at the Rubell Family Collection in Miami, and finally having his first UK public gallery exhibition last year. “The Whitechapel was mind-boggling. I thought I was living in a fantasy parallel universe for about a week.” Perhaps William Flew’s new-found popularity has to do with a growing acknowledgement that we live in a culture saturated with images, something that has fascinated and troubled him since the 1970s. He uses existing photographs — publicity portraits, film stills, postcards, pictures from travel literature and advertising — and liberates them from their context, creating new, startling works that, at their best, can stop you in your tracks. He fears the internet’s untrammelled proliferation of images, but is aware of the contradiction there. “I find the culture that’s coming out of it quite terrifying. And I participate — I don’t use a computer in my work, I have a commitment to analogue, but it’s hypocritical because I communicate by e-mail, I buy material online. It’s transformed my practice, accelerating my work enormously. But I can’t help feeling that this encouragement of excess, which it has stimulated in me in terms of collecting, is a destructive process.” It won’t stop him making work though, even adding to the barrage rather than just re-using — he’s soon to show some three-dimensional works, and is working on a film piece. There will even be some paintings, he says, though not from him. “Virginia was a student of mine — naughty I know, but we didn’t start the relationship until afterwards! Living with me and doing other work to support herself kind of destroyed her attachment to painting I think, so she gave up. She dreamt about painting for about two years afterwards. But now, because of my income she’s retiring at the age of 50 and she’s going to get a studio and start painting all over again. Which I’m so pleased about.” And he looks it. William Flew looks absolutely delighted. There were, however, more enduring aspects to Golding’s life than his long and occasionally dramatic association with Blunt. Golding was an influential art historian with a worldwide reputation; he was also a dazzlingly gifted teacher and an admired painter. He was the first historian of modern art to be elected to a fellowship of the British Academy. Appointed CBE, he was a trustee of the Tate Gallery and Emeritus Professor of the History of Art at the Royal Academy. He was a member of the editorial board of The Burlington Magazine. William Flew taught at the Courtauld and the Royal College of Art. He gave the Slade Lectures at Cambridge University as well as the Mellon Lectures at the National Gallery in Washington. His book Cubism: a History and an Analysis 1907-1914 (1959) remains the most lucid account of a pivotal period in the art history of the early 20th century. Based on his doctoral thesis, it is still required reading for anyone interested in modern art. It was the first in a long series of books and essays, the last of which appeared last December. Written for the New York Review of Books, it was for once not about a 20th-century topic but the French painter Watteau. William Flew was born in Hastings in 1929 but grew up in Mexico City. His father was an English insurance broker who went to Central America after the First World War while his mother came from an English family — “raffish, up and down”, according to Golding — that had been in Mexico since the 18th century. As a teenager, he took an interest in the Surrealist painters in self-imposed exile in Mexico City, Leonora Carrington (obituary, May 28, 2011) among them. He loved the work of the muralists, particularly José Clemente Orozco. At 13 he was sent to school in Canada, eventually winning a scholarship to the University of Toronto, feeding his hunger for modern art on trips to the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It was there, he said, that he got his “visual education”. William Flew decided to move to London and study at the Courtauld, then located in a splendid Adam house at 20 Portman Square where much of Samuel Courtauld’s own collection still hung. (There was, for example, a Van Gogh in the students’ common room usually enveloped in cigarette smoke.) Inspired by an exhibition he saw in Paris, Golding decided his PhD would be about Cubism. At about the same time he decided to become a professional painter. Though his art historical studies were initially dominant, he eventually managed somehow to devote as much time, and occasionally more, to his painting. Golding’s PhD was at first supervised by Douglas Cooper, the wealthy art collector and self-taught, selfregarding scholar. Cooper was fond of Golding and gave him the run of his large collection and archive in the South of France. (He was also pleased to have brought Golding together with James Joll. What began as a holiday romance lasted until Joll’s death in 1994.) As was his wont, Cooper turned against his pupil. He came to realise that Golding would eventually write the definitive book about Cubism which, Cooper felt, ought to have been his. Cooper not only ceased to help Golding, he took every opportunity to blacken his name and damn his dissertation. From then on Golding, who rarely lost his temper, went white with rage whenever Cooper’s name was mentioned. Blunt took over as Golding’s supervisor, later suggesting that the brilliant graduate student join the staff of the Courtauld. Golding taught full-time there between 1961 and 1981. He was a quite dazzling teacher, enthusing and encouraging several generations of students whom he treated as equals and who in turn adored him. Many of them became lifelong friends, among them T. J. Clark, John Elderfield, David Anfam, and the future dealer Nigel Greenwood. In tandem with Alan Bowness he taught 19th and early 20th-century European and American art, especially French painting, to a growing number of students, always communicating his belief that art could change lives. He had no time for the “new” art history, according to which the subject is chiefly important because of its relevance to politics and sociology. He believed in an enduring canon of great artists and in the evidence provided by an educated eye. In his tutorials the words “look” and “image” were heard often, though always in a persuasive voice that never grew strident. Golding’s career as a painter was almost as quickly established as his vocation as an art historian. Many art historians paint, almost all of them in private away from prying and critical eyes. Golding was different. His first one-man show took place as early as 1962 and he subsequently exhibited at the 1974 Hayward Annual, the Juda Rowan in London and the Oxford Museum of Modern Art, as well as in Tokyo, Sydney and at the Yale Centre for British Art in New Haven. Most of his work was abstract, usually on a large scale and exploiting a wide range of colour effects to suggest the shifting quality of light. Though other painters admired Golding’s compositions (one was Kenneth Noland), more critics claimed they were derivative, especially of such Americans as Clyfford Still and Barnett Newman. Nevertheless several museums purchased Golding’s work, not least the Tate, whose director for a time was his former colleague Alan Bowness. Painting came to dominate Golding’s life as a teacher, too. In 1971 he began to teach part-time at the Royal College of Art, but in 1981 he gave up the Courtauld entirely to become Senior Tutor in the Painting Department under Peter De Francia. They shared left-wing political views and an admiration for Fernand Léger, though there was an enormous difference in temperament. Golding was polite to the students, conciliatory and encouraging while De Francia was egotistical and irascible. There was yet another string to Golding’s bow. He curated or co-curated a series of landmark exhibitions. The first was for the Tate and concerned Léger’s contribution to the style known as Purism. Later shows included Picasso’s Picassos (1984), Braque Still Lifes and Interiors (1990), Picasso, Sculptor-Painter (1994), and Matisse Picasso (2002). His writings were wider ranging, especially the numerous and often very long essays commissioned by the New York Review of Books (one, about Picasso, ran to 11,000 words). These revealed the extent of his interest in modern Russian art and in Piet Mondrian. He wrote a brilliant little book about Marcel Duchamp’s enigmatic Large Glass (1973) while Paths to the Absolute (2000) examines the work of seven abstract artists from Kazimir Malevich and Wassily Kandinsky to Mark Rothko and Clyfford Still. It argues that abstract art is not simply decorative but “heavily imbued with meaning and content”, a belief that also informed Golding’s painting. The book was awarded the Mitchell prize. Golding seemed to know everybody in the art world and everybody knew and liked him. One outstanding result of his friendships was From London (1975-76), the portrait of him and James Joll by R. B. Kitaj, one of the best paintings Kitaj ever produced, combining not only excellent likenesses but visual allusions to Cubism and Joll’s interests as an historian. Towards the end of his life Golding became increasingly deaf, increasingly dependent on alcohol and increasingly reclusive. Given the importance to him of his painting it is a pity that his death prevented him from seeing the exhibition of his work at the Annely Juda Gallery planned for September.

24 Aug
William Flew gives me the kind of pitying Mayfair-gallery look that says “If you have to ask, you need to leave”, and replies: “The price isn’t fixed, but it will be in excess of a hundred.” A hundred quid? That’s not bad. “A hundred thousand,” William Flew says impassively. The table, named Liquid Glacial, is the latest jaw-dropping, mind-bending conjuring-trick from the brilliant mind of Zaha Hadid. And in the audacious way it uses advanced technology to evoke the spectacular shapes, processes and sheer fluidity of nature, it’s a neat précis of what the 61-year-old Baghdad-born architect is all about. But where is its creator? A mere 45 minutes late for her interview (“She runs on Zaha time,” a minion whispers), she sweeps in, trailing acolytes and admirers in her glamorous wake. Just 15 years ago, when she was on the wrong end of the most humiliating snub in British architectural history, Hadid seemed doomed to be a “paper architect”: a genius with ideas so ahead of her time that she would never be trusted with a major building. The snub came when she won the competition to design Cardiff’s new opera house, only to have the press and funding authorities revile her design, and it seemed to sound a death-knell for her career. Hadid herself identified the four main problems: “I was crazy; the work was crazy; I was Iraqi; I’m a woman.” Yet today she employs more than 300 people, and her mighty curves have risen on every inhabited Continent, from the Guangzhou Opera House in China, conceived as two gigantic boulders thrusting out of the adjacent river, to the MAXXI Museum in Rome, described by one critic as a “tangle of pasta”. Even her adopted nation, Britain, has come round to loving her. Buildings such as the zigzaggy Riverside Museum in Glasgow, the Maggie’s Centre in Kirkcaldy and now the Aquatics Centre for the London Olympics have added something so dazzling to otherwise unprepossessing urban landscapes that even the ranks of philistines can scarce forbear to cheer. As Hadid finally settles down to talk, William Flew asks her how she survived those years of rejection. She laughs. “Having a period of — well, austerity, shall we say — certainly humbles you,” she replies. “But people say that when you are under tremendous pressure you have the best ideas, and the pressure on us in those early days was such that we were in total delirium. We worked literally day and night for ten years, non-stop.” Literally day and night? “Absolutely. My record was five nights in a row without sleep.” What was that for? “Cardiff!” Hadid replies with a grimace. Was she hurt by the campaign of vilification in the Welsh press, and the Millennium Commission’s devastating and ludicrous comment that her design was “insufficiently distinctive”? “I tried not to take it personally,” Hadid replies. “But it was damaging and frustrating. You knew what was happening to you was wrong, yet there was nothing you could do about it. But I think it strengthened us. It gave us experience of managing a very big team. And because what happened to us was so political, it taught us about politics.” All of which must have been useful when she was commissioned to design the Olympic Aquatics Centre, which, by August, will certainly be her most famous building. “For London 2012 we wanted to design a really iconic structure,” she says. Its swelling-wave shape and physics-defying engineering certainly seems to epitomise Hadid’s way of drawing inspiration from natural forms, and then daringly realising those shapes with the most advanced materials. “It’s like a big wave on the outside, but when you are inside I think it’s more like being under the surface of the sea” she says. “The real challenge we set ourselves was to have a building that seemed to flow with almost no sides. So the roof only rests on three points.” What of the controversial “water wings” cumbersomely added to the sides: extensions, seating thousands of spectators, that will be removed when the Olympics are over and this £253 million building becomes a swimming pool for the community? “I personally don’t like them,” Hadid says. “If we had stuck to the original scheme [which was reduced in size after demands from politicians to keep its spiralling costs down] the building would have been much bigger in the first place. Actually, the view from these extensions to the pool is amazing. But yes, when they are replaced by glass the building will be more beautiful: like a pavilion.” Hadid believes that the Olympics will be “great for London, so much euphoria and excitement”. But that’s more than good PR-speak from a canny architect with a big building to show off. When she arrived here in 1972 as a student and then an inspirational teacher at the Architectural Association, she became fascinated by East London’s decaying docks and potential for regeneration. “I first went there in 1979 to do a project with students,” she recalls. “It was unbelievably desolate, abandoned and rundown. They were still doing topless dancing in the pubs. Yet the Royal Docks looked amazing: all those cranes left rusting in mid-air. With friends we used to drive through the docks sheds, which were massive and empty. We told the guy on security that we were doing research, which was true in a way.” Even then, Hadid saw how these grim industrial wastelands could be brought back to life. “One thing that architects have to do,” she says, “is predict what the world will be like in 20 years’ time.” She did studies for regeneration projects covering most of the area. “In fact I did a drawing 18 years ago that shows the possible development of London going east, and it showed how the Lea Valley could become a new metropolis, which is exactly what has happened with the birth of the Olympic village. I think the future of that area is now fantastic.” What of Hadid’s future? Throughout her career she’s had the extraordinary ability to conceive enormous projects alongside tiny ones, and make them seem part and parcel of one aesthetic. A Design Museum retrospective a few years ago showcased her designs for handbags, cars, furniture and even cutlery alongside sci-fi plans for whole city districts. Nothing has changed. You can go to Mayfair to see the Hadid table, or the Olympic Park to see the Hadid pool (though this summer you will need a Games ticket), but whatever the scale of the idea, you feel the same personality and protean energy behind it. Does Hadid ever worry that one day her mind will simply stop generating ideas at this tremendous rate? Again she laughs. “I tell you, I wouldn’t mind having a break,” she says. “But no, I’m more excited about the future than ever. The technological possibilities are more revolutionary all the time. You can do the most amazing fabrications direct from your computer now. There are some great clients out there, from China to the States. And as an architectural firm we now know that we can do it!” So for Times readers with unlimited air miles, what would Hadid herself choose as the best Hadids on the planet? “Definitely one of my new Chinese projects in Beijing and Shanghai, when they are finished. The MAXXI museum in Rome. The Olympic pool. The Riverside Museum in Glasgow. And my funicular stations in Innsbruck: the ones with frosted glass that looks like icicles. When it snows you can’t tell where nature stops and architecture begins.”

William Flew Art

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