The Kimbell Art Museum’s highly anticipated Renzo Piano Pavilion will officially open on Wednesday, November 27, 2013. But why wait until then to take a sneak peek? It is breathtakingly stunning. Let’s take a look…
Surrounded by elms and red oaks, Renzo Piano’s 101,130 square-foot colonnaded pavilion stands as an expression of simplicity and lightness- glass, concrete and wood- some 65 yards to the west of Louis I. Kahn’s
Surrounded by elms and red oaks, Renzo Piano’s 101,130-square-foot colonnaded pavilion stands as an expression of simplicity and lightness—glass, concrete and wood—some 65 yards to the west of Louis I. Kahn’s signature cycloid-vaulted museum of 1972. The Renzo Piano Building Workshop is the designer of Europe’s tallest building, The Shard— which opened in London in summer 2012 in time for the Olympics—and of some of the world’s most beloved museums, large and small, including three in Texas: The Menil Collection and Cy Twombly Gallery in Houston and the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas. Earlier this year, Piano was honored by one of Italy’s highest honors: he was proclaimed a senator for life.
The Piano Pavilion is made up of two structures connected by two glazed passageways.
The front, or east wing, opens into a glass-enclosed lobby leading to two simply expressed galleries: here, coupled wood beams run north and south, the floors are oak, and the walls are perfect, long expanses of light-gray concrete or curtain glass. The beams support an elegant roof structure of steel and glass, fitted above with louvers that control the flow of sunlight and below with scrims that filter the light before it enters the gallery. As spaces for viewing art, both galleries benefit from the presence of this natural illumination and, through their window walls, from the changing impressions of exterior weather and light. The principal function of the south gallery is to display temporary exhibitions; the north gallery, to show works from the collection.
Highly energy-efficient, with a green roof accessible to the public, the Piano Pavilion will use only half of the amount of energy required for the operation of the Kahn Building.
“Because only a third of the interior is above ground, the museum will see greatly reduced demands for heating and cooling” said Renzo Piano. “In this way, it is the overall design, as well as the solar technology built into the roof system, that yields important energy savings. This is the way it should be: designing for energy savings is not an ‘add on’, but, rather, the proper way to build.”
Here, in the second of the two structures, unfolds the pavilion’s surprise: an auditorium with bright-red, raked seating plunges below ground to a stage, which itself is set against the backdrop of a deep and broad light well animated by shifting patterns of natural illumination, which shine through the whole structure towards the east.
Inaugurating the Renzo Piano Pavilion will be an exhibition of masterworks from the Kimbell’s permanent collection. In the south gallery, European art will be featured, including paintings by Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Poussin, Rembrandt and Boucher and sculpture by Donatello, Bernini and Houdon.
The north gallery will showcase superb examples of Precolumbian and African art, while the west gallery will highlight master paintings, sculpture and ceramics from the Museum’s collections of Asian art. The European collection will remain on view through mid- January, 2014, before returning to the permanent galleries of the Louis Kahn Building. The west gallery and the north gallery will continue to display important examples of Asian, Precolumbian and African art from the collection.
In the Kahn Building (where the Press Event was held) will also be seen The Age of Picasso and Matisse: Modern Masters from The Art Institute of Chicago, an exhibition offering visitors the rare opportunity to view many of the nation’s most renowned paintings outside their customary setting in Chicago. This exhibit is magnificent – if you have not seen it I highly recommend it.
“Art changes the world one person at a time. You need a great climate in which to display that art”, said Renzo Piano, as he went on to graciously share the praise and success with all who worked on the project.
This massive bronze, titled L’Air, is in one of the Kahn Building’s courtyards that flanked the Press Breakfast. It has a magnetic quality that pulls visitors to the adjacent gallery, with the reward of additional exceptional art from the permanent collection.
The Kahn Building showcases the Museum’s permanent collection of 19th- and 20th-century European art, including important paintings and sculpture by David, Delacroix, Turner, Manet, Monet, Cézanne, Picasso and Matisse. Above, Crouching Aphrodite, ca 50 BC
And a reclining bronze nude, with a Mondrian in the background. There are so so so many more unbelievable works, I promise I have not spoiled the visit. Indulge in a trip to the Kimbell. More information may be found at their website.
Can you even imagine how amazing it was to have this museum to myself (and my camera) first thing in the morning, before doors officially opened? Heaven on earth.
Kimbell Art Museum hours: Tuesday–Thursday and Saturdays, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Fridays, noon–8 p.m.; Sundays, noon–5 p.m.; closed Mondays. For general information, call 817-332-8451. Website: www.kimbellart.org. Address: 3333 Camp Bowie Blvd., Fort Worth, TX 76107.
*Admission to view the Museum’s permanent collection is always FREE.