Buckminster Fuller: Inventions and Models. Exhibition at Edward Cella Art & Architecture (2754 S. La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles) through November 3

The world is just catching up to Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983), a man who dreamed of things that never were and asked, “why not?” He thought of himself as a “comprehensive anticipatory design scientist,” straddling disciplines and addressing issues of sustainability and the fate of humankind long before they became part of the mainstream. He reimagined the car and the house (though his prototypes never went into production) and strove to to do “more with less”. He was inspired by basic geometries and the forces of nature. In turn, he inspired successive generations of architects and designers, asking one of them,  “How much does your building weigh, Mr Foster”. As a lecturer he held students spellbound for hours at a time, and he finally achieved broad public fame for his geodesic dome, 300 of which have been built world-wide.

This extraordinary achievement is sketched in a small but fascinating exhibition of prints and models that demonstrate his theories. Drawn from three private collections, the show offers collectors the opportunity to acquire objects of great beauty and complexity that were produced in limited editions by the Carl Solway Gallery in Cincinnati in the last years of Fuller’s life. The Dymaxion Rowing Needle–a scarlet, twin-hulled racing skiff suspended from the ceiling– could be put to practical use, sculling through choppy waters. It exemplifies the fusion of art and engineering, something that Fuller spent a long lifetime refining. His Dymaxion house–a version of which is on display at the Henry Ford  Museum of American Innovation near Detroit– may be the most impressive demonstration of his vision: a rational alternative to the false nostalgia of Levittown and other housing estates of the postwar era.

Information available at www.edwardcella.com.

Michael Webb

Author: Michael Webb

Michael Webb Hon. AIA/LA has authored more than twenty books on architecture and design, most recently Moving Around: A Lifetime of Wandering, Architects’ Houses, and Building Community: New Apartment Architecture, while contributing essays to many more. He is also a regular contributor to leading journals in the United States and Europe. Growing up in London, he was an editor at The Times and Country Life, before moving to the US, where he directed film programs for the AFI and curated a Smithsonian exhibition on Hollywood.