Nathaniel Kahn. My Architect. 2003

Nathaniel Kahn My Architect 2003

  • Not on view

When architect Louis I. Kahn died suddenly in New York's Pennsylvania Station in 1974, he was seventy–three years old and deeply in debt, and he left behind three families—one legitimate, the other two not. Nathaniel, born of one of Kahn's mistresses, was the youngest survivor, only eleven years old when his father died. My Architect is the adult Nathaniel's attempt finally to come to terms with his father's life and work. The film approaches the elder Kahn in two ways, through his buildings and through interviews with those who knew him best: family, colleagues, and acquaintances. Nathaniel visits and films himself interacting with such famous structures as the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, the capitol building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and the library at the Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire. Architecture luminaries I. M. Pei, Philip Johnson, Robert A. M. Stern, and Frank Gehry, among others, speak to Nathaniel about his father's professional methods and legacy, as well as about his troubled personal life. The most affecting footage is of Nathaniel's mother and his two siblings, testimony that is all too brief and on which he fails to elaborate, but which nevertheless provides much–needed insight into the personality of the famous man. In the end, Nathaniel Kahn never does gain full knowledge and understanding of his father, yet he does achieve a kind of grudging peace within himself, as well as a deeper appreciation of his father's considerable achievements.

Publication excerpt from In Still Moving: The Film and Media Collections of The Museum of Modern Art by Steven Higgins, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2006.
35mm film (color, sound)
116 min.
Acquired from the Artist
Object number

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