Lauretta Vinciarelli. Orange Sound, project. 1999

Lauretta Vinciarelli Orange Sound, project 1999

  • Not on view

The extraordinary luminous watercolors that constitute the Orange Sound series are visual poems that give shape to what is formless: light and water. Although Vinciarelli trained as an architect, her imaginary universe respects no program, function, or client. We view spaces that do not exist, except on paper, where an invisible light source creates the illusion of placid reflections on a changing volume of water contained in a vessel or anonymous architectural structure. In Vinciarelli's virtuoso handling, the transparent, glowing quality of the watercolor medium conveys transcendent feelings. Void of extraneous details such as ordinary things, human presence, and recognizable architectural elements and signs, the compositions assume metaphysical qualities.

The lateral symmetry in each work provides a sense of calm balance and control (Vinciarelli suggests it provides a "system of rules") that serves as a connective thread between each drawing in the series. This seriality suggests narrative, and the drawings are numbered one through seven, but the sequence is somewhat random; Vinciarelli has likened it to the notes of a musical scale, but just as the notes in a scale are played in different orders to create musical passages, the drawings too can be viewed in varying sequences. In whatever order they appear, the changing tonal variations from one drawing to the next—the shifting qualities of light and shadow in the spaces, on the surfaces, and on the changing volumes of water, with their mesmerizing reflections—will stimulate feelings and imply a fluid narrative.

The warm orange and ocher tones of Orange Sound recall remembered landscapes, perhaps particularly the American Southwest, where Vinciarelli spent time with the artist Donald Judd. She clearly admires Judd's serial Minimalist sculpture, and art in a similar vein. Throughout her work, which exists primarily on paper, Vinciarelli has pushed the traditional boundaries between art and architecture by exploring the relationship between the two disciplines. Her abiding interest in formal typologies, and her investigations of the essentially immeasurable qualities of light, space, and reflection, suggest both a realm of the sublime and a place where meaningful architecture can begin.

Publication excerpt from an essay by Peter Reed, in Matilda McQuaid, ed., Envisioning Architecture: Drawings from The Museum of Modern Art, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2002, p. 248.
Watercolor and colored ink on paper
30 x 22" (76.2 x 55.9 cm)
Mrs. Gianluigi Gabetti Purchase Fund
Object number
© 2022 Lauretta Vinciarelli
Architecture and Design

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