Sunday, April 23, 2006


IF YOU STILL think "painting" when you hear "art," it's time to expand your horizons. For decades, artists have been determined to stretch their creativity to include as wide a range of options and behaviors as they can. On Saturday at the Hirshhorn, New Yorker Oliver Herring will be making a live artwork called "Task" that pushes the domain of art into the trivial and everyday. He'll be asking 60 local volunteers from every walk of life to work together in performing mundane "visually oriented" tasks -- involving "art supplies" such as paper and pens, tables and chairs, and books and compact discs. Herring hopes to get everyone -- artist, volunteers and spectators -- to think about the kinds of communities forged as the tasks are performed. If you can't imagine what "Task" will actually look and feel like as it comes about, that's part of the idea: to set some unusual conditions for the making of art, then wait and watch as things pan out.

-- Blake Gopnik

At the Hirshhorn, Independence Avenue at Seventh Street SW. Saturday, noon-7 p.m. Free. A discussion of the project will follow at 7:30 p.m. in the Hirshhorn auditorium, with a public reception on the plaza and in the Hirshhorn lobby, 8:30-9:30 p.m. Free tickets for the discussion will be available at the Hirshhorn from 6:30 p.m. Call 202-633-1000 or visit


COMING TO TERMS WITH Rem Koolhaas, the influential Dutch architect, Harvard professor and intellectual gadfly of the profession, has never been easy. In a recent interview, the Pritzker Architecture Prize winner talked of running for office as a Socialist, defended his decision to design dress shops for the fashion house Prada and argued in favor of ugliness over beauty because it has resulted in more interesting landmarks. He is responsible for a major tome on the importance of shopping malls, called "The Harvard Design School Guide to Shopping," as well as a frightening book on the Mad Hatter-style construction of modern China, called "The Great Leap Forward."

The firm Koolhaas founded with seven partners, the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, is responsible for some of the most intriguing urban planning and architecture on the planet. In Beijing, there's the 575,000-square-meter China Central Television Headquarters, which is due for completion in 2008. In this country, the muscular Seattle Public Library has been described both as brilliant and a sculpture of razor blades. A house in Bordeaux, France, was designed around floating floors to make life more comfortable for the wheelchair-using owner.

Whatever Koolhaas chooses to tackle tomorrow, when he lectures at the National Building Museum, one thing is sure: There won't be a more important opportunity for architectural enlightenment in Washington this year.

-- Linda Hales

At the National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW, Monday at 7 p.m. $35. Registration required. Call 202-272-2448 or visit

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2006 The Washington Post Company