Ceci n’est pas une rêverie (This is not a dream) is both a retrospective and a reexamination of the architectural concepts of Stanley Tigerman. Throughout the exhibition, Tigerman’s texts, sketches, cartoons, object designs, architectural drawings, and models are organized in relation to nine themes that single out certain leitmotifs of his thought since 1960: Utopia, Allegory, Humor, Death, Division, (Dis)Order, Identity, Yaleiana, and Drift. Evident in this work is Tigerman’s insistence on the transitory nature of architectural interpretations and on the spiritual and ethical value of ambivalence. The installation spreading through all three floors of the Graham Foundation’s Madlener House builds on the playful, oneiric, and surrealist undercurrent of Tigerman’s work and underscores the abiding importance of his approach.
Exhibition curator Emmanuel Petit, Associate Professor in the Yale School of Architecture, notes that “Tigerman combines the nonchalant imaginativeness of a dreamer with the pragmatic focus of a realist. His belief in the pedagogical dimension of the ‘project’ of architecture accounts for the versatility of his work, which by far exceeds that of routine professional production.” This range of thought can be found in such early and mid-career exhibition highlights as Tigerman’s thesis projects from Yale University; a selection of his satirical architectural sketches, or Architoons; and projects such as the Five Polytechnic Institutes in Bangladesh (1966–75); the Urban Matrix proposal on Lake Michigan (1967–68); the Daisy House, in Porter, Indiana (1975–78); Little House in the Clouds project (1976); Dante’s Bathroom Addition, an unbuilt, allegorical project for Kohler (1980), and in more recent work including the Commonwealth Edison Energy Museum, in Zion, Illinois (1987–90); the Park Lane Hotel in Kyoto (1990); the Berlin Wall project (1988); and the Holocaust Memorial Foundation of Illinois, in Skokie (2000–2009).
A Chicago native and principal in the architectural and design firm of Tigerman McCurry, Stanley Tigerman (b. 1930) has undertaken nearly 400 projects, resulting in more than 175 built works. Tigerman trained in some of Chicago’s top firms from 1949 until 1959 including the office of Keck & Keck, Milton Schwartz, and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Following his graduation from Yale University, where he received both his BArch (1960) and MArch (1961) under the leadership of Paul Rudolph, Tigerman established his own firm, working with several partners, before founding Tigerman McCurry Architects in 1986 with his wife Margaret McCurry. Tigerman is the author of seven books including The Chicago Tribune Tower Competition and Late Entries (1980); Versus: An American Architect’s Alternatives (1982); The California Condition: A Pregnant Architecture (1982); The Architecture of Exile (1988); Stanley Tigerman: Buildings and Projects 1966-1989 (1989); Schlepping through Ambivalence (2011); his autobiography Designing Bridges to Burn (2011), and he has edited numerous others. In addition to being chosen as was one of the architects to represent the United States at the 1976 and 1980 Venice Biennales, the work of Tigerman’s firm has been exhibited in major galleries and art museums around the world, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Metropolitan Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
In addition to his own work, Tigerman has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to advancing the discussion of architecture in Chicago for more than five decades. During this time he was a founding member of the critically engaged group The Chicago Seven; he was the director of the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois at Chicago between 1985 and 1993; and he co-founded ARCHEWORKS, a school and “socially oriented design laboratory” with Eva Maddox in 1994. Most recently, Tigerman co-curated the exhibition Design on the Edge: Chicago Architects Reimagine Neighborhoods, featuring transit projects commissioned by the city’s top young design talent, and dedicated to the city’s new mayor Rahm Emanuel. The exhibition is currently on view at the Chicago Architecture Foundation and was supported with a grant from the Graham Foundation.
The exhibition marks the 2012 transfer of Stanley Tigerman’s drawing archive to Yale University’s Manuscripts and Archives depository.