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Xenakis: Avant-Garde Abstractionist in Music, Sound, Architecture and Drawings

Iannis Xenakis, Cosmic City, Final Drawing, 1964. Ink on paper. Courtesy of the Iannis Xenakis Archives, Bibliothèque nationale de France.
Iannis Xenakis, Cosmic City, Final Drawing, 1964. Ink on paper.

As I watched Documentary and Concert Films about Iannis Xenakis, the Greek-Born French Visionary who explored and championed interdisciplinary breakthrough works in mathematical music composition, architecture, electronic computerized sound, and performance light, art and music shows, I was amazed at the newness of his contribution to our human spirit. He unearthed the power of Abstraction underlying the connection between these arts….. Hearing these abstract musical sounds stream into riffs and dissonant threads of harmonies and discords, I visualized the music creating a portal into the mind bridging thoughts and emotions in its sheer vitality. The film “Something Rich and Strange,” (1990) Mark Ridel, Director, panned across gorgeous landscapes to render his emotive compositions.

His drawings are maps of his thinking. No surprise that Xenakis is a cult figure among architects, according to Carey Lovelace, one of the curators of the Iannis Xenakis show at the Drawing Center, who introduced the film event at the 92YTribeca on March 24. The show at the Drawing Center, closing on April 8, features the drawings of his musical compositions and audio performances. “Comprised of nearly 100 documents created between 1953 and 1984, this is the first North American exhibition dedicated to Xenakis’s original works on paper. Included are rarely-seen hand-rendered scores, architectural drawings, conceptual renderings, pre-compositional sketches, and graphic scores. Iannis Xenakis: Composer, Architect, Visionary is co-curated by Xenakis scholar Sharon Kanach and critic Carey Lovelace.”  The Drawing Center.

The Xenakis show is a must if you like the company of visionaries.

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