Louis I. Kahn at Roosevelt Island


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In September 2011 Barney Kulok was granted special permission to create photographs at the construction site of Louis I. Kahnʼs Four Freedoms Park in New York City, commissioned in 1970 as a memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt. The last design Kahn completed before his untimely death in 1974, Four Freedoms Park became widely regarded as one of the great unbuilt masterpieces of twentieth-century architecture. Almost forty years after having been commissioned, it is finally being completed this year, as originally intended.

Kulokʼs black-and-white photographs function as a meditation on the materiality and formal underpinnings of Kahnʼs theories. More than that, they are a statement about the value of carefully measured photographic seeing at a time when the instant digital photo and its accompanying host of nostalgic filters has become the common currency of the medium. Building is at once a historical record and a multilayered visual investigation of form and the subtleties of texture—elements that were of fundamental importance to Kahnʼs phenomenal achievements. As architect Steven Holl writes, “Kulokʼs photographs free the subject matter from a literal interpretation of the site. They stand as ʻEquivalentsʼ to the words about material, light, and shadow that Louis Kahn often spoke.”

Barney Kulok is a graduate of the Bard College photography program and is represented by Nicole Klagsburn Gallery in New York and Galerie Hussenot, Paris He lives and works in New York City.


Photographs by Barney Kulok
Essay by Steven Holl
Afterword by Nathaniel Kahn
Designed by And Smith, LLC
14 x 11 inches
80 pages
40 duotone images
Fall 2012