Moving Pictures
Mar 04, 2009, 09:52AM

Architecture of the Oscars

"The slim credit that flashed by at the end of the broadcast—'Production Designer: David Rockwell'— hardly hinted at the deep, sometimes very odd architectural symbolism that piled up during Sunday night's Academy Awards."

The story behind the glitz:

Rockwell is an equal-opportunity collagist, a pastiche artist in the broadest, most democratic and most unapologetic sense. If he knows his Bentham and his Michaelangelo (after whose Piazza Campidoglio in Rome Rockwell patterned the curving design that topped the stage and climbed the front of the podium), he also knows how to wow a mass audience. Like Baz Luhrmann, whose shadow loomed everywhere during this year's show, and who popped up near the end to take a bow for organizing a typically stuffed-to-the-gills musical number, he subscribes to the artistic theory that if you cram enough cultural and aesthetic references into your interior design, movie or stage show, it's entirely possible to please all the people all the time. (Box-office numbers for "Australia" notwithstanding.)


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