“Carlos Diniz: Master of Architectural Illustration" at the Figge Art Museum -- through March 20.

Through Sunday, March 20

Figge Art Museum, 225 West Second Street, Davenport IA

Nine extraordinary charcoal renderings of the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles will be on display at the Figge Art Museum through March 20, with the Davenport venue, in the exhibit Carlos Diniz: Master of Architectural Illustration, displaying a showcase of stunning works by the renowned architectural illustrator.

Opened in 2003, the concert hall was decades in the planning and made possible through the generosity of the Disney family. The design of the iconic building, located among downtown Los Angeles’ lofty skyscrapers, began in the late 1980s with a few spontaneous scribbles by architect Gehry. Well before any structure was built, renowned illustrator Diniz combined Gehry’s conceptual sketches with drawings of the cityscape, providing his clients and the city of Los Angeles a preview of what Gehry’s building would look like when finished. Rendered in charcoal and wash, Diniz’s masterful drawings harken back to a time when computer-aided and virtual renderings were a fantasy. The skill of Diniz, and architects and illustrators like him, were all that was needed to create a recognizable view of the future, and the Figge's Master of Architectural Illustration exhibition will also be accompanied by a few limited edition reproductions of Gehry’s early conceptual sketches for the project.

Architectural illustrator, artist, and graphic designer Diniz is known for his work with many Pritzker, Gold Medal, and pioneering architects of the 20th century, and his body of work encompasses many landmark and historic structures and developments from the 1960s through the '80s. While a student at Beverly Hills High School, Diniz gained a local reputation for his expertise in constructing miniatures and models, and his miniature guns, so perfectly scaled and complete that they could have fired, were the subject of a Los Angeles Times article in 1943. Upon his discharge from the Army, Diniz enrolled at Art Center College of Design, with the intent of pursuing automotive design, but a week-long trip to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin Architecture School and the influence of an instructor that commissioned him to produce illustrations of a Case Study House to be published in Arts & Architecture led him in another direction. Along with his studies at Art Center, Diniz set about a self-education in architecture. He graduated from the Art Center in 1950 with a degree in specialized design, but found himself employed at various architectural offices.

In 1957, Diniz opened his own studio, Carlos Diniz Associates Visual Communications, and modeled its structure after an architectural office. The studio was to focus on architectural presentation producing everything from drawings and paintings to logos, presentations, brochures, and marketing tools. Carlos Diniz Associates also became known for large scale “storytelling” illustrations, important tools in the days before computer technology for developers to give viewers a feel for being in their unconstructed environment. Throughout his career, Diniz built a client base of the largest and most prolific firms of the era, and many of his professional relationships, such as that with SOM, spanned decades. Diniz also did several projects for the Walt Disney Company, including work on Epcott Center at Disney World, Orlando, Tokyo Disney and Disney’s California Adventure. An integral part of American architecture and architectural presentation, Diniz was awarded an Honorary AIA in 1993 as a symbol of this accomplishment.

Carlos Diniz: Master of Architectural Illustration will be on display through March 20, with regular museum hours 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays through Saturdays (10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursdays) and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Museum admission is $4-10, and more information on the installation is available by calling (563)326-7804 and visiting FiggeArtMuseum.org.

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