Richard Haas had always wanted to be an architect. His great uncle was Frank Lloyd Wright’s stone mason, and Haas studied at Taliesin for two summers before he took up art at The University of Wis-consin. Haas began as an abstract painter, but his prints which carefully re- corded the elegant facades of Soho’s cast iron buildings were his first works to receive attention. Haas went on during the late ’6O’s to do architectural portraits of The Dakota, The Hoboken Terminal Building and the beau- tiful Victorian houses in Galvaston, Texas, His fascination with structures led him out of the studio; his Beaux Arts mural at the Corner of Prince and Green Streets in Manhattan which reiterates the front facade of the building is only one of his ongoing mural projects.
In a recent show at Brooke Alexander, Haas embellished the plain white room with silk screened egg and dart mouldings and panels to mask exterior and interior walls and create trompe I’oeil effects.
Haas says that the idea of painting the shadow of one building onto another began about two years ago:
My first site proposal of this nature remains the most out- rageous: to paint the shadows of the Empire State building and the Chrysler building on the twin towers of the World Trade Center in a one-to-one proportion. These shadows would serve as a relative measuring scale and as a way of memorializing the lovely architectural ancestors on the rather severe surfaces of their larger descendants. The idea then evolved into a more apt and ironic form of memorial—to point the shadow of a destroyed monument of architecture on a wall near where it stood, thus returning the shadow if not the substance of the building to a site where it should have remained.
Right now the project exists only in the renderings reproduced on the fol- lowing pages. Haas’ projects have a way of becoming realities, though, and it will be no surprise to his admirers to actually see the World Trade Center transformed into a witty, sad memorial to an august architectural forbear.