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Wilshire Center

December 25, 1987|SUZANNE MUCHNIC

Richard Meier is currently occupied with what has been described as the most coveted architectural commission of the decade, the J. Paul Getty Center in Brentwood. That's his public work, but Meier's art also has a private side--small collages of materials gathered on international travels.

Now exposed to public inspection at a handsome new gallery for architecture, these works on paper are accompanied by a model of the Getty center and drawings of the Meier-designed Eherenkranz House. The collages depart from the rigors of architecture but seem in sync with Meier's modern aesthetic. Intriguing details of, say, a winsome face, a chunk of type or a pencil line always flow into a larger, clean plan.

Squares within 8- or 10-inch squares form the structure for each assembly of ticket stubs, photographs, brochures, notes and printed matter that tend to accrue during a thinking person's journeys. But these bits seem to be edited and combined more for visual pleasure than content. Meier doesn't compose travel scrapbooks but evocative abstractions that read rather like reorganized memories. Decoratively displayed in color groups, they also suggest shifts of mood. The gray/beige pieces seem muzzy and romantic, the black-and-white group more straightforward, the red ones tinged with passion.

Art historians will discover nothing new in Meier's approach to collage, but those who remember when art and architecture were rolled into the same college course may find satisfaction in this assertion that the two disciplines are not so different as modern practice has tried to make them. (Kirstein Kiser Gallery for Architecture, 964 N. La Brea Ave., to Jan. 30.)

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