Given The Wonkiness Of His Buildings, Just Imagine His Children


We told you about the “soup-to-nuts” (thank you, NYT) refurbishment of Peter Eisenman’s Wexner Center yesterday. We also quoted one of his in retrospect possibly not so rhetorical questions: “Could I have been a better father?”

From our friend and, um, “colleague,” Andrew Blum:

Until she was three years old, Julia Eisenman was dressed exclusively in white, at the insistence of her father, Peter Eisenman, the theorist/ringleader of the neo-Corbusian architectural clique once called the “New York Five.” And it wasn’t just her–all the walls of their Riverside Drive apartment in New York were white.” At school, the girls had Laura Ashley wallpaper and plush carpeting and I was like, ‘I want Laura Ashley wallpaper!’ And my dad said, ‘No. No. The most I’ll give you is one wall in your bedroom with a color on it.’ So I got one bluish-purplish wall. That kind of pissed me off, because I was like, ‘why can’t we just paint the whole room?'”

While this was years before she spent the summer as au pair to Richard Meier’s children, she understood why, sort of: “I knew that he was crazy. I knew that he was this architect and things had to be his way, but as a kid I had no idea what was really going on. I just knew that he had a certain aesthetic”–she draws out the word–“but I didn’t know what the word meant.”

Now a film producer in Hollywood with aspirations to direct (the architect in her, she says) Julia has no misgivings about sharing the story. “If he can’t handle this, he shouldn’t have given birth to me, because he knows I’m just as provocative as he is.”

And she’s still fighting her modernist demons. She and her husband, Andy Behrman, the author of Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania, recently moved into a 1959 house in the Hollywood Hills. But she resisted it at first. “It wasn’t cozy!” she says. “But my growing up wasn’t cozy either. Obviously a huge part of me is drawn to that.”

And we thought we had it freaky with our philosophers.