The late Dame Zaha Hadid was known internationally for her audacious brand of parametric architecture, and her firm continues to develop highly distinctive urban landmarks in a multitude of metropolises around the globe. However, many aspects of Hadid’s signature style can be traced back to the early 1980s, before the architect had seen any of her proposals for buildings come to fruition.
Hadid’s use of painting as a medium to convey theoretical ideas brought her to prominence in the art world in 1988, when her abstract canvases were exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The young architect presented vibrant explorations of deconstructivism and futurism, touching upon her roots as a mathematician but also the desire to explore modern architecture at a macro scale — many of the paintings portray masterplan proposals for major cities, looking at ways to enhance connectivity between urban nodes.
Lebbeus Woods — another theorist famed for creating striking abstractions of architecture — recounted his amazement at Hadid’s painting techniques during a visit to her studio in 1984:
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