Buckminster Fuller Exhibit in San Francisco

Pictured: 1913 Alfa Romeo Castagna Aerodinamica

This Thursday is the opening of The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s exhibit: “The Utopian Impulse: Buckminster Fuller.” They called a few months ago, wanting to interview me on my experiences with Bucky. I told them it would be a negative interview, to wit:     1. Fuller did not invent the geodesic dome; the first geodesic dome was built in Jena, Germany in 1922, designed by Dr. Walter Bauersfeld. Fuller secured a patent in 1954, and always claimed he was the inventor. (Full story on pp. 180-81 of Shelter.)

 2. Nor did Fuller invent the tensegrity sphere or the tensegrity mast, both of which he claimed credit for. They were invented by a student of his at Black Mountain College, artist Kenneth Snelson.

 3. His Dymaxion car was obviously based on the 1913 Alfa Romeo Castagna Aerodinamica.

 4. I was an early fan, but as time passed, I became disillusioned with Fuller and pretty much all of his concepts. Don’t get me started.

   So they filmed me expressing these admittedly negative views, and it apparently will be part of the exhibit, from March 31-July 29, 2012 at SFMOMA, 151 3rd St., SF. I like to accentuate the positive, but sometimes it’s just not possible.

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

4 Responses to Buckminster Fuller Exhibit in San Francisco

  1. It may not be 'positive' but that sounds like a valuable contribution to the exhibit. I was very impressed with your 1972 essay, how you went to MIT and rained on their parade:


    Very honest and based on a working knowledge and observations rather than detached theory. Reading it, I was aghast at the apparent enthusiasm back then for plastic building materials and such. I guess it seemed exciting, modern and progressive at the time. There's a touch of the conservative in you in that you recognize a validity to the collective wisdom of the past. Contrast that with the SFMOMA's statement about Fuller:

    "Fuller's eccentric views were informed by speculating on future technologies, not past history," says Fletcher. "Since he worked outside of business, academic, and scientific norms, he never quite fit in. Perhaps it was frustrating for him or maybe it was a calculated elusiveness".

  2. Lloyd, I'm interested in finding out more. Can you point me to critical evaluations about Bucky? Is the issue mostly one of not giving credit or admitting to influences or are there other issues?

    I'm a fan of Fuller myself but I'm open-minded and willing to learn.

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