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Sunday, August 6, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Book Review

A rare tour of a home's world-class art collection

Seattle Times art critic

"Art + Architecture: The Ebsworth Collection + Residence" Dung Ngo, editor (WilliamStoutPublishers,$65).

Most of us don't have the honor of living with world-famous paintings and sculptures, so it's always intriguing to imagine the houses of people who do.

Is the De Kooning hanging over the sofa or tucked in a hallway? Is the Warhol Campbell's soup can punning near the kitchen? And what about the house? A stately mansion with burnished woodwork or a modern white box?

"Art + Architecture: The Ebsworth Collection + Residence" takes us inside the graceful house and acclaimed art collection of Hunt's Point resident and Seattle Art Museum trustee Barney Ebsworth. The book, with an essay and descriptive texts by National Gallery of Art senior curator Franklin Kelly, has a split purpose: to show off the architecture and the artworks. A major exhibition of Ebsworth's American art collection debuted in Washington, D.C., at the National Gallery and traveled to SAM in 2000, the year Ebsworth moved to the Seattle area. Among the artworks are famous paintings by Edward Hopper, Marsden Hartley, Arshile Gorky and David Hockney, to name just a few.

The house, completed in 2004, was designed by Jim Olson of the award-winning Seattle firm Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen, known for its innovative way of integrating buildings and art. The firm designed the remodel and expansion of The Frye Art Museum and the Seattle Art Museum's Rental/Sales Gallery and is behind many admired residential projects. You'll find echoes of the Frye's reflecting pool and tall entry windows and the same kind of serene spaces in the Ebsworth house.

Recently, Ebsworth has been making news by trying to build a chapel, with private burial sites for his family, designed by famed Japanese architect Tadao Ando. Capitol Hill neighbors rejected a plan to place it on a lot overlooking Interlaken Park.

"Museums in the 21st Century: Concepts, Projects, Buildings" edited by Suzanne Greub and Thierry Greub (Prestel, $60).

In case you haven't noticed, we have been in the midst of a museum boom, and not just in Seattle, where most every museum has recently expanded or is now in the midst of it. And finding a celebrity architect to add cache has been considered an integral part of the fundraising. This book describes, but does not evaluate, some 30 recently completed and ongoing museum projects by designers at the top of the list, including Frank Gehry, Renzo Piano, Zaha Hadid, Tadao Ando, Yoshio Taniguchi and Steven Holl, among others.

Seattle Art Museum's ongoing expansion, designed by Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture, is not included in the book, but Cloepfil's University of Michigan Museum of Art expansion at Ann Arbor is. An essay by Terence Riley — the former Museum of Modern Art architecture curator who suggested Allied Works to SAM trustees — details the project.

Since he was hired at SAM, Cloepfil's career has taken off. The busy Cloepfil is now one of the architects being considered for the new Berkeley Museum of Art.

Last I heard, he was the only candidate, in a group that includes Tadao Ando, who had not yet found time to meet with the selection committee.

Sheila Farr: sfarr@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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