Tate vs. MoMa

    Must read: Roberta Smith in today's Times
    on what Tate Modern in London did right (>),
    (<) and what MoMA in New York did wrong.


    A money graf: "Architecture is destiny. It forms an extremely tangible mission statement that communicates an institution’s core values. In a sense, trophy museums like MoMA are telling us all to get lost. Their design aims to impress rich collectors and, in fact, they feel rather like some rich collectors’ houses: angular, fragile and clueless about how daily life is really lived, much less how art actually happens."

    ... "Yoshio Taniguchi’s MoMA is a beautiful building that plainly doesn’t work. The Tate Modern is a plain one that is working beautifully."

    Well said.
    -ESource URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2006/10/
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    Picasso the architect? No Bull!

    You know of his paintings, his pottery, his sculptures,




    now a movement is afoot in Madrid to build a bullring they say Picasso designed.

    I'd say hang some artwork in there, some sculptures, etc. Should be beautiful. (And a huge tourist draw, if done right!)

    Here's the AP story in the Washington Post. With a tiny sketch.

    Ole' -Don Eduardo
    Source URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2006/10/
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    Mies and Math


    Amazing isn't it? When you get your math right, everything just lines up. See how the canopy line on the right continues into the line in the lobby. I don't think Mies could have planned this. But if you use underlying order, you get happy occurances.




    Also see how the light and shadows come in to the lobby.
    That's the way to live!

    How the black column seems like a tree. Especially after you've seen it reflected in the opaque glass on the left, with some leaves seeming to come off of it!

    And see how the x in the glass of the 'Barcelona' (really Tugendhat) table is also seen as a metallic x in the glass of the lobby. And in a fashion, in the x's on the sides of the Barcelona chairs.

    Always learning from the master,
    -EdwardSource URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2006/10/
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GreenBeanChicago











    Green Bean?

    GreenBeanChicago covers built, in-progress and unbuilt green buildings in Chicago.

    It's a bit of boosterism, since "GreenBean is written and maintained by Erik Olsen, PE. Erik is Green Projects Administrator for the Chicago Department of Construction and Permit, where he manages the Green Permit Program."

    Guess what the photo above is. GreenBeanChicago will tell you. It's worth checking out.Source URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2006/10/
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    Happy Hancock Halloween

    I post this mainly to direct you here. A post that might have gotten lost.


    Back to the photo above - of the John Hancock (SOM), 900 N. Michigan (KPF), and the beacon of the Palmolive Building (Holabird & Root).
    "And though Palmolive is smallest of the three, it is the more splendid - for eternity."

    What a good-looking city! The Hancock is good. 900 North is, eh.... Palmolive is great.

    Interesting too how, from Lake Shore Drive, the Drake Hotel in front of the Palmolive Building seems like a part of it; it seems like the base from which the Palmolive rises.
    -E(EK)Source URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2006/10/
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    Own 860-880 Lake Shore Drive!
    This year, for the holidays....










    No, I'm not selling my place. But these models look really cool. And this company, Wurlington Brothers, has models of many Chicago buildings, as well as the Picasso, 'el' trains, etc.






    (and for Lynn.... )














    Very nice. But what, no bean? =/


    (If you came here looking for my more serious thoughts on 860 - 880 Lake Shore Drive, or on the work of Mies, go here and scroll down.)

    -EdwardoSource URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2006/10/
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    Chicago. Building Butcher to the World.

    The city still doesn't get it. When a Sullivan burns, you don't just tear down the remains.

    You get specialists. They preserve as much as they can of the original. And there's a lot to Wirt Dexter that could be preserved. You restore and then you replace what you must.

    Then you have an interesting city. You have what's important from your past. A part of you, the best part of you, remains.

    If you're into money, you can even make money this way. If we had all 100+ Sullivans that comprise our legacy, and that I believe belong to all Chicagoans, then we'd have a lot more tourists coming to Chicago and spending money.

    But that's not the reason to save them. The reason is because they are the best we can do. Louis Sullivan is the best we can be. We need that role model.

    If you have to call my right to having these preserved a human right, then so be it. Let's add to the list of human rights (already rather corrupt?), beauty, and truth. If that's what it takes to get people to see and to value and to cherish.

    I'll try to come up with a manifesto! Any thoughts?

    -Edoardo


    Source URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2006/10/
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    Bruce Mau Kowtow?






    What's going on here? Bruce Mau and his gang, along with Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art, placed an insert in today's New York Times in the Chicago region.

    In it they they praise Mayor Daley.

    "Mayor Richard Daley is known for his heavy-duty green stripes."

    And of course, at the Massive Change and the City: Global Visionaries Symposium
    On Saturday, November 18, 2006 Mayor Daley will present each speaker with a City of Chicago Global Visionaries Award. (What's that? lol)

    So it's a love fest.

    Good for Daley. And I'm glad he's finally abandonning his blue bag recycling program - it never worked. Now he needs to improve public transit here.

    And, do we agree? Bruce Mau loves text. He loves words. He loves layout. You see it in the exhibition and you see it in this very unusual ad in today's paper. Ours is an image society. His ad stands out like a page for the New York Times 100 years ago. From the days when people read. If Bruce Mau can teach us to read again, more power to him.

    Is that what he wants? Most who think on the ambitious scale that does - seek power.

    Best,
    -Edward

    Here's another fine take on the Mau show.Source URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2006/10/
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    Coarchidence



    I'd never seen the similarity here. Never thought of Behrens' roof in this way.

    Top: Michelangelo - Tomb of Julius II - Roma
    Lower: Peter Behrens - AEG Turbine factory - Berlin



    By the way:

    Source URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2006/10/
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    Architecture is poetry. Is that what's missing today?

    "Michelangelo writes poetry in his architecture" says Pisan curator Howard Burns. "One often comes across verses by the Master right next to the architectural drawings, expressing the pure emotion he felt after inventing such harmonious forms".

    A new exhibition in Florence illuminates Michelangelo's fundamentally "poetic" sense of architecture - as underscored by the poetical musings found on several newly discovered manuscripts.

    Read about it here. (via)


    Good Architecture has Poetry.
    Good poetry has Architecture.

    I'd like to see the Poetry Foundation, flush with cash, sponsor poets to visit, and stay in inspirational settings, such as the Farnsworth House, to see what they pen.

    And wasn't it Mies who said,
    'If you are very good at (architecture) you may speak a wonderful prose.
    If you are really good you can be a poet.'

    -Edwardoangelo


    Photo of: Michelangelo's "La Notte" (Tomb of Giuliano, Medici Chapel, Florence)Source URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2006/10/
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    Kudos to the Tribune's Blair Kamin for pressing the Donald on the advertising sign he put in the public way. He's right, it's an awful precedent.

    I've never liked those "City Information" signs Daley allows the French company J.C. Decaux to put up on our sidewalks. They're visual clutter, and the advertising assaults the senses and cheapens the experience of walking through the city. The city is not a shopping mall. Frankly, they don't belong there either. But Trump's is probably the worst one - pointing the way to and advertising his expensive condos in his unfortunate building.

    I think what Trump doesn't understand is that despite its mercantile nature, Chicago also has the mercy of enlightened urbanism.

    What has always surprised me is that, getting off of the Edens expressway, or the Dan Ryan, to enter downtown Chicago - one is not assaulted by a myriad of advertising signs. Just beautiful buildings; at night they're nicely lit.

    This is not New York style. In New York, the advertising is everywhere. They compete and compete and cry out for attention. Like Donald. With his building named after himself. We don't do that here either.

    -Edward

    More kudos to the Trib for putting the Abakanowicz story and photo on page one, above the fold! (Will "above the fold" sound like "dial the number" in the internet era? And why was the Abakanowicz so downplayed on the website? Is it a better photo for a paper than a website? Or just a different editor?)

    When I opened the Trib (paper version!), and saw the photo of the Wrigley building accompanying Blair's story, I thought it would be a story on the plan to glass in the courtyard of the Wrigley building and turn it into a galleria. That plan exists. I think, if done right, it's a good one.

    One last note on Trump - The slick, overdone, tasteless glitz of his sign - reflective metal like overly- priced jewelry - is not a good sign for the materials to be used on the enormous building.



    Chicago Tribune photo by Geoffrey BlackSource URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2006/10/
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    Things I plan to blog about soon.

    Update! I do blog about Agora,
    many fine posts, here.










    The Abakanowicz sculpture going up in Grant Park. "Agora."

    106 9 foot tall headless, armless dark, cast-iron figures with rough textures. She says as a child she went into the forest to look at trees. That's part of her inspiration. So why not plant 106 trees? And why that concrete base? Probably the choice of the city, not hers. The figures would be more effective 'walking' on the ground.

    "The Missing Peace." Art for the Dalai Lama. Opened tonight at LUMA - the Loyola University Museum of Art - by the Water Tower. Nice work in it by Laurie Anderson and Bill Viola and Jenny Holzer. But are some or all of the works in this exhibition at a University art museum for sale?

    The Chicago Humanities Festival
    Starts October 28.

    Where does the time go?
    -Edward


    Photo of "Magdalena Abakanowicz and Agora" by Jenny Lawton
    Source URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2006/10/
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    More on the loss of a work by a great artist.


    Let's say your city owns a painting by Rembrandt and it hangs in City Hall. It's a minor Rembrandt; but nonetheless a work by the master. Let's say it needs cleaning. And the city authorities look in the yellow pages, and find people willing to do the job. They're cheap, they're not necessarily the best at what they do, but they're allowed to do the work. The city offers no particular oversight for what you might think is a very special job. And the people hired, ruin the painting. Destroy it. Wouldn't you be appalled? Wouldn't the local papers run with the story?

    My point is that Louis Sullivan is about Rembrandt's equal, and we in Chicago have allowed two Sullivan structures to burn this year. K.A.M Pilgrim Baptist Church (below) was a great, unique, historical building full of irreplacable spirit.












    The Wirt Dexter building was important, and helped one understand how skyscrapers came to be.












    The Chicago Tribune reports about yesterday's fire at the Dexter Building,,
    Salvage crew may have caused fire
    October 25, 2006
    The careless use of cutting torches by a scrap-metal salvage crew is the probable cause of the extra-alarm fire Tuesday that continues to disrupt the South Loop area, a fire official said today.

    Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said the building's owner told him the crew was using acetylene-oxygen cutting torches before the fire that gutted the Wirt Dexter Building at 630 S. Wabash Ave.

    "If they're cutting pipes and stuff, there's generally enough heat to get insulation or structural components burning," Langford said.

    Investigators saw evidence of torches, acetylene tanks and hoses in the building, he said.

    Tuesday's blaze, which sent towering clouds high above Chicago's skyline, left little of the historic structure designed by Louis Sullivan, the celebrated father of modern architecture.

    "Basically, what we have is free-standing walls," Fire Commissioner Raymond Orozco said at a press conference near the site this morning. The building must be knocked down to get at the remainder of the fire, which is continuing to smolder, he said.

    "It's going to burn for quite a while. It's a deep-seated fire, and it's into the floors."


    Are we crazy? We must protect the other architectural monuments that our ancestors capably built and entrusted to us.

    -E


    Photo of Wirt Dexter Building; courtesy Commission on Chicago Landmarks
    Photo of the building burning from the Chicago TribuneSource URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2006/10/
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    Sublime Maki.

    Did I just write, "Are we getting tired of buildings that screamingly call attention to themselves?"

    Well then I'd be remiss to not show you this



    By Fumihiko Maki. In St. Louis. Being dedicated today.

    Deserves praise. For its restraint. Ever watch the ten o'clock news and they show baseball highlights of just the home runs and you think, "those weren't the best plays. Not the highest achievements that day and not the best moves for the team." And the media coverage even affects how the game gets played and how the players get paid. Same with our cultural coverage. We devote too much space to the grandiose, the bloated, the solipsitic sculptural overly sculptural effect.

    Read about Maki's gift here.

    G'night -
    -Edward






    Top photo: Saligman Family Atrium, Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts. Maki & Associates, Tokyo.

    Bottom photo: David Kilper/WUSTL Photo Services
    Construction nears completion on the southern facades of the Kemper Art Museum (foreground) and Walker Hall. July 2006.
    Source URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2006/10/
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    Svelter Shelter


    Opera stars are getting svelter, and so are opera houses.

    Where is this one? You know who designed it. Santiago Calatrava.
    It's in Valencia, where's he's designing a new world. In the old world.

    Are we getting tired of buildings that screamingly call attention to themselves? If they're going to do that they'd better be screamingly beautiful. I don't know if this one is.

    Calatrava already has a Planetarium and IMAX Theater and a Science Museum in Valencia, his native city.

    This new opera house, also features Calatrava murals and ceramic bas-relief sculptures. And it looks like his opera house in Tenerife:



    That one is screamingly beautiful! Though a bit of a rip-off of the Sydney Opera house.


    Which will always be the icon.


    From the Valencia opera house press release: In 1991, the government of Valencia commissioned Calatrava to design this vast urban intervention (86 acres!) to bring coherence and life to a previously neglected area, and to provide the city with cultural facilities of national importance.

    Enlightened government? Some say the buildings don't work very well. That they're form over function.

    Santiago Calatrava's Valencia Opera House is due to open October 25.

    If you're there, you'll hear Fidelio. Odd choice. Why not also commission new music? A new Spanish opera to go with the new building? Especially as the press release tells us,
    “The people of Valencia have traditionally shared a deep love of music,” Santiago Calatrava states. “The region is sometimes known as the Land of 1,000 Bands, since every village and town has its musical association. In fact LlĂ­ria, called the City of Music, has two, which are respected throughout the world. The project of creating the Valencia Opera House is therefore highly significant—because of the role that music plays in the life of the region, and because of the civic role that the building will now play in the evolution of the city.”


    When it opens, will Calatrava's other buildings, the ones with wings that move, wave at it?

    -E

    And, is 'svelter' a word? ;)



    Calatrava portrait by Suzanne DeChillo/TM cThe New York TimesSource URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2006/10/
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    Why Johnny doesn't know the art of architecture.

    A building designed by Adler and Sullivan burns.

    And the Chicago Sun-Times, to appeal to whom(?) captions its photo of the building burning:
    "The former George Diamond Steakhouse on Wabash Ave. burns Tuesday."

    Not, "Another Louis Sullivan landmark burns!"

    Or even, "We fail to protect another Louis Sullivan landmark, another part of the great legacy of this city, and it burns." Okay, I guess that'd be a little too long for a headline. (smile.)

    And I suppose the Sun-Times headline does get right to what's most important - the all important "News You Can Use" headline: "Fire stops service on Green, Orange lines"

    The story, written "from STNG (Sun-Times News Group) wire reports" never mentions that Sullivan dude!

    After at least five paragraphs on how public transit will be affected (for fewer than 24 hours,) the second to the last line of the story says: "The structure, built in 1887, is the Dexter Building, designated as a Chicago Landmark in 1996, according to the Web site for the City Department of Planning and Development, Landmarks Division."

    Oh!

    But apparently the name "Louis Sullivan" (is that his name? :) ) on that webpage didn't mean enough to the writer and/or editor to include it in the story.

    (The Chicago Tribune story has it in their lede: "For the second time in nine months, flames have gutted a historic Chicago structure designed by Louis Sullivan, the celebrated father of modern architecture. ... Earlier this year, which marks the 150th anniversary of Sullivan's birth, Pilgrim Baptist Church, considered one of Sullivan's masterpieces, lost all but a few walls to fire.")

    That's better. Sorry for my tone but I get upset when we lose these beauties. And it brings back the wanton destruction of Sullivan masterpieces carried out in this city in former times.

    By the way, the Sun-Times page does link to an NBC5.com video labelled 'Landmark burns.'
    It starts with an ad, for some old Egyptian guy named King Tut - ever hear of him? After the ad, the audio wouldn't play. Maybe NBC5 tells you the building was by one of the greatest architects ever, maybe they don't.

    Does it matter anymore? Let's make it our little secret. Just between you and me, and Vince.

    Vince Michael saw the smoke from the fire today too:
    What makes it all so terrible is how much Sullivan was torn down in the 1950s and 1960s – the Garrick and the Stock Exchange being the most significant, both replaced by guileless dreck. Beyond were all the great little neighborhood buildings – a dozen on the south side, others north and west. Sullivan was Chicago’s great innovator, a romantic and a master who made buildings into the kind of material poetry that it will take our digital friends another generation to even approximate. He fathered Frank Lloyd Wright and in a sense, the entire 20th century, not just in America but across the world. Gropius, Aalto and Saarinen and even the painter Le Corbusier are not possible without him.

    -Edward

    UPDATE: Why the separation? This morning's Sun-Times updates the story. Their architecture critic evens utters the name, Louis Sullivan. With a short sidebar story of six paragraphs (one for each story of the Dexter Building!) In it we learn that,
    The cast-iron and masonry structure was one of the few remaining local buildings by the legendary Chicago firm of Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan, whose legacy was damaged earlier this year by a fire at Pilgrim Baptist Church.

    Simplicity made it important
    Built in 1887 and designated a city landmark in 1996, the six-story Dexter building was also an important forerunner of the Adler & Sullivan skyscrapers that followed.

    "Although it's very simple, and people don't notice it, the building's simplicity is what makes it important," said Chicago cultural historian Tim Samuelson. "Its directness, its use of materials, and the way its grid carries the masonry are very important in the chronology of Adler & Sullivan, leading to their skyscraper designs of the 1890s."


    However - still in today's Sun-Times, in the lead news story on the fire, why does the writer tell us that "A piece of Chicago's architectural history went up in flames" but never tell us that Adler and Sullivan designed the cursed thing? Why is "art" relegated to the "arts writer" rather than incorporated into the lives of the citizenry and therefore of their newspaper? The Sun-Times has added to its story from last night, by telling us a good bit on how the fire may reroute some automobile traffic this morning. I'm sure people will be upset by that. But an Adler and Sullivan burning, in Chicago - where this is our legacy - doesn't mean much? The names don't mean enough to appear in a newspaper's main story on what happened?

    Helps you understand how they could tear down beautiful Sullivan structures not long ago. More on that soon.

    Haven't they even read "The Devil in the White City?" Lol. But many people did learn of Louis Sullivan there.Source URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2006/10/
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    Edward contemplating the newly found Bust of Aristotle!



    I love stuff like this.

    Notice the hooked nose, as the ancient said he had.

    This is thought to date from about 400 years after Aristotle died. Which seems like a long time, but would stil make it his earliest known likeness.



    Bust of Aristotle found in Athens
    ATHENS, Greece, Oct. 24 (UPI) -- A bust of Aristotle believed to be the best likeness yet found of the Greek philosopher has been discovered near the Acropolis in Athens.

    The bust dates from the Roman era, the Athens News Agency reported. Archaeologists also excavated busts of the Emperor Hadrian and of a priest who may have been attached to the nearby Theater of Dionysus.

    The Aristotle bust is about 18 inches high. Aristotle lived from 384 to 322 B.C.

    ---

    -ESource URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2006/10/
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    Another Louis Sullivan on fire!

    From our roof here on Navy Pier I see black smoke. Billowing, and lots of it. A building is on fire in the south loop. Seems to be near the neighborhood where the Great Chicago Fire started!

    As this is Chicago, one must hope it ain't a landmark.

    My colleague makes a call and we learn - it is a Louis Sullivan building. 630 South Wabash. The Dexter Building.

    Poor Louis! What a year or so. Two of his cottages destroyed by Katrina. Then Pilgrim Baptist Church. Now this.

    Ah, Louis. Love ya.

    -Edward

    Later I'll post a photo or two of the black smoke over the city.

    The fire may have been limited to the fifth and sixth floors. I'm told it has been contained. Some 225 firefighters and 40 pieces of equipment battle the blaze.

    I need to write an opera on the tragic life and legacy of Louis Sullivan.

    The fire broke out a little before 3 p.m. in the basement of 630 S. Wabash Ave. The fire department's response rose through several alarms and at about 4:45 p.m. was upgraded to a 4-11 alarm fire, which means 145 firefighters, at least 16 engines and 10 trucks were sent to the scene...

    Chicagoans will remember the George Diamond Steak House was in that building until a few years ago. Photo from Atelier Teee's flikr stream (with lots of nice photos of Sullivan buildings and ornament.)
    Over at the online tourist guidebook www.planet99.com. their entry on the steakhouse doesn't even mention that patrons also got the thrill of dining in an Adler and Sullivan building. But it does feature this comment posted on 04/02/2003 by 'anonymous.'
    "It's absolutely the most dirty, disgusting place on earth! You would be safer eating from the bottom of a Portable Toilet on a hot summers day. The current owner has not now, nor has ever had any relation to the Original George Diamond Steak Houses. It was purchased in an auction. And it serves as a tribute to just what a few bucks to a health inspector can get you in Chicago."


    ! More fodder for the opera.
    -EdwardSource URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2006/10/
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    Desperate Newspapers? Shades of Dickens!

    The Trib, aka the Chicago Tribune, is running a serialized story by Chicagoland-based author Audrey Niffenegger. She of, "The Time-Traveller's Wife." This one is called 'Secret Life, With Cats.' It's a ghost story, and it'll be seven chapters, concluding on --- Halloween.

    Ms. Niffenegger also did the fine illustrations. She told me once that Aubrey Beardsley was an inspiration for her, and I see that in the black and white cats.

    Serializing this ghost story at this time of year seems like a fine thing for a newspaper to try. They've got to try something. Circulation is down. The Chicago Sun-Times has turned its front page into a third grader's reader with a childish use of color and odd stories on the front page such as
    "The 300 Millionth American!..."

    At least the Trib is trying literature and illustration.

    Their gambit reminds me that Charles Dickens serialized novels in the Morning and Evening chronicles. He eventually invested some of his royalties into a radical newspaper. I wonder if Niffenegger will?

    And to learn more about Audrey Niffenegger, click here and then scroll down for her interview with me, on Hello Beautiful!
    -Edwardo

    By the way, here are the first few lines of her story...

    "I don't know why Ruth left me her house, with all its attendant complications. Perhaps she sensed that I longed for change, for an adventure. Perhaps she pitied me. Maybe she knew what I would do with such a gift, though I did not know myself."

    Let me know what you think of it. -ESource URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2006/10/
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