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Curator Maurice Tuchman creates his own modern masterpiece high in the Hollywood Hills

Perched high in the Hollywood Hills at 1,100 ft, Astral House is a magnificent homage to the distinct style of modern American postwar architecture, which has since been lionized by photographers such as Julius Shulman more than half a century later. Although Maurice Tuchman's impressive home is truly contemporary, dating back to the turn of the 21st century, it already ranks alongside Neutra's Kaufmann House as one of the city's most desirable residences.

Tuchman, a scholar, private art consultant and Senior Curator Emeritus of Los Angeles Country Museum of Art, has been living on the edge of the famous escarpment overlooking Runyon Canyon, Los Angeles' largest nature preserve, since the early 1970s. However, in the early 1990s he decided that rather than trading in the highly covetable location, he would instead create a new home befitting its breathtaking surroundings. Enlisting the help of Los Angeles-based architect Brent Saville, who has worked with the curator throughout his career on many museum projects, the two embarked on a six-year project that would surpass Tuchman's hopes and dreams for the ideal Hollywood home for him and his wife Adlin.

Upon arrival, one is greeted by a solid plate glass entrance, from where one can gaze out and take-in the awe-inspiring views. The impressive walkway leads on to an intimate library for two, continuing to the main living area. It is here that one can best see the curator's inspiration, the super ellipse, a rounded square form popularized by the Danish poet and scientist Piet Hein in the 1960s. The form is apparent throughout, in the form of skylights and furniture, but it is best presented in the large open lounge. Curved walls and windows create a highly stylized sixties feel. As well as its aesthetic appeal, the organic, curved shape also facilitates the transition between the light, spatial interior and the vast landscape. Saville designed the interior in such a way that the eye is naturally led out to the line of sight, once again, creating a seamless boundary between inside and out. At the far end lies the dining room, it is here that one can see Tuchman's affinity of nature through the variety of organic materials originating from throughout the world. Warm Italian cherry wood chairs and beech units juxtapose the coolness of marbles and granites for a truly modern feel.

Within the master bedroom, Tuchman, whose impressive personal collection rivals many of the city's galleries, sleeps surrounding by two of his favorite works, a 1968 work by American artist John McLaughlin and aboriginal artist, Nick Namarara(?). Other works throughout the couple's home include etchings by Jasper Johns, sculptures by Robert Graham and a 1915 Suprematist drawing by Kasimir Malevich.

The highlight of the master bathroom are the two windows. Rather than a vast window, in keeping with the architecture of the home, Saville cleverly created two separate windows, offering contrasting views. From one the vast reserve paints a picture of how the city would have looked during Jurassic times, while the other could not offer a more contemporary urban landscape. The couple's self-contained quarters also include a luxurious dressing room and a small kitchenette leading off the master bedroom, all following Tuchman's beloved elliptical layout.

Outside, an interconnecting bridge seamlessly connects the home to an independent tower that accommodates visiting guests and the curator's home office. The tower's cozy enclosure at the apex and the raised walkway are both excellent vantage points for taking in the city's spectacular sunsets. Below sits the paradisiacal infinity pool, jutting out from the cliff top, evoking a feeling of swimming off into the heavens. This impressive feature was the star setting of Steven Soderbergh's 1999 drama, The Limey. As Adlin surmises, many seemingly opposed qualities are used within Astral House; strength and subtlety, clarity and mystery, warmth and restraint. "You feel soothed and yet very alert being in the house. A feeling or mindset you achieve at certain great moments in yoga, but with no teacher needed!"

Q&A Maurice Tuchman and Adlin de Domingo

You travel frequently. Is there something special about returning to Los Angeles?
On one level, the weather in all seasons is always inviting and welcoming. You have the sense of being greeted, in a friendly fashion, by The City of Angels. This is heightened, raised to another, almost spiritual level by the smiling faces you encounter wherever you go. On the street, in a market or in a fancy boutique, people make eye contact with each other – the sun shines on everyone equally!

And being in Astral House?
There is a distinctly magical feeling in and around the house and on the completely private road, with its amazing views. This is not accidental, or only a matter of location, as superb as is Nichols Canyon - and its unique and precious neighbor Runyan Canyon – the last immense nature preserve in this cosmopolitan city. By "magical," I am referring to the real enchantment embedded in Brent Saville's design, in particular to the spiritual evocations of the super ellipse form at the heart of the house.

What is the significance of this form?
Maurice was enamored of this form, with its special tensility and strength, and by its mystical powers. He brought it to Brent's attention and suggested that it become the basis of the conception for our home. Brent, a smart, wonderful, gifted man, took the idea and ran with it, designing the house, its curves and proportions and most importantly the flow of space throughout the structures on the basis of this super form. The décor and the furnishings are part and parcel of the concept.

For further information contact art@mauricetuchman.com

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