Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street
The Robert B. Menschel Architecture and Design Gallery, third floor
Dreamland: Architectural experiments since the 1970s
July 23-October 27, 2008
Rem Koolhaas’s book Delirious New York and several drawings made for the book, including the recently acquired watercolor Plan of Dreamland (1977), is the point of departure for this exhibition of works from the collection of the Department of Architecture and Design at MoMA.
The explosion of architectural thoughts and experiments in the 1970s resonates to this day. Raimund Abraham, Peter Eisenman, Rem Koolhaas, Steven Holl, Hans Hollein are among the well-known architects practicing today who are inextricably linked to both the practice and theory of the 1970s. During this time, the city as a site for building — and New York especially — became the screen for the projection of architectural fantasies and utopias. The exhibition explores these imagined projects, as well as the ways that these experiments eventually resulted in real projects such as family houses and skyscrapers.
In addition to the Koolhaas drawing, other recent acquisitions included in the exhibition include works by Paulo Mendes da Rocha, Diller & Scofidio and Simon Ungers. The centerpiece of the gallery is a display of architectural models organized as a kind of fantasy city juxtaposing in close relation both unbuilt visionary projects and realized buildings. The outer walls of the gallery include architectural drawings that compliment and supplement the dreamscape of models. Organized by Andres Lepik, Curator, Department of Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Art.
Delirious New York set the pace for Rem Koolhaas's career. His work emphatically embraces the contradictions of two disciplines (architecture and urban design) that have struggled to maintain their humanist ideals of material honesty, the human scale and carefully crafted meaning in a rapidly globalising world that espouses material economy, machine scale and random meaning. Instead, Koolhaas celebrates the "chance-like" nature of city life: "The City is an addictive machine from which there is no escape." As Koolhaas himself has acknowledged, this approach had already been evident in the Japanese Metabolist Movement in the 1960s and early 1970s.
Massimo Scolari graduated in architecture in Milan in 1969. In 1973 he became professor of History of Architecture in Palermo, and of Drawing at the Istituto Universitario di Architettura di Venezia (IUAV). Between 1975 and 1993 he was visiting professor in various universities among which: Cornell University, Cooper Union N.Y., Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies N.Y., Technische Universität Vienna, Harvard University, Cambridge. From 2006 is Davenport Visiting Professor at the Yale School of Architecture. Editor of Controspazio, Casabella, Lotus International, director of Eidos (1989-1995) and the series of architectural books by Franco Angeli (1973-1988). From 1989 he designed furniture for Giorgetti where he was also art director until 2001. His work has been exhibited in Europe, Japan, Russia and the United States. His works are in the permanent collections at the MoMA (New York), at the Teheran Museum of Contemporary Art, at the Deutsches Architektur Museum (Frankfurt) and at the Centre Pompidou (Paris). He realised installations for the Venice Biennale 1980, 1984, 1991, 1996, and 2004 and at Milan Triennials in 1973 and 1986. His studies on representation were published by Marsilio in Il disegno obliquo (2005).
Gaetano Pesce studied Architecture at University of Venice. He has since worked worldwide as an architect and a designer for companies like Vitra and Cassina. His most famous building is the "Organic Building" in Osaka. He has lived in New York since 1980, and has been a guest professor in institutions like Cooper Union in New York and Institut d'Architecture et d'Etudes Urbaines in Strasbourg. Some of his designs have been included in the collections of the MoMA and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Haus-Rucker-Co, is an Austrian architectural partnership formed in Vienna in 1967 by Laurids Ortner (b Vienna, 26 May 1941), Günter Zamp Kelp (b Bistritz, 26 Aug 1941) and Klaus Pinter (b Schärding, ?1940). At the time of its formation the canon of Functionalism was beginning to disintegrate. Many of the early projects occupy a space between architectural design and Aktionskunst, for example Balloon for Two, (1967), Vienna, and Shell around Haus Lange Museum, (1971), Krefeld. Some schemes were utopian and remained unrealized such as Pneumacosm (1967), an expansion plan for New York using pneumatic cells, or Big Piano (1972). In 1970 Haus-Rucker-Co. opened another studio in Düsseldorf and a third in New York in 1971. The group has been active in the propagation of a "provisional", disposable concept of architecture that anticipates changes in the environment. This concept of a flexible architecture, which makes use of furniture as dividers of space and dismountable fittings, is expressed in their interior designs (e.g. BENE showrooms, Renngasse 6-8, Vienna, 1981). The group has been involved in many fair and exhibition projects, including Oasis No. 7 at Documenta 5 (1972), Kassel, the temporary nature of which demands a versatile design approach.
Peter Eisenman first rose to prominence as a member of the New York Five (also known as the Five Whites), five architects (Eisenman, Charles Gwathmey, John Hejduk, Richard Meier, and Michael Graves) some of whose work appeared in an exhibition at MoMA in 1967. Eisenman received a number of grants from the Graham Foundation for work done in this period. These architects' work at the time was often considered a reworking of the ideas of Le Corbusier. Subsequently, the five architects each developed unique styles and ideologies, with Eisenman becoming more affiliated with the Deconstructivist movement.
Eisenman currently teaches architecture at Yale University and has also embarked on a larger series of building projects than ever before in his career, including the recently completed Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin and the new University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
Massimo Scolari (Italian, born 1943), Urban Passage, project Axonometric, 1974, Color ink and watercolor on board, 7-1/8 x 5-1/8", Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, © 2008 Massimo Scolari.
Peter Eisenman (American, born 1932), Max Reinhardt Haus Project, Berlin, Germany, Scale model 1:100, 1992-93, Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) and Plexiglas, 82-1/2 x 60 x 60", Gift of Elise Jaffe + Jeffrey Brown and the architect, © 2008 Peter Eisenman.
Rem Koohaas (Dutch, born 1944), Plan of Dreamland, 1977, Watercolor and ink, 41-3/4 x 22", Gift of Frederieke S. Taylor, © 2008 Rem Koolhaas.