Stardust Hotel and Casino neon sign, Las Vegas, 1968, © Venturi, Scott Brown & Associates Inc., Philadelphia.

“Tanya” Billboard on the Strip, Las Vegas, 1968, © Venturi, Scott Brown & Associates Inc., Philadelphia.

Las Vegas & the Birth of the 'Commercial City' Controversy in Architecture

Fremont Street, Las Vegas, 1968, © Venturi, Scott Brown & Associates Inc., Philadelphia.

Upper Strip, driving north, Las Vegas, ca. 1968, © Venturi, Scott Brown & Associates Inc., Philadelphia.

The Mint Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, 1968, © Venturi, Scott Brown & Associates Inc., Philadelphia.

 

MOCA-Pacific Design Center
8687 Melrose Avenue
(310) 289-5223
Los Angeles
Las Vegas Studio:
Images from the Archives
of Robert Venturi
and Denise Scott Brown

March 21-June 20, 2010

At the end of the 1960s and in the beginning of the 1970s, architects Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, and Steven Izenour discovered Las Vegas as a paradigm of the commercial city. Their findings, published in the book Learning from Las Vegas, are legendary, extending the categories of the ordinary, the ugly, and the social into architecture. Their contemporaries reacted strongly against the Las Vegas research, which approached architecture from the perspectives of symbolism and the phenomena of appearance. For the architects, photography was both the means of argumentation and representation of their research. Their approach used photographic methods borrowed from the disciplines of anthropology, sociology, and art.

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA), presents Las Vegas Studio: Images from the Archives of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown March 21 through June 20, 2010, at MOCA Pacific Design Center. This exhibition presents original photographs and films produced in the context of the “Learning from Las Vegas Research Studio” conducted by architects Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, and Steven Izenour at the Yale School of Architecture in the fall of 1968. Out of this research resulted Learning from Las Vegas, a landmark treatise on architectural theory published in 1972. Las Vegas Studio: Images from the Archives of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown is curated by Martino Stierli and Hilar Stadler in collaboration with artist Peter Fischli. MOCA’s presentation, organized by MOCA Curator Philipp Kaiser, follows presentations at Museum im Bellpark, Kriens, Switzerland; Deutsches Architekturmuseum, Frankfurt, Germany; and Yale School of Architecture, New Haven, Conn.

Las Vegas Studio: Images from the Archives of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown presents the original research materials from the archives of Venturi Scott Brown & Associates, including over 80 photographs and a selection of films. Motivated primarily by an interest in the image, the exhibition returns to a point before theory formation, and refers directly to the photographic material. The selection of images included in the exhibition focuses largely on secondary aspects and side products of the research project. It thereby shifts to the forefront previously unknown photographs that settled on the fringes of the Las Vegas research.

“The theory of communication in architecture set forth in Venturi and Scott Brown’s groundbreaking publication is crucial for experiencing space in major cities across the world, including Los Angeles,” commented MOCA Curator Philipp Kaiser. “Martino and Hilar have taken on the task of reappraising the engaging visual discourse from this study, and have directed our attention to the photographs themselves.”

“For the architects, photography was both the means of argumentation and representation of their research,” commented curators Martino Stierli and Hilar Stadler. “We have removed the images from their original analytical context and have presented them as photographic sensations.”

Las Vegas Studio: Images from the Archives of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown is organized by the Museum im Bellpark, Kriens.

Las Vegas Studio: Images from the Archives of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown is accompanied by a fully illustrated exhibition catalogue. Published by Scheidegger & Spiess Verlag, the publication is edited by Hilar Stadler and Martino Stierli and includes texts by Stanislaus von Moos and Martino Stierli and an interview by Hans Ulrich Obrist with Peter Fischli and Rem Koolhaas. It is available at the MOCA Store for $49.

Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown in Las Vegas, 1968, © Venturi, Scott Brown & Associates Inc., Philadelphia.

Las Vegas strip silhouettes, 1966, photo by Denise Scott Brown, © Venturi, Scott Brown & Associates Inc., Philadelphia.