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Exhibition Places New Acquisitions in the Context of MoMA's History of Collecting
UNStudio (Dutch, Founded 1998), Ben van Berkel (Dutch, born 1957) and Caroline Bos (Dutch, born 1959) Mercedes-Benz Museum, Stuttgart, Germany. Model, 2001-2006. Composite board, plastic and paint, 25 1/2 x 39 1/4 x 43 1/4" (64.8 x 99.7 x 109.9 cm) The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the architects and Mercedes-Benz.
NEW YORK, NY.- Building Collections: Recent Acquisitions of Architecture, on view November 10, 2010 through May 30, 2011, highlights the great variety of important acquisitions made by the Department of Architecture and Design since 2005, juxtaposing, in several cases, newly acquired material with works long held in the collection in order to underscore the rationale and motives behind collecting architecture at MoMA. The exhibition, which is organized around several thematic areas, covers the full range of MoMA’s collection from the 1890s to the present, and features such figures as Louis Sullivan, Le Corbusier, Bodo and Heinz Rasch, Jean Tschumi, Ant Farm, Paulo Mendes da Rocha, Jean Tschumi, UN Studio, Sauerbruch Hutton, and Seung H-Sang. The vast majority of models and drawings are being exhibited for the first time. Building Collections is organized by Barry Bergdoll, The Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design, and Margot Weller, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Art.

Building Collections is organized around eight themes, beginning with “Ornament and Crime,” which reconsiders the 1920s dismissal of ornament as an aspect of modernism, revealing the important role ornament actually played in the emergence of abstraction. Works from this section date from 1890 to 1930 and include Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler’s Art Nouveau Chicago Stock Exchange Frieze (1893); Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Margaret Macdonald’s 1901 mantel piece drawing for 3 Lillybank Terrace, which harmoniously merges architectural and decorative features; and a Hans Poelzig Concert Hall project drawing (1918) that shows the capacity for ornament and color to affect mood and make architecture a vehicle for emotion. “X” examines the graphic technique of using an X to reject past architectural ideology in favor of new modernist thinking. Examples include a drawing from Le Corbusier’s, “Ceci n’est pas l’architecture” Buenos Aires Lecture (1929), in which he drew large Xs over classic architectural styles and declared, “This not architecture, its only styles, alive and magnificent in their own time, today they are nothing more than cadavers,”; and Willi Baumeister’s poster, Wie Wohnen? Die Wohnung Werkbund Austellung (1927), created for an exhibition of housing, in which he crossed out an image of a traditional elaborately decorated interior with a red X.

“Urbanism” explores the recasting of the modern city through such works as sketches from Heinz and Bodo Rasch’s Suspension Houses Project (1927–28), which appropriated technology from suspension bridges into an innovative suspended skyscraper type; and Jean Tschumi’s drawings for Stockholm Master Plan (1932), one of the earliest applications of Le Corbusier’s radical ideas to modernist city planning. “Utopias and Alternative Modernisms” includes unrealized projects from the 1970s, including Haus Rucker Co.’s Stück Natur (Fragment of Nature) (1973) as well as realized ones like Ant Farm’s House of the Century project plans and elevations (1971–73).

“Young New York Architecture” documents how New York City inspired key figures to invent new architectural expressions and theories of urban architecture. Examples include Frank Lupo and Daniel Rowen’s photo collage Tower Stripped Bare by Time Even (1984), made for a competition that was an attempt to revitalize Times Square; Renzo Piano’s model for the New York Times Building (2007); and 2003 models from David Childs and Guy Nordenson for World Trade Center 1. “Young Berlin Architecture” highlights the reconstruction and new architectural prominence of German architecture after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Sauerbruch Hutton’s GSW Headquarters (1991–99), Barkow Leibinger’s GATEHouse (2008), and Jüergen Mayer H.’s Mensa Karlsruhe Dining Hall (2005–06) are featured projects.

“Process” displays a collection of objects, such as models, sketches, and plans, that illustrate design development and show the procedures involved in building a structure. Architectural projects in this section include UNStudio’s Mercedez Benz Museum in Stuttgart (2001–06), Steven Holl’s Linked Hybrid in Beijing (2003–06), and Thom Mayne and Morphosis’s Phare Tower in Paris (2006–2010).

The final theme, “Latin American Modernism,” addresses MoMA’s early interest in the subject and its current commitment to acquire works for the collection. Highlights include multiple projects by Paolo Mendes da Rocha, and several drawings made by Oscar Niemeyer during his time in France, including Urban Plans (ZAC) Projects for Grasse, Dieppe and Villejuif (1967–78).

MoMA | Building Collections: Recent Acquisitions of Architecture | Barry Bergdoll | Margot Weller |


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