Three Exhibitions…yet to happen
I was once a curator of architecture and design at the US’s one, dedicated architecture museum; but I have not curated an exhibition in over five years. Here are three exhibition ideas that I hope some ambitious curator will mount; I certainly would like to see these shows in the near future, and I think they could strike the right balance between being both intellectually challenging and bringing a public audience into the architectural history and theory discussion:
1. “Hilberseimer’s City” (Art Institute of Chicago, 2012)
An exhibition of the influence of the above image (High-Rise City, 1924) by Ludwig Hilberseimer on post-war architectural and urban design. The image is held by the Art Institute of Chicago Museum. Such an exhibition could begin by explaining the ideas behind this image, a bit on Hilberseimer’s career; but then demonstrate the rediscover of this image among a host of radical post-war architects. The above image was circulated by, and influenced the work of, Archizoom, Aldo Rossi, Superstudio, among others. The image continued to gain influence among architects such as OMA (in the 1970s) and the work of Eisenman Architects. Today this image finds its way into the concepts of neo-autonomists KGDVS, Productura, and Dogma Office. It would be a great exhibition that could span historical eras while positioning the Art Institute’s Hilberseimer collection as relevant to contemporary debates. Even better, it could bring the Hilberseimer discussion out of a simplistic “was Hilbs good or bad for the city?” type of argument, and display his work in a less literal light — as a representational project, rather than a purely projective one.
2. “Peter Eisenman (1967-),” Museum of Modern Art, 2015.
Why have we not had a great, big, American, Eisenman retrospective? I recently examined the Electa monograph on Eisenman; it’s a complete revelation. How difficult could it be to both translate this work into English and mount the corresponding exhibition in the US? Eisenman’s work deserves such expansive treatment. I would hope that this exhibition concentrates on the work from the late-1970s, almost all of which had such significant impact on both the visual language of architecture and architectural theory.
3. “Building Books” (Getty Center, LA; or Avery Library, or Fowler Library at Johns Hopkins), 2014
There have been a few interesting architecture “book” exhibitions in the past few years; but why not an enormous survey from the 15th century to the present? The importance of books to architecture would make for a fascinating exhibition and there are at least half-a-dozen people that could curate such an exhibition. Considering the many theory retrospective books out in the past ten years, it’s surprising that the corresponding exhibition has not ben staged. The trick here would be turning the exhibition of books into something interesting for a more general audience.