On February 23, French architect Yona Friedman was announced as the awardee of the Austrian Frederick Kiesler Prize for Architecture. The award, named for Austrian-born artist and architect Friedrich Kiesler, is granted biennially by the City of Vienna and Republic of Austria and awards €55,000 prize (approximately $67,000) for innovative achievements in the fields of architecture and the arts. Previous award winners include Frank Gehry, Judith Berry, and Lise Anne Couture and Hani Rashid. Yona Friedman was born in Budapest in 1923, fled to Israel during World War II, and ultimately moved to Paris in 1957. Friedman’s views of architecture are linked to the physical and ideological traits of social structures and the diversity of users’ needs. Due to his own refugee background, Friedman is deeply attached to human architecture and the rising issue of migrant nomadism in European and global contexts. As quoted in the Friedrich Kiesler Foundation’s press release, Friedman describes his approach as one that believes “that ideas can be more important than objects themselves. An approach that goes back 2,500 years but is often forgotten…” Friedman’s work has been exhibited at the Shanghai and Venice Biennales, as well as in cultural institutions across Europe. His canon of work includes the 1958 manifesto, L’Architecture Mobile (Mobile Architecture), which advanced new spatial-concepts of urban living. The exact date of the award ceremony is yet to be determined.
Posts tagged with "Frederick Kiesler":
Frederick Kiesler is well known as an artist/architect/designer who worked between disciplines and professional categories. His recent retrospective at The Museum of Applied Arts (MAK) in Vienna highlighted his work as an architect, theater designer, and creator of ground-breaking exhibition spaces like Peggy Guggenheim’s 1942 Art of This Century gallery. A current show at the Jason McCoy Gallery features Kiesler’s little known ‘painted’ images done in ink, oil, and tempera mounted on boards. The exhibit Galaxies of the 1950s highlights Kiesler’s strategy that these works were not created as individual works, but in a series where “the space between the different parts was just as important as the paintings themselves,” as the gallery said in a press release. In fact, he diagrammed and planned the surrounding space of the series, often measuring down to fractions of an inch. Ever the early 20th-century Viennese architect/artist, this series reflected the idea that the "inner necessity" of the work as a whole was the same as “breathing is to our body reality." Each work, Kiesler wrote, “represents a definite unit in itself just as in one family each member is of distinct individuality." Yet for Kiesler, art, like the architect, could no longer “be placed in isolation: that art must strive again to become part of daily experience." He reminds us, in these beautiful works, that painters, sculptors, and architects must still conceive their work as part of the world. Jason McCoy Gallery 41 East 57th Street 11th floor Galaxies of the 1950s is on view until April 29, 2017.
A new exhibition Friedrich Kiesler: Life Visions at Vienna’s Museum of Applied Art (MAK) sets out to make the case that the Austrian-American architect is one of the most important and influential designers of the 20th century. It claims that “since the beginning of the 21st century,” the perception of Kielser has changed from a “primarily architectonic” one to an artistic one; this is the view it wants to correct. It is true that, as an architect, Kiesler does not often get his due. He created, for example, his futuristic urban composition City in Space (recreated in full scale for the exhibit) as a stage set for the 1925 Paris ‘Art Deco’ exposition which also featured Le Corbusier, Konstantin Melnikov, and Alexander Rodchenko, but he is not often placed on the same level as these architects. Philip Johnson called him "the best non building architect in the world" to which Kiesler apparently responded that Johnson was "one of the best building non-architects of our time." But Hani Rashid, President of the Kiesler Foundation (and co-organizer of this exhibit), claims that Kiesler is the single early modernist figure that pushed design forward into the 21st century. Kiesler immigrated to New York in 1926 but was educated at the Vienna Technical University in the early 1920s. The Secession and Weiner Werkstatte were largely played out by the time but the emphasis they gave to the synthesis of high and low arts and the German idea of Gesamtkunstwerk (arts at the center of daily life) were still influential in Vienna and to the young designer. Kiesler Foundation director Peter Bogner claims Kiesler synthesized the ideas of the European avant-garde from early Viennese modernism, Constructivism to Surrealism and through “transformation via American society to translate them into new cultural contexts.” In the 1930s he created a design theory he called Correalism that was meant to focus on the relationship between artwork, humanity, and the environment, and define his practice as an architect and exhibition designer. He spent a lifetime trying to merge or fuse the arts through the idea of the ‘endless.’ It all came together famously in his 1959 Endless House project. The exhibit covers Kiesler's category-spanning career from the 1920s through the 1960s and emphasizes his “theoretical deliberations and innovative inventiveness.” It features hand drawings, architectural renderings, models, private letters, and archival photos, many of which are displayed for the first time. Despite Kiesler’s life long passion for the worlds of art, city planning, and even exhibition curation, he had a practice that was unique by the standards of today's architecture world. Now most architects who have an interest in experimental form-making or even theoretical urban critique leave building practice and move full time into the world of art installations, writing, or drawings for the gallery. But Kiesler never gave up his desire to build: it was important to his concept of synthetic practice and he even became a registered architect in New York. In fact, while the Austrian is said to have only built only a single structure—the 1965 Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem—he actually realized a great many projects, including stage sets, gallery designs, furniture, and exhibition designs. He designed Peggy Guggenheim’s 1942 Art of the Century Gallery, New York department store showrooms and window displays, gallery shows, and large trade show exhibitions. He taught at Columbia University and created a Mobile Home Library of rotating shelves, and in 1929, The Film Guild Cinema on 8th Street in Manhattan. The 8th Street cinema grew out of a life long connection of designing for the theater; his designs constitute a major section of the MAK exhibit. He worked on different scales and levels: for example, his electro-mechanical stage set experimented with optical mechanisms to manipulate vision for Karel Capek’s drama R.U.R. in 1923. The MAK has a model of a stage he created for the 1924 International Exhibition of New Theater, which had spiral ramps and top-level proscenium theater that demonstrated he was familiar with the Russian Constructivist avant-garde. It was advanced as anything coming out of the Soviet Union. His stage set for the Julliard performance of Cocteau/Milhaud opera in 1948 had a surrealist-inspired post and column sculpture that ended up as site-specific installation in Philip Johnson's glass house in 1947. Finally, he designed sets for Julliard and actual theater buildings for Woodstock (1931) and Brooklyn Heights (1926) that, if realized, would have been major landmarks in stage and theater design. Kiesler's radically inventive designs were often visionary in concepts but clearly unrealizable by definition. Yet his work was always what one would expect from an architect appropriate to the program at hand. Correalism may have evolved out of a 19th century utopian belief in the designer's ability to control the world, but Kiesler’s consistent vision for a new way of life, un-encumbered by the practicalities and certainties of the market place, are more relevant than ever in today's world of architecture practice. This show is not to be missed if you find yourself in Vienna. The exhibition at the MAK in Vienna is on through October 2, 2016.