Posts tagged with "Martino Stierli":

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Yugoslav architecture: Hidden no more

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City is hosting an extraordinary exhibition surveying late modern architecture from a country that no longer exists: YugoslaviaToward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948–1980 is on view now through January 13, 2019. Approximately six hundred items are on display in salon style across MoMA’s galleries including original drawings, newly crafted scale models, and a series of commissioned photographs by a Swiss photographer Valentin Jeck. The material is not presented chronologically but rather arranged spatially as a series of sequential topics ranging from Global Networks to Everyday Life and Identities, each branching into sub-topics. Distinct rooms are reserved for individual architects that the curators have highlighted as key thinkers in the spatialization of the Yugoslav socialist identity, including Bogdan Bogdanović, Juraj Neidhardt, Vjenceslav Richter, and Edvard Ravnikar. An entire gallery is devoted to the brutalist reconstruction of Skopje featuring the work of Kenzo Tange with Janko Konstantinov, a graduate of Yale. While female architects like Milica Šterić, Melanija Marušić, and Svetlana Kana Radević did not get a separate booth, they were largely present in galleries and through an essay on gender in Yugoslav architecture published in the exhibition catalog, written by curatorial assistant Anna Kats and Theodossis Issaias. The show's curators, MoMA’s Martino Stierli and guest curator Vladimir Kulić, begin the show by asserting that this exhibition is a survey of architecture that has been all but absent from modern history. They also make clear that Yugoslavia was expelled from the Soviet bloc in 1948, removing it from Stalin’s grip on spatial esthetics. The country had a need to search for its collective identity elsewhere. As Vladimir Kulić states, the architecture from Yugoslav socialism is an adaptation rather than copy, giving the work a quality of enhanced interpretation. The work exhibited draws a range of inspiration from U.S. postwar corporate architecture, brutalism on the global stage, most notably from Paul Rudolph and Kenzo Tange, Scandinavia’s organic volumetrics, Alvar Aalto’s sensibility towards nature, and playful forms in concrete relating to Oscar Niemeyer’s Brazilian freeing of form to allow expression of permeability and elegance. MoMA’s exhibit suggests that socialist architecture in Yugoslavia was a success of its own time. Its unique adaptation of late modernism was complementary with other grand narratives of modern architecture worldwide. To someone like me who lived in the architecture of Yugoslavia on display at MoMA, the success of the exhibit is two-fold. First, thanks to daring curatorial decisions to organize the material in topics rather than chronologically or as a fixed narrative, the exhibit avoids the nostalgia that surrounds avant-garde Soviet architecture. And second, these Yugoslav examples are cast as success stories from the recent socialist past, with a post-avant-garde afterlife increasingly relevant to contemporary times. As Stierli points out, a majority of the architecture presented in the exhibition is still in use today. Included in the exhibit are two outstanding works, namely the excerpts from Mila Turajlić’s video arrangement Living Space/Loving Space (2018), and Jasmina Čibić’s mesmerizing video entitled Nada: Act 1 (2016), which turned Richter’s model for the Yugoslav Pavilion at Expo 1958 in Brussels into a string musical instrument. At the entrance to the galleries, visitors will find a legendary pan-Yugoslav kiosk K67 by Saša Mächtig of Slovenia doing precisely what the kiosk was meant for: providing information. Barry Bergdoll noted in a follow-up event at the AIA Center for Architecture that this exhibition celebrates an architecture that came out of a now superseded political system, and the show suggests that Yugoslavia's socialism was perhaps not that nefarious after all. Toward a Concrete Utopia is an extraordinary exhibition that is opening doors for research on the subject. Expanding scholarship was reportedly an ambition of Stierli from the beginning of planning for the exhibit. This widening will help bring to view Yugoslav architecture beyond MoMA’s selection. According to the warm reception, architecture from socialist Yugoslavia is on its way to being secured in the legacy of global modernism. Including a single shelf with topical books published thus far would have helped augment the high quality of the exhibition. Such an insertion would have also offset possible critiques of a neo-colonial approach, seemingly the only possible approach while addressing the highly diverse modern design heritage of today’s balkanized countries as a single Yugoslavia, under the roof of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Hidden no more. Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss, PhD grew up in socialist Yugoslavia and is now a research architect based in New York. He is the author of Socialist Architecture: The Vanishing Act (JRP Ringier, Zuerich) and Socialist Architecture: The Reappearing Act. He is currently faculty at CUNY’s CCNY Spitzer School of Architecture and founder of NAO.NYC.
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Curator Martino Stierli on the future of MoMA’s architecture and design galleries

In The Architect’s Newspaper April East edition, editor in chief William Menking broke the news that MoMA will be closing its architecture and design galleries. To continue the conversation, Menking sat down with Martino Stierli, the museum’s Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design.

The Architect’s Newspaper: As part of MoMA’s renovation of the current building, the collection galleries on the third floor of the museum, which include the architecture gallery, were closed over the course of the last few weeks. These galleries will reopen in a new configuration in early 2017. Can you explain that new configuration and how you believe the architecture and design collection (the museum calls them “medium designated”) will be better represented?

Martino Stierli: Indeed, as has been communicated earlier, the whole third floor is currently undergoing a renovation with the goal of having three bigger galleries that will have a variety of uses. One of the galleries has already undergone a slight conversion. That is the former design gallery in which we are currently showing A Japanese Constellation: Toyo Ito, SANAA, and Beyond. The other two new galleries on the third floor will open early next year. Going forward, all three of these galleries will be used for a variety of programs that include collection-based shows as well as special exhibitions. 

With regard to your question about the galleries for the architecture and design collection, these will be located in the new building. Until this new wing opens—given that we are going to have less space throughout the renovation—we are going to have to be more flexible about how we make best use of our available spaces. This doesn’t mean, though, that we are not going to have any media-specific installations during this period. So for example, we are working on a collection-based exhibition called Interior Propositions, which is curated by Juliet Kinchin. This exhibition will be shown where we are currently presenting A Japanese Constellation. Immediately after that, in summer 2017, the same space will be part of the Frank Lloyd Wright exhibition, specifically for the education program. The main part of the exhibition will go into one of the new galleries, which will measure roughly 10,000 square feet. Having recently acquired the entire Frank Lloyd Wright Archives with Columbia University, that exhibition will again be overwhelmingly collection-based.

The Frank Lloyd Wright exhibition is an example of how we will be using spaces that have not previously been available for architecture and design collection shows. We’re also currently preparing an exhibition on the design of the early computer age that is going to go into a gallery on the second floor, traditionally [a space that] has been used for prints. Moreover, [associate curator] Sean Anderson is working on a collection-based exhibition on borders and migrations that will be presented in the Dunn Gallery on the second floor. The survey exhibition on the architecture of socialist Yugoslavia exhibition that I’m working on for the summer of 2018 will again go into the space on the third floor where the Frank Lloyd Wright show will be presented next summer.  So one could say that a certain continuity on the third floor will be ensured. At the same time, exhibitions organized by other curatorial departments will also be shown on that floor. 

So, because the museum is going to be larger with the new addition, it’s still not worked out where things are going to go.

That is correct. The new buildings will not open before 2019, and we are still working intensely on figuring out how the new spaces will be configured and what will go where. While we have not finalized the specific locations for the different parts of our various collections, we are committed to medium-dedicated galleries.

As far as the next few years are concerned, during the renovation and expansion projects, we will have to operate with more flexibility simply because we won’t have the same square footage available throughout the museum. Nevertheless, we are fully committed to presenting our rich collection in a way that will do justice to the specific needs of each medium, including architecture and design, while making visible the many meaningful connections among the different arts. It is a strategy that we think of as both/and: We are committed to both medium-dedicated galleries and more broadly comprehensive ones. There is no change in policy in this regard and the abolishing of architecture and design designated galleries is not and never has been an issue under consideration.

What you’re saying is that, in 2019, when all this opens up, there will be medium-designated galleries?

Yes. I can’t tell you at the moment what these galleries will look like specifically, simply because we are still very much working on these questions. But there will be medium-designated spaces.

If the departments of architecture and design will no longer have any dedicated exhibition spaces, the fear is that this collection will openly serve as a background to the other arts like painting and sculpture. You seem confident that this will not happen.

Yes. At the same time, I also want to say that I am interested in experimenting with new forms of displaying our collections and to see how far we can go in affording a more comprehensive look of the history of modernism. The exhibition on the fourth floor that deals with the 1960s is an example of this kind of experimentation, but it would be wrong to assume that this will be a model for other shows going forward that will also take a more comprehensive approach than we have traditionally done.

I agree with your belief that architecture is an art on the same level as painting, sculpture, and photography, but don’t you think, because of its necessity to be created collaboratively in a workshop, or needing to sometimes surrender to the wishes of the patron or client, or need to consider structural necessities, that architecture has its own requirements that can only be explored in a dedicated gallery? Doesn’t architecture also benefit from a gallery dedicated exclusively to its own medium?

Yes, I absolutely agree, and hence I believe it is important to have a space at hand in which the narratives specific to modern architecture and design can be explored.

Do you have plans to display the museum’s enormous collection of nearly 200,000 architecture and design objects? Many of these will not qualify as great major works, but are nevertheless important to the understanding of the museum. 

Several of the exhibitions that I mentioned earlier are actually collection shows: Interior Propositions is a collection show. Frank Lloyd Wright is a collection show. The Borders and Migrations show is mainly a collection-based show, even though it will include some loans. The computer age design exhibition is also a collection show. And after the expansion opens, we’ll have much more space to show the collection. The whole idea of this expansion project is to have more space for our amazing collection.

How much more square footage are you getting?

50,000 more square feet and a 30 percent increase in gallery space. We will still only be able to present a fraction of the collection at one time, but it will be significantly more than before.

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Ever-growing MoMA splits its controversial expansion plans into three phases

When MoMA debuted its Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R)–led expansion and renovation plans in 2014, the reaction from the public was overwhelmingly negative. Those plans called for demolishing the Tod Williams and Billie Tsien–designed American Folk Art Museum and creating a glass curtain wall that would open MoMA's entire first floor to the public, for free. It's not the free part critics took issue with: It was the perceived chaos of the museum-goer experience and wholesale destruction of the folk art museum. MoMA took note, and pulled plans back. This week, revised plans were revealed. DS+R is still the architect (with Gensler), and the original objective—to create unfettered movement between galleries—remains. But a lot has also changed. Plans call for connecting galleries in Jean Nouvel’s planned residential tower at West 53rd Street, the new DS+R addition, galleries in the site of the former American Folk Art Museum, and the current MoMA building to broaden public access and accommodate skyrocketing attendance. Renovations and new construction will add 50,000 square feet of exhibition space, and expand the lobbies. When construction is complete, MoMA will be 744,000 square feet, or 17 percent, larger than it is today. The fluidity of the program, museum officials and observers contend, signal MoMA’s move away from traditional departmental categories towards more interdisciplinary collaboration. Martino Stierli, the museum’s chief curator of architecture and design, told the New York Times that MoMA is “really using this moment of renovation to explore other ways to see our collection—looking at how media can interact. We want to make use of this time to try new things.” Given the museum's increasing popularity, more people will see these new concepts in practice. Since 2004, the year that Yoshio Taniguchi's $858 million addition opened to the public, the collection has grown by 40 percent, the number of yearly exhibitions has increased from 15 to 35, membership has reached 150,000, and attendance has doubled to three million annual visitors. The project is being split into three phases so the museum will not have to close completely. DS+R’s structure will be the last of the three: The first phase will be changes to the Lauder Building, where audiences now enter for film screenings, followed by renovations to the Taniguchi building. The Lauder building's east lobby will be expanded to improve crowd flow to the main lobby, and the gift shop and bookstore will be moved below ground to facilitate the expansion. Broadening public access will be achieved by different means than those put forth in the plan's first iteration. A new public entrance to the 54th Street sculpture garden was nixed due to security concerns. The “Art Bay," a retractable glass door would have allowed museumgoers to enter ground-floor galleries straight from the street, has also disappeared from plans. Instead, the first floor will have a free gallery with two exhibition spaces (one double height, for MoMA's Project Series) that's open to the public, but accessed through the museum lobby. A new canopy and a double height ceiling at the 53rd Street entrance will give extra visibility to the museum's main entrance. The double height ceiling will displace the media gallery, whose contents could be moved to a fourth floor gallery for media and performance. To accommodate larger pieces, or pieces of the future whose spatial requirements cannot yet be determined, none of the new galleries will have permanent walls, and collections galleries will be almost column-free. The four third-floor galleries (including galleries for architecture, photography, drawings, and special exhibition) will be merged into two galleries of 10,000 and 5,000 square feet. Glass, steel, and stone will be traded for a warmer palette to unify the changes. Construction on the $390 to $400 million project will begin next month. Although completion is contingent on the project timeline of the Nouvel building, all construction is expected to be complete by 2019 or 2020.
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BOFFO honors SHoP Architects at its annual Narcissists’ Ball

Monday night in the garden of Nolita’s Elizabeth Street Gallery, the New York–based arts organization BOFFO held its annual Narcissists’ Ball, a Spring benefit in support of art, fashion, and design. SHoP Architects was honored in the "Architecture" category, and Martino Stierli, Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art, gave a speech to acknowledge their work. Stierli spoke of SHoP’s winning MoMA/PS1 Young Architects Program (YAP) entry, Dunescape. The 2000 installation made them the first in a line of elite New York architects to get a boost from YAP. “From a relatively small and unknown practice, SHoP Architects in the meantime has transformed into one of the key players in the New York architectural scene,” Stierli said of the architects, “They have not only pioneered next-generation fabrication techniques based on digital algorithms that have produced beautiful surface textures and highly innovative facade designs, but have also contributed urbanist projects that have helped to rethink how space in this city can be better organized formally as well as socially." The BOFFO organization is rising fast in the New York arts community, and it has pioneered architectural collaboration with the Building Fashion series, a collaboration between fashion designers and up-and-coming architects, resulting in some of the most exciting pop-up stores in the city. They have featured architects such as Bittertang, Neihauser + Valle, Marc Fornes, and Snarkitecture.
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BREAKING: Martino Stierli tapped as MoMA’s Chief Curator of Architecture and Design

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has announced that Martino Stierli has been appointed as the Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design. Mr. Stierli is currently a professor at the University of Zurich where he teaches the history of modern architecture. Previously, he has organized or co-curated exhibitions at prestigious venues around the world, taught at multiple Swiss universities, and published multiple essays on various topics relating to design. He steps into his new role in March, 2015. “[Stierli] brings an international perspective and possesses an extraordinary ability to brilliantly relate architecture and its image to its cultural context,” MoMA’s director Glenn D. Lowry said in a statement. “With his solid grounding in the history of modern architecture and art, coupled with a keen interest in contemporary practice, Martino will be an effective and energetic leader.” Stierli lavished praise on MoMA and expressed excitement about his upcoming post. “By continually expanding its comprehensive collection, the Department of Architecture and Design has been pivotal to the preservation of modernism for the future, and to making that heritage accessible to scholars and the broader public alike,” he said in a statement released by the museum. “I am excited to continue this tradition at MoMA and look forward to working with the Museum’s extraordinary team to contribute to shaping the current discourse on architecture and the city—locally, nationally, and globally.” Barry Bergdoll, who was the Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design from 2007 to 2013, told AN, "I look forward greatly to Martino Stierli's leadership at MoMA Architecture and Design. Stierli is a creative, innovative, and astute historian and critic of modern and contemporary architecture, especially in its intersections with other artistic practices, notably photography and film. I am sure he will work with the collection, and grow it, in interesting ways, as well as develop timely and meaningful exhibitions, publications, and events. He brings a fresh vision to New York and to MoMA."