(article originally published on Artribune November 1, 2015)
On at the Museum of Modern Art in New York until March 6, 2016, Endless House is a tribute to the Vienna-trained architect Frederick Kiesler and an opportunity to take stock of the theme of the home as an evolving space, perpetually striving to adapt to the changing habits of the people who live in it.
Staged to mark the fiftieth anniversary of his death, the small exhibition at the MoMA in New York succeeds in its attempt to present to the public a singular juxtaposition of different but complementary aesthetic worlds. In addition to the ample space devoted to the best-known projects of Frederick Kiesler (Chernivtsi, 1890 – New York, 1965), in fact, the curator Pedro Gadanho has embarked on a discussion of art, architecture and architectural theory with over sixty designers, architects and visual artists who, following the example of the Austrian architect and his “endless house,” have skillfully integrated a multidisciplinary approach into their work.
The exhibition opens with Kiesler’s numerous drawings for the project of the Endless House, from which it takes its title. In each of these drawings soft surfaces alternate with curved walls, covered with short lines in ink that effectively accentuate the sense of movement he imparted to his structures.
IN COMPARISON WITH HIS COLLEAGUES
The projects, which are part of the MoMA’s collection, speak to us of a figure whose vision and expressive capacity allowed him to anticipate many of the later tendencies in architecture. And so, while the “endless house” resembles a cave in perhaps too ambiguous a manner, a few steps farther on we come to Mies van der Rohe and the models of his refined Farnsworth House, an architectural glass box that remains among the most important expressions of the International Style of which the celebrated German architect was one of the founders.
Audio and video comments by the architects Frank Gehry, Peter Eisenman and Rem Koolhaas offer deeper insights into the theme of the detached house and its link with Kiesler through interesting references to their professional activity. Gehry, in particular, with his Winton Guest House (1983-87), shows that he has thoroughly absorbed the lesson of the Austrian architect, bringing to his buildings a similar predilection for irregular modules and spaces.
Passing from one side of the room to the other, we discover finally that the theme of the house can become a means not just of conveying messages of a universal nature, but also and above all of experimentation: here we find examples of the way it has been handled by visual artists like Louise Bourgeois, Bruce Nauman, Mario Merz, Rachel Whiteread and Martha Rosler, each of whom conceives the home in a personal way that is distant from any strictly architectural connotation. In all these cases, in fact, the house is not only a shell or a shelter, but also a place of reflection in which it is possible to question gender roles and observe social changes.
Before leaving the MoMA to become the director of the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology in Lisbon, Pedro Gadanho is offering the people of New York a sound curatorial project, one that is able to spark off a concrete and profound exchange between different generations and disciplines.
New York // until March 6, 2016
Endless House. Intersections of Art and Architecture
a cura di Pedra Gadanho
11 West 53th Street
+1 (0)212 7089400
1. Frederick Kiesler, Exterior view of the Endless House model, 1958
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Architecture & Design Study Center – photo by George Barrows.
2. Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe, Famsworth House, Plano, Illinois, 1945-51
The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
3. Bruce Nauman, Crossed Stadiums, 1984.
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the Lauder Foundation © 2015 Bruce Nauman / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
4. Mario Merz, Untitled, 1988
The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Review published by Artribune November 1, 2015