Modern Visions: Visionary Architecture at the Museum of Modern Art, 1960
This M.E.D. thesis considers the historical significance of the exhibition Visionary Architecture, curated by Arthur Drexler and held at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1960. A modestly sized exhibit, it displayed the drawings and models of twenty-eight unbuilt projects by a range of modern architects from Le Corbusier to Michael Webb. With Visionary Architecture, Drexler privileged the architectural idea over the built form, registering the dissolution of a prevailing modernist aesthetic, and propelling MoMA toward a reassessment of its own highly codified version of modern architecture. Within the Museum, the show served as a rupture from a history of architecture exhibitions that emphasized style and practicality, while it remained loyal to a central tenet of modernism in its faith in architecture as a socially redemptive force. But the exhibition also reflected an increasing fragmentation and critical rethinking of the modern canon that characterized the professional avant-garde of the 1950s. Apparent in Visionary Architecture is architectural culture’s dissatisfaction with—and yet entrenchment in—a modern paradigm that MoMA itself had been so instrumental in constructing.