Alongside the fantastical Bodys Isak Kingelez exhibition in an adjacent gallery, MoMA has produced an architecture show Toward a Concrete Utopia of a very different sort, much more in keeping with their comprehensive Latin American show that Barry Bergdoll so deftly curated a few years ago. This is architecture that made a different kind of historical statement, and had everything to do with the post-war Eastern European socialist movements of the 1950s-1980’s.
Yugoslav architecture? It doesn’t sound sexy. But it is! The more I look at Brutalist architecture the more I see the cragginess, the undulation and not the monolithic. And its monuments are apparently a great hit on social media. The images above may tell you why.
The architects will not be household names, but they were deeply influenced by people like Paul Rudolph and Kenzo Tange. This Brutalist ethic was in keeping with the desire for monumentality, permanence and commemoration that swept Eastern Europe at the time. This is a region that has gone back and forth from federation to separate nation-states --these buildings and monuments are the most permanent residue of the shape shifting.
Architecture as a symbol of utopia, dystopia or even myopia—all this is present in the exhibition.
I won’t be able to get to this show right away but I’m very interested in flagging it having plunged deeply into Communist era and mid-century architecture this year in neighboring Prague, Vienna, Berlin and previously in Cuba and Latin America and especially Mexico.
All images courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art.