Two new exhibitions in architecture and design on view at the Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago has announced two new exhibitions from the Department of Architecture and Design: a new gallery rotation from the permanent collection, Highlights from the Department of Architecture and Design, and Stanley Greenberg: Architecture under Construction. Both exhibitions opened May 1, 2010, and run until September 6 and 7, 2010, respectively.


The Art Institute’s collection of architecture and design, at 150,000 objects, is one of the largest in the world. To exhibit as much of the collection as possible, Joseph Rosa, the John H. Bryan Chair of Architecture and Design, and Zoë Ryan, the Neville Bryan Curator of Design, planned a series of rotations of different objects from the permanent collection. The first rotation was the inaugural exhibition for the department in the new Modern Wing galleries, the largest galleries devoted to architecture and design in the United States.

The current selection of highlights from the collection comprises works by noted architects such as Le Corbusier, Bruce Goff, Kisho Kurokawa, Aldo Rossi, Joel Sanders with Karen Van Lengen, and Stanley Tigerman. Their diverse output – illustrated through hand drawings, digital prints, and new media – demonstrates the breadth of ideologies and approaches at play in architecture both historically and today. Also on view are key works by a cross section of contemporary designers – including Yves Béhar, Hella Jongerius, Joris Laarman, Ingo Maurer, and Sol Sender – who conduct new experiments in form and function, as well as investigations that propose solutions to critical social issues. In the final gallery is a special exhibition of fabrics created by a range of prominent artists and designers for the New York-based company Maharam. From examples produced for commercial application to bespoke creations, they demonstrate significant innovations in textile design. As the present installation attests, the practice of architecture and design is a potent, creative endeavour that helps further a greater understanding and appreciation of the world around us.


Stanley Greenberg: Architecture under Construction comprises 13 stunning photographs that present a window into hidden moments of the architectural process and the sublime structural beauty that lies under the skin of contemporary architecture. While avant-garde architecture has frequently inspired today’s art photographers and video artists, Greenberg is the first to focus a documentary-style lens on the subject. His luminous large-scale black-and-white photographs explore avant-garde structures in the process of being built. Using highly cropped views, Greenberg captures moments in the assembly of architecture that are rarely evident in the final building, revealing the complexity of contemporary construction and the residual visual unfolding of spaces resulting from these feats of structural gymnastics. Included in this exhibition are projects by such architects as Daniel Libeskind, Frank Gehry, Bernard Tschumi, and Coop Himmelblau. Through framings reminiscent of Lewis W. Hine’s heroic construction images of the 1930s, Greenberg’s compelling photographs are a celebration of the technologies and disciplines that have made these awe-inspiring buildings a reality.

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