Belgrade Fair, Belgrade, Hall1

MoMA Exhibition: For Better Understanding of Architectural History

On view from July 15, 2018, through January 13, 2019, In MoMA gallery is exhibition Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948–1980.

This exhibition presents understudied details about the architecture in the country that no longer exists.

“Historically speaking, a thorough investigation of the architectural production of socialist Yugoslavia will lead to a better understanding of an important but understudied chapter of architectural history in the bifurcated world order of the Cold War,” said Martino Stierli.

“From a contemporary point of view, this body of work serves as a reminder that architecture can only thrive when there is a broad societal understanding of architecture’s power to transform and elevate society and the quality of life it offers citizens.”

It is the first time that MoMA brings in the USA 400 works (drawings, models, photographs and films) dedicated to the Yugoslav architecture. It is organized into four main sections, Modernization, Global Networks, Everyday Life, and Identities. The exhibition explores themes of large-scale urbanization, technological experimentation and its application in everyday life consumerism, monuments and memorialization, and the global reach of Yugoslav architecture.

Some of the projects

Within the above topics, the following projects are represented: The development of the federal capital, New Belgrade (begun in 1948), at that time one of the most ambitious building projects in postwar Europe, comparable to Brasília and Chandigarh, the new capitals of Brazil and the Indian state of Punjab.

Urban Planning Institute of Belgrade
Urban Planning Institute of Belgrade. Belgrade Master Plan. 1949–50. Belgrade, Serbia. Plan 1:10000. 1951. Ink and tempera on diazotype, 64 9/16 x 9 3/4″ (164 x 233 cm). Urban Planning Institute of Belgrade

Than the Belgrade fairgrounds, inaugurated in 1957, featured the world’s largest concrete dome (unsurpassed until the Houston Astrodome was built in 1965) as one of the cutting-edge structural designs that were on par with innovative projects around the world.

Belgrade Fair, Belgrade, Hall1  This photo from Belgrade Fair
Belgrade Fair, Belgrade, Hall 1 This photo from Belgrade Fair

Designs for everyday life are presented in addition to large-scale urban schemes, tourist facilities, Social standard buildings (education, health care, and cultural programming). Most prominent is Rex folding Chair by Niko Kralj for Stol Kamnik which became widely known for their innovation, flexibility, and affordability. The ‘Rex Lounge’ has been included in the Collection of Designmuseum Danmark in Copenhagen, Museum für Gestaltung in Zürich, Museum for Industrial Design in Prague, and now the MoMA in New York City.

Installation view of Toward a Concrete Utopia
Installation view of Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948–1980, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, July 15, 2018–January 13, 2019. © 2018 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Martin Seck

Featuring work by exceptional architects, including Bogdan Bogdanović, Juraj Neidhardt, Svetlana Kana Radević, Edvard Ravnikar, Vjenceslav Richter, and Milica Šterić, the exhibition examines the unique range of forms and modes of production in Yugoslav architecture and its distinct yet multifaceted character.

In addition to architectural works in the country, the achievements abroad are presented, especially in Africa and the Middle East ( dams, roads, power plants, and cultural centres). One of them worth mentioning is Lagos Trade Fair designed by Zoran Bojović for Energoprojekt.

Zoran Bojović for Energoprojekt. International Trade Fair
Zoran Bojović for Energoprojekt. International Trade Fair. 1973–77, Lagos, Nigeria. Plan of external traffic connections and internal circulation, 1973. Felt tip pen on tracing paper mounted on cardboard, 27 9/16 x 39 3/8″ (70 x 100 cm). Personal archive of Zoran Bojović

In addition to architectural work, Toward a Concrete Utopia also includes three video installations by filmmaker Mila Turajlić, newly commissioned photographs by Valentin Jeck, and contemporary artworks by Jasmina Cibic and David Maljković.

Installation view of Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948–1980, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, July 15, 2018–January 13, 2019. © 2018 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Martin Seck
Installation view of Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948–1980, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, July 15, 2018–January 13, 2019. © 2018 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Martin Seck

Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948–1980 is organized by Martino Stierli, The Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Art, and Vladimir Kulić , Associate Professor, Florida Atlantic University, with Anna Kats, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Art.

The Museum of Modern Art, designed by Yoshio Taniguchi. Entrance at 53rd Street. Photo © 2011 Timothy Hursley
The Museum of Modern Art, designed by Yoshio Taniguchi. Entrance at 53rd Street. Photo © 2011 Timothy Hursley

You can have a look at Upcoming exhibitions and events on the MoMA site.

All photos Courtesy: MoMA