January 31, 2015 - Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard University - The Way We Live Now, Modernist Ideologies at Work
January 31, 2015

The Way We Live Now, Modernist Ideologies at Work

Ulla von Brandenburg, Singspiel (still), 2009. Black-and-white 16-mm film14:34 minutes. Courtesy the artist and Art: Concept, Paris.

The Way We Live Now, Modernist Ideologies at Work
February 5–April 5, 2015

Opening: Thursday, February 5, 5:30–6:30 pm 

Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts
Harvard University 
24 Quincy Street 
Cambridge, MA 02138

carpenter.center

Participating artists: Gerard Byrne, Fernanda Fragateiro, Josiah McElheny, Elizabeth Price, R.H. Quaytman, Martha Rosler, Thomas Ruff, Allison Smith, SUPERSTUDIO, Ulla von Brandenburg, Cerith Wyn Evans, Amy Yoes and Brian Zink

Modern architecture had high aspirations—no less than a radical change in the structure of society, or so was the hope of modernist architects. Figures such as Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, and Adolf Loos pursued ideals of progress, rationality, and purity in their architecture, design, and urban planning. They experimented with technological advancements in glass, concrete, and steel in the domestic spaces they created. Modernist dwellings thus became catalysts for visionary ideas that eventually filtered into the public space, infusing large-scale architectural commissions. The dominating role of men in these fields, combined with the social and cultural conditions of the early 20th century, precipitated a domestic design that was gendered masculine and heterosexual. The effeminate, highly ornamental interiors of the belle époque, which had come to symbolize decadent and degenerate lifestyles, gave way to the purist, austere aesthetic of the modernist, single-family dwelling. 

The Way We Live Now presents the work of 13 artists examining the interplay between modernist architecture and contemporary art through site-specific installations and existing works. These interfere with or rub against the site of exhibition, Le Corbusier’s majestic 1963 Carpenter Center building, and in some cases stand in direct dialogue with the legacy of high modernists Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, Eileen Gray, Bruno Taut, Anne Tyng, Adolf Loos, and Lilly Reich. Works in the exhibition look at the aspirations of such figures and the modernist ethos in general, alongside the challenging visions and experimentations in architecture, art, and design that radically transformed the way we experience the built environment. The exhibition directs our attention to these modernists while critically engaging with the perceptual, social, and political implications of their ideologies on the future—in fact, on us—and the way we live now.

The Way We Live Now, Modernist Ideologies at Work is organized by James Voorhies, the John R. and Barbara Robinson Family Director of the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts.

Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts
Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts is dedicated to the synthesis of art, design, and education through the exhibition of existing works and production of new commissions. It strives to bring people, ideas, and objects together in generative ways that provide unparalleled experiences with contemporary art, ultimately enriching the creative and intellectual lives of our audiences.  

The program fosters meaningful engagement among artists, art, and our audiences. Exhibitions, lectures, residencies, publications, performances, screenings, and informal gatherings are choreographed to create a place where visual literacy, knowledge production, contemporary art, and critical inquiry seamlessly meet.


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