‘Re-Imagining the Avant Garde’
Betts Project, London
21 November — 21 December 2019
‘Re-Imagining the Avant-Garde’, an exhibition at London architecture gallery Betts Project, explores the ongoing importance of the work of architects associated with the avant-garde of the 1960s and 1970s for today’s designers and artists.
Featuring drawings by, among others, Ant Farm, Pablo Bronstein, Peter Eisenman, Sam Jacob, Damjan Jovanovic, Office Kovacs, Jimenez Lai/Bureau Spectacular, Nemestudio, Aldo Rossi and the show has been developed as a companion to the recently published special issue of Architectural Design (AD) edited by Matthew Butcher and Luke Pearson entitled ‘Re-imagining the Avant-Garde: Revisiting the Architecture of the 1960s and 1970s’. A related series of talks also takes place at Betts Project and the Soane Museum throughout the duration of the exhibition.
Top: Office Kovacs, ‘Miniature Maze, Toronto Waterfront, Toronto, Canada’, 2017; Altered Readymades, Paint, Paper, Fish Tank Plants, HO Scale Figures; 15cm x 15 cm x 8cm; courtesy of the artist and Betts Project
Above: Warehouse for Architecture and Research (WAR), ‘Il Dramun (Drama by Moonlight)’, 2018; giclée ink on paper; 54×54 cm; courtesy of the artist and Betts Project
“The avant-garde of the 1960s and 70s has been likened to an ‘architectural Big Bang’, such was the intensity of energy and ambition with which it exploded into the post-war world”, say the curators. “It produced architectural projects that redefined the discipline and remain highly influential today. In contemporary design, references to the likes of Archizoom, Peter Eisenman, John Hejduk and Superstudio continue to define the approaches of a new wave of practitioners”.
Top: Matthew Butcher, ‘Dragged Drawing (Superstudio Grid)’, 2017; giclée ink on Hahnemuhle paper; 42 x 29 cm; courtesy of the artist and Betts Project
Above: UrbanLab / Sarah Dunn and Martin Felsen, ‘Filter Island’, 2015; ink on paper; 29.7 x 42 cm; courtesy of the artist and Betts Project
The intention of the exhibition “is not to create a new history in the typical sense but to highlight the continuing power and relevance of ‘avant-garde projects for contemporary art and architectural practice” and features artists and designers whose work has developed a clear relationship, formally, spatially and conceptually, with this earlier period. Among the correspondences between the newly created works and those of the 1960s and 1970s are an interest in distortions of cartographic representations, in the exploitation of new media in architectural representation, and in the design of worlds that satirically comment on current political, environmental and social discourse.