MODERN ARCHITECTURE: INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITION. New York: Museum of Modern Art, February 1932. Barr, Hitchcock, Johnson and Mumford.

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MODERN ARCHITECTURE: INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITION

Alfred H. Barr, Jr., Henry-Russell Hitchcock, Jr.,
Philip Johnson and Lewis Mumford

Alfred H. Barr, Jr., Henry-Russell Hitchcock, Jr., Philip Johnson and Lewis Mumford: MODERN ARCHITECTURE: INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITION. New York: Museum of Modern Art, February 1932. First edition [5,000 copies]. Quarto. Thick photo illustrated wrappers. 200 pp. Text, plates and diagrams. Spine and textblock well-reinforced with vintage tape. Front wrapper slightly shortened along lower edge. Architectural Historians’ bookplate inside front cover. A reference copy of a rare title.

7.5 x 10 exhibition catalog with 200 pages fully illustrated with plates and diagrams. Published on the occasion of the Exhibition from February 10 to March 23, 1932. The exhibit eventually travelled to eleven different venues, thus the necessity for a trade edition. The exhibition travelled to the Pennsylvania Museum of Art, the Wadsworth Atheneum, Bullock's-Wilshire in Los Angeles, the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy and Albright Art Gallery in Buffalo, the Cleveland Museum of Art, Milwaukee Art Institute, Cincinnati Art Museum, Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, NY, Toledo Museum of Art, School of Architecture and Fogg Museum at Harvard University and the Worcester Art Museum.

Includes lengthy illustrated sections with Models, Chronologies and Bibliographies on:

  • Frank Lloyd Wright
  • Walter Gropius
  • Le Corbusier
  • J. J. P. Oud
  • Mies van der Rohe
  • Raymond M. Hood
  • Howe and Lescaze
  • Richard Neutra
  • Bowman Brothers

“Modern architectural developments in America and throughout the world will be graphically illustrated in the first International Exhibition of Modern Architecture which opens to the public Feb. 10 at the Museum of Modern Art, 730 Fifth Avenue.

"Expositions and exhibitions have perhaps changed the character of American architecture of the last forty years more than any other factor” It is  pointed out by Alfred H. Barr, Jr. the Director of the Museum, in his foreword to the catalogue of the exhibition.

"As a result of forty years of successive and simultaneous architectural fashions, the avenues of our greatest cities, our architectural magazines and annual exhibitions are monuments the capriciousness and uncertainty of our architecture.

“The present exhibition is an assertion that the confusion of the past forty years, or rather of the last century, may shortly come to an end.” [Museum of Modern Art press release, February 6, 1932]

Terence Riley noted that the early tastemakers at the Museum of Modern Art understood their job was to separate "the wheat from the chaff." Few people rose to that challenge with more vigor than Philip Johnson, the young head of the Department of Architecture and Design. Alfred Barr’s insistence on including Architecture and Design as a fully functioning department within MoMA was a radical curatorial departure, which seems only obvious today.

Philip Johnson's 1928 visit to the Bauhaus Dessau sparked Johnson's imagination and solidified his role as a proselytizer for the European avant-garde architecture. "We were proud to be avant-gardists; we wore our enthusiasm as a badge of honor that distinguished us as culturally superior to those around us." Johnson said.

From this plateau of cultural superiority, Johnson and his MoMA collaborators Alfred H. Barr, Jr. and Henry-Russell Hitchcock eventually labeled this architecture “The International Style.” These authors argue that architects of the 1910s and 1920s abandoned the imitative "styles" of the nineteenth century in favor of designs prompted by the vision of the individual architect.

Hitchcock and Johnson suggest that this experiment produced, by the early 1930s, a distinct style, as sound and deserving of respect as some of the most revered styles of the past, including classical, Gothic, renaissance, and baroque. Examples of this new style accompanied the original text in the form of blueprints and designs and are reproduced in this book. "The International Style" was written to record the International Exhibition of Modern Architecture held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in 1932, and it identified, categorized and expanded upon characteristics common to Modernism across the world and its stylistic aspects.

The aim of Hitchcock and Johnson was to define a style that would encapsulate this modern architecture, and they did this by the inclusion of specific architects. Hitchcock is considered the founder of modern architectural history and his co-author Johnson became an icon of the modern movement, as well as one of its most celebrated and questionable figures.

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