Paris or Moscow? Warsaw Architects and the Image of the Modern City in the 1950s

In 1934 architects Szymon Syrkus and Jan Chmielewski presented their plans for the future of Warsaw at the a meeting of the Comité International pour la Résolution des Problèmes de l’Architecture Contemporaine, a key Modern Movement forum (and the elected executive body of CIAM, the Congrès Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne). Their plan for ‘Warszawa Funkcjonalna’ (Functional … Continue reading

Modernizacje 1918-1939. Czas przyszły dokonany – review

This review was commissioned by the European Architectural History Network in 2010. ♦ Like a number of other exhibitions on modernist art and architecture, Modernizacje 1918-1939. Czas przyszły dokonany (Modernizations 1918-1939: Future Perfect) at the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź opened with images of a society in revolutionary turmoil. In this case it was not Soviet … Continue reading

When Work Becomes Play

This review of ‘Bauhaus – Art as Life’ at the Barbican Art Gallery, London (3 May 2012 – 12 August 2012) appeared in Creative Review in June 2012. ♦ Like all museums and galleries, the Barbican Art Gallery is keen to promote its latest show in superlative terms. ‘Bauhaus – Art as Life’ is – … Continue reading

Chance Operations – an extract from Dźwięki elektrycznego ciała

This is an extract from Dźwięki elektrycznego ciała, an exhibition catalogue accompanying this show at the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź, Poland. There is a review in Polish here and another from the August edition of The Wire here. ♦ John Cage’s advocacy of indeterminacy and Fluxus’s interests in events were matched by new conceptualizations of … Continue reading

From Homelessness to Homelessness

This essay was written as a coda to a book edited by Robin Schuldenfrei, Atomic Dwelling (Routledge, 2012) ♦  Covering the period between the end of the Second World War and the early 1970s, the essays in this book explore subjects in the era in which modernism triumphed, or so it seems. A set of … Continue reading

Architecture and the Image of the Future in the People’s Republic of Poland

The realm of freedom actually begins only where labour which is determined by necessity and mundane considerations ceases … Karl Marx, Capital[1] What would communism look like? And what would its material form be? Ideologues in Eastern Europe after 1945 spent much time and energy persuading the citizens of the new people’s republics that this … Continue reading

Paradise Lost?

This piece was published in Piktogram in 2005. ♦ The Art of Home In 1956 a member of the British art police set up home. Jim Eade, a former curator at the Tate Gallery, decided to turn his picturesque house, Kettle’s Yard, in the university city of Cambridge into a gallery for the defence of … Continue reading

Sounding the Body Electric – art, cybernetics and electro-acoustic music in Eastern Europe in the 1960s

    Neo-Constructivist, light and kinetic art, cybernetic design, concrete and electro-acoustic music were fields of high creativity and experiment in Eastern Europe in the 1960s and 1970s. Seizing the opportunities presented by the relaxation of political control of the arts after Stalinism and exploiting the new official encouragement given to cybernetics, electronics and computing, … Continue reading

A spectre haunts the world and it is the spectre of migration

This review appears in Frieze, November 2011. ♦ In recent years Studio Formafantasma – Italian designers, Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin – have made a number of journeys into the past to excavate the meanings which traditional and even ‘lost’ materials and techniques can possess. Their ‘Botanica’ (2011) series of lamps and vessels, for instance, … Continue reading

Manhattan’s Doubles

This article was written a few years ago when preparing the Cold War Modern exhibition at the V&A. It first appeared in Piktogram. There may still be a few typos hiding in the piece ..