Deconstructivist Architecture at the Museum of Modern Art: A Reevaluation

Miller, Leigh, Architectural History - School of Architecture, University of Virginia
Wilson, Richard, Department of Architectural History, University of Virginia
Crane, Sheila, Department of Architectural History, University of Virginia
Li, Shiqiao, Department of Architecture, University of Virginia

Deconstructivism in architecture is often associated with highly theoretical architects because of their inclusion in the Museum of Modern Art’s 1988 exhibition Deconstructivist Architecture. However the exhibition was based on visual stylistic similarity to Russian Constructivism from the 1920’s, rather than on any strong theoretical basis. The association of deconstructivism and linguistic theory, specifically the work of Jacques Derrida and post-structuralism, has been imposed on the architects included over time as a way to legitimize linguistic theory as an architectural methodology separate from traditionally postmodern architectural forms. The intent of the exhibition was to showcase work that was visually similar to Russian Constructivism, but the legacy of the exhibition has been the integration of linguistic theory into architectural dialogue because of the atmosphere of social and intellectual crisis from which the exhibition emerged. Although the potential to incorporate meaningful ties with both Russian Constructivism and linguistic deconstruction were latent in the exhibition, it was ultimately a means for Philip Johnson to justify the stylistic pluralism present in his own architectural theory.

MARH (Master of Architectural History)
deconstructivist architecture, Museum of Modern Art, Violated Perfection, Philip Johnson, MoMA, architectural history, post-structuralism, architecture, deconstructivism, Peter Eisenman
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