The Berlage

Session Room K

After the Avant-Garde

Reto Geiser

As early as 1932, Sigfried Giedion, the Swiss art historian, secretary general of the Congrès Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne (CIAM), and vocal proponent of modern architecture, declared that the time of avant-garde movements was over. Subsequently, Giedion proposed establishing chairs for “Contemporary History and Research” to create awareness of cross-disciplinary scholarship and teaching to overcome the increasing tendency toward specialization, and to cultivate a universal language with which to describe the modern condition. This lecture, which draws from insights of Geiser's forthcoming book Giedion and America: Repositioning the History of Modern Architecture (Zurich: gta Verlag, May 2018), will shed light on the translations of methodological approaches to overcome disciplinary specialization, which allowed Giedion to challenge the widely accepted understanding of the role of history in academic circles, and to create a new awareness for multidisciplinary scholarship and teaching as a way overcome the increasing tendency toward specialization, and to cultivate a universal language that would make architectural thinking accessible to a broader audience.

Reto Geiser is a designer and scholar of modern architecture with a focus on the intersections between architecture, pedagogy, and media. He is the Gus Wortham Assistant Professor at the Rice School of Architecture where he teaches history, theory, and design.Geiser's forthcoming book Giedion and America(2018) traces aspects of cultural transfer and transatlantic exchange in the work of Swiss art historian and architecture critic Sigfried Giedion. He is co-author of Reading Revolutionaries (2014), and editor of award-winning House is a House is a House is a House is a House (2016), and Explorations in Architecture (2008). His curatorial works include the exhibition Explorations: Teaching, Design, Research,Switzerland’s official contribution to the 11th Venice Architecture Biennial.A founding principal of the collaborative design practice MG&Co., Geiser is developing spatial strategies in a range of scales from the book to the house. Recent works includes the installation Rooms for Books at the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial.

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