Lessons from Bernard Rudofsky

Bernard Rudofsky's 1964 Architecture without Architects was profoundly influential for a generation of designers. He noted that "vernacular architecture does not go through fashion cycles. It is nearly immutable, indeed, unimprovable, since it serves its purpose to perfection." He and his wife travelled everywhere, drawing, writing and photographing, while wearing the Bernardo sandals he designed.

Now, the Canadian Institute for Architecture has mounted an exhibition, co-presented by Architekturzentrum Wien, an architecture museum in Vienna, and the Getty Research Institute of Los Angeles, showing 200 drawings, photographs and journals. Oh, and footwear. Catch it until September 30 at the ::CCA in Montreal.


Lessons from Bernard Rudofsky
Main Galleries
From 4 July to 30 September 2007

Lessons from Bernard Rudofsky is the first retrospective to examine the life and work of the controversial architect, designer, and critic whose groundbreaking buildings, exhibitions, and fashion designs challenged the Western world�s perceptions of comfort and culture. A collaboration between the Architekturzentrum Wien and The Getty Research Institute in association with the CCA, the exhibition highlights the diverse contributions of a unique and underappreciated pioneer of modernism, and brings to light the relevance of Rudofsky�s principles today.

The exhibition spans the entire career of Bernard Rudofsky (1905�1988), including his roots in the early years of European modernism; his world travels, which shaped his views as a designer and critic; and his influence as a curator and writer on international discourse on architecture, fashion, and design. The underlying motivation that unified Rudofsky�s work was what he saw as a loss of sensual awareness in all aspects of modern life. Rudofsky is perhaps best known for the exhibitions and publications that he conceived in the second half of the twentieth century. The most famous of these is Architecture Without Architects, the landmark book and exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York (1964), which toured for 11 years and was presented in more than 80 venues around the world. Carefully researched and visually engaging, Architecture Without Architects challenged conventional notions of architecture and dwelling through its study of vernacular building technologies and alternative ways of living. Rudofsky's openness to different social and architectural traditions and his recognition of the sensory dimensions of the environment continue to be of great relevance for architecture and urbanism today.

As an architect, Rudofsky employed a modernist vocabulary � with its characteristic white, undecorated, cubic shapes in concrete and glass � yet at the same time he was an outspoken critic of modern architecture. He rejected the notion of universal or standardized concepts of dwelling and instead promoted the idea that an individual�s built environment should reflect the history, culture, and climate of his or her immediate surroundings. Architecture, for Rudofsky, was �not just a matter of technology and aesthetics but the frame for a way of life � and with luck, an intelligent way of life.

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