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Conceptions of Space: Recent Acquisitions in Contemporary Architecture

Focusing on recent acquisitions in MoMA’s Department of Architecture and Design, Conceptions of Space addresses how contemporary architects continue to embrace spatial creation as a fundamental focus of their work. The exhibition reveals how, beyond formal traits and functional needs, the conception and articulation of architectural space still defines architecture as an artistic endeavor, and a response to wider cultural issues.

In the early and mid-20th century, the concept of space was critical in defining the modern movement in architecture. Notions of architectural space related to the coherence between the interior and exterior of buildings emerged as a new feature. Counteracting previous understandings of architecture as a progression of styles, space became a privileged quest of architectural practice. In time, however, space was actively reclaimed by artists, geographers, sociologists, and others as their domain of intervention and reflection. As proposed by French philosopher Michel Foucault, ours is the epoch of space, an expanded field imbued with complex meanings.

Twenty international projects by architects and artists, in large-scale models, drawings, photographs, videos, and even a room-sized installation, survey how architecture addresses this expanded field. Spatial conceptions in the exhibition range from “assemblage” and “envelope” space, to “fictional” and “performative” space. Participants offer a global panorama of architectural practice today, from acclaimed architects such as Herzog & de Meuron, Álvaro Siza, and Kengo Kuma, to young, emergent practices such as Pezo von Ellrichshausen, Chile; Ryue Nishizawa, Japan; Ensamble Studio, Spain; and the New York-based SO-IL and MOS Architects.