James Frazer Stirling

Notes from the archive. Krise der Moderne

01.10.2011 – 15.01.2012

The Staatsgalerie Stuttgart presents the first major retrospective in Germany of the renowned British architect, teacher and Pritzker Prize laureate James Frazer Stirling (1924–1992). The exhibition presents a chronological survey of the architect’s work from his student days in Liverpool and his close study of Le Corbusier to his architectural language of the 1970s and 80s which gave expression to his lifelong interest in the interplay between tradition and modernity. More than three hundred original architectural drawings, models and photographs as well as a wide range of previously unpublished archival material are drawn from the James Stirling/Michael Wilford fonds at the CCA.

Stirling’s exquisite architectural drawings conjure highly evocative visions of buildings: Among them are spectacular designs such as the trio of radically modern university buildings – the Engineering Building of Leicester University (1959–1963), the History Faculty Library in Cambridge (1964–1967) and the Florey Building for Queen’s College at Oxford University (1966–1971) – with their innovative, Constructivism-inspired mix of concrete, steel, glass and brick. Also documented are projects and buildings James Stirling’s as the Olivetti Training Centre in Haslemere, Surrey, (1969–1972) which looks forward to the formal repertoire of the Staatsgalerie; museums in London (Clore Gallery at Tate Britain, 1980-1986) and Harvard (Arthur M. Sackler Museum, 1979–1984); the Social Science Research Centre in Berlin as a ‘city within a city’ (1979–1987); the competition entry for the Bibliothèque de France (1989) with its references to the architecture of the French Enlightenment, and the Braun Headquarters in Melsungen, Germany (1986–1992). A number of rarely shown or even unknown projects from Stirling’s forty-year career attest to the architect’s creative interest in urban development and to the continuous evolution of his architectural language.

There can be no more appropriate venue in Germany for the first comprehensive exhibition of Stirling’s archive. Although initially the object of heated controversy, the Neue Staatsgalerie is now universally accepted as James Stirling’s masterpiece and a classic of museum architecture. It is the largest exhibit of the presentation and can be enjoyed in a multitude of ways. In Stuttgart the exhibition was staged by Peter Daners and supplemented with architecture-related works from the collection.

“James Frazer Stirling - Notes from the Archive. Crisis of Modernism” has been curated by Anthony Vidler, Dean and Professor of The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at The Cooper Union, New York. The exhibition will be presented at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal in spring 2012. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated book, published by the Canadian Centre for Architecture and Yale Center for British Art, in association with Yale University Press, and supported by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.

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