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Rhona Hoffman Gallery

Remember when architects made drawings? A new exhibition at the MIT Museum brings us back to a time when those works were considered a hot commodity. Tucked away in a small, upper-floor gallery, Drawing After Modernism is the first exhibition dedicated to architecture in the decades-old Cambridge, Massachusetts institution’s new space.

There are small, colorful drawings of the  Teatro Veneziano—both from 1981 and unmistakably Aldo Rossi. There’s a larger line drawing by Paul Rudolph—a different set of initials next to his signature indicates he probably didn’t put all those lines down alone. A sketch for a store along Chicago’s Michigan Avenue by Robert A.M. Stern is more interesting for the dedication he wrote on it to Stanley Tigerman in 2000. Very eye-catching are the slick, airbrushed ink creations by Bernard Tschumi of his Parc de la Villette (1985). An obligatory Frank Gehry and a slew of Michael Graves are also on view.

“There was a latent anxiety about CAD in the 1980s,” says Jonathan Duval, assistant curator of architecture and design at the museum. “The architect as artist emerged as a way to emphasize, ‘I cannot be replaced.’” The works on display—whether in ink, graphite, colored pencil, or charcoal—are the kinds that commercial galleries, museums,  and private collectors began buying in the 1980s at places such as Max Protetch in New York and Rhona Hoffman Gallery in Chicago. It became such a fad then that architects like Helmut Jahn began making lithographs in large series for sale—several of those are included in the show.

  In total, the 41 objects, which also comprise an acrylic painting by Zaha Hadid, a collage by Rem Koolhaas, and a cardboard model by John Hejduk, all come from the collection of Martin E. (an MIT alum) and Danielle Zimmerman, which the couple gifted to the museum in 2017. Hailing from Chicago, the Zimmermans’s collection features many of the city’s luminaries including Jahn, Tigerman, Thomas Beeby, and Laurence Booth.

Visit the exhibition for a nostalgic trip back to another era, then wander around the rest of the museum for a decidedly different look at the present—where scientific breakthroughs, AI, and other ongoing innovations take center stage.

Drawing After Modernism is on view at the MIT Museum until October 27, 2024.  


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