MoMA Appoints Martino Stierli as Chief Curator of Architecture and Design

Posted on July 15, 2014

Glenn D. Lowry, Director of The Museum of Modern Art, announced today the appointment of Martino Stierli as The Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design. Mr. Stierli is currently the Swiss National Science Foundation Professor at the Institute of Art History of the University of Zurich, where he teaches the history of modern architecture. In his new role, he will oversee Department of Architecture and Design’s wide-ranging program of special exhibitions, installations from the collection, and acquisitions. He succeeds Barry Bergdoll, who stepped down in 2013 to become the Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History in the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University, and who remains a part-time curator at MoMA. Mr. Stierli’s appointment begins in March 2015.

“The breadth and depth of Martino’s scholarship, knowledge, and interests in architecture, design, and modern art are impressive,” said Mr. Lowry. “He brings an international perspective and possesses an extraordinary ability to brilliantly relate architecture and its image to its cultural context. With his solid grounding in the history of modern architecture and art, coupled with a keen interest in contemporary practice, Martino will be an effective and energetic leader.”

“Since its inception, MoMA has presented groundbreaking exhibitions that promote and critically reflect upon modern and contemporary architecture,” said Mr. Stierli. “By continually expanding its comprehensive collection, the Department of Architecture and Design has been pivotal to the preservation of modernism for the future, and to making that heritage accessible to scholars and the broader public alike. I am excited to continue this tradition at MoMA and look forward to working with the Museum’s extraordinary team to contribute to shaping the current discourse on architecture and the city—locally, nationally, and globally.”

At the University of Zurich, Mr. Stierli’s research focuses on architecture and media, the photographic and cinematic representation of architecture and the city, the intersection of architecture and art, the genealogy of postmodernism, the transatlantic exchange in postwar and postmodern architecture, modernism in Latin America, the role of travel in architectural education, and on architectural devices of framing and display. His project The Architecture of Hedonism: Three Villas in the Island of Capri is currently included in the 14th Architecture Biennale in Venice.

Mr. Stierli studied art and architectural history, German, and comparative literature at the University of Zurich, where he received his M.A. in 2003. From 2003 to 2007, he was part of the graduate program “Urban Forms — Conditions and Consequences” at ETH Zurich, from which he received his PhD in 2008. During this time, he was also a visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania and at Columbia University in New York. Subsequently, he was a postdoctoral researcher in the National Center of Competence in Research “Iconic Criticism” at the University of Basel and the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, Munich. In 2012, he was a fellow at the Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles. Mr. Stierli taught at various Swiss universities, including the universities of Zurich and Basel, as well as ETH Zurich before being appointed to his current post.

His first monograph, Las Vegas in the Rearview Mirror: The City in Theory, Photography, and Film, was published in 2010, the English edition of which was published in 2013 with the Getty Research Institute. He also authored a book on Robert Venturi’s two-year tenure at the American Academy in Rome in the mid-1950s, and has published a large number of essays on various topics, including Mies van der Rohe’s use of photomontage, the relationship between Dadaism and avant-garde architectural montage, modern architecture and urbanism in Brazil, Rem Koolhaas’ Delirious New York, the urban photography in Edward Ruscha’s artist’s books, and the motif of the loggia as an image-generating architectural device. Mr. Stierli has written extensively on contemporary architectural practice, including the work of Herzog & de Meuron, the recent global boom in high-rise buildings, and the architecture of Johnston Marklee.

Mr. Stierli’s work and research have been awarded with a number of prestigious prizes, among them the ETH Medal of Distinction for Outstanding Research (2008), the Theodor Fischer Prize by the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, Munich (2008), and the 2011 Swiss Art Award for Architectural Criticism. He has received research, travel, and presentation grants from the Swiss National Science Foundation; the Society of Architectural Historians; the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Chicago; and the Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, among others.

Mr. Stierli has served on the editorial board of AA Files of the Architectural Association School of Architecture, London, and as a correspondent and book review editor of the European Architectural History Network (EAHN). He is a member of the Zurich Center for the History of Knowledge (ZGW) and the Zurich Center Art and Cultural Theory (ZKK). He co-directs research groups at both the Universities of Basel and Zurich.


The Department of Architecture and Design

The Department of Architecture and Design, the world’s first curatorial department devoted to architecture and design was established in 1932 at The Museum of Modern Art. From its inception, the collection has been built on the recognition that architecture and design are allied and interdependent arts, so that synthesis has been a founding premise of the collection. Including 28,000 works ranging from large-scale design objects to works on paper and architectural models, the Museum’s diverse Architecture and Design collection surveys major figures and movements from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. Starting with the reform ideology established by the Arts and Crafts movement, the collection covers major movements of the twentieth century and contemporary issues. The architecture collection documents buildings through models, drawings, and photographs, and includes the Mies van der Rohe Archive and the Frank Lloyd Wright Archive (held jointly with the Avery Architecture and Fine Arts Library at Columbia University). The design collection comprises thousands of objects, ranging from appliances, furniture, and tableware to tools, textiles, automobiles, and video games. The graphic design collection includes noteworthy examples of fonts, typography, posters, and other combinations of text and image.

MoMA Appoints Martino Stierli as Chief Curator of Architecture and Design

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