Barry Bergdoll, the Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), opens a major exhibition devoted to the 19th-century French architect Henri Labrouste (1801-1875) on March 10. The show, Henri Labrouste: Structure Brought to Light, on view until June 24, 2013, looks at the major accomplishments of this progenitor of modern architecture, particularly his two significant works, the Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève (1838 to 1850) and the Bibliothèque nationale de France (1859 to 1875) in a display of over 200 works, including drawings, watercolors, architectural models, vintage and modern photographs. Bergdoll organized the show, which represents the first solo exhibition of Labrouste’s work in the U.S., with Corinne Bélier, chief curator of the Cité de l’architecture & du patrimoine in Paris, and Marc Le Coeur, art historian at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, département des Estampes and de la photographie. The exhibition initially opened at the Cité de l’Architecture (October 11, 2012 to January 7, 2013) and is presented by MoMA, the Cité de l’Architecture, and the Bibliothèque nationale, with the participation of the Académie d’architecture and the Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève. A 235-page catalogue of the same name includes essays by Neil Levine, David van Zanten, and Martin Bressani.
Since his arrival at MoMA in January 2007, Bergdoll, a professor of architectural history in the department of art history and archeology at Columbia University, has organized exhibitions of varied topical and historical interest, ranging from Bauhaus 1919-1933: Workshops for Modernity in 2009, to Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream with Reinhold Martin, in 2012. Bergdoll’s interest in 19th century French architecture was early manifested in his Ph.D. dissertation at Columbia on Léon Vaudoyer, which became the book “Léon Vaudoyer: Historicism in the Age of Industry” (1994), and his exhibitions, Les Vaudoyer: Une Dynastie d’Architectes at the Musée d’Orsay, Paris (1991) and Ste. Geneviève/Panthéon: Symbol of Revolutions at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal (1989). On a recent day, RECORD discussed the show’s timing with Bergdoll.