It has been 60 years since the Museum of Modern Art last dedicated an exhibition to the architecture of Latin America. A new survey, opening Sunday, proves another is long overdue. Latin America in Construction: Architecture 1955-1980 offers a sweeping panorama of one of the most fecund periods in the region’s architectural history—a quarter-century marked by rapid urbanization, shifting politics, and bold ideas.
The show’s primary goal, said curator Barry Bergdoll, is to “reinsert Latin America into our history of modernism and modernization in architecture.”
Organized by Bergdoll, curatorial assistant Patricio del Real, Jorge Francisco Liernur of the Universidad Torcuata di Tella in Buenos Aires, and Carlos Eduardo Comas of the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil, along with an advisory committee spanning South and Central America, Latin America in Construction took years to coordinate.
The exhibition examines a broad range of topics, including urban planning, innovations in housing (both individual and multi-unit), university design, and civic and public spaces. More than 500 original works are on display—many shown for the first time—and include drawings, models, archival films, and photographs, from Lucio Costa’s airplane-shaped Pilot Plan for Brasilia on yellowing drafting paper to intricate specially-commissioned architectural models of preeminent structures.
The curators purposely excluded American or European architects working in the area, to instead show cross-pollination of ideas between local architects. One of the final sections in the exhibition, called “Export,” highlights the work of Latin American architects abroad including Carlos Raúl Villanueva’s Venezuelan Pavilion for the 1967 Montreal Expo, and Eduado Terrazas’ Mexican Pavilion for the 1968 Triennale di Milano.
Bergdoll acknowledged that the show merely grazes the surface of Latin American architecture during this period, but he said it represents an “opening anthology” for future discussions. “There are the makings of probably another 60 shows here,” he said.
Latin America in Construction: Architecture 1955-1980 is on view at the Museum of Modern Art from March 29 to July 19, 2015.