Arthur Drexler (1921-1987) served as the curator and director of the Architecture and Design Department at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) from 1951 until 1986— the longest curatorship in the museum’s history. Over four decades he conceived and oversaw trailblazing exhibitions that not only reflected but also anticipated major stylistic developments. Although several books cover the roles of MoMA’s founding director, Alfred Barr, and the department’s first curator, Philip Johnson, this is the only in-depth study of Drexler, who gave the department its overall shape and direction.
During Drexler’s tenure, MoMA played a pivotal role in examining the work and confirming the reputations of twentieth-century architects, among them Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Richard Neutra, Marcel Breuer, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Exploring unexpected subjects—from the design of automobiles and industrial objects to a reconstruction of a Japanese house and garden—Drexler’s boundary-pushing shows promoted new ideas about architecture and design as modern arts in contemporary society. The department’s public and educational programs projected a culture of popular accessibility, offsetting MoMA’s reputation as an elitist institution.
Drawing on rigorous archival research as well as author Thomas S. Hines’s firsthand experience working with Drexler, Architecture and Design at the Museum ofModern Art analyzes how MoMA became a touchstone for the practice and study of midcentury architecture.
Thomas S. Hines is professor emeritus of history and architecture at the University of California, Los Angeles.
“Anyone interested in A&D at MoMA should read The Arthur Drexler Years, 1951-1986, especially those who want to know more about such important exhibitions as Built in USA: Post-War Architecture (1953), The New City: Architecture and Urban Renewal (1967), The Architecture of the École des Beaux-Arts (1975), and Mies van der Rohe Centennial Exhibition (1986).” —A Daily Dose of Architecture Books
“[A] meticulously researched account . . . ”
“Given the pivotal role MoMA played in advancing, documenting, and critiquing modern design, this book is valuable not only for its examination of Drexler’s impact but also as a historiography of modern architecture.”
“This volume is richly illustrated with  black and white reproductions of photographs, buildings, exhibition installations and models. . . . It would be an appropriate addition for museum libraries or academic art libraries that support curatorial or museum studies departments.”
“A fascinating examination.”
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