• Robert Venturi's Complexity and Contradiction at Fifty
    David B. Brownlee and Martino Stierli
    Deborah Berke, Jean-Louis Cohen, Lee Ann Custer, Peter Fröhlicher, Diane Harris, Sam Jacob, Stephen Kieran, Rem Koolhaas, Andrew Leach, Mary McLeod, Michael Meredith, Joan Ockman, Emmanuel Petit, Pier Paolo Tamburelli, Stanley Tigerman, James Timberlake, and Stanislaus Von Moos
    Robert Venturi
    The Museum of Modern Art, 2019
    The Museum of Modern Art

Robert Venturi working in the slide room at the University of Pennsylvania, February 1961, Philadelphia. Courtesy of George Pohl Collection, the Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

First published in 1966, Robert Venturi’s Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture—a project originally supported and copublished by the Graham Foundation—is widely considered the foundational text of postmodernism and an essential document in architectural theory and criticism. This new two-volume boxed set presents a facsimile of the original edition paired with a compendium of new scholarship on and around Venturi’s seminal treatise. The ten selected essays, a number of which were presented at a three-day international conference coorganized by The Museum of Modern Art to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Complexity and Contradiction in 2016, address diverse issues, such as the book’s relationship to Venturi’s own built oeuvre and its significance in the contemporary landscape. Additional short commentaries by contemporary practitioners attest to Complexity’s enduring influence on architectural practice. Together, these two volumes expand the horizons of—and introduce a new generation to—Venturi’s “gentle manifesto.”

David B. Brownlee is the Frances Shaprio-Weitzenhoffer Professor of the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania. His books include Out of the Ordinary: Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown and Associates; Architecture, Urbanism, Design (with David G. De Long and Kathryn B. Hiesinger, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2001).

Martino Stierli is The Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. He is the author of Las Vegas in the Rearview Mirror: The City in Theory, Photography, and Film (Getty Research Institute, 2013), which was supported by a Graham Foundation grant, and Venturis Grand Tour: Zur Genealogie der Postmoderne (Standpunkte, 2011) and the coeditor of Las Vegas Studio: Images from the Archives of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown (Scheidegger and Spiess, 2008).

Jean-Louis Cohen has been a professor at New York University's Institute of Fine Arts since 1994. He is the author of some forty books, including Architecture in Uniform (Yale University Press, 2011) and The Future of Architecture since 1889: A Worldwide History (Phaidon Press, 2012), and the editor of Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes (The Museum of Modern Art, 2013). 

Lee Ann Custer is a doctoral candidate in history of art at the University of Pennsylvania specializing in the art, architecture, and urbanism of the United States. For the 2018–19 academic year, she is a Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellow in American Art. Her current research focuses on the development and imaging of the modern metropolis. 

Peter Fröhlicher was a professor of Romance literatures at the University of Konstanz and professor of French literature at the University of Zurich and deans of its Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. He published work on Spanish Baroque literature, contemporary Latin American fiction, and French poetry of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as well as on the theory and practice of literary analysis. 

Dianne Harris is a senior program officer in the Higher Education and Scholarship in the Humanities program at The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in New York. She is the editor of the Second Suburb: Levittown, Pennsylvania (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010) and the author of Little White Houses: How the Postwar Home Constructed Race in America (University of Minnesota Press, 2013), among other titles. 

Andrew Leach is a professor of architecture at the University of Sydney. His recent books include Crisis on Crisis, or Tafuri on Mannerism (Standpunkte, 2017) and Gold Coast: City and Architecture (Lund Humphries, 2018). He is the coeditor of The Baroque in Architectural Culture, 1880–1980 (Routledge, 2015) and On Discomfort: Moments in a Modern History of Architectural Culture (Routledge, 2017). 

Mary McLeod is a professor of architecture at Columbia University, where she teaches architectural history and theory. Her research and publications focus on contemporary architecture theory and the history of the modern movement. Besides editing and contributing to Charlotte Perriand: An Art of Living (Harry N. Abrams, 2003), she is coeditor of the website Pioneering Women of American Architecture.

Stanislaus von Moos is a professor emeritus of modern and contemporary art at the University of Zurich. He has published on Italian Renaissance architecture and on modern architecture and design in Switzerland, and is the author of Le Corbusier: Elements of a Synthesis (nai010 publishers, 1968), Venturi, Rauch & Scott Brown: Buildings and Projects (Rizzoli, 1987), and Venturi, Scott Brown & Associates: Buildings and Projects, 19861998 (The Monacelli Press, 1999). 

Joan Ockman teaches at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design and at The Cooper Union School of Architecture. Among the books she has edited are Architecture School: Three Centuries of Educating Architects in North America (MIT Press, 2012) and Architecture Culture, 19431968: A Documentary Anthology (Rizzoli, 1993).

Emmanuel Petit has taught architectural design and theory at Yale, Harvard, MIT, University College London, and the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne. He is the author of Irony, or, the Self-Critical Opacity of Post-modern Architecture (Yale University Press, 2013) and the editor of books on Philip Johnson, Colin Rowe, and Stanley Tigerman, as well as on formalism in architecture.

Additionally, the architects Deborah Berke, Sam Jacob, Stephen Kieran and James Timberlake, Rem Koolhaas, Michael Meredith, Pier Paolo Tamburelli, and Stanley Tigerman have contributed statements or short interviews that address the influence of Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture on contemporary practices, including their own.

Founded in 1929 as an educational institution, The Museum of Modern Art is dedicated to being the foremost museum of modern art in the world. Through the leadership of its trustees and staff, The Museum of Modern Art manifests this commitment by establishing, preserving, and documenting a permanent collection of the highest order that reflects the vitality, complexity, and unfolding patterns of modern and contemporary art; by presenting exhibitions and educational programs of unparalleled significance; by sustaining a library, archives, and conservation laboratory that are recognized as international centers of research; and by supporting scholarship and publications of preeminent intellectual merit.