• Frederick Kiesler's Magic Architecture: The Story of Human Housing
    Frederick Kiesler
    Spyros Papapetros and Gerd Zillner
    MIT Press, 2023
    Spyros Papapetros & Gerd Zillner

Frederick Kiesler, “Magic Architecture, cave drawing for the chapter ‘The Discovery of the Superfluous,’” n.d. Courtesy Frederick and Lillian Kiesler Private Foundation, Vienna

The first publication of Magic Architecture: Its Origins and Future was submitted to editors by Austrian-American architect Frederick Kiesler (1890–1965) immediately after World War II, yet it was never published. Consisting of 370 pages of text and 60 composite illustration plates, this is Kiesler's most ambitious book project, though it remains unknown to a larger audience. Magic Architecture reflects the architect’s interdisciplinary perspective on the development of art, architecture, and design, informed by his research on cultural anthropology, paleoarchaeology, evolutionary biology, as well as human and animal psychology. In the book’s ten parts, Kiesler sketches a global “history of human housing” from the dawn of humankind and the habitats of animals and proto-humans to the “slums” of twentieth century war-torn urban citizens. This critical edition is based on the painstaking reconstruction of all existing versions of the manuscript and its supplementary research materials, as well as two interpretative essays contextualizing the history of its (ultimately failed) publication.

Spyros Papapetros is associate professor at Princeton University School of Architecture, an associated faculty member of Princeton’s Department of Art and Archaeology, as well as an executive committee member of the Program in European Cultural Studies and the Program in Media and Modernity, also at Princeton. He studies the intersections between art, architecture, historiography, psychoanalysis, and the history of psychological aesthetics. Papapetros is the author of On the Animation of the Inorganic: Art, Architecture, and the Extension of Life (University of Chicago Press, 2012); the coeditor of Retracing the Expanded Field (MIT Press, 2014); the editor of Space as Membrane by Siegfried Ebeling (AA Publications, 2010); and has published over ninety articles in academic journals and edited anthologies. He is the recipient of fellowships by the American Academy in Berlin; the University of Hamburg; the Getty Research Institute; the Clark Research Center; the Bard Graduate Center; and the Canadian Centre for Architecture, among others. He is completing a second personal book project titled Word Ornament analyzing the historiography of architectural adornment on a global scale from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries, as well as a forthcoming book length essay on “Pre-Architecture,” an introduction to a larger study of the links between modern architecture and prehistory for inclusion in the Critical Spatial Practice series edited by Nikolaus Hirsch.

Gerd Zillner is archivist, curator, and senior scientist at the Frederick and Lillian Kiesler Private Foundation, Vienna. He headed the scientific documentation of contemporary art in Austria at the Basis Wien and was part of the research project Vektor: European Contemporary Art Archives, founded by the European Commission’s Culture 2000 program. He has lectured, published, and curated shows on Frederick Kiesler and contemporary art, including Frederick Kiesler: Architect, Artist, Visionary (Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, 2017); Vienna 1925. Hotspot of the Avant-Garde (Frederick Kiesler Foundation, Vienna, 2018); Designing Tomorrow (Frederick Kiesler Foundation, Vienna 2016); and Kiesler: Cara a cara con la vanguardia (Casa Encendida, Madrid, 2013). Together with Stephanie Simmons, he is preparing a show on Kiesler’s painting and sculpture of the 1950s and 1960s. He coedited Frederick Kiesler: Face to Face with the Avant-Garde. Essays on Network and Impact (Birkhäuser, 2019) and Friedrich Kiesler: Architekt, Künstler, Visionär (Prestel, 2017).