American architect, stage designer and writer of Austrian birth. In 1920 he worked with Adolf Loos in Vienna. He was also in contact with the artists associated with De Stijl and began experimenting with innovative theatre designs. In 1924 he produced the Endless Theatre design. The ‘Endless’ was a double-curved shell of reinforced concrete that could enclose any irregularly traditional divisions into floor, wall and ceiling but offered the inhabitant an open interior that could be modified at will. For the theatre he adapted the ‘Endless’ by devising a double-spiral stage interconnected by ramps and rings of spectator seats. Kiesler believed that the Endless Theatre, without proscenium or curtain, projecting out into the audience, with perpetually moving walls bathed in light of ever changing colour, would promote greater interaction between actors and audience.
For the celebrated Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris in 1925 Kiesler designed the Austrian Pavilion. The following year he emigrated to the USA and in 1929 designed the Film Guild Cinema for the Film Arts Guild, which later became the Eighth Street Playhouse. This was followed in 1933 by the Universal Theater. Upon his arrival in the USA he became associated with the Surrealists; in 1947 he designed installations for the Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme in Paris. He also designed installations for Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of this Century Gallery in New York in 1957 . In 1959–60 a model of his Endless House was exhibited at MOMA. Kiesler’s last designs included the Venetian Theater (‘Caramoor’; 1958), Katonah, New York, the hospital section (1959) of Albert Einstein Medical Center, New York, and the Shrine of the Book (1959–65; with Armand Bartos (d 2005), Hebrew University, Jerusalem. Despite his innovative designs, Kiesler built relatively little.
Leland M. Roth
From Grove Art Online
© 2009 Oxford University Press