The United Nations in Perspective

Jun 15–Sep 26, 1995

MoMA

Installation view of The United Nations in Perspective at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo: Mali Olatunji

This exhibition explores the architectural development of one of the most important symbolic structures built after World War II. The four buildings (constructed 1947–52) that make up the United Nations headquarters complex also constitute the architectural apotheosis of modernism’s functionalist aesthetic, which attempted to prevail over established national traditions and prejudices. The exhibition includes approximately thirty-five original drawings (many displayed for the first time), fifteen contemporary color photographs by Adam Bartos, and a model, as well as several books and pamphlets.

An international board of design—ten architects, including renowned modernists Le Corbusier (France), Oscar Niemeyer (Brazil), and Sven Markelius (Sweden), directed by Wallace K. Harrison (American)—developed the concept for the United Nations headquarters. Hugh Ferriss, one of America’s most gifted architectural draftsmen, translated the architects’ sketches and ideas into beautifully rendered perspectives. Twenty-five of these idiosyncratic and dazzling pencil and charcoal drawings, including the final scheme endorsed by the board of design, form the centerpiece of the exhibition.

Organized by Peter Reed, Associate Curator, Department of Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Art, with the assistance of George A. Dudley, architect, planner, educator, and author of A Workshop for Peace: Designing the United Nations Headquarters.

The United Nations in Perspective is made possible by a grant from the New York City Host Committee for the United Nations Fiftieth Anniversary. Lenders to the exhibition include the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library at Columbia University, the Swedish Museum of Architecture, the United Nations, and private collections.

Publications

  • The United Nations in perspective : the Museum of Modern Art, New York, June 15-September 26, 1995 Out of print, 6 pages
  • Press release 3 pages

Artists

Installation images

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at [email protected].

Licensing

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit https://www.moma.org/research/circulating-film.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].

Feedback

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].