Dan Graham. Alteration to a Suburban House. 1978

Dan Graham Alteration to a Suburban House 1978

  • MoMA, Floor 4, 417 The David Geffen Galleries

Alteration to a Suburban House is a speculative project that raises questions about the boundaries between public and private, the concepts of “inside” and “outside,” and the “traditional disposition of the family space,” as Graham has written. The facade of a house in an apparently typical American suburb has been replaced by glass, while the house’s interior is divided into public and private sections by a mirror. In doing so, Graham critiques the modernist ideal that the literal transparency of glass in architecture would also lead to social transparency. At the same time that the house’s inhabitants can gaze at the environment and activity outside, they themselves become objects on display.

Gallery label from 2021.
Additional text

Here, the front facade of a house in an apparently typical American suburb has been replaced by glass, and a piece of mirror divides this otherwise very ordinary house into public and private sections. In this situation, the inhabitants of the dwelling would be visible through the enlarged picture window, but they themselves could gaze at the environment and activity outside. Alteration to a Suburban House is a seminal work of both art and architecture, raising questions about transparency and the boundaries between public and private and inside and outside using the format of the architectural model. Together with the reflections on repetition and banality typical of his early work, Graham introduced a critique of the modernist trope that the literal transparency of glass in architecture would lead to social transparency.

Gallery label from 9 + 1 Ways of Being Political: 50 Years of Political Stances in Architecture and Urban Design, September 12, 2012–March 25, 2013.
Medium
Painted wood, textile, plastic, fiberboard, paper, and glass
Dimensions
Approximately 60 x 58 x 49" (152.4 x 147.3 x 124.5 cm)
Credit
Partial gift of the Daled Collection and partial purchase through the generosity of Maja Oeri and Hans Bodenmann, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, Agnes Gund, Marlene Hess and James D. Zirin, Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis, and Jerry I. Speyer and Katherine G. Farley
Object number
628.2011.a-e
Department
Painting and Sculpture

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