This major retrospective is presented in celebration of the centenary anniversary of the birth of renowned Finnish architect, designer, and town planner Alvar Aalto. Between Humanism and Materialism is also the title which Aalto gave to the 1955 lecture in which he described principal concerns underlying his philosophy of architecture. Aalto's insistence on the importance of design and formal expression in our lives, and his adept handling of materials, light, and space, explain why he is one of the great architects of the twentieth century. The exhibition includes original drawings and models, most of which have never been seen in the United States, lent by the Alvar Aalto Foundation, Helsinki, and other public and private collections in Europe. It also comprises new and archival photographs, examples of his furniture and glass, and five specially created video walk-throughs of Aalto's most important buildings. Approximately fifty buildings and projects from all phases of Aalto's prolific career--ranging from cultural institutions to factories, apartment buildings, libraries, town halls and churches--are represented.
Aalto's innovative, wedge-shaped brick from his House of Culture, Helsinki (195258) and his much-favored dark blue and white tiles, used in buildings such as the National Pensions Institute (186857), are reproduced in full scale constructions. These installations of his materials offer a first-hand, tactile experience of Aalto's brilliant synthesis of color, material, form, and scale. They are intended to convey something of the power of his architectural work that can otherwise only be experienced by visiting an Aalto building.
Associate Curator, Department of Architecture and Design
Illustrated chronology of major works and key events of Aalto's career
Link to the Web site in Finland
Alvar Aalto: Between Humanism and Materialism was organized by Peter Reed, Associate Curator, Department of Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Art; with Kenneth Frampton, Ware Professor of Architecture, Columbia University, as curatorial consultant; with the assistance of Elina Standertskjöld, Museum of Finnish Architecture, Helsinki; and with the cooperation of the Alvar Aalto Foundation, Helsinki and the Museum of Finnish Architecture. The exhibition is made possible by a major grant from Celeste Bartos and by generous support from Artek. Additional funding has been graciously provided by Elise Jaffe and Jeffrey Brown. The publication accompanying the exhibition is made possible by the generosity of Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder, in memory of Lily Auchincloss, and of The International Council of The Museum of Modern Art. The exhibition travels to Italy and Japan under the auspices of The International Council of The Museum of Modern Art.
Photos (clockwise from top left): Paimio Tuberculosis Sanatorium. Paimio, Finland. 1929-33. Stairway. Photo: ©Simo Rista; Mount Angel Abbey Library. St. Benedict, Oregon. 1964-70. Reading-room skylight. Photo: Strode Eckert Photographics; Opera House. Essen, Germany. Competition, 1959; Completed by Harald Dielmann with Elissa Aalto, 198188. Theater. Photo: ©1988, Angel Otto & Friedrich Ostermann/OzOn; House of Culture. Helsinki, Finland. 1952-58. Exterior. Photo: Rauno Träskelin ©1997; The Church of the Three Crosses, Vuoksenniska, Imatra, Finland. 195558. Interior detail. Photo: Rauno Träskelin ©1998; Experimental House for Elissa and Alvar Aalto. Muuratsalo, Finland. 195253. Courtyard wall. Photo: Rauno Träskelin ©1997.