Frederick Kiesler. Endless House Project. 1950–60. Ceramic, 20 × 11 1/2 × 6" (50.8 × 29.2 × 15.2 cm). Purchase

A Work of Art that Is Also a Manifesto

For MoMA’s radio collaboration with the BBC, Neri Oxman discusses how Frederick Kiesler’s Endless House Project inspires her own work.
May 13, 2020
The project embodies so many questions about architecture.... What is place? How do you define place materially, physically, psychologically?
Neri Oxman

Listen to the full The Way I See It episode on Neri Oxman and the Endless House.

In this episode of our radio series collaboration with BBC, Neri Oxman discusses a visionary with just as many job titles as her: the architect, set designer, artist, and philosopher Frederick Kiesler. Oxman is a designer, architect, and founding director of the Mediated Matter Group at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she explores the intersection of biology, engineering, materials science, and computer science.

The Way I See It asks creative thinkers to choose an artwork from MoMA that they love or that has inspired them. Oxman selected Kiesler’s 40-year provocation into the infinite potential of architectural space, the Endless House Project. As she discusses with senior curator Paola Antonelli, growing up in a home of architects, Oxman was surrounded by architectural books and theoretical quandaries from an early age. She says this piece “embodies so many questions about architecture.... What is place? How do you define place materially, physically, psychologically?”

Kiesler offered an alternative vision to the steely, stoic glass facades of modernism: an organic, biomorphic, shape-shifting design. His unconventional approach to a structure that would act as a living organism is echoed in Oxman’s interest in the organic function of design, the way form interacts with light and heat and natural elements. Oxman says she chose Kiesler’s Endless House Project for many reasons, including that “it is a work of art that is also a manifesto"—something we find in her projects as well.

This is one of many conversations about art in The Way I See It, a 30-episode radio series from MoMA and BBC, hosted by art critic and broadcaster Alastair Sooke, that offers fresh perspectives on artworks in our galleries. Find The Way I See It on BBC Sounds or wherever you get your podcasts.

The Way I See It

Major support for the program is provided by The Museum of Modern Art’s Research and Scholarly Publications endowment established through the generosity of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Edward John Noble Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Perry R. Bass, and the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Challenge Grant Program.