MoMA's 'toward a concrete utopia' brings together 400 works of socialist yugoslav architecture

MoMA's 'toward a concrete utopia' brings together 400 works of socialist yugoslav architecture

MoMA gathers some 400 works, including drawings, models, photographs, and film reels, for the first major US exhibition on the architecture of yugoslavia. on view from 15 july 2018 to 13 january 2019, ‘toward a concrete utopia: architecture in yugoslavia, 1948–1980’ focuses on the period of intense construction between the country’s 1948 break with the soviet bloc and the death of its longtime leader josip broz tito in 1980. the exhibition investigates the use of modern architecture as an instrument to shape yugoslavia’s national identity and to formulate a socialist society based on ‘self-management’. 

MoMA's 'toward a concrete utopia' brings together 400 works of socialist yugoslav architectureall installation views of toward a concrete utopia: architecture in yugoslavia, 1948–1980 © 2018 the museum of modern art, shot by martin seck



occupying MoMA’s third floor galleries, ‘toward a concrete utopia’ explores themes of large-scale urbanization, technological experimentation and its application in everyday life, consumerism, monuments and memorialization, and the global reach of yugoslav architecture. the exhibition is organized in four sections: modernization, showcasing the rapid transformation of the previously underdeveloped, largely rural country; global networks, which explores the architecture that developed from the country’s independent foreign policy and its leadership in the post-colonial non-aligned movement; everyday life, focusint on innovative forms of mass housing and the emergence of modern design within the framework of a socialist consumer culture; and part four, identities, dedicated to the most-recognized, concrete architectural sculptures, erected to commemorate victims of the second world war. 

MoMA's 'toward a concrete utopia' brings together 400 works of socialist yugoslav architecture
berislav šerbetić and vojin bakić: monument to the uprising of the people of kordun and banija, 1979–81, petrova gora, croatia,exterior view
all building photos by valentin jeck, commissioned by the museum of modern art, 2016



‘historically speaking, a thorough investigation of the architectural production of socialist yugoslavia will lead to a better understanding of an important but understudied chapter of architectural history in the bifurcated world order of the cold war,’ states exhibition organizer martino stierli, ‘from a contemporary point of view, this body of work serves as a reminder that architecture can only thrive when there is a broad societal understanding of architecture’s power to transform and elevate society and the quality of life it offers citizens.’ among the 400 exhibits on show are works by architects bogdan bogdanović, juraj neidhardt, svetlana kana radević, edvard ravnikar, vjenceslav richter, and milica šterić. in addition to architectural work, ‘toward a concrete utopia’ also includes three video installations by renowned filmmaker mila turajlić, newly commissioned photographs by valentin jeck, and contemporary artworks by jasmina cibic and david maljković.


MoMA's 'toward a concrete utopia' brings together 400 works of socialist yugoslav architecture



the exhibition comes 60 years after MoMa first introduced yugoslavia’s artistic scene in a series of programs, with most notable the 1969 exhibition ‘yugoslavia: a report’, which brought 45 contemporary prints by 24 yugoslav artists to the US public, and two film series, in 1961 and 1969, respectively, investigated the country’s experimental cinema of the day. as part of the museum’s ongoing study on the history of modernism from a global perspective, ‘toward a concrete utopia’ highlights architecture’s role in creating a common history and collective identity of a socialist state. 


toward a concrete utopia: architecture in yugoslavia, 1948– 1980 is organized by martino stierli, the philip johnson chief curator of architecture and design, the museum of modern art, and vladimir kulić, associate professor, florida atlantic university, with anna kats, curatorial assistant, department of architecture and design, the museum of modern art. 

MoMA's 'toward a concrete utopia' brings together 400 works of socialist yugoslav architecture
uglješa bogunović, slobodan janjić, and milan krstić: avala tv tower, 1960–65 (destroyed in 1999 and rebuilt in 2010), mount avala, near belgrade, serbia, exterior view

jordan and iskra grabul: monument to the ilinden uprising, 1970–73, kruševo, macedonia

živa baraga and janez lenassi: monument to the fighters fallen in the people’s liberation struggle, 1965, ilirska bistrica, slovenia

miodrag živković: monument to the battle of the sutjeska, 1965–71, tjentište, bosnia and herzegovina

exhibition view

exhibition poster for the retrospective of architect janko konstantinov, 1984, collage diazotype and tracing paper
personal archive of jovan ivanovski

models, drawings and photographs at the exhibition

model and photograph of andrija mutnjaković’s national and university library of kosovo, 1971–82, prishtina, kosovo

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