Doctoral Project
Values of Representation: Exhibiting Architecture as Commodity

Doctoral Project
Martin Hartung

By the mid-1980s it was no longer surprising to encounter architectural planning tools, like drawings and models, as autonomous objects for sale in American and European art galleries. Architecture-related art exhibitions occurred more frequently in connection with the foundation of the first architecture museums and the Venice Architecture Biennial. In turn, works of art referenced architectural forms that increasingly appeared in the expanded field of American sculpture during the economically recessive 1970s.

The core of this thesis project is the first critical assessment and analysis of the Max Protetch Gallery Archive. Protetch, who had started to promote conceptual art in Washington in 1969 at the age of 23, began to show architectural drawings in New York ten years later. Initially focusing on postmodern projects, the gallerist developed a critically regarded, cross-disciplinary program. Before his ambivalent role as the most influential dealer for architectural representations and archives in the course of the 1980s, Protetch partially cooperated with the New York-based gallerist Leo Castelli, the preeminent art dealer of his time, which hosted three major architecture-related exhibitions closely related to the activities of the Museum of Modern Art between 1977 and 1983. During this time, other galleries, including that of Luce van Rooy in Amsterdam and Aedes in Berlin (founded by Kristin Feireiss and Helga Retzer), both established in October 1980, developed programs, which informed a phenomenon soon broadly debated as celebrity architecture.

In conjunction with an analysis of the network of individuals and institutions associated with the commodification of architectural representations, the thesis investigates the socio-economic impact on design- and building culture. Taking as its basis a critical examination of the emergence of architecture exhibitions in sales contexts and art galleries in New York City, the study analyses the ways in which the actors of the market for objects of architectural production, such as architects, artists, dealers, collectors, philanthropists, and curators, have influenced the distribution and promotion of architectural studies and projects.