UPenn's Architectural Archives presents Uncommon Modern, a Look at Commercial Vernacular Architecture
IMAGE: Wynnewood Lanes, Ardmore, Delaware County, PA (1966). Photo by Betsy Manning.
PHILADELPHIA, PA—The University of Pennsylvania’s Architectural Archives is pleased to present Uncommon Modern: Photographic Portraits of Commercial Vernacular Architecture in Greater Philadelphia, 1937-70, opening Thursday, September 20 at 6PM.
Since 1990, Betsy Manning has compiled a vast photographic record of the Philadelphia region's mid-century Modern commercial vernacular architecture. This remarkably vital, highly original architectural legacy is the modernism of the Philadelphia neighborhood; of the corner store, super market, and the funeral parlor. It is also the modernism that lined the thoroughfares extending outwards from the historic commercial core and the modernism that shaped the burgeoning bedroom communities springing up in the surrounding countryside. Included in this landscape were all the necessities: grocery and furniture stores, doctors' offices and animal hospitals, bowling alleys, banks, police stations, family-owned retail shops, as well as office parks and schools; the backdrop of the everyday life of our communities.
Bringing this legacy into focus for the first time, Uncommon Modern presents a selection of forty color images from Manning's archive presented alongside a selection of original architectural drawings, archival photographs and memorabilia from the collection of the Architectural Archives, including examples of the little-known commercial architecture of internationally known Philadelphia architects Robert Venturi and Louis Kahn.
"Manning finds places many people fail to see," says exhibition curator William Whitaker, "and when we see the remarkable scope of her subject, we realize that modernism in the Philadelphia region was far more than the high-style of Howe & Lescaze's iconic PSFS building of 1932 or the big-boned monumentality of Louis Kahn's Richards Laboratories at the University of Pennsylvania of 1961. We find that this period was as much about the old and venerable Quaker City casting off the blackened soot of the Nineteenth century and embracing the car centered culture of the Twentieth."
This exhibition comes at a time of rising awareness and curiosity about the period in general and concern, specifically, for the issue of the long-term preservation.
"These photographs shed light on a period of American design that is distinct and historically significant, but undervalued and overlooked," said Jim Vaughan, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission Executive Director. "Our hope is that we can call some attention to these truly unique and distinctly American properties and help create a new way of viewing, appreciating and ultimately preserving them. "
Born in Philadelphia, Betsy Manning studied photojournalism at Temple University, where she's worked since 2004.
RELATED PUBLIC PROGRAMS:
Lecture and Conversation: "The Heroes and Misfits of Philadelphia Modernism"
Wednesday, December 5, 6:00 p.m., Kroiz Gallery
Join curator William Whitaker and photographer Betsy Manning for a fresh look at the Region's midcentury modernism.
Uncommon Modern: Photographic Portraits of Commercial Vernacular Architecture in Greater Philadelphia, 1937-70 is made possible through the generous financial support of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Bureau for Historic Preservation.
The exhibition is organized by William Whitaker, Curator of the Architectural Archives in collaboration with Betsy Manning.
William Whitaker, curator
The Architectural Archives, University of Pennsylvania
*checklist and images available upon request.
Monday to Friday, 10am-5pm
Weekends by special appointment
Admission is FREE every day.
For more information, call 215-898-8323, or visit http://www.design.upenn.edu/architecture/kroiz-gallery-exhibitions
This exhibition was made possible through the generous support of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Bureau for Historic Preservation