Architectural Archives

  • Robert Venturi at the University of Pennsylvania, February 1961

Back Matter: The Making of Robert Venturi's Complexity and Contradiction

Saturday, November 12, 2016Friday, March 3, 2017
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Harvey & Irwin Kroiz Gallery, Architectural Archives
220 South 34th Street, Philadelphia

Exhibition Opening Reception & Remarks
Saturday, November 12, 2016
5:00pm to 7:00pm


This exhibition has been organized to mark the 50th anniversary of the publication of Robert Venturi's Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture. It is presented in conjunction with a three-day symposium co-organized by the Museum of Modern Art and the University of Pennsylvania that brings together international scholars and architects to discuss the significance and enduring impact of this remarkable book, published by MoMA in 1966 in association with the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts

Back Matter traces the development and manifold permutations of the provocative ideas put forth in Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture, contributing a broader perspective of the catalytic role that teaching played in defining Venturi's artistic voice. Works on view include manuscript drafts and working documents related to this seminal publication, along with original sketches and never-before-seen period photographs of the architect's early built works, including the iconic Vanna Venturi House. Of particular note are materials related to Venturi's "Theories of Architecture" course, which he taught from 1961 to 1965 at Penn. In shaping the class, Venturi drew from his early academic experiences at Princeton University as well as his two-year fellowship at the American Academy in Rome, to further his arguments and pedagogical approach. It was also in the context of this course that Venturi first had the opportunity to collaborate with Denise Scott Brown, who would soon become a central figure in his life and work. 

Questions? Please contact the Architectural Archives at (215) 898-8323

This exhibition has been made possible by the generous support of the Shedd Endowment for the Architectural Archives, the Georgia Hencken Perkins Endowment, and the Friends of the Architectural Archives. Additional support provided by the Office of the Dean of the School of Design.