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Spatial City: An Architecture of Idealism

From February 5 to December 30, 2010


Spatial City, the first exhibition in the United States of artwork drawn from the French Regional Contemporary Art Funds (Frac), brought together an international, multi-generational array of contemporary artists whose work contends with utopian thinking and the idealism and cynicism it inspires.

The exhibition Spatial City originated with the theoretical architecture of the same name by Yona Friedman (b.1923). In his first manifesto, Mobile Architecture (1958), Friedman defined the structures in this ideal city as being transformable, transportable and occupying as little ground area as possible, pushing structures to hover over the earth rather than occupy its surface directly. Friedman's ideas, disseminated in the aftermath of World War II, have influenced subsequent generations both indirectly and directly. While Friedman's concepts informed the framework of the show, the selection of artwork reflects the cycling and recycling of optimism and cynicism in postwar and contemporary culture. Artists in the exhibition are responding to society's complex problems: the failed utopian social experiments that resulted in the dehumanizing conditions of Brutalist architecture, the rise and fall of totalitarian states, the tensions resulting from post-colonial immigration, and the destruction of the environment in the name of progress.

There is a catalog to accompany the exhibition, edited by Polly Morris with Marie-Cécile Burnichon. The catalog features photos from each institution's installation, along with critical essays, artist biographies and checklists of the work in the exhibition.

Artists in the exhibition include
: Lida Abdul, Élisabeth Ballet, Yves Bélorgey, Berdaguer & Péjus, Katinka Bock, Monica Bonvicini, Jeff Carter, Maurizio Cattelan/Philippe Parreno, Jordi Colomer, François Dallegret, Peter Downsbrough, Philippe Durand, Jimmie Durham, Simon Faithfull, Didier Fuiza Faustino, Cao Fei, Robert Filliou, Elise Florenty, Yona Friedman, Dora Garcia, Séverine Hubard, Stefan Kern, Bertrand Lamarche, Vincent Lamouroux, Mark Leckey, Didier Marcel, François Morellet, Sarah Morris, Juan Muñoz, Stéphanie Nava, Philippe Ramette, Sara Schnadt, Kristina Solomoukha, Tatiana Trouvé, Marie Voignier, herman de vries, Clemens von Wedemeyer, Stephen Wetzel, Raphaël Zarka and others.


The exhibition travelled to:

  • The Institute of Visual Arts (Inova) at the Peck School of the Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee from February 5-April 18, 2010
  • Chicago's Hyde Park Art Center from May 23-August 8, 2010
  • The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) from September 10-December 30, 2010



Curator Nicholas Frank (Inova, Peck School of the Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) originated the concept and exhibition. Participating curators are Allison Peters Quinn (Hyde Park Art Center), Luis Croquer (Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit - MOCAD), Eva González-Sancho (Frac Bourgogne), Yannick Miloux (Frac Limousin) and Marie-Cécile Burnichon (Platform-Regroupement des Fonds régionaux d'art contemporain - the association of the Frac).



The project and tour were developed in partnership with Platform and Polly Morris (formerly of Inova) and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in The United States. It was supported in part by Culturesfrance-French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and the French Ministry of Culture and Communication (Délégation Générale de la Création Artistique-service des arts plastiques).




Spatial City Press Release

Télécharger (format PDF, 163.7 K)

Communiqué de presse Spatial City

Télécharger (format PDF, 1.6 MB)

Dossier de presse Spatial City

Télécharger (format PDF, 4.4 MB)


Yona Friedman, Ville spatiale, 1959-1960 (détail). Collection Frac Centre.
Crédit photo. François Lauginie © Adagp