Alexandra Lange
Architecture & design critic

MoMA's Latin American Mea Culpa

Mexican Pavilion, Triennale di Milano (1968)

The Museum of Modern Art’s new exhibition, “Latin America in Construction: Architecture 1955–1980” (until July 19), is an assembly of work that may never be repeated. With more than 500 original drawings, models, photographs, and films from the last half-century, by architects working in 10 countries and one commonwealth, the show reveals a depth to the region’s architecture well beyond Oscar Niemeyer, Roberto Burle Marx, Luis Barragán, and the insurgent Lina Bo Bardi. While all of the above appear multiple times across the exhibition’s five galleries, they are flanked by equally talented colleagues, collaborators, and mavericks.

It is a remarkable collection of everything you could possibly call Modernism—diagrid skyscrapers, abstract landscapes, megastructures, cities of slabs. The tricky part is figuring out how to navigate the treasures. You could get stuck in the front room where, on a set of seven screens reminiscent of some 1960s World’s Fair pavilion, filmmaker Joey Forsyte has assembled vintage footage into jaunty eight-minute documentaries on the region’s cities. We see palm trees and old cars, zeppelins and beaches, skyscrapers and hand-of-God architects placing little blocks in a sea of the same.