© Photography Founding Congress CIAM La Sarraz, Switzerland, 1928: gta Archiv / ETH Zürich, CIAM © Reconstruction of the exhibition design "Die Wohnung für das Existenzminimum", 1929 - 1930: Clara Teresa Pollak

CIAM’s Exhibitions, 1928 – 1959The Reconstruction of an Exhibition History

doctoral dissertation by Clara Teresa Pollak

The International Congresses of Modern Architecture / Congrès Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne (CIAM) were founded by an international group of avant-garde architects in 1928. During eleven congresses, CIAM discussed and explored central issues of modernism. The results and main theses of the congresses were presented to the public in publications and exhibitions. Both the congresses and publications have been extensively researched and are thus well-known in the professional scholarly circles. The exhibitions of CIAM, on the contrary, have hardly been taken into notice in research so far - and this despite the fact that the organisation and hosting of exhibitions played a central role during CIAM's existence. They are thus a so far undocumented part of CIAM's history that leaves many questions unanswered. The PhD project examines CIAM's exhibitions from 1928 to 1959 and analyses them in relation to CIAM’s work. The hypothesis is that through a source-based study of the exhibitions, an additional dimension of CIAM’s work and a central chapter in the dissemination of its ideas can be revealed. However, the PhD project not only aims to close this historiographical gap in the architectural history of modernism, but also tries to demonstrate the necessity of a re-evaluation of CIAM's work.

The objective of the dissertation can be divided into four thematic goals. Beginning with the planning and organisation of the exhibitions their designs, content and materials and their accompanying programs are to be reconstructed (1. Reconstruction of the exhibitions). Secondly, based on the reconstruction, the development and changes of the exhibitions will then be analyzed, and the functions and objectives linked to the exhibitions will be developed (2. Analysis of the exhibitions’ development and functions). Thirdly, in order to understand the significance and influence of the exhibitions on the working structures of CIAM, its work is to be considered against the background of its exhibitions (3. Internal understanding of the significance of the exhibitions). And fourthly, CIAM's exhibitions will be compared with events and exhibitions that were significant for modernism in order to examine what influence and effect CIAM's exhibitions have had on the dissemination and establishment of modernism (4. External determination of effect & contextualizing comparison).


Scholarship | Doctoral Scholarship from the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung
Second Supervisor | Prof. Barry Bergdoll, Columbia University
Mentor | Dr. Léa-Catherine Szacka, University of Manchester