Jean-Louis Cohen in conversation with Anna Bokov

Tuesday, February 7, 2023, 6:30 - 8pm

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Student models for an exercise on Volume at Vkhutemas, 1920s. Richard Saltoun Gallery, London.

Anna Bokov will be joined by Jean-Louis Cohen to discuss The Cooper Union’s exhibition, Vkhutemas: Laboratory of the Avant-Garde, 1920­–1930 in parallel with Bokov’s book, Avant-Garde as Method: Vkhutemas and the Pedagogy of Space, 1920–1930 (Zurich: Park Books, 2020). An educational experiment of unprecedented scale and complexity, Vkhutemas—an acronym for the Higher Art and Technical Studios—translated radical experiments in art, architecture, and design into a systematized pedagogy. From its inception, the school sought to develop universal teaching methods based on scientific discoveries and artistic experimentation, while democratizing design education by making it accessible to formerly disenfranchised social classes. The discussion will focus on this formative period of modernism and will examine and question the legacy of this still little-known school within the history of modern art and architecture. The conversation will be moderated by Elisa Iturbe.
 
Jean-Louis Cohen
Jean-Louis Cohen is an architect and architectural historian specializing in modern architecture and city planning. He is the Sheldon H. Solow Professor in the History of Architecture at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts. Cohen's research activity focuses mainly on 20th-century architecture and urban planning. In particular, he has studied German and Soviet architectural cultures, colonial situations in North Africa, architecture during World War II, and extensively interpreted Le Corbusier's work and Paris planning history. His recent publications include Building a New World: Amerikanizm in Russian Architecture (2021), The Future of Architecture Since 1889 (London: Phaidon, 2012), and Architecture in Uniform (Paris: Hazan, 2011). He has been a curator for numerous exhibitions including “The Lost Vanguard,” at the Museum of Modern Art (2007); “Building a new New World,” “Scenes of the World to Come” and “Architecture in Uniform” at the Canadian Center for Architecture (2021, 1995 and 2011); as well as “Paris-Moscou” (1979) and the centennial show “L'aventure Le Corbusier” (1987), both at the Centre Georges Pompidou.
 
Anna Bokov 
Anna Bokov is an architect, historian, and educator. She is a faculty member at The Cooper Union and Parsons in New York. She has taught at City College, and at Cornell, Yale, Northeastern, and Harvard Universities. Anna is a former fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in Architecture at the ETH Zurich and is a former member of the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) in Princeton. She worked as an architect and urban designer at OMA, NBBJ, Ennead, and the City of Somerville. Anna is a recipient of multiple awards, including Graham Foundation grants and the Mellon Fellowship. Her scholarly work has been published widely, including by Log, IAS, The Journal of Architecture, Perspecta, the Walker Art Center, and MoMA. She holds a Ph.D. from Yale University and an M.Arch. from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. Anna's recent award-winning book Avant-Garde as Method: Vkhutemas and the Pedagogy of Space, 1920–1930 (Zurich: Park Books, 2020) is dedicated to the Soviet counterpart of the Bauhaus. 

Located in the Arthur A. Houghton Jr. Gallery, 7 East 7th Street, 2nd Floor, between Third and Fourth Avenues

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.