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Eszter Steierhoffer

PhD Work

Framing the Void; Rethinking the Late-Modern Architecture Exhibition

This thesis constitutes a new approach to contemporary exhibition studies, a field of research that has until now dedicated little attention to connections between exhibitions of contemporary art and exhibitions of architecture. While the late 1970s saw the pluralisation and emancipation of architectural history as a distinct discipline, this thesis proposes a reading of the same period as an evolutionary moment in contemporary curatorial practices that brought together art and architecture in the field of exhibitions in unprecedented ways.

The timeframe of the late 1970s, which is the focus of this study, marks the first instances of the institutionalisation of architecture exhibitions, as seen in the opening of the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 1977, the founding of ICAM in Helsinki in 1979, and the first official International Architecture Biennale in Venice in 1980, all of which rendered architecture’s position more central within the museum. Late-modern architecture however not only developed within the space of art, but also substantially reshaped it, provoking numerous artistic and curatorial responses, which continue to this day.

In order to explore and reinvent connections between the fields of architecture and contemporary curatorial practices, the thesis examines both presentations and representations of architecture that occur in exhibitions. Through the survey of four separate models of architectural displays drawn from different institutional and disciplinary contexts of the late 1970s and early 1980s, this thesis questions how these different typologies of exhibition have expanded the definition of architecture. It also investigates the ways in which contemporary curatorial and art practices have been informed and shaped by late-modern architecture, and, ultimately, how contemporary representations of architecture line up with the wider cultural, political and economic contexts and how this is reflected in today’s hyper-acceleration of curatorial production.


  • Eszter Steierhoffer Research Student
  • PhD


    School of Humanities


    Critical & Historical Studies, 2009–2016

  • Eszter Steierhoffer holds Master of Arts degrees in History of Art and Architecture from the Eötvös Loránd University of Budapest, and in Curating Contemporary Art from the Royal College of Art, London. Her research interest is the history of display strategies and exhibitions of architecture, in particular the most recent developments of exhibition making and debates around contemporary curating. Eszter has worked as a curator mainly in the not-for-profit and public sectors and organised a number of exhibitions and symposia with an architectural focus within and outside of the museum. She is a regular contributor to a variety of international arts publications.