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Wrightwood 659 will stage first U.S. retrospective of Balkrishna Doshi this fall

A Show, For The People

Wrightwood 659 will stage first U.S. retrospective of Balkrishna Doshi this fall

Sangath (VSF archives)

The first U.S. retrospective of Pritzker Prize-winning Indian architect Balkrishna Doshi will debut in Chicago this September, thanks to the privately-owned Wrightwood 659 gallery.

Balkrishna Doshi: Architecture for the People will run from September 9 through December 12, 2020, in partnership with the Vitra Design Museum of Germany, where the show originally ran in the summer of 2019. The show will focus on 20 of Doshi’s most influential projects from 1958 through 2014, drawing attention to the architect’s long commitment to equitable civic architecture. The installations will be supplemented with materials from Doshi’s archives as well as full-size recreations of portions of the selected projects.

Balkrishna Doshi (Courtesy VSF)
Balkrishna Doshi (Courtesy VSF)

Of course, the Pritzker-laureate’s 65-year, impactful career across India had a diverse portfolio to comb through, from entire cities to private homes, even though the Vitra Museum’s show was the first exhibition of his work outside of Asia. As Sarosh Anklesaria wrote after Doshi’s win in 2018:

Doshi’s work and legacy is a search for this reconciliation, between universalism and place, rationalism, and what philosopher Paul Ricoeur calls ‘the mythical nucleus of humankind.” The quest embodied in Doshi’s oeuvre has also been the quest of his peers Charles Correa, Achyut Kanvinde, Anant Raje, and Raj Rewal, to name a few. It has been a quest of not one, but several generations of architects from the subcontinent and the Global South at large, to create an ontological and literal framework for an architecture that is modern and yet rooted in place.

Balkrishna Doshi: Architecture for the People was curated by Khushnu Panthaki Hoof, director of the nonprofit Vastu Shilpa Foundation, and Jolanthe Kugler, curator of the Vitra Design Museum. Unfortunately, although the exhibition is taking place in the fall, coronavirus prevention measures will be in place and potential visitors can expect a mandatory mask policy and enforced social distancing rules. Still, it will be the opportunity to see the work of a Pritzker Prize winner housed inside the work of another; Tadao Ando’s restoration of the 100-year-old Lincoln Park apartment only opened to the public two years ago.