'aerodream' exhibition charts the history of inflatables at centre pompidou-metz

Jul 05, 2021

the centre pompidou-metz unravels the fascinating history of inflatable architecture and design with an exhibition titled ‘aerodream’. from conceptual artwork to military applications and large scale pneumatic architecture, the exhibition takes visitors on a journey through the ‘inflatables craze’ of the 1960s and 70s with live installations accompanied by drawings, posters, photographs and film footage. curated by frédéric migayrou and valentina moimas, the exhibition is on view at the centre pompidou-metz until august 23, 2021, when it will then be moved to the cité de l’architecture in paris from october 6 through to february 14, 2022.

yutaka murata, fuji group pavilion, osaka, 1970 © yutaka murata © photo courtesy of osaka prefectural government

(main video courtesy of centre pompidou-metz)

the exhibition is organized into seven clusters that chart the key moments of inflatables over the last 100 years. the first section explores the theme of ‘air in art’ from early pioneers such as italian artist piero manzoni, who used air to critique the condition of art in the 1960s, to the more recent leviathan by anish kapoor in 2011.

christo and jeanne-claude, 42,390 cubic feet package, minneapolis, minnesota, 1966 © photo: carroll t. hartwell © 1966 estate of christo v. javacheff

the next part of the exhibition looks at the industrial innovations of pneumatic structures. in the first half of the 20th century, inflatable structures were used for military applications and led to the creation of blimps and airships, which were used commercially until the hindenburg disaster in 1937. this section of the exhibition also showcases the work of architects and engineers such as buckminster fuller and frei otto; the former of whom patented the geodesic dome in 1954, and the latter of whom was awarded the pritzker prize in architecture for his innovative pneumatic and tensile structures.

diller scofidio + renfro, bubble: hirshhorn museum and sculpture garden © diller scofidio + renfro

as well as its practical applications, aerodream also explores how inflatables have been used as a medium to imagine new, utopic ways of living or to make interactive urban actions. in sections two and four, the exhibition charts how artists and architects like COOP HIMMELB(L)AU and franco mazzucchelli pushed the boundaries with experimental pneumatic structures to examine how they could change people’s relationship with their environment.

kengo kuma, fu an, 2007 © kengo kuma & associates, galerie philippe gravier, paris

the latter clusters of the exhibition look at the rise, fall, and eventual revival of plastics and inflatables. section five sees how the mass production of plastics in the 1960s led designers like quasar khanh and A.J.S. aérolande to leave behind traditional materials and create inflatable furniture instead. plastics and inflatables would eventually lose their appeal following the oil crisis in the late 70s, however, the aerodream exhibition shows how contemporary architects like kengo kuma and diller scofidio and renfro are tentatively reconnecting with the first inflatable pioneers for both small projects and large landmark structures.

video courtesy of centre pompidou-metz

davis, brody and associates, US pavillon, osaka world expo, 1970 © davis, brody and associates © photo courtesy of osaka prefectural government

graham stevens, atmosfield, st. katharine dock, london, [1968] photo: andrew tweedie © 1970 g.a.stevens

COOP HIMMELB(L)AU, city soccer, vienna, austria, 1971 © COOP HIMMELB(L)AU © katharina vonow

haus-rucker-co, gelbes herz [yellow heart], 1968 inflatable PVC plastic material, tubular metal structure and electric fan of 500 w, 360 x 480 x 240 cm paris, centre pompidou, musée national d’art moderne © haus-rucker-co © centre pompidou, MNAM-CCI / georges meguerditchian / dist. RMN-GP

haus-rucker-co, mindexpander 1, 1967 polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and reinforced polyester, 210 x 140 x 160 cm paris, centre pompidou, musée national d’art moderne © haus-rucker-co © centre pompidou, MNAM-CCI / georges meguerditchian / dist. RMN-GP

de pas, d’urbino, lomazzi, fauteuil blow, 1967 polyvinyl chloride inflatable chair (PVC), 78 x 105 x 100 cm centre pompidou, musée national d’art moderne, paris © rights reserved © photo centre pompidou, MNAM-CCI/georges meguerditchian/dist. RMN-GP

gernot nalbach, pneumatic furnishing carpet, 1967 © gernot nalbach, berlin

taneo oki and sekkeirengo, mushballoon, osaka world expo, 1970 © taneo oki and sekkeirengo © photo courtesy of osaka prefectural government

franco mazzucchelli, A. to A. (alfa romeo factory, milan), 1971.courtesy the artist and chertlüdde, berlin.photo: enrico cattaneo

hans hollein im mobilen büro (hans hollein dans son bureau mobile), 1969.© hans hollein© photo : centre pompidou, MNAM-CCI / jean-claude planchet/dist. RMN-GP

josep ponsati, inflatable sculpture barcelona 77, 1977.artist's collection.photography: toni vidal

josep ponsati, inflatable sculpture barcelona 77, 1977.artist's collection.photography: toni vidal

AZC, pont trampoline à paris, 2012.© AZC architectes

selgascano + FRPO, spanish pavilion, expo dubai 2020.© selgascano + FRPO

haus-rucker-co, oasis nr. 7, documenta 5, kassel 1972.© haus-rucker-co

archigram, étude, 1968.collages on cardboard, 22.7 x 73.8 cm.© archigram© georges meguerditchian - centre pompidou, MNAM-CCI /dist. RMN-GP

exhibition info:

name: aerodream: architecture, design and inflatable structures

curators: frédéric migayrou and valentina moimas

location: centre pompidou-metz, metz, france

dates: january 30 – august 23, 2021

I visited the exhibition with some people from my studio a week ago. This is a great exhibition for all architecture students. it is a pity that it is open only during summer, why not sending info to all architecture schools but the students are already in holidays!! There is a big home in this exhibition, no one piece from Hans Walter Müller who is still alive and still living in an inflatable house near paris!!