Madelon Vriesendorp: Cosmic Housework

The Cosmic House

12 September 202313 September 2024

The Jencks Foundation presents Cosmic Housework, a site-specific exhibition by Madelon Vriesendorp playfully responding to the various spaces and key themes of The Cosmic House, on view from 12 September 2023 to 13 September 2024.

Madelon Vriesendorp is a Dutch artist, sculptor and collector. A founding member of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), her graphics and anthropomorphic architectural paintings provided important visual context to OMA in its early years, and her drawings and illustrations have been significantly influential for generations of architects ever since. Mainly based in London since 1976, Madelon has been working across a wide range of media on the expanded field of architecture, including costumes, built objects, paintings, murals, exhibition design, illustration, and short stories.

A long-time friend of Charles and Maggie Jencks, Madelon has been a frequent visitor to their home, The Cosmic House in Holland Park, which is one of the key landmarks in the development of Post-Modern architecture. A close collaborator to Charles, Madelon lent visual expression to many of his theories ranging from the ‘enigmatic signifiers’ of Post-Modern architecture to landforms of his later landscape design.

Switching between pop and classical culture, between high art and accessible kitsch, The Cosmic House became a built manifesto for the architecture that emerged in reaction to the slowly solidifying canon of Modernism as it faded in the late mid-century. Madelon has been invited by the Jencks Foundation to intervene in its spaces, addressing some common themes that span between her and Charles’ practice, such as language, irony, pop and ad-hoc.

Reinstating a dialogue between the worlds of Charles and Madelon, Cosmic Housework brings together already existing pieces with new site-specific commissions, offering a playful (re)interpretation and humorous subversion of the symbolism imbued in the architecture of The Cosmic House, densely packed with ideas and motifs embracing an entire cosmos of architectural allusion, history, metaphor and reference. Humour is central to the exhibition, echoing Madelon and Charles’s friendship that was voraciously productive for them both.