The First Architecture Biennale in Venice, 1980

The First International Architecture Exhibition of the Biennale took place in Venice between the 27th of July and the 19th of October 1980. Curated by the Italian architect and architectural historian Paolo Portoghesi, the exhibition was conceived as an event that would explore international architecture after the modern movement. Remembered as an exhibition that would showcase ‘stylistic Post-Modernism’, it in fact intended to explore architecture’s capacity to communicate and to act as a language, and to return to the collective culture of the urban street. ‘La Strada Novissima’, an exhibition of twenty facades that lined each side of a 70-metre ‘street’ inside the Corderie building of Venice’s Arsenale was the centre-piece of the 1980 Venice Architectural Biennale. With each façade designed by an individual architect or practice, the exhibition explored the urban street and reflected on stylistic pluralism within Post-Modern architecture. Jencks’ contribution, consisting of a giant leaning pencil and a ‘sinking book’ with the phrase ‘all the wasms have become isms’, was situated at the end of the Strada Novissima, in the Critics’ Corner, a section that showcased installations by members of the critics’ committee invited by Paolo Portoghesi to collaborate on the exhibition. The Italian architect Aldo Rossi designed the gate to the Corderie as well as a floating construction Teatro del Mondo (Theatre of the World). This unique collection of slides from the Jencks Archive offers an insight into Jencks’ own documentation of this seminal event in the history of Post-Modern architecture.

Charles Jencks
The First Architecture Biennale in Venice, 1980
Venice Architectural Biennale 1980, Post-Modernism