Stanislaus von Moos

Stanislaus von Moos
© BAK, Florian Spring

Stanislaus von Moos

“I know that any self-respecting architecture critic must emphasize that 90 percent of what is being built today has nothing to do with ‘city’. But we will probably all have to come to terms with the fact that ‘chaos’, precisely because it is so profitable, will continue to be the Swiss and probably also the European city for some time to come.”
Tränen der Architektur
[The Tears of Architecture], 1989

“One must also take a step or two aside and look at events from outside the culture within which one operates.”
January 2023

Stanislaus von Moos

Marie-Eve Hildbrand / Terrain Vague, Lausanne

Stanislaus von Moos, born 1940 in Luzern, studied at ETH and the University of Zurich, lives in Zürich and Ennetbürgen NW.

Art historian Stanislaus von Moos is interna­tionally known for his perceptive analyses of built environments shaped by complex histor­ical, political, economic, and ideological agen­das. His critiques of material culture thus pro­mote a more profound understanding of the world we live in. Inquisitive and engaged, eru­dite and entertaining, von Moos’s writings res­onate with audiences from within and outside of the academy.

Over the past sixty years, von Moos’s work as scholar, curator, and educator has bridged ar­chitecture and art, history and criticism, high and low cultures, covering phenomena like ur­ban sprawl as well as artificial landscapes. It has addressed a great range of subjects, from Renaissance military fortifications to 20th century avant-garde art, from pop culture to Minimalism. Underlying these diverse inter­ests – conveyed in a lucid, often ironic tone – lies a consistent concern with architecture and art as emanations of the modern condi­tion. His work has thus provided unexpected insights into the work of architects Le Corbus­ier, Karl Moser, Max Bill, Robert Venturi and Denise Scott-Brown, Herzog & de Meuron and Rem Koolhaas, as well as artists such as Václav Požárek, Pipilotti Rist, Peter Fischli and David Weiss, among others.

Von Moos studied art history at the University of Zurich. His book Le Corbusier: Elemente ein­er Synthese (1968, the first critical survey of Le Corbusier’s work to appear after the architect’s death) was translated in five languages and is widely known as a standard text in the schol­arship of architectural modernism. In 1971, von Moos founded the journal archithese, trans­forming a humble professional bulletin into a radical theoretical platform. During its first five years and over 24 issues, archithese pro­moted urban, political, theoretical, critical and historical preservation studies – subjects that remain of great relevance in the internation­al architectural discourse. In 1977, archithesemerged with the journal Werk to become werk archithese, which von Moos co-edited to­gether with Diego Peverelli for the next three years. Before his professorship in Modern and Contemporary Art at the University of Zurich (1983–2005) he had held teaching positions at Harvard and at the TU Delft. Through his teaching – more recently at institutions like the Accademia di architettura in Mendrisio or Yale University – von Moos has influenced severalgenerations of students, many of them now protagonists in the networks of art and archi­tecture in Switzerland and beyond.

As reflections and observations from outside of architecture, his writings have opened new directions for intra-architectural investiga­tions. Counter to the autonomous discourse promoted by the followers of Aldo Rossi at ETH Zurich, von Moos advanced the heteronomous position of Venturi, Scott Brown & Associates – in archithese as well as two monographs in 1987 and 1999 – thus contributing to the charged de­bates on realism and postmodernism in Swit­zerland and worldwide. Von Moos is the author of numerous other books and essays. His most recent opus Erste Hilfe. Architekturdiskurs nach 1940. Eine Schweizer Spurensuche (2021) postulates 1940 as the beginning of Swiss post-war architecture, offering a fresh reading of the architecture of that era in its local and inter­national context. His new book, Twentyfive x Herzog & de Meuron (in collaboration with Arthur Rüegg), will be released in spring 2023.