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19 July 2015

Las Vegas Studio, Rencontres d’Arles 2015

Images from the archives of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown


Learning from Las Vegas, a treatise on architectural theory published in 1972, captivates us primarily through its engaging visual discourse developed during Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown’s 1968 research and design studio course at Yale. For Venturi, Scott Brown, and their collaborator, Steven Izenour, photography was the means of both argumentation and representation of their research. Their approach used photographic methods borrowed from the disciplines of anthropology and art. Their contemporaries reacted strongly against the Las vegas research, which approached architecture from the perspectives of symbolism and appearance.

Our approach to the material is motivated primarily by an interest in the image. The genuinely pictorial, the photographic quality, provided a decisive guide in our reading. We removed the pictures from their original analytical context and present them as photographic sensations. For Venturi and Scott Brown and their students, the photographs were a means to an end. They provided data and analytical tools to inform their planning and design work. Our project returns to a point before the theory formation and refers directly to the photographic material itself. Our selection focuses largely on secondary aspects and side products of the research project, without losing sight of the iconic images. It thereby shifts to the forefront previously unknown images. We believe that the true interest in venturi’s and scott brown’s approach to Las vegas becomes manifest precisely in these ‘unconscious’ moments.

Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown allowed us full access to their archive for this project. The opportunity to gain insight into this collection of images was a particularly memorable experience for us. The exhibition was first shown at the Museum im Bellpark, Kriens, switzerland. It is presented in france for the first time.

Hilar Stadler and Martino Stierli



Exhibition curators: Hilar Stadler and Martino Stierli.

Exhibition produced by the Museum im Bellpark, Kriens.
With support from the Swiss Confederation.

Publication: Las Vegas Studio: Images From the Archives of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, Scheidegger & Spiess, 2008, 2015;
Las Vegas Studio. Images des archives de Robert Venturi et Denise Scott Brown, Scheidegger & Spiess, 2015.
Exhibition venue: Grande halle, Parc des Ateliers.