1890 Frederick Kiesler was born on September 22 in Cernowitz.
1908-13 University of Vienna
1923 Stage Design for W.U.R. (R.U.R.), Berlin

Kiesler's "electro-mechanical" stage impresses the gathering of internationally acclaimed avant-garde artists in Berlin. After one of the first few performances he makes the acquaintance of Hans Richter, Theo van Doesburg, Lazló Moholy-Nagy, and El Lissitzky – the introduction to these artists will have a decisive impact on his artistic genesis.

The first attempt to design electro-mechanical scenery. The fixed scenery has become alive, an active part in the play. De la nature morte vivante. The means to fill the stage with life are: movement of lines, sharp contrasts of colours, the transformation of surfaces towards relief and curved human forms (actors). There is the interplay of moving lights of various colours on the scenery, in rhythm according to speech intonation and the movement of the actors ...
Excerpt of: Frederick Kiesler, Als ich das Raumtheater erfand, ca. 1924
1924 Internationale Ausstellung neuer Theatertechnik, Vienna

Kiesler organises the International Exhibition of New Theatre Techniques as part of the Music and Theatre Festival of the City of Vienna. For this exhibition, Kiesler collects approximately hundreds of concepts for theatre as well as drafts for set design and costume design, posters and models by the avant-garde from Russia, Italy, Germany, France, Austria. For the exhibition design he creates the L+T System a flexible and independent form of presenting objects and paintings. Kiesler creates the poster, the catalogue, the admission ticket and the stationary for the exhibition, which follow, in their typographical design, a uniform constructivist concept. For this exhibition Kiesler designs the Space Stage and comments on it in the catalogue:

The Space Stage of the Railway-Theatre, the contemporary form of theatre, is floating in space. The ground floor is only the support for the open construction. The audience is circulating in electro-magnetic movements around the core of the stage.
Excerpt of: Internationale Ausstellung neuer Theatertechnik, Exhibition Catalogue, Vienna 1924
1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, Paris

Due to the great success of the exhibition in Vienna in 1924, Josef Hoffmann, the commissioner of the Austrian Pavilion, charges Kiesler with the design of the Austrian section at the “Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes” in Paris. Kiesler creates a monumental and spatial structure, the City in Space. The Austrian division incorporates models of set design, plans for theatres, drafts for scenes and costumes by Austrian architects and artists. Through this exhibition design, Kiesler presents his visionary ideas on a mega-city.

The country city: the division of city and country will be abolished
The time city: time is the measure of organisation of its space
The space city: it floats freely in space in a de-centralised federation
dictated by the ground formation
The automatic city: the processes of daily life are mechanised.
[…] we want:
1. Transformation of the surrounding area of space into cities.
2. Liberation from the ground, abolition of the static axis.
3. No walls, no foundations.
4. A system of spans (tension) in free space.
5. Creation of new kinds of living, and, through them, the demands which will remould society.

From: Frederick Kiesler, Vitalbau-Raumstadt-Funktionelle Architektur, typescript.
1926 International Theatre Exposition, New York

Still in Paris, Jane Heap invites Kiesler to present European avant-garde set designs to the American public in the European section at the International Theatre Exposition. Beside the radical constructivist ideas, futurism, and Bauhaus, Kiesler shows some of his own works such as the egg-shaped Endless Theatre as a further step in development of the Stage Space.

The whole structure is encased in double shells of steel and opaque welded glass. The stage […] an endless spiral. The various levels are connected with elevators and platforms. Seating, platforms, stage and elevator platforms are suspended and spanned above each other. The structure is an elastic building system of cables and platforms developed from bridge building. The drama can expand and develop freely in space mounted on the spiral.
Excerpt of: Frederick Kiesler, "Projekt für ein Raumtheater für 100.000 Besucher", in: Architectural Record, May 1930.

1928 Saks, Fifth Avenue, New York

In 1927, Kiesler takes on the window decorations for the New York department store Saks on Fifth Avenue. He publishes his experiences in 1930 with the book Contemporary Art Applied To The Store And Its Display. Therein Kiesler mentions numerous examples of European and American architecture and window displays, as well as several of his architectural sketches and furniture designs. In the accompanying text, he analyses various art works of his time in order to develop aesthetic laws for the ideal window display. Kiesler regards pictorial art as a font of inspiration for applied art, which he considers the bridge between art and daily life.
1929 Film Guild Cinema, New York 

On February 1, 1929, following nine months of construction time, with a resounding echo in the media, the Film Guild Cinema, the first "100% cinema" is opened.

In the cinema which I have designed for the Film Arts Guild is this most important quality of the auditorium its power to suggest concentrated attention and at the same time to destroy the sensation of confinement that may occur easily when the spectator concentrates on the screen. The spectator must be able to lose himself in an imaginary, endless space even though the screen implies the opposite.
Excerpt of: Frederick Kiesler, Contemporary Art Applied To The Store And Its Display, New York 1930
1930 Furniture exhibition of the A.U.D.A.C., New York 

For the 1930 A.U.D.A.C. (American Union of Decorative Artists and Craftsmen) exhibition at the Grand Central Palace, Kiesler designs cubicles, which the invited A.U.D.A.C. members decorate. He himself displays not only his office furniture, such as the Flying Desk, but also photos and sketches for further design and architecture projects.
1931 Double Theatre for Woodstock

In 1931 Kiesler participates in a competition for a theatre in Woodstock. With his draft of a double flexible Theatre for Woodstock he wins this competition, in which Frank Lloyd Wright also takes part. The project, however, is never built.

The obsolete formula of a monolithic construction, suddenly solidified and permanently and fictitiously thrust upon the scene, is out of the question. The changing demands of stage production and the need for proper correlation between actors and audience made necessary a flexible ephemeral construction and a building technique best achieved through tensional structures, light-weight easily fabricated tubular supports of metal, and web coverings of weatherproofed fabrics.
Excerpt of: Frederick Kiesler, "A multi-purpose Community Center designed for Woodstock", in: The Architectural Forum, New York, December 1932.

Space House

Kiesler builds the Space House for the Modernage Furniture Company in New York. The real-scale model of a one-family home serves as display for the furniture. It represents Kiesler's decisive step away from the right-angled form to the biomorphic language of forms. In the theoretical discourse which accompanies the installation, Kiesler propagates the end of the post and lintel as traditional architectural motif of carrying and supporting. He replaces it with the self-supporting shell-form, laying the foundation for the 1950's Endless House:

There is no question: a new construction method has not yet been reached. We are in transition from conglomeration to simplification. Next simplified method of building: the dye-cast unit – not a dye-cast part of roof, floor, wall or column, but a continuous unit overcoming the four-fold division of column, roof, floor, wall. Such construction I call shell-monolith. Easily erected. Weight minimised. Mobile. Separation into floor walls, roof, and column is eliminated. The floor continues into the wall, the wall into the floor. It might be called: conversion of compression into continuous tension.
Excerpt of: Frederick Kiesler, "Notes on Architecture", in: Hound and Horn, January-March 1934.

1934 Stage Design since 1934

From 1934 to 1956 Kiesler teaches at the Juilliard School of Music. In addition, he applies his innovative and revolutionary ideas to stage design: in Erskine's Helen Retires, 1934, he utilizes biomorphic forms for the first time. In Seymour's In the Pasha's Garden, 1935, he uses projections. Sartre's No Exit in 1946 and Milhaud's Le Pauvre Matelot in 1948 show surrealist influences. His intense preoccupation with the theatre is mirrored in his art work and installation design.

Furniture and Industrial Design

During the 30s, Kiesler designs furniture with modernistic forms and functions. He realises the Nesting Tables, which introduce organic shape to his design, inventing the kidney-shaped tables which would become popular in the 1950s. The Bed-Couch for Charles Mergentime and the Party Lounge demonstrate Kiesler’s demands on modern furniture. He applies for a patent on Party Lounge & Furniture Construction as well as on the Lamp and Table Construction.

An object of the present invention is a convertible lounge which can accommodate a great number of people simultaneously and in such a manner that the occupants can sit on the lounge facing each other. Inasmuch as my new lounge will seat a whole party at the same time, I call my lounge 'party lounge'.
Excerpt of: Frederick Kiesler, texts for the United States Patent Office, 1936.

In the following years, Kiesler undertakes numerous projects of remodelling the interior design of stores. In 1934-35, he designs and oversees the remodelling of the Westermann Bookshop, as well as Jay's Shoe Shop in Buffalo, for which he receives an award for best design. Formally, both projects are oriented towards modern functionalism. He utilises materials such as aluminium and glass, integrating light effects as a new design element.


Laboratory for Design Correlation, Columbia University, New York 

In 1937 the Laboratory for Design Correlation at Columbia University is founded, Kiesler acts as head until its closure in 1941. The Institute's goal is the development of a unified design concept, based in science and analysis. The precise observation of human behaviour, process of movement and physiological conditions should lead to the improvement of peoples' furniture and objects of daily use, and, therefore, their quality of life.

What we call 'forms', whether they are natural or artificial, are only the visible trading posts of integrating and disintegrating forces mutating at low rates of speed. Reality consists of these two categories of forces which inter-act costantly in visible and invisible configurations.
This exchange of inter-acting forces I call CO_REALITY and the science of the laws of interrelationships, CORREALISM. The term 'correalism' expresses the dynamics of continual interaction between man and his natural and technological environments […]
The term 'design' must be re-defined. Since the building designer deals with forces, not objects, design is therefore, in my definition, not the circumscription of a solid but a deliberate polarization of natural forces towards a specific human purpose.
Such a science I have called BIOTECHNIQUE because it is the special skill of man which has developed to influence life in a desired direction.

From: Frederick Kiesler, On Correalism and Biotechnique. A Definition and Test of a New Approach to Building Design, 1939.

Vision Machine

Kiesler's Vision Machine is the result of intense studies on the viewers' processes of perception and powers of imagination, research he undertook since his 1937 Laboratory for Design Correlation. Kiesler plans Vision Machine as an audio-visual object to demonstrate and explain the process of perception. In a report to the Dean of Architecture in 1939, he writes:

Theoretical study on aesthetics, with special reference to the human eye as medium of perception. […] Design of a machine for practical demonstration of optical perception, showing the correlative forces of vision.
From: Frederick Kiesler, Report on the Laboratory for Design Correlation, typescript 1939.

Mobile Home Library

In collaboration with his students, Kiesler builds the Mobile Home Library, the first matured product of the Institute. This flexible storage system for books is the result of an exemplary functions analysis, perfectly demonstrating the "correalistic design process".

1942 Art of This Century, Peggy Guggenheim Gallery, New York 

Peggy Guggenheim commissions Kiesler to design a gallery for her art collection, with an emphasis on "developing new methods for exhibiting paintings, drawings, sculptures and objects". He creates revolutionary presentation systems and multi-functional furniture for four exhibit spaces. In the surrealist gallery, Kiesler allows unframed pictures to "float" in the room, in the abstract gallery he presents geometric works of art in a system of tensions, and in the kinetic gallery he constructs viewing apparatus for the works of Marcel Duchamp and Paul Klee.

A new system of co-ordinating architecture with painting and sculpture and their co-ordination with the spectator has been attempted. This new correlation system is a method of 'Spatial Exhibition' […] His Spatial-Exhibition method consists in not using walls for hanging pictures or for placing pedestals for sculptures, but of a free arrangement of these objects throughout the space available, using, from a technical point of view, various methods of cantilever and suspension construction. One of the main features of such Spatial-Exhibitions is the necessity of eliminating all frames. The result achieved – contrary to one's expectation – seems to be a much better possibility for concentrating the attention of the spectator on each painting and therefore a better chance for the painting to communicate its message.
Excerpt from: Frederick Kiesler, Notes on Designing the Gallery, typescript 1942.

Kiesler writes about the functional possibilities of the multifunctional Correalist Furniture he designed for the exhibition:

Here we have the concrete example of the effectiveness of Correalism. This is the name I've given my design theory. The functional core was so forcefully compacted that its main function created other functions, immediately practical and unforeseeable. These 18 possibilities were not the result of a technical occasion; they were inherent in the first structure, in the original cell of the project, just as extremely specialised organs are already present in the human embryo.
Excerpt from: Frederick Kiesler, "Rest-Form", in: Transparent, 1984..

Exhibition by the Architects' Committee of the National Council of American-Soviet Friendship, Inc., Moscow

Kiesler designs an Exhibition of American Architecture and City-Planning in Moscow (Architects' Committee of the National Council of American-Soviet Friendship) for the Association of American Architects. In a series of primary studies, he conceptualises fantastic presentation elements. These drawings visualize the process of formalizing an exhibition design system stemming from the representation of human and animal body parts. The 1945 Moscow exhibition utilises a simple standing wall-system constructed from wood boards.

1947 Bloodflames 1947, Hugo Gallery, New York

In 1947, Kiesler conceives the exhibition Bloodflames at the Hugo Gallery in New York, in which artists such as David Hare, Arshile Gorky, Roberto Matta and Isamo Noguchi participate. Kiesler changes the small galleries' cubist forms into an "endless" space through use of colour. Continually flowing, colourfully executed divisions of space remove the difference between floors, ceiling and walls. Thereby this idea, originating in the 1933 concept for the Space House, found a radical – if only provisory model-realisation. The Hugo Gallery's colourful total room, with its free-standing artwork, already indicates important factors of the Endless House concept of interior design.

Color-Forms are the easiest, cheapest, quickest way of transforming a space in accordance with a vision. If you have no money, you have to get drunk on a pot of paint! That is what the farmer in the country has always done and still does. He paints the white limestone walls inside and out with colour, scribbles a frieze and sometimes paints a Madonna on the front gable: that's the farmer with his horsy instinct!
Excerpt from: Frederick Kiesler, Economy and Exhuberance, german typescript (translated by the Austrian Frederick and Lillian Kiesler Private Foundation) 1947

Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme, Galerie Maeght, Paris

Following a content concept by André Breton and Marcel Duchamp, Kiesler conceptualises a surrealist exhibition at the Paris Gallery Maeght. In this context he designs the Salle des Superstitions (Hall of Superstitions) as a cave-like entire artwork, which he refers to as "magic architecture". Joan Miró, Marcel Duchamp, David Hare and Max Ernst execute artwork under Kiesler's supervision which are integrated in the exhibition space. Kiesler himself creates two sculptures, the Totem of all Religions and the Anti-Taboo-Figure, his first sculptural works.

J'oppose au mysticisme de l'hygiène, qui est la superstition de "L'Architecture fonctionelle", les réalités d'une architecture magique qui prend recine dans la totalité de l'être humain, et non dans des parties bénies ou maudites de cet être. […] La réalité nouvelle des arts plastiques se manifest comme une corrélation de données non seulement basées sur les perceptions des cinq sens, mais répondant aussi aux besoins de la psyché. Le "fonctionalisme modern" en architecture est mort. Tant que la "fonction" fut une survivance, sans examen même du royaume du corps sur quoi elle reposait, elle échoua et s'équisa dans la mystique hygiéne + esthéticisme.
Excerpt from: Frederick Kiesler, "L'Architecture magique de la Salle de Superstition", in: André Breton, Marcel Duchamp (eds.), Surrealisme en 1947, Paris 1947.
1950 Endless House, Kootz Gallery, New York

In 1950, the Kootz Gallery organises the exhibition The Muralist and the Modern Architect as a forum for cooperation between architects and artists. Sculptor David Hare invites Kiesler to participate, and so the first three-dimensional model of an Endless House is designed. The concept is based on the Endless Theatre of 1926. In 1950, Kiesler formulates his concept Endless House, through models, drawings and plans, as well as numerous published and unpublished texts, with particular emphasis on interior decoration and its functions, as well as lighting.

The Endless House is more economical to light than a conventional building because its volume is not boxed into rooms. Uninterrupted, overflowing, reflected on curving surfaces, the light multiplies itself, and even the minimal amount switched on only to enable us to see gives us physical information over a wide area.
From: Frederick Kiesler, "Frederick Kiesler's Endless House and Its Psychological Lighting", in: Interiors, November 1950.
around 1950


Galaxies represent a synthesis between painting, sculpture and architecture. Kiesler regards these different art forms as equal, with an emphasis on the correlation of art integrating space and viewer. Kiesler's Correalism is the foundation for the development of Galaxies.

In my galaxies the paintings are also set at different distances from the wall, protruding or receding. Naturally they have no isolating frames, since the exact interval-space between them makes frames superfluous. The total space of the wall or room-space provides a framing in depth - in fact, a three-dimensional frame without end. These galaxies, although they start from a minimum of three units and expand to as many as nineteen, were only an attempt at endlessness within the enclosure of a room. But I think they could, with careful nurturing, be added to "until the power of the inner magnetism" is exhausted. And if they actually end (physically), their capacity to inspire continuity would still be great, in that the observer could go on adding more and more units according to his own imagination. He would then be extending the new magnetic field derived from the existing nucleus of the original concept.
Excerpt of: Frederick Kiesler, Inside the Endless House, New York 1966


World House Gallery, New York

While Kiesler continues working on the concept of his Endless House, collector Herbert Mayer offers him the chance to turn several rooms of the New York Carlyle Hotel into a Gallery. In cooperation with Armand Bartos, he designs continuously integrated floors, ceilings and walls, evidently an early realisation of the Endless House interior design. In January 1957, the two-storey gallery opens with the exhibition “The Struggle For New Form”.


Endless House 1959, Museum of Modern Art, New York 
The Museum of Modern Art commissions Kiesler to design a one-family home for the garden of the museum in 1958. The 1: 1 model is not constructed, but MoMA presents large models of Endless House at the “Visionary Architecture” exhibition in 1960. With the introduction of his essential architectural and theoretical concepts, Kiesler enjoys immense international success. The photo of the Endless House model appears in all important international architectural journals and evolves – like the 1925 City in Space – to an icon of post-war architecture.

The Endless House is called endless because all ends meet, and meet continuously. It is endless like the human body – there is no beginning and no end to it. The endless is rather sensuous, more like the female body in contrast to sharp-angled male architetecure.
Excerpt from: Frederick Kiesler, Inside the Endless House, New York 1966.


Universal Theatre

The Universal Theatre, built under the auspices of the Ford Foundation competition in 1961, follows the concept of "endless space" in both form and content. Kiesler consciously employs technical and aesthetic innovations in order to satisfy changing demands on stage and stage-design as well as theatre direction. The multifunctional structure of the house therefore follows correalist principles, creating flexibility and adaptability. Kiesler plans to use the inside of the Universal Theatre as a projection space to bring to life the structure of the building.


Sculptures, around 1962

In Kiesler’s last years of life the dimensions of these sculptural experiments steadily expanded, and the sculptures themselves became architectural installations. The so-called Environmental Sculpture exemplified by works such as Last Judgement and Us-You-Me is created. Kiesler plans to unify the three different works without neglecting the importance of each object as an individual form. Kiesler's presentation of the group of sculptures demonstrates his concept of space, which he already developed in earlier exhibition projects: the dynamic and expanded perception of space and art.

Bucephalus (named after the horse of Alexander the Great) remains unfinished and may well have been Kiesler's last attempt to give form to his Endless House.

The traditional art object, be it a painting, a sculpture, a piece of architecture, is no longer seen as an isolated entity but must be considered within the context of this expanding environment. The environment becomes equally as important as the object, if not more so, because the object breathes into the surrounding and also inhales the realities of the environment no matter in what space, close or wide apart, open air or indoor.
Excerpt of: Frederick Kiesler, "Second Manifesto on Correalism", in: Art International, 1965.


Grotto for Meditation 

The New Harmony Community space utilises highly developed symbolism: the shell as feminine symbol as well as the traditionally Christian fish-motif. Kiesler creates a calm and relaxing environment for Grotto for Meditation, surrounded by water flowing from within.


Shrine of the Book, Jerusalem

The Shrine of the Book is one of the few architectural projects Kiesler realised. In 1957 he begins planning the project in collaboration with the architect Armand Bartos. To this day, different interpretations are discovered and discussed regarding the Shrine of the Book: every element of the building possesses highly symbolic meaning, and the continuing space – now a symbol that speaks for itself – also opens new perspectives in connection to Kiesler's life's work.

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F. Kiesler, Stage Design for Karel Capek's play W.U.R. (R.U.R), Berlin 1923

F. Kiesler, Space Stage, Vienna 1924

F. Kiesler, City in Space,
Paris 1925

F. Kiesler, City in Space,
Paris 1925

F. Kiesler, Display window for Saks Fifth Avenue, New York 1928

F. Kiesler, Film Guild Cinema,
New York 1929

F. Kiesler, Film Guild Cinema,
New York 1929

F. Kiesler, Universal Theatre for Woodstock, 1928

F. Kiesler, Space House,
New York 1933

F. Kiesler, Space House,
New York 1933

F. Kiesler, Nesting Coffee Tables, 1935

F. Kiesler, Vision Machine,
1937 - 41

F. Kiesler, Mobile Home Library, 1939

F. Kiesler works on his Correalism Chart, 1947

F. Kiesler, Art of This Century Gallery, New York 1942

F. Kiesler, Art of This Century Gallery, New York 1942

F. Kiesler, Art of This Century Gallery, New York 1942

F. Kiesler, Exhibition “Bloodflames 1947”, Hugo Gallery, New York 1947

F. Kiesler, “Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme”, Galérie Maeght, Paris 1947

F. Kiesler, “Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme”, Galérie Maeght, Paris 1947

F. Kiesler, Endless House, 1950

F. Kiesler, Endless House Galaxy, 1950s

F. Kiesler, A. Bartos, World House Gallery, New York 1957

F. Kiesler, Endless House, 1959-61

F. Kiesler, Universal Theater, 1961-62

F. Kiesler works on Bucephalus, 1964

F. Kiesler, Us-You-Me, 1965

F. Kiesler, Grotto for Meditation, 1963-64

F. Kiesler and A. Bartos, The Shrine of The Book, Jerusalem 1957-65