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Sam Durant

Nineteen sixty-eight: a year of global unrest and seismic shivers. Where better to ride the wave than in golden California? Steel-and-glass boxes perched above LA, the Case Study Houses, remnants of one of the great experiments in modern architecture, lie in ruins—trashed by a ragtag family of squatters? Charles Eames meets Charles Manson: That’s one way of relating the nightmarish scene imagined in a series of architectural models titled “Abandoned Houses,” 1995, by Sam Durant, an artist for whom the dreams of both modernism and hippie idealism are the stuff of myth and memory.

The history lessons that unfold in MoCA’s exhibition—the first major museum survey of Durant’s work (to be followed by a show at the Kunstverein Düsseldorf, with a shared catalogue)—serve to remind us that the entwined stories of art and popular culture since the ’60s are best examined by way of free association.

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