Louis I. Kahn with Alan Solomon, with Kahn, Tyng's City Tower model-Courtesy of Penn Architectural Archives and Sue Ann Kahn

Invisible City: Philadelphia and the Vernacular Avant-garde
January 21- April 4, 2020
Opening Reception, January 30, 5-7pm

On view across four venues

Invisible City: Philadelphia and the Vernacular Avant-garde highlights Philadelphia’s significant contributions to visual, literary, and musical culture between 1956 and 1976. An interdisciplinary exploration that is centered at University of the Arts across three venues––Rosenwald–Wolf Gallery, the Philadelphia Art Alliance, and Gershman Hall––as well as the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the project invites audiences to envision Philadelphia as “a city of firsts,” whose accomplishments include the first Pop Art exhibitions, innovations in architecture and urban planning, the country’s first rock music and The Philly Sound, and a substantial post-war growth of art schools.

Invisible City features key works by major architects, photographers, sculptors, designers, painters, and conceptual artists of the period, such as Denise Scott Brown, Rafael Ferrer, Ray Metzker, Ree Morton, Italo Scanga, and Robert Venturi. Moreover, the exhibition is enriched by ephemeral pieces such as posters, pamphlets, and films. In examining the history of performance art in the region, Alex Da Corte creatively re-invents Allan Kaprow’s important happening Chicken at Gershman Hall, where it was originally performed in 1962.

We invite you to join us in celebrating this city and the legacy of its creative practitioners as you explore the works in Invisible City. The exhibition is organized by University of the Arts and curated by Sid Sachs, Chief Curator and Director of Exhibitions at University of the Arts with Jennie Hirsh, Assistant Curator, Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art at MICA. Support for the research, development, and presentation of Invisible City has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.


Explore the Research


Jan 30: Opening & Exclusive Performance featuring Sue Ann Kahn

Join us Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020 for the Public Opening of Invisible City and a musical performance by renowned musicians Sue Ann Kahn (flute), Christopher Fincke (cello) and Andrew Willis (piano) performing Philadelphia's Masters: Persichetti, Rochberg and Crumb

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Feb 6: The Electric Generation and Philadelphia's Literary Underground

6 p.m.--Join us Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020 as Viktor Bokris returns to Philadelphia to tell the dramatic story of the poetry scene in Philadelphia and New York from the mid-1950s to the early 1970s, touching upon his work as a poet, publisher and prolific author.

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Feb 20: 'Invisible City' Curatorial Visions with Sid Sachs, Curator and UArts Director of Exhibitions

6 p.m.--Join us Thursday, Feb. 20 as Sid Sachs presents his curatorial vision for 'Invisible City,' the largest exhibition of its kind since Three Centuries of American Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1976.

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Feb 27: 'The Burglar' Screening and Book Club with Art Alliance Writers' Workshop and Lightbox Film Center at UArts

6 p.m.--Join the Art Alliance Writers' Workshop and Lightbox Film Center at UArts on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020 as we dive into noir writer David Goodis's 'The Burglar', a story of love, seduction and betrayal among a family of thieves.

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Mar 5-6: On Regionalism: Mid-century Art, Architecture and Culture in North America

Join us March 5-6, 2020 for the Invisible City Symposium, which will include a keynote address with Thomas E. Crow and an exclusive performance of Allan Kaprow's 'Chicken' (1962), a happening reinvented by Alex Da Corte.

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Mar 26: 'Invisible City' Panel Discussion: Women of the Avant-garde

6 p.m.--Join us Thursday, March 26, 2020 as Art Historian and 'Invisible City' co-curator Jennie Hirsh hosts a panel featuring veteran Y Arts Council members Joan Kroc, Eileen Rosenau and Janet Kardon, along with Julie Martin, director of Experiments in Art and Technology.

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Mar 28: Modern Architecture Walking Tour with William Whitaker, Curator of Penn's Architectural Archives

2 p.m.--Join us Saturday, March 28, 2020 for a two-hour walking tour of the city's Rittenhouse Square neighborhood which concludes with afternoon tea at the newly renovated Art Alliance.

April 2: An Evening of Poetry with Professor Daisy Fried and Invisible City Poetry Award Winners

6 p.m.--Join the Art Alliance Writers' Workshop on Thursday, April 2, 2020 for an evening of poetry, featuring Professor Daisy Fried on Philadelphia poet CK Williams and a reading with the Invisible City Poetry Competition Award Winners.

The exhibition will be on view at three University of the Arts venues - Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery, the Art Alliance and Gershman Hall - as well as in a historic gallery at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Locations and Open Hours:

Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery
Anderson Hall
333 S. Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA 19102
M-F: 10am - 5pm
Sat: 12 - 5pm
Gershman Hall
401 S. Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Art Alliance
251 S. 18th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104
T-F: 10 am - 5pm*
Sat: 12 - 5pm
*8pm on Thursdays


Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Historic Landmark Building 118-128
N. Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA 19102
T-F: 10 am - 5 pm
S-S: 11 am - 5 pm

Invisible City: Philadelphia and the Vernacular Avant-garde has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage