"Refugee Artists, Architects and Intellectuals Beyond Europe in the 1930s and 1940s: Experiences of Exile in Istanbul and Bombay"

Burcu Dogramaci, Rachel Lee

ABE Journal. Architecture beyond Europe, no. 14–15, 2019

This article follows the hypothesis that the migration movements of artists, architects and intellectuals in the first half of the twentieth century had a profound and long-term impact on art and architectural production and history. During the first half of the twentieth century artists, architects and intellectuals from Europe sought refuge in global metropolises. As hubs of globalizing modernism these cities were places of entrance, transition and creativity for people fleeing their native countries due to changes in political systems, dictatorships and wars, repression, persecution and violence. In the metropolises new transcultural places of artistic encounter were established. Flight, exile and migration brought artistic and architectural concepts, objects and actors around the world into contact, resulting in transformations that are legible in the topographies and structures of cities, particularly in the ”target“ cities. Their urban topographies contain neighbourhoods, places and spaces that were populated, frequented and run by migrants. In addition to providing the migrants with income, employment and exposure, urban institutions, academies, associations and museums were crucial settings for interaction and exchange between the local and migrant populations. In the following we discuss preliminary findings on the connections between exile, modernism and the urban environment in Istanbul and Bombay (now Mumbai). The essay draws on ongoing research from the European Research Council funded project “Relocating Modernism. Global Metropolises, Modern Art and Exile (Metromod)”.