The New State Gallery in Stuttgart is a key example of post-modern architecture. Planned by James Stirling, a leading exponent of post-modernism, the controversial structure was built in 1979–84. Together with his partner Michael Wilford, Stirling won an international competition to design an extension for the existing State Gallery (now known as the Old State Gallery), a neoclassical museum structure designed by Gottlob Georg von Barth in 1843 and enlarged by Albert von Bok in 1888.
Stirling’s structure is not only provocative on account of its bright colors—featuring a curving leaf-green façade and a studded flooring of the same color in the foyer, pink and blue handrails on the staircases, as well as colorful steel beams and vent pipes—but also an eclectic mix of forms and construction materials. Glass, gabled roofs over the main entrance contrast with the rounded window wall. Variously sized rotundas on the roof stand out from the slanted levels of a ramp. Unusual angles, peculiar floor plans, as well as numerous other surprising design details determine the “anything goes” pluralism typical of post-modern architecture.
The large number of playful design elements contrast with a classical façade of yellow natural stone that deliberately takes its starting point from the aesthetics of monumental historical structures. The influence of classic modernism is evident in the use of construction materials such as glass and concrete. However, the architectural quotations are repeatedly fractured and so also serve as a break with the past, above all from modernism’s sober and severe functionalism.
The interior of the museum is calm and neutral, allowing the artworks from the collection—paintings and sculptures from the fourteenth to the twenty-first centuries are on display here—to be viewed by the visitor without distraction. Together with the Old State Gallery and an extension wing realized in 2002 by the Basel architects Katharina and Wilfrid Steib, the New State Gallery belongs to a building complex that has been a cultural landmark since 2014 and moreover is an important attraction for visitors to the city of Stuttgart. [KM/HY]