“Zaha Hadid: Thirty Years in Architecture,” her first major retrospective in the United States, gives New Yorkers a chance to see what they’ve been missing. The show, which opens tomorrow in the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s rotunda, spirals through Ms. Hadid’s career, from her early enchantment with Soviet Constructivism to the sensuous and fluid cityscapes of her more recent commissions.
It illuminates her capacity for bridging different worlds: between traditional perspective drawing and slick computer-generated imagery, between the era of utopian manifestos and the ambiguous values of the information age. Born in Baghdad in 1950, Ms. Hadid came of age in an era when the Middle East was enchanted by Modernity: its glamorous forms, progressive aura and faith in the future. Early on, she soaked up the cosmopolitan values that bound cities as diverse as London, New York, Moscow, Beirut and Berlin. She was raised in one of Baghdad’s first Bauhaus-inspired houses. In the late 1950’s she observed the construction of Gio Ponti’s planning ministry, a replica of his Pirelli Tower in Milan, a symbol of postwar Italian style.