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MoMA

THE SUBLIME IMAGININGS OF ARCHITECTURAL DRAWING

The Sublime Imaginings of Architectural Drawing
Filip Dujardin, Untitled from the series Fictions. 2009.  Pigmented inkjet print, 43 5/16 x 61" (110 x 154.9 cm). Gift of Andre Singer. © 2013 Filip Dujardin/Highlight Gallery

Filip Dujardin, Untitled from the series Fictions. 2009. Pigmented inkjet print, 43 5/16 x 61″ (110 x 154.9 cm). Gift of Andre Singer. © 2013 Filip Dujardin/Highlight Gallery

I find there is something wonderfully sublime about architectural drawings, and lucky for me, as the preparator for the Department of Architecture and Design, I get to see a lot of them, particularly when the curators prepare a new exhibition of works from the collection like the current installation Cut ‘n’ Paste: From Architectural Assemblage to Collage City.

Though plans and technical drawings are not without room for the imagination, it’s another form of architectural drawing—the one where you get to follow the architect’s fancy of fancy, and find yourself wondering, “What is going on here?”—that is my favorite. For me this is where the possibilities begin to shine and where you get invited to enter into the architectural story.

One of the newest works from the collection on view in the exhibition is Belgian architect and architectural photographer Filip Dujardin’s, Untitled, where at first glance the structure seems “real,” but which closer inspection reveals to be a fictional reimagining of the modernist concrete-slab apartment complex. The image, like Dujardin’s other fictional pictures of buildings, was created on a computer with Photoshop and Google SketchUp through digital manipulation of appropriated architectural elements.

Be it fiction or non-fiction, collage is a supreme storytelling tool, ideal for the architectural narrative. And it serves to illustrate that architecture—like visual art, literature, music, and pretty much everything else—doesn’t exist as a separate endeavor but is firmly connected to a larger cultural and aesthetic narrative, making the use of narrative tools such as reference, metaphor, irony, allusion, and perhaps even appropriation and sampling, perfectly sensible. It puts the material culture of yesterday into focus with today’s vision.

I remember my mother telling me after what was no doubt ample provocation on my part, that I didn’t invent Billie Holiday. So when it was my turn to tell my niece that she hadn’t invented Etta James, I did so while knowing that her efforts to enlighten me to the groove also meant she and her generation were entering into the contemporary cultural conversation—and presumably bringing their new consciousness with them.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Georg Schaefer Museum Project, Schweinhurt, Germany Interior perspective with view of site, 1960-63

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Georg Schaefer Museum Project, Schweinhurt, Germany, interior perspective with view of site. 1960–63. Ink and photo collage on illustration board, 30 x 40″ (76.2 x 101.6 cm). Mies van der Rohe Archive, gift of the architect. © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Naturally not all collage incorporates images from the past, but whether its Dujardin’s nod to Le Corbusier and the Unite d’Habitation, Mies’s wink at Maillol, or Rem Koolhaas’s glance into the rear-view mirror as The Museum of Modern Art forges ahead into the future, the introduction of external elements and references expands the story and pushes the imagination in unexpected directions.

Architectural Firm: O.M.A., Artist: Rem Koolhaas, Charrette Submission for The Museum of Modern Art Expansion, New York, NY, 1997

O.M.A., Rem Koolhaas, Charrette Submission for The Museum of Modern Art Expansion, New York, NY. 1997

Architectural Firm: O.M.A., Artist: Rem Koolhaas, Charrette Submission for The Museum of Modern Art Expansion, New York, NY, 1997

O.M.A., Rem Koolhaas, Charrette Submission for The Museum of Modern Art Expansion, New York, NY. 1997

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Convention Hall Project, Chicago, Illinois  Preliminary version: interior perspective, 1954

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Convention Hall Project, Chicago, Illinois, preliminary version: interior perspective. 1954. Collage of cut-and-pasted reproductions, photograph, and paper on composition board, 33 x 48″ (83.8 x 121.9 cm). Mies van der Rohe Archive, gift of the architect. © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Cut ‘n’ Paste: From Architectural Assemblage to Collage City, organized by Pedro Gadanho, Curator, and Phoebe Springstubb, Curatorial Assistant, is on view in MoMA’s third-floor Architecture and Design Galleries through December 1, 2013.

 

Comments

Well done, the van der Rohe is very cool, well written!

This has juggled my thinking around….rather than look and ask, What is the artist trying to say?, I can reimagine what I’m seeing through the idea of, What is going on here? It may seem a tiny shift in perception but it will change my experience. Thanks.

my wonderful sister; you write so well, thank you, althouth I do believe Taylor did invent At Last , maybe not, LOVE D you can can claim Billie Hollida and siister Judy can claim Elvis I’ ll clclaim Janis

This has a lot of emotional resonance with me.

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