Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. German Pavilion, International Exposition, Barcelona, Spain (Interior perspective). c. 1928-29

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe German Pavilion, International Exposition, Barcelona, Spain (Interior perspective) c. 1928-29

  • Not on view

Late in 1928, Mies van der Rohe began to design the pavilion that would represent Germany at the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition, the first such event in which the country had participated since its defeat in World War I. The democratically elected postwar government had made its aspirations for the pavilion clear: the building was to represent "our desire to be absolutely truthful, giving voice to the spirit of a new era." The state made few other demands, leaving Mies free to pursue his most radical architectural expression of free-flowing space, bounded only by rich but abstract surfaces of Tinian marble, mirror chrome, plate glass, and onyx.

Since the pavilion was demolished when the fair was over, relatively few later audiences and architectural critics had ever seen the building except through the filter of period black-and-white photographs, and its significance became largely a matter of thirdhand debate rather than actual experience. In time it came to be interpreted in terms of Mies's later, more rational work of the 1940s and later, often derided as simple "glass boxes". This unfinished and little-published rendering of the interior, however, reveals another attitude, more sensual than objective. To the right of the column whose outlines are sketched in the center of the drawing, Mies carefully renders the view from the main space through a glass wall into the courtyard, with its reflecting pool and a sculpture of a reclining figure. Rather than making the glass look fully transparent, he gives the dark green Tinian marble different shadings behind the wall and to the left and right of it, approximating the visual effect of the screen of gray glass. Even the reflection of the sculpture in the pool is studiously considered.

Publication excerpt from an essay by Terence Riley, in Matilda McQuaid, ed., Envisioning Architecture: Drawings from The Museum of Modern Art, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2002, p. 70.
Graphite on illustration board
39 x 51 1/4" (99.1 x 130.2 cm)
Mies van der Rohe Archive, gift of the architect
Object number
© 2022 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Architecture and Design

Installation views

We have identified these works in the following photos from our exhibition history.

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at [email protected].


If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].


This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].