Mixed Media (III)
EXHIBITION Dec 1, 2017 — Apr 13, 2018
The series MIXED MEDIA, which Kicken Berlin has curated since 2015, presents various media of modernist art of the twentieth century in dialog with one another: photography, painting, drawing, graphic art, and sculpture. Following the themes of portraiture (2015) and abstraction (2016), the third exhibition now turns to architecture, encompassing a diverse range of artistic forms, from sketches to sculptural models. Some of the avant-garde’s primary ideas are manifest in architecture and its aesthetics. Revolutionary ideas and innovation as well as technical and industrial developments accounted for historical rejections at the beginning of the century. Institutions like the Werkbund and the Bauhaus propagated a culture of design that infiltrated every aspect of life, and artists of all kinds had their sights on both social and artistic renewal. Utopia was the goal, and futuristic designs broke from reality. Expressionism, Futurism, and Constructivism manifested themselves architecturally in free, atmospheric and impressionistic plans; in strictly geometric color blocking; in the plasticity of a plant; in architectural photographs that emphasized lines, surfaces, and cubes. In the current exhibition MIXED MEDIA (III), new works from Joachim Brohm’s series Mies Model Study and State of M. are the jumping-off point for a dialog between photographs, drawings, and models by various artists and architects, including Erich Mendelsohn, Walter Gropius and Hans Poelzig, Enrico Prampolini and Hermann Finsterlin, László Moholy-Nagy and Lucia Moholy, Werner Mantz, Albert Renger-Patzsch and August Sander, as well as works from legendary schools such as the Bauhaus and the Russian Vkhutemas. Their works give expression to the clear and objective structure of Neues Bauen (New Building) while others illustrate the organic and dynamic ideas behind expressive and futuristic Utopias. An echo of these can be heard in the later forms of industrial architecture in works by Bernd and Hilla Becher. Joachim Brohm, who in his earlier works looked at the urban landscape of industrial places and their changes (such as in the Ruhr and in the US), turns in State of M. and Mies Model Study to architectural modernism: the Meisterhäuser at the Dessau Bauhaus, Mies van der Rohe’s Villa Tugendhat, and the 1:1 model of a golf club in Krefeld, amongst others. Transparency, directed light, linearity, volumes, and surfaces are the parameters that determine Brohm’s interpretations of the iconic buildings and designs. In the exhibition, his visual declinations encounter works of Neue Sachlichkeit and Neues Sehen, Czech Modernism, and the workshops of the Bauhaus and Vkhutemas with their proximity to Constructivism and its strict geometry.
Artists’ intellectual and aesthetic search for forms reflective of the times – the “from-the-ground-up newly built world of beauty,” as Walter Gropius wrote in 1919 for the Ausstellung unbekannter Architekten (Exhibition of Unknown Architects) – becomes particularly visible in the interplay of the various arts. Keywords were energy and dynamism, abstraction and immaterialization, and always light, which was equally crucial for artists as different as Erich Mendelsohn and László Moholy-Nagy. Here lie the connections among photography and architecture, drawing and sculpture.
Bernd & Hilla Becher
Karl Hugo Schmölz
Ed van der Elsken