Image Building: How Photography Transforms Architecture features famous photographers past and present, from Ezra Stoller and Berenice Abbott, to Iwan Baan and Andreas Gursky.
Image Building: How Photography Transforms Architecture at the Parrish Art Museum features 57 photographs by artists who range from early modern architectural photographers such as Berenice Abbott, Samuel H. Gottscho, and Julius Shulman, to contemporary photographers like Iwan Baan, James Casebere, Thomas Demand, Andreas Gursky, and Hiroshi Sugimoto. In aggregate, their works—across different building types and different eras—create a fascinating dialogue between past and present.
Interestingly, the Parrish’s own 2012 Herzog & de Meuron–designed building on Long Island, which the New York Times describes as an “elongated, connected double barn,” inspired the guest curator, Dr. Therese Lichtenstein—an art history teacher at the Ross School in East Hampton, N.Y. and a Surrealist photography expert—to tackle the subject of architecture.
Lichtenstein was also intrigued by the connection between Herzog & de Meuron and the architectural photographer Thomas Ruff. In 1994 Peter Blum published a monograph, Architectures of Herzog & de Meuron: Portraits of Thomas Ruff, featuring nine color photos by Ruff of the firm’s projects. According to Lichtenstein’s essay in the Parrish exhibition catalog, the firm hired Ruff “to see what [the buildings] would look like as art” through digital manipulation. She goes on to quote Ruff, who said, “The difference between my predecessors and me is that they believed to have captured reality and I believe to have created a picture.”
Ruff’s two photos in Image Building celebrate the architecture of Mies van der Rohe through this sort of visual manipulation. D.p.b. 02, taken in 1999, features the recreated 1929 Barcelona pavilion, while w.h.s., taken in 2001, features an International Style affordable housing model Mies designed in 1927. Both images are painterly and blurry, defamiliarizing iconic Modern landmarks.
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