Sunday, October 25, 2015

Mies and the Barbarians

Miquel Lacasta

Miquel Lacasta has published an angry post, De la barbarie, on his blog, Axonométrica, about the photo above, where he found Mies' legendary German Pavilion for the 1929 Barcelona World's Fair, rebuilt in 1986, vulgarized by these potted flowers.

The Mies van der Rohe Foundation responded to say that the flowers were part of a re-enactment of the actual appearance of the Pavilion on the day of its inauguration:

Photo, Barcelona Pavilion, 1929
There follows an interesting analysis, based on a study by Juan José Lahuerta, on how Mies and the German press office manipulated published images of the pavilion to represent it not as it appeared at the time during the Fair, but in a more ideal state. In turn, the flowers and other decorative additions for the inauguration ceremony manipulated the modernity of the building to make it more palatable for the occasion.

The reply from the Mies van der Rohe Foundation:
"The image above is from September 17, 2015. That day potted flowers were placed on the Pavilion platform as part of the promotional campaign for the book Photography or Life – Popular Mies written by Juan José Lahuerta, and published by Tenov Books. They showed, during 10 days, the Pavilion's appearance during its inauguration in 1929. The flowers accompanied a show, inside the Pavilion, of original photographs from the period.
"[…] Comparing the official photographs of the Barcelona Pavilion, taken by the Berliner Bild Bericht Agency and undoubtedly supervised by Mies van der Rohe himself, with casual photographs taken by graphic reporters and aficionados, can be very instructive. One question in particular attracts our attention: the process of selective screening in the official photographs. Many things disappear in them: […] The flower pots that sweeten the arid abstraction of the Pavilion with an unexpected touch of the Mediterranean patio and, of course, the people, completely absent in the official photographs and always present in the casual photographs: multitudes of people in those of professional photographers on the day of the inauguration, and more individualized and contemplative in the rest. It becomes clear that the scale –in every sense– of the Pavilion changes with these presences, which multiply others –signs, shrubs, lines of columns… – and they helps us understand the relativity with which the modernity of the Pavilion was perceived by the popular press at the time […]"
(Extract from the information page of the presentation "Frozen Pavilion, 1929")"

(Translation: DC)

Miquel Lacostas original post, De la Barbarie:…/12/de-la-barbarie

His retraction, with the reply of the Mies van der Rohe Foundation:…/10/19/de-los-barbaris…

His Facebook apology on the subject, with interesting comments, appears on the Facebook group page 3 sessiones al borde de la crítica, which can be found here:

Juan José Lahuerta
Photography or Life / Popular Mies
Columns of Smoke, Volume 1
Editorial Tenov, Barcelona, 2014

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