Synopses & Reviews
Columns of Smoke
is a four-volume collection. The first volume includes andldquo;Photography or Lifeandrdquo; and andldquo;Popular Mies,andrdquo; which illuminate overlooked aspects of modern architecture and photography and reveal a more nuancedandmdash;and plausibleandmdash;conception of the modern world.
In andldquo;Photography or Life,andrdquo; Juan Josandeacute; Lahuerta contrasts well-known images tied to the history of twentieth-century architecture with anonymous graphic materials and pictures from the popular press. In doing so, he demonstrates that pointing a camera at a building is neither natural nor innocentandmdash;it involves deliberate and telling decisions. His analysis of the work of Adolf Loos and Le Corbusier, for example, suggests irreconcilable differences between the two architects that represent radically opposed approaches to architecture and life. Furthermore, a close study of snapshots of Walter Gropiusandrsquo;s Bauhaus building taken by teachers and students leads to new ways of understanding the myths associated with the Dessau school.
Using the same method in andldquo;Popular Mies,andrdquo; Lahuerta looks at photographs of architect Ludwig Mies van der Roheandrsquo;s work and shows that Mies was influenced not only by Stieglitz and Camera Work, but also a mass culture that enjoyed zeppelins, music halls, x-rays, and phantasmagorical gadgets. At the same time, in their portrayals of Miesandrsquo;s work, the press and anonymous photographers situated it in a popular context that stands as a counterpoint to the notion of a heroic modern era.
This first volume of Columns of Smoke is a brilliant treatment of modern visual culture that will redefine our concept of modernity.
and#8220;Modernity without stereotypes. . . .Columns of Smoke is the result of an inquisitive wandering among the dusty shelves to which historians only run a distracted look, from which Lahuerta has rescuedand#8212;as Ernst Jand#252;nger would sayand#8212;a little treasure.and#8221;
'Photography or life' andand#160;'Popular Mies'and#160;make up the first volume ofand#160;Columns of Smoke
, a collection of essays which review the bases on which modernity has been constructed. Contrasting the canonical images of the history of twentieth-century architecture with anonymous graphic materials or pictures from the popular press, Lahuerta creates an illuminating dialogue that dismantles stereotypes by revealing a less perfect but more plausible idea of modernity.
Pointing a camera at a building is not natural (innocent/unconscious); rather it involves making decisions that are closely related to the meaning of architecture. Juanjo Lahuerta makes this clear in his analyses of, inter alia, the photographic gaze of Loos and Le Corbusier, whose irreconcilable approaches represent radically opposed ways of understanding architecture and life. Furthermore, scrutiny of the snapshots of Walter Gropius's Bauhaus building taken by teachers and students can also lead us to unexpected insights into the construction of the myths associated with the Dessau school.
Using this same method, Lahuerta's analysis of the photographs of his works that Mies commissioned and published shows us how much the architect was influenced not only by Stieglitz and Camera Works but also by the popular tropes of a mass culture that included zeppelins, the music hall, X-rays and fantasmagorical gadgets. At the same time, in their portrayals of Mies's work the press and anonymous photographers situated it in a popular context that provides the necessary counterpoint to conclude the account of a modernity that can no longer be thought of as heroic.
A history of the modern architectural manifesto, with a focus on Mies van der Rohe.
The history of the avant-garde (in art, architecture, literature) can't be separated from the history of its engagement with mass media. It is not just that the avant-garde used media to publicize its work; the work did not exist before its publication.
In architecture, Adolf Loos, Le Corbusier, and Mies van der Rohe came to be known through their influential writings and manifestos published in newspapers, journals, and little magazines. Entire groups, from Dada and Surrealism to De Stijl, became an effect of their manifestos. The manifesto was the site of self invention, innovation, and debate. Even buildings themselves could be manifestos. The most extreme and radical designs in the history of modern architecture were realized as pavilions in temporary exhibition.
In the third book in the Critical Spatial Practice series, Beatriz Colomina traces the history of the modern architecture manifesto, with particular focus on Mies van der Rohe, and the play between the written and built work. This essay propels the manifesto form into the future, into an age where electronic media are the primary sites of debate, suggesting that new forms of manifesto are surely emerging along with new kinds of authorship, statement, exhibition, and debate.
Critical Spatial Practice 3
Edited by Nikolaus Hirsch, Markus Miessen
Featuring artwork by Dan Graham
About the Author
Juan Josandeacute; Lahuertaand#160;is chief curator at the National Museum of Art of Catalonia in Barcelona and professor of history of art at the Barcelona School of Architecture.
Table of Contents
Photography or Life
The Cross and the Wheel
Lived Instant and Frozen Creature
Album of the Barcelona Pavilion
List of Illustrations