A dialogue between the history of architecture and contemporary art

Rarely can a short-lived building boast such an impact on the history of architecture and art as the German pavilion for the 1929 International Exhibition in Barcelona, ​​designed by the architectural giant Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. By modern standards, it is inconceivable that the building was demolished just a few months after completion. However, the ideas embodied in it continue to inspire creative minds even today.

The pavilion building, designed by architect Ludwig Miss van der Rohe and designer Lilly Reich, was in itself an exhibition of national achievements, featuring only the German sculptor Georg Kolbe’s sculpture “The Dancer” and two chairs for the Spanish royal family – still iconic Barcelona ChairAlthough minimalist in its language of form, the structure of the building consisted of a whole plethora of exquisite materials. Gray and green marble, travertine, onyx, and tinted glass. Miss van der Rohe had been instructed not to use too much glass in the construction of the building.

Dutch artist Sabine Marcelis has created an installation for the reconstructed Barcelona Pavilion, referring to the materials used by Miss van der Rohe and playing on the original glass restriction. In her installation, glass is the main material used. In addition, the author has used polished metal and limestone to create a collection of sculptural objects that form a direct link with the material nature of the original Barcelona pavilion. The collection of objects created by Sabine Marcelis includes two sun loungers, two floor lamps, and a fountain. In addition to glass, all the objects used the same materials that made up the original structure of the building. In the design of objects, emphasis is placed on transparency and color transition, or ombre effect, with very little reference to a specific piece of furniture as an inspiration for the shape of an object. Like the authors of the Barcelona Pavilion, Sabine Marcelis has also emphasized the nature of the materials used with the help of form.  Curved glass are based on limestone foundations – the same limestone used on the floor of the building, thus merging the object with the common space. The fountain in the pool also consists of glass and polished aluminum parts. The gap left between two identical sheets of glass allows water to circulate continuously as the fountain re-enters the pool. In the form of luminaires, reference is made to the steel roof supports of the pavilion. 

The installation is based on a dialogue between the history of design and contemporary art. Sabine Marcelis’ installation confirms that even a theme as broadly interpreted as modernist architecture can still serve as a new source of inspiration. Trends in art and design come and go, but less is still more!

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